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Will I Know If My Cat Converter Has Been Stolen?

Catalytic Converters  ·  March 9, 2022

Will I Know If My Cat Converter Has Been Stolen?

High prices for precious metals have driven up catalytic converter theft in Australia over the past few years. That’s because thieves can recycle catalytic converter for the precious metals inside. So, how do you know if you’ve been a victim of such a theft?

There are 5 signs that someone stole your catalytic converter. You’ll notice your engine becomes deafeningly loud, the Check Engine light will turn on, and you’ll experience reduced torque at low RPMs. Read on for more signs and what to do when you confirm a cat-con theft.

Can You Tell If Your Catalytic Converter Is Stolen?

Yes, you’ll be able to tell if your catalytic converter is stolen right at the moment you start your car.

Remember: Not only is the catalytic converter a crucial component for your engine, but it’s also a relatively large object attached to your car’s exhaust system. In other words, it’s tough NOT to notice when your catalytic converter is missing. 

A handful of signs that occur when your converter is gone will, without a doubt, get your attention. Since catalytic converter theft is a risk that all car owners face regardless of brand or model, you'll want to know what those signs are.

5 Signs Your Catalytic Converter Was Stolen

There are 5 signs that you’ve got a stolen catalytic converter. They are:

#1 Unusually Loud Engine

The first telltale sign that someone has stolen your catalytic converter happens when you crank your engine. Next, you'll notice that your car engine is exceptionally loud, probably loud enough to hurt your ears and that of anyone nearby.

The reason that happens is that the catalytic converter is a part of your car’s exhaust system. So, when a thief removes it, the exhaust system is suddenly exposed and fails to reduce the noise coming out of your engine.

Once you realise that it is coming from your vehicle, it’s best to shut the car off immediately and troubleshoot further.

#2 Check Engine Light Is On

Another telltale sign is that your Check Engine light comes on. That happens because your car’s computer system will likely run automatic tests as you start the vehicle. 

It won’t take long to realise that something’s not right (i.e., the missing catalytic converter is causing the exhaust system not to function correctly).

That will trigger the Check Engine light to turn on at your instrument panel.

Of course, the Check Engine light will turn on for a long list of different reasons. Still, it’s something to consider alongside the other signs on this list.

#3 Your Head Hurts

So, let’s say you’re still sitting in your car after a few minutes of hearing the loud engine and seeing the Check Engine light turn on. If you start to feel a little lightheaded or your head starts to hurt, shut the engine off immediately and exit the vehicle.

Remember: The purpose of a catalytic converter is to convert harmful emissions into less-toxic ones as they exit the engine and pass through the exhaust system.

You see, if someone rips your catalytic converter out, all that comes out of your car will be toxic gases. Worse, some of these gases might end up inside the car’s cabin, which could potentially poison you.

#4 Reduced Torque

A missing catalytic converter can also affect how your engine performs. So, even though you might not notice this sign at first, your car could experience less torque. That’s particularly true at lower RPMs, which you’ll see when you try to drive your vehicle away.

#5 Missing Parts of the Exhaust System

The last sign is the most telling of all. When you suspect that someone stole your catalytic converter, get out of the vehicle, and check underneath.

The best way to confirm that your converter is gone is to look at the exhaust system. Even if you don’t know what your catalytic converter exactly looks like, you’ll notice that a component is missing, and the exhaust pipe has been cut.

Catalytic converter thieves don’t like to waste time, so you’ll notice very rough cuts to the exhaust that most definitely do not belong there.

What Should You Do When Someone Steals Your Catalytic Converter?

So, let’s assume you notice some or all the 5 signs that your catalytic converter has been stolen.

Here’s a quick list of things you can and should do when that happens:

  1. Breathe: No matter who you are, having something stolen from you (even a catalytic converter) can be pretty traumatic. So, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath and regain your bearings.
  2. Police: Next, you'll want to make a police report as soon as possible. There are two reasons to do this. Firstly, providing the police with the necessary details could increase the chances of catching those responsible. Secondly, you'll likely need a police report to file an insurance claim later.
  3. Insurance: Assuming your auto insurance policy covers stolen catalytic converters, you’ll have to immediately inform them of the incident. If you’re not sure how to do that, call their emergency hotline and explain the situation to them. Then, they’ll walk you through the process of filing a claim.
  4. Replace: Last but not least, you’ll have to get a new catalytic converter. Depending on your car brand and model, replacing a cat converter could set you back a few hundred dollars or more.

Always remember that catalytic converters are a prized target among thieves. So, there is a possibility that they’ll steal another one from your car later. There are plenty of stories of people having their cat cons stolen repeatedly.

You can reduce the chances of another stolen catalytic converter by investing in some form of protection to secure your new catalytic converter, like with a cat shield, for instance.

Does Insurance Cover Stolen Catalytic Converters?

In some cases, you might be protected against catalytic converter theft if you have comprehensive auto insurance. Of course, that will depend on the terms of your insurance policy.

To be sure, it’s always best to contact your insurance company and verify with them. If you find that the policy doesn’t cover catalytic converter theft, you can have them include that for future coverage.

Looking for a replacement converter for your car? Check out CarpartAU to find used or brand-new catalytic converters on the Marketplace, or if you can’t find it there, request one through the Part Finder.

By Ray Hasbollah

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