What is a catalyst? And how to protect yours from theft.


Cars making loud noises are never a good sign and are a particular problem when the source of the noise is the absence of a catalytic converter.

Catalysts are regularly targeted auto parts, sometimes stolen directly from driveways. The theft can cause car owners headaches and up to thousands of dollars.

In August 2022, detectives identified a man who led a $22 million catalytic converter trade based in Oregon and spanning six states. A jury has charged a dozen people with, among other things, extortion, theft with violence and money laundering.

What are catalytic converters and why are they stolen so often?

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What are Catalysts?

Catalysts are your car’s way of filtering harmful pollutants from its exhaust. This exhaust system converts pollutants (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides) into compounds that are already part of our atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water).

Well-designed catalytic converters can reduce hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions by about 90%, as well as diesel particulate emissions by 25-35%. These converters work by using metallic catalysts to drive reactions at lower temperatures than would normally be required.

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