Virginia Auto Service

What is a Catalytic Converter for Cars and How to Protect it from Thieves in Phoenix AZ

Catalytic Converter

A catalytic converter creates cleaner tailpipe emissions, but beware of thefts.

Did you know that your car has an important and expensive part that thieves can easily steal? This component is called a catalytic converter, which you can find underneath your vehicle close to the exhaust outlet. Losing one means you have to spend at least $1000 on a replacement.

What is a catalytic converter?

Yes, you have read that right. Depending on your car model, a new catalytic converter may cost you $1000 to $3000.

A catalytic converter acts as a chemical filter for your vehicle’s tailpipe gasses. This component converts harmful gasses like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, and toxic hydrocarbons into significantly less harmful substances like water vapor and carbon dioxide.

The technology has been around since the 1970s. Its form has been optimized into a metal canister with an internal honeycomb structure connected to the exhaust system. However, a catalytic converter needs to be installed outside the car and away from the engine to function well, making it an easy target for thieves.

Why do thieves want to get my catalytic converter?

In a recent interview with FOX 10 Phoenix, Matt Allen shared his thoughts on why thieves everywhere in the US are targeting this automotive component. Matt is the owner of the Virginia Auto Service repair shop in Phoenix, Arizona.

“…They are not buying the part to reinstall it on a car. They are salvaging it for precious metals,” said Allen about people buying “cat” converters from the black market. After all, a catalytic converter contains rhodium and palladium, which are metals more expensive than gold.

Can I drive in Phoenix, Arizona without a catalytic converter?

Technically, you can use your vehicle without a catalytic converter. Cars before 1975 worked fine without this part, so yours should work alright for a while too. Perhaps the more important question is – should you risk it?

Driving without catalytic converters is heavily prohibited by the law. You can lose thousands of dollars in fines, especially in states with stricter vehicle emission laws. Most importantly, hydrocarbon gases from the tailpipe can be detrimental to your health and the environment.

Modern cars will warn you that your converter is not in place through the Check Engine Light, since its absence can affect your engine’s performance and other components. Renewing your registration can also be a problem because your vehicle will surely fail emission tests.

How to protect my catalytic converter in Phoenix, AZ?

Thieves can slide under your vehicle and quickly remove your catalytic converter with a wrench or saw. Worse, they can do it in less than 60 seconds. Fortunately, our expert mechanics at Virginia Auto Service in Phoenix can help protect your vehicle.

We can install protective rebar to encase the cat. Alternatively, the canister can directly be welded to your vehicle’s frame at our repair shop in Phoenix. These can deter criminals and make catalytic converters much harder to remove.

Lastly, consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the cat’s casing. Etching your VIN on the catalytic converter can help identify the owner and alert the scrap dealer that it is probably stolen.

Catalytic Converter Phoenix AZ

Visit us at Virginia Auto Service in Phoenix if you have catalytic converter issues or it got stolen (Hopefully, it doesn’t!). We have ASE-certified technicians and the right equipment to repair catalytic converters or any other automotive problems. We can also install a replacement in case yours got lost or damaged. You can schedule an appointment online or call us at (602) 698-9539.

You can find our shop at 386 E Virginia Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004. You can easily access our location from Avondale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Tempe, and other surrounding areas in Arizona.