A catalytic converter is an important part of your vehicle, and if it’s been stolen, your car’s performance will suffer greatly. Here’s how to tell if your catalytic converter has been stolen.
If your car suddenly seems abnormally loud, then it is quite possible that your catalytic converter has been stolen. You’ll likely also see the check engine light come on if your converter is stolen.
Unfortunately, thieves will target converters for a quick buck, leaving your car’s performance drastically affected.
In fact, catalytic converter thefts has increased over the past three years. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports thefts increased by 326% in 2020 and increased another 353% in 2021.
With precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium inside them, catalytic converters are a hot target for thieves.
This is mainly due to the widespread disruptions in supplies, it’s harder than ever to get hold of these precious metals. The result – a rise in catalytic converter theft.
This surge in illegally sourced converters creates lots of issues for many car owners. Truth is, black market activities harm both communities, the environment, and automotive safety.
Are you worried that your catalytic converter might have been stolen? If your vehicle makes strange noises, vibrates when revving, or isn’t getting good fuel economy then it could be the sign of a stolen catalytic converter.
Here’s everything you need to know to tell if your catalytic converter has been stolen.
How to Tell if Catalytic Converter Is Stolen – Loud Noises
You’re probably quite familiar with the sound of your car if you listen to it every day going to and from work.
As such, the first and most obvious sign your catalytic converter has been stolen is that your car is suddenly very loud.
While the converter’s main job is converting harmful compounds into less harmful ones, it also plays an important role in reducing the noise your engine produces.
When it’s gone, your car will ramp up intensely in sound, letting you know something is amiss.
Check Engine Light
Your next telltale sign that something is amiss is if your check engine light comes on. The engine control module has tons of sensors designed to identify problems with the air to fuel ratio and emissions.
When something is amiss — say, an entire part being missing – your ECM will notice. And you will see an illuminated check engine light.
In fact, the check engine light will turn on immediately the first time you start your car with a missing catalytic converter. And it will remain on until you replace the stolen catalytic converter.
That’s right: headaches. The catalytic converter reduces the amount of carbon monoxide your vehicle produces by 90%.
This means that if your converter is stolen, you’re suddenly being introduced to 20 times the amount you were before.
Carbon monoxide is attracted to hemoglobin and can replace the oxygen in your red blood cells, leading to tissue damage, or, at worst, death when exposed to high-enough concentrations.
It’s odorless, tasteless, and colorless, making it extremely dangerous. The result? A sudden killer headache, delayed reaction times, or flu-like symptoms when you are exposed.
Final Thoughts: How to Tell If Catalytic Converter Is Stolen
The catalytic converter is not only an important part of reducing emissions, but the lack of filtering can be hazardous to your health and seriously strain your engine.
As such, take your car in right away if you suspect your converter has been stolen. Depending on your coverage, your insurance may cover the cost to install a new one.
Has your catalytic converter ever been stolen? Let us know in the comments below.
Last Updated on January 20, 2023
Loves anything with a motor and wheels.
Christopher is an internet technology expert and mechanical engineer. When he’s not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. He loves nothing more than taking something apart and putting it back together again–better than before. Learn more about us