April 14, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

How To Avoid Catalytic Converter Theft and the Link To Smog Check Compliance

Essential Tips to Protect Your Catalytic Converter and Avoid Costly Replacements

By Dolores Quintana

Because of the rise in catalytic converter theft in California, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair has some guidelines about how to prevent catalytic converter theft and what to do if the catalytic converter in your car is stolen.   

A catalytic converter holds a crucial role in emissions control and undergoes thorough inspection during a Smog Check. It contains rare metals responsible for converting smog-causing pollutants into less harmful compounds as they pass through a vehicle’s exhaust system. 

However, the rising value of these metals has led to a surge in catalytic converter theft. Experienced thieves can remove a catalytic converter in just one to two minutes, utilizing basic tools. While they can fetch significant sums at scrapyards or recyclers, replacing a stolen converter can cost vehicle owners thousands of dollars, depending on their vehicle’s make and model. To safeguard your catalytic converter and prepare for the next Smog Check, consider the following measures:

  1. Install a theft prevention device: Visit a licensed auto shop to have a protective plate, shield, clamp, cage, strap, or similar device installed on your catalytic converter. Ensure the device is correctly fitted to prevent damage and allow all identifying information to remain visible. It should not be directly attached or welded to the catalytic converter.
  1. Mark your catalytic converter: Engrave or etch your vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number onto the converter. This can act as a deterrent to theft and potentially aid in identifying the owner if the device is stolen. If you choose to paint your catalytic converter with bright, fluorescent paint, make sure it doesn’t cover any identifying information. Check with your local law enforcement agency for information on no-cost engraving/etching events.
  1. Adjust your vehicle’s alarm: Ensure that your vehicle’s alarm system is calibrated to detect vibrations. This way, it can alert you or deter thieves when tampering is detected.
  1. Park in safe locations: Utilize your garage if available. If parking in your driveway, consider installing motion-sensitive lights. When using public lots, try to park close to building entrances in well-lit areas with high traffic.

It’s essential to be aware of how theft prevention devices can affect Smog Check results:

  1. Failure due to modifications or damage: If a theft prevention device alters or damages the catalytic converter, your vehicle will fail the Smog Check.
  1. Visibility of identifying information: All required identifying information on the catalytic converter must remain visible; otherwise, your vehicle will not pass the Smog Check.

To ensure proper installation, always visit a licensed auto shop when installing a theft-prevention device on your vehicle.

If your vehicle’s catalytic converter has been stolen or requires replacement, follow these steps:

  1. Visit a licensed Smog Check station: Take your vehicle to a licensed Smog Check station to have a replacement converter installed. The replacement must be an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) part or a California Air Resources Board-approved aftermarket converter with an assigned Executive Order (EO) number, meeting your vehicle’s specific requirements. The station will ensure correct installation.
  1. Use BAR’s Auto Shop Locator: To find a suitable Smog Check station for installation, use BAR’s Auto Shop Locator tool. If you encounter difficulties locating a replacement converter, reach out to the vehicle manufacturer or Smog Check Referee for assistance.

It is very important to note that the car’s catalytic converter must be replaced as quickly as possible and that not replacing it can cause damage to the vehicle, and your vehicle will not pass a smog check. You can check with your insurance company to verify if your policy covers the replacement of stolen car parts.

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