Ripped Off: Catalytic Converter theft skyrockets

James Raia

The theft of catalytic converters 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.

Catalytic converter theft is skyrocketing.
Catalytic converter theft is skyrocketing.

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.

Catalytic Converter: Rare Metals

Thieves can sell converters to metal recyclers for $20-$200. The recyclers extract the metal and resell it for as 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 $17,050 per ounce.

Replacing the part is particularly expensive for truck owners. The Ferrari F430 has the steepest replacement cost $3,770.00.

Catalytic Converter: Expensive Repairs

The Ram 2500 replacement cost is $3,460, the second-highest among mainstream brands. The Ford F-250 has the fourth most expensive cost of replacement, $2,804.

The average replacement 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 the part’s theft.

Thieves generally steal the part 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.

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