Why Are Catalytic Converters So Expensive?

Your vehicle’s catalytic converters are responsible for removing harmful emissions from your exhaust gasses before they exit the tailpipe. These systems are required by law in modern vehicles, so every engine has them. However, anyone who has had to replace theirs knows just high expensive they are.

Catalytic converters work by using a chemical reaction carried out between the emissions and the inner honeycomb material, which gets rid of harmful exhaust gasses such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides. 

Catalytic converter diagram
OpenStax, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Why Are They So Expensive?

If catalytic converters are so common and necessary, what makes them so expensive? That chemical reaction we talked about is dependent on certain materials within the catalytic converter. The materials used are rare metals such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum. These metals act as the catalyst for the reaction, and the reaction cannot take place without them. That means that manufacturers must use these expensive materials in the part, and in turn, makes the part itself pricey. 

Catalytic Converter Theft

The amount of these metals is significant enough for criminals to take notice, and catalytic converter theft has proved a major issue in recent years. An estimated 153,000 cases of catalytic converter theft were reported in 2022, and the number has been growing gradually over time. 

This is most commonly carried out by simply cutting out that section of the exhaust from a parked vehicle at night and selling the part to a scrap metal buyer interested in the rare metals. 

Victims of these thefts are not only left with a large repair bill but also are unable to pass their emissions testing, register their car, and will experience a jarringly loud exhaust sound.

Catalytic converter under car
Ballista, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

How Can I Prevent Theft?

The easiest solution to prevent catalytic converter theft is to park the car in a protected or covered area or garage at night, as most thefts happen with vehicles easily accessible from the street.

Obviously, that’s just realistic for everyone. Luckily, there are still some measures you can take to prevent your catalytic converters from being poached.

Anti-theft devices or shields are objects you can attach to your catalytic converter to make stealing it much more difficult. These can range from cheap to expensive but generally work by making the connections, hardware, and catalytic converter itself harder to access for thieves. 

Putting brightly colored paint or enamel on your catalytic converter will make it much more identifiable as a stolen object, and criminals will be less likely to take yours. Law enforcement knows to check brightly painted catalytic converters for serial numbers and other identification, and many scrap buyers will outright refuse to buy painted ones. 

Another great way to prevent theft is to engrave your VIN or license plate number onto the catalytic converter, as this will let thieves know it’s traceable and law enforcement will be able to track down the vehicle it originated from. 

Emissions System Service and Repair at Borst Automotive

Whether your catalytic converter has been stolen or is just in need of replacement, the expert emissions technicians at Borst Automotive will ensure your vehicle is ready to pass emissions and keep your exhaust clean! Call or schedule online with us today.

Borst Automotive is here to help when you need it. Give us a call, schedule an appointment, or stop in today!