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You’re happy with your car. It’s a great used 3-series that you got for all of $18,000. You especially love how quiet the car is. And then one morning, your BMW begins to behave in a most peculiar way. You start the car and the engine sputters brutally. Your wife comes and tells you that she recognizes that sound – it’s the classic case of the missing BMW catalytic converter. Someone’s been working on your car overnight (actually, they probably worked on your car for about five minutes) and they took a valuable part away. You know what that means – hundreds of dollars in theft insurance deductibles and about three days without your pretty BMW.


A catalytic converter is a part installed in your car’s exhaust line. Its job is to process the exhaust as it exits the engine and to make sure that what gets into the atmosphere is as safe as possible. It’s technology that’s been a mandatory part of all cars sold in America for about 35 years now. Why do thieves target this part in particular? It isn’t just the Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or BMW catalytic converter that interests them – they steal these off every single car out there as far as possible. Even ones that are clearly broken. All you need to do is to ask around – everyone knows a couple of people who have had their converter stolen. Thieves do it because of the precious metals that go into making these. Catalytic converters make use of certain rare metals – platinum, palladium and others. A thief can expect to get $100 on the scrap market for these metals in the converter. It’s a pity that a BMW catalytic converter actually costs more than $1000 to replace.

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It’s become such a serious problem, catalytic converter theft has, that there are state laws in place that require recyclers to keep records of every single converter that is brought in by anyone to be sold as scrap. And it isn’t just a simple scribbled fictitious address and phone number that they are asking for either. The government wants a video of each seller, a picture and everything else. And also, the government won’t allow any buyer of used catalytic converters to pay the seller in cash. It has to be a check that’s mailed to the seller. It may sound a little harsh how far the government is going with these rules; what you do when you have gangs of thieves getting into car dealerships and stealing all the catalytic converters and running off in one night? It happens all over the country.


Some people consider getting a welder to weld their catalytic converter on to the car. What do you do one day though if the catalytic converter should fail? You would have to pay the welder hundreds of dollars.