Catalytic Converter Theft Is Up 25%

At Metromile, we care about your safety and protecting you from undue costs, including theft. Unfortunately, catalytic converter theft is on the rise, especially in the state of California.

The Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars are the most common targets, but thieves also steal catalytic converters from SUVs and trucks. 

Recently, catalytic converter claims at Metromile have increased by around 25%, on average costing thousands of dollars to replace. Rest assured, if your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, it could help cover costs up to your coverage limits, including replacing your catalytic converter and any necessary repairs from any damage caused by the thief.

How can I protect my vehicle from catalytic converter theft?

Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas that are near cameras or higher pedestrian traffic. If you have a personal garage, store your car in the garage with the door closed and locked. Attaching a security device, such as a cat-shield, may also reduce the likelihood your car is targeted.

What is a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter reduces the toxic gases and pollutants that exit the tailpipe. It is located between the engine and the exhaust system, usually underneath your car. 

The precious metals inside the converter, such as palladium and platinum, make it a popular choice for thieves. It can be cut off from your car in mere minutes.

How does a catalytic converter work?

When pollutants in fuel pass over the palladium and platinum inside the catalytic converter, they trigger a chemical reaction that burns or oxidizes the harmful components. Then, the newly cleaned emissions pass through and out of the tailpipe.

The very metals that are so desired by these thieves are used specifically for this car part because they are exactly what make the converter work, chemically. Think of it as a chemistry experiment taking place in a fancy metal chamber underneath your car! 

In the event of a malfunction, the exhaust flow is affected, which can disrupt your car’s performance, hinder fuel economy and can even cause difficulties with starting your car. Sometimes, it is not the actual converter that is malfunctioning, but a domino effect of other issues occurring in another part of the engine’s network of systems and parts — like a piston ring that’s stuck or bad spark plugs. Thankfully, since OBD-II ports have a sensor to monitor, among other things, the efficiency of the converter, any issue affecting your catalytic converter will trigger your check engine light. And, as a Metromile pay per mile customer, your Pulse device reads that sensor and can let you know should an issue arise. Though malfunctions do occur, the good news is most catalytic converters function properly and last for the life of the vehicle.