Updated: Dec 28, 2021
WHAT THE HECK CALIFORNIA?!
Video: What a Hybrid sounds like before and after catalytic converter theft.
Let's start with a bit of information about WHY catalytic converters are such a hot-ticket item at the moment. California is one of four states that require C.A.R.B.-compliant catalytic converters. C.A.R.B. = California Air Resources Board. Table below from https://www.walkerexhaust.com/
ALL MODEL YEARS
January 1st, 2009
1993, 1994, 1996 MODEL YEARS AND NEWER VEHICLES
June 1st, 2013
2001 MODEL YEARS AND NEWER VEHICLES
June 1st, 2018
ALL MODEL YEARS
January 1st, 2021
Catalytic converters are designed to take the nasty exhaust fumes that our engines generate (nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide) and react to create not-so-harmful: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water.
This reaction is done with a honeycomb-like structure that is coated with rare metals including rhodium, palladium, and platinum. Photo from https://www.instituteofmaking.org.uk/
The price of previous metals in the last 5 years has skyrocketed. Prices below are recorded in USD, per ounce, on the New York Stock Exchange.
Gold: $1,809 Rhodium: $12,950
Hybrid vehicles actually have more raw material in their catalytic converters (more precious metal) which is why the Prius has been a targeted vehicle.
For the price of a jack and a saw (less than $100) thieves can make an average of $300 per catalytic converter that they collect and sell to scrapyards. Only 18 states have made it illegal to purchase used catalytic converters (California is one of them). The price of precious metals has caused a rise in demand for those metals. The current economy pushes more and more to desperate measures and I don't foresee it getting better any time soon.
There are solutions that exist. You can have a catalytic converter shield installed for less that $400. These are a simple solution that save you from thousands of dollars and potentially dealing with insurance companies.