Signs of Stolen Catalytic Converter

What are the most oblivous signs of stolen catalytic converter on your vehicle?

The theft of catalytic converters has become a major issue in recent years, with incidents on the rise across the United States.

Bumper estimates there were 33,457 catalytic converter thefts in the first 10 months of 2023. However, this trend went down by 60.84% from the same period in 2022 (Bumper data).

Thieves are targeting catalytic converters for their precious metals, including platinum, palladium, and rhodium, which are used to convert harmful exhaust emissions into less harmful gases. These metals can be sold for a high price on the black market, making catalytic converters a lucrative target for criminals.

Signs of stolen catalytic converter


Some of the most obvious signs of a stolen catalytic converter include extreme noise under the car, vibrations and rumbling sounds, check engine light, excessive smoke, etc.

  1. Extreme Exhaust Noise: Without a catalytic converter, the exhaust system becomes much louder. This extreme noice is just imposible to ignore. If you suddenly notice a significant increase in exhaust noise after starting the car, it’s number one sign that catalytic converter has been removed or stolen. Even if your catalytic converter isn’t removed, this could be a very important warning of something going wrong.
  2. Vibrations or Rattling Sounds: A missing or partially removed catalytic converter can cause vibrations or rattling sounds from the exhaust system. This is especially noticeable when the car is running.
  3. Check Engine Light: The removal of the catalytic converter will trigger the check engine light on your dashboard. Modern vehicles have oxygen sensors that may detect the change in emissions. The specific diagnostic trouble code (DTC) associated with catalytic converter issues, such as a catalyst efficiency below threshold error, will be stored in the vehicle’s computer (ECU). [1]
  4. Toxic Gases: The catalytic converter helps reduce harmful emissions. If it’s missing, you may notice a stronger smell of exhaust gases. This can be an indicator that your vehicle is no longer effectively controlling emissions.An incredibly dangerous symptom of your catalytic converter missing is the toxic gasses not being filtered and escaping into the rest of the car. The spread of these gasses affects the inside of the car too.Because the catalytic converter filtrates 95% of the carbon monoxide, its removal allows this dangerous gas to escape. Carbon monoxide can cause a slew of health problems and even result in death if fumes are inhaled for too long.

    This symptom is why other warning signs of a missing catalytic converter should be taken seriously. Being aware of them can make a difference between life and death. [2]

  5. Visual Inspection: A quick visual inspection under your vehicle may reveal a missing or partially removed catalytic converter. Thieves often cut them out, leaving a noticeable gap in the exhaust system.
  6. Fresh Cuts or Weld Marks: Thieves usually use saws or other cutting tools to remove catalytic converters. If you see fresh cuts or weld marks under your vehicle, it could be a sign of theft.
  7. Vehicle on Jack Stands: Catalytic converter theft often involves lifting the vehicle, either by using a jack or placing it on blocks. If you notice your vehicle raised without an apparent reason, it’s worth investigating.
  8. Low torque : Removing the catalytic converter will also affect our car’s performance. With the way vehicles are designed, especially in the past decade, removing the catalytic converter may result in a noticeable reduction in low-end torque. Low-end torque is the torque available at lower RPM, which is most frequently used in everyday drives. When catalytic converter is removed, you don’t have anything to make back pressure so as result vehicle will lose torque. [3]

What to do if catalytic converter is stolen?


If your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first call should be to the police to file a report. After contacting the police, you should call your insurance company to file a claim. Lastly, you’ll want to call a repair shop or tow truck to get your vehicle repaired/transported safely.

  1. Notify the authorities

The first step you should take is to tell the authorities of the crime. This way, you are increasing the chances of retrieving the catalytic converter.

Additionally, if any upcoming inspection is nearby, you will have a justified reason for lacking an important part of the vehicle. This may save you from fines that such situations may produce.

    1. Don’t drive the car

If possible, avoid driving the car. Instead, tow it to the nearest mechanic, get it inspected on the spot, or park inside of a mechanic’s shop if you are already on the road when this problem is discovered.

Driving without a catalytic converter can be dangerous to anybody on the road. Especially if the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning occurs.

      1. Report theft to your insurance

Make sure to get in contact with insurance after a theft. Again, the details and timing are important for both discerning the compensation amount as well as starting the process of getting it. Usually, it’s best to do this as soon as you’ve towed the car and reported the theft to the authorities.

Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?


Getting car insurance is something we get in order to secure our car’s longevity. The problems and dangers the car can experience on a daily basis are plentiful. Ranging from minor hiccups to catastrophic problems. But does it include theft? Let’s take a look at the facts and answer this question.

Types of car insurance

There are a lot of types of car insurance. Third-party liability, collision insurance, personal accident coverage, and many other options exist. However, they don’t necessarily cover theft. In fact, they don’t cover it at all.

The type of insurance covering theft will usually be tied to property insurance rather than car insurance. However, there is still one type of car insurance which will cover theft, comprehensive car insurance. [4]

Comprehensive car insurance

Purchasing comprehensive car insurance is the only way to cover all the worrying factors we may experience with our car. The comprehensive car insurance will cover anything from third-party liability to damage from natural disasters.

Comprehensive car insurance will cover theft as well. The compensation will happen even if your entire vehicle is stolen or destroyed in an accident. It is the most demanding one too, so consider that when checking out comprehensive car insurance.

Varying prices

Remember that not every type of car insurance costs the same, nor does every insurance company have the same cost. When picking insurance, this should be kept in mind. We often end up with much better deals by looking through our options.

The insurance will usually be paid monthly, so making sure the policy is as affordable as possible means cutting down the costs exponentially the longer the insurance policy is active. You should also take action once the catalytic converter is stolen, regardless of your insurance policy.

Read Next: Catalytic Converter Scrap Price


In the end, the theft of a catalytic converter will end up being quite an apparent situation. The car will inform you by performing poorly or signifying the missing part with the engine light. Any visit to the mechanic will yield a direct diagnosis which can then be used to handle the issue. You could consider some cheaper repair alternatives too.

We should report the theft and make sure to tow the car away. Driving the car while it’s in such a state can be dangerous not only for the engine but ourselves too. Get in touch with the insurance as well if the policy covers theft to get compensation for the task.

While not all of the issues that stem from theft can be mitigated, such as the cost of replacing the part, at least we’ll cut them down considerably.

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