Saturday, September 30, 2023
StartcarsThis is what is causing the rise in converter thefts...

This is what is driving the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

A catalytic converter plays an important role for most vehicles in eliminating harmful pollutants from exhaust emissions.

Unfortunately, the way this is achieved is through the integration of control devices that use precious metals.

The ease with which a catalytic converter can be accessed and removed in most vehicles, along with the high resale value, makes this part one of the most likely to be stolen parts in the United States.

Last year, major US cities reported a noticeable increase in catalytic converter thefts in the range of 20% in Dallas to an astonishing 172% in Philadelphia.

The desperate times caused by less job stability in recent years, along with supply chain issues, record payments for precious metals, and increased pressure on law enforcement forces could be contributing to this unfortunate phenomenon, but there are a few ways in which the theft can be successfully fought.

Check out in this article what makes stealing catalytic converters so attractive to thieves and how much money catalytic converters are worth due to their precious metals.

Three precious metals inside catalytic converters

Attached to the exhaust pipes below most cars, the catalytic converter is made, in part, of rare metals and components such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. Each of these materials has a wide range of applications outside of catalytic converters and is worth more and more money as scrap metal.

In addition to palladium, rhodium and platinum, playing important roles in the construction and function of catalytic converters, there are traces of other elements.

All of these precious metals can fetch quite a high price on the black market. This is because these metals are suitable for a variety of implementations. Let's take a look at the three precious metals inside a catalytic converter: palladium, rhodium, and platinum.

Palladium plays a unique role in what makes a catalytic converter. This precious metal is also used in jewelry and electrical components.

Rhodium is another precious metal you can find inside a catalytic converter. Rhodium is a rare element, and in addition to playing a role in the function of a catalytic converter, it is also used for the electrodes found in spark plugs.

The precious metal platinum is one of the precious metals best known by name. Although platinum is relatively abundant, it still carries a high price. You can find platinum used in dental applications, jewelry, and electrical contacts.

The values of catalytic converter metals

There's an unfortunate reason why stealing car catalytic converters is such an attractive concept to thieves. The precious metals that are inside catalytic converters cost a lot of money these days.

Currently, rhodium is worth approximately US$ 10,000 an ounce, palladium is worth around US$ 1,500 an ounce, and platinum is worth around US$ 980 an ounce.

With rising prices and limited supply of these precious metals, theft of catalytic converters has become a major problem in recent years.

There are certain vehicles that have higher concentrations of precious metals or dual converters that contribute to an even higher cost. For example, the Ferrari F430 not only takes an expensive converter that sells for around US$ 3,770 each, but also requires two of them. Another example is in the often-targeted Toyota Prius, which has a reputation for being one of the best converters on the market due to the hybrid nature of the vehicle.

Precious metals in any capacity can be worth a lot of money because of the number of uses they provide. All three metals inside catalytic converters: rhodium, palladium and platinum are worth a decent amount – which should make stealing catalytic converters worthwhile for some criminals. But what is the most expensive metal in a catalytic converter, and of the metals in a catalytic converter, how much is the most expensive one worth?

Platinum is often considered a metal that is worth a lot of money. But it may come as a surprise to learn that platinum is not the most valuable metal in a catalytic converter. Platinum, of the three different metals that make up the function of a catalytic converter, is actually the metal that is worth the least per ounce.

Palladium is currently worth around US$ 1,500 an ounce. On the other hand, you'll find rhodium fetching a jaw-dropping $ 9,000 – $ 11,500 per ounce. It stands to reason that the most valuable metal in a catalytic converter is rhodium. To put things in perspective, you can buy fast RWD cars for less than 30 grams of rhodium.

How much do thieves get for a catalytic converter?

With rising prices and limited supply of these precious metals, theft of catalytic converters has become a major problem in recent years.

Major cities have reported an increase in thefts of parts, as well as other things like gasoline, in an attempt by thieves to make a quick buck.

The amount of money that thieves make from catalytic converters depends entirely on the type of catalytic converter. Some catalytic converters are simply worth more than others.

We've talked about how vehicles like the Toyota Prius are some of the cars most frequently targeted for catalytic converters theft, and this is due to the fact that the precious metals inside a Prius' catalytic converter are less likely to corrode.

Hybrid cars are great targets in general because the rhodium, palladium and platinum inside their catalytic converters are generally preserved much better than in other types of vehicles.

The average return a thief will earn from selling the metals contained in a catalytic converter ranges from US$ 50 to US$ 250.

That might not seem like a lot, especially with the value of metals inside catalytic converters in their pure form. With catalytic converter replacement costs around USD $ 2,000 , theft of catalytic converters by thieves is a headache to deal with.

Preventing theft of catalytic converters

If someone steals your catalytic converter, you'll probably notice it almost immediately. Your vehicle will become louder and rattle in a way that suggests something is seriously wrong with your car's engine or mechanics.

Unfortunately, it's not a difficult task to remove the catalytic converter on most vehicles.

Preventing catalytic converter theft is a goal that many have contemplated with the recent increase in incidents.

The most effective means of preventing parts theft is to secure your vehicle in a locked or secure area, such as a fenced yard or garage.

In addition, well-lit areas or areas with cameras can also deter potential thieves. However, not everyone has access to such a guarded place to park.

For those who don't, there are other options. One option is to install a shield such as the “Cat Shield” offered by MillerCAT.

This shield is installed over the catalytic converter and is more difficult to remove, making the converter a less desirable target for thieves.

The disadvantages of installing this possibility are the cost (the shield can cost up to $ 500) and the installation may require the help of a professional if you are not mechanically skilled.

If enlisting professional help is an option, or if you are capable of doing so yourself, the option to solder into your converter may also be helpful.

Soldering will make it harder for anyone to remove the catalytic converter and will make thieves need more time to cut the welds.

Any of the options provided have the potential to help keep your catalytic converter safe.

However, none are completely fail-safe. Unfortunately, due to the increased demand and greater value of the precious metals found in the catalytic converter, and the ease with which many can be removed, the theft of this particular part continues to rise in many places and will likely continue to do so for years to come.

Want to know more or talk to us about the topic? follow our page on Facebook! A place for discussion, information and exchange of experiences. You can also follow us on Instagram.

Get the latest news and updates from the automotive world straight to your inbox.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here