Catalytic converter theft in cars and trucks nationwide is increasing exponentially. The reason: The easily accessible part includes rare metals skyrocketing in value.
Located in front of a vehicle’s tailpipe, catalytic converters are easily removed, particularly in older cars and trucks with high clearances.
Mandated for all U.S. cars and trucks in 1975, catalytic converters convert harmful pollutants into less harmful emissions before they’ve left the exhaust system. Platinum, palladium, rhodium or gold are used as the catalyst.
Thieves can sell converters to metal recyclers for $20-$200. The recyclers extract the metal and resell it for thousands of dollars per ounce.
Palladium sold for about $500 an ounce in 2016. It’s currently more than $2,300 per ounce. Rhodium sold for $640 an ounce in 2017. It’s currently priced at about $17,000 per ounce.
Replacing a catalytic converter is particularly expensive for truck owners. The Ferrari F430 has the steepest catalytic cover replacement cost at $3,770.
The Ram 2500 replacement cost is $3,460, the second-highest among mainstream automotive brands. The Ford F-250 has the fourth most-expensive cost of replacement, $2,804.
The average replacement catalytic converter cost is between $800–$1,200, depending on the vehicle’s make and model. Additional parts and labor costs are extra.
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas and Washington are the most prominent states for catalytic converter theft.
Thieves generally steal a catalytic converter by sliding underneath the car and sawing it out of the exhaust system. It takes about two minutes and the thefts usually occur in driveways, strip malls or in parking garages.
Note from editor: Read how one city in northwestern Washington state is trying to deter catalytic converter thefts by promoting theft prevention techniques here. Also included is a Catalytic Converter Theft Prevention Sheet.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.