Catalytic converter theft is rising. One of the problems you may experience these days is the theft of your catalytic converter. Even if you weld it into place, thieves can cut the pipe to make sure they get the converter. Other options may be more practical and easier to use.
There are two ways to install your new catalytic converter. The first way is the obvious method and that is welding. But if you do not have any welding equipment, then you need to use bolts and a clamp. It takes longer to install but it is as efficient as welding.
To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It provides the information you should find useful and speed up your installation time. Take a few minutes to see how this information helps you with this task.
The best option is to use clamps. These clamps may come in different shapes and sizes with two examples being the exhaust band clamps and the other U-bolts. The latter may distort the exhaust tailpipe a little.
Once you install the catalytic converter, you can use some Permatex tailpipe sealant to close any possible leaks. But some owners like to be creative and innovative if they do not have these options available to them.
One owner cut and inserted a tin can into the opening after his exhaust pipe rusted clean through. Then he slipped the tailpipe over the tin can and sealed it with those regular screw-type clamps you find on rubber hoses in your engine compartment.
As you can tell, this was just a temporary fix till he could be in a place where he could make a proper fix. He sealed any possible leaks in the repair with Exhaust Repair Paste. Any brand will do for this temporary option.
It was a unique way to keep the catalytic converter in place until a more permanent solution could be applied. It may not work for everyone though but keep it in mind just in case.
Yes, this is a good alternative to welding. One owner did not want to weld his catalytic converter on his RV because it was not that far from the propane tank. He had smelled some leaking propane so he did not want to take any chances.
The positive aspects of using clamps are as follows:
- Easy installation
- Dissembles easily
- DIYer friendly
- Installation while muffler is on
The only real negative that comes with using clamps is that it is not as strong as welding the converter into place. But it is not so weak that the converter will loosen itself and fall off.
Using clamps is an effective way to make sure everything remains in its proper place. It will make replacing the converter a lot easier for owners as well. They just have to remove a few bolts and the converter should come off without any real hassle.
It is also a time and money saver as you should already have the tools you need to do the work. For those without any welding tools, it can get costly to buy or rent them from your local stores.
Yes and no. The welding does a great job to defend against inexperienced thieves. But more experienced and dedicated thieves know how to use a welding torch to cut the converter out of your exhaust system and not damage it.
So yes, it can help prevent theft and no it does not help prevent theft. But there are steps you can take to make sure your catalytic converter is not stolen. Here are some good ideas:
1. Paint your converter a bright color- use heat-resistant paint and make it bright red or orange. If you paint your converter junkyard and other buyers know it was stolen and won’t have anything to do with the thieves.
2. Engrave your vehicle's VIN into it- this helps the police identify the converter and know that it was stolen. An engraving tool with a sharp enough blade will do the trick.
3. Make your car alarm more sensitive- this will help scare off thieves but you need to be close by to make sure they do not get away with the converter. Going into automatic mode every time you hear your car alarm is not good.
You may be inadvertently helping the thieves by shutting the alarm off remotely.
4. Install an anti-theft shield- this can be a sheet of metal or a cage system that protects your converter. These devices can make it harder for the thieves to steal the exhaust as well as make them take longer to do the theft.
These anti-theft devices should bolt into your car’s frame so you can always remove them for repair work.
5. Add security cameras or new lights- these would be covering your parking spot. A well-lit area does deter thieves as they like to work in the dark. The cameras can help identify the thieves if they are ever caught.
Why do thieves target catalytic converters? The main reason for this uptick in this new crime wave is the many rare metals used to make these converters work. Those rare metals are very expensive to buy and they sell for a very good price on the black market.
Thieves do get a very large profit from this work making most catalytic converters a prime target for theft. The best way to combat this problem is to implement many of the deterrents mentioned above.
While those deterrents are not foolproof, they do slow thieves down making them easier to catch.
Welding is not a difficult task to do. It just takes a little practice and a lot of patience to do. You have to make sure your hand moves at the correct speed to ensure that the weld has no weak spots in it.
Here are the instructions to weld your catalytic converter:
1. Connect the grounding cable to the welding machine and attach it to a nearby metal surface
2. Set the welding machine to AC mode and set the amperage between 50 and 60 amps
3. Place the tip of the electrode against the catalytic converter and strike an arc
4. Maintain the arc for a few seconds as you move the electrode around the circumference of the converter
5. Slowly increase the amperage until you reach between 80 and 90 amps
6. Maintain this current for about 10 seconds as you move slowly around the converter again
7. Allow the converter to cool before handling it further (source)
Make sure to wear protective eyewear as well as a good breathing mask. The rare and other metals used in its construction can create some toxic air. Breathing that in can do some serious damage to your body or respiratory system.
Another problem with welding would be if you actually hit the converter with the flame. The high temperatures can damage the converter making it less effective in reducing your vehicle’s emissions.
Just weld the pipe ends and stay away from welding on the converter when you work.
Just about anyone can weld a converter into place. The key would be for the welder to be experienced in welding and know the different techniques that welders use.
As far as we know, there are no regulations restricting who can weld and who cannot weld this device into place. The rules for this job may vary from state to state, so check with your appropriate state office to see if there are any rules limiting who can do the work.
The three techniques that would work with this task are- stick, MIG, flux, or TIG welding- with the latter two being the preferred methods. Also, you would need to make sure the core is dry, free of oils, corrosion, paint, or dirt.
When you are done, start to look for any defects or leaks in your weld. It is important to seal those leaks or repair those defects so your catalytic converter can work properly. Also to keep additional pollutants out of the air.
There are some tricky issues that you have to watch out for. If you are not that experienced in welding, it is best to let the more experienced handle the work.
When you are checking for leaks, start your engine. The noise will help you track down where those leaks are located.
All you need to seal those leaks will be some cold weld epoxy.
The cost will vary depending on the type of catalytic converter your vehicle has underneath it. For most vehicles, you can expect to pay between $200 and $300 for the whole process.
The process includes cutting off the old converter, if it hasn’t been stolen yet, as well as welding the new one in place. That cost is for the universal model. These models will go on most vehicles with a little customizing included.
The direct fit catalytic converters will cost more. That is because they are bolt-on models and more complex than the universal converters. The cost for this replacement ranges between $300 and $2500.
Then labor costs will vary depending on the shop you use. Those costs can be between $70 & $130 per hour. There is just more work for this type of catalytic converter than the universal models.
If you do it yourself, then the only cost you will need to pay will be rental fees and the price of the converter. If you already own a welder then exclude those rental fees.
Check out the specific costs in your area and include any prices if you add in any of the theft deterrents mentioned earlier in this article.
One of the key signs will be the age of your vehicle. If it is over 10 years old and has never had the converter replaced, then it is about time to replace it. Even if it is working fine, you should consider getting a new one to avoid any problems down the road.
Other signs your converter is failing:
1. Your vehicle’s engine is misfiring.- this is due to the inability of the converter to do its job correctly
2. Your fuel economy is decreasing- a bad converter does affect your MPG and it will go down when the device is starting to fail or is failing on you.
3. You see an increased amount of emissions- take a look at your tailpipe after you have started your vehicle. If you see a lot of smoke or other pollutants coming out of the tailpipe, then you need a new catalytic converter.
4. Your CEL light is illuminated- unfortunately, this is not a clear sign that the converter is the problem. This light will go on for many problems involving your engine. But do not discount the converter for being the reason it is on.
Just so you know, while there are other countries that have made driving without a catalytic converter illegal, it is not a universal law. Not every country has this law and even some states in the United States do not require you to drive with a catalytic converter.
Check your state’s laws on this issue to make sure.
Theft is one of the main reasons why most vehicle owners have to replace their catalytic converter. Welding will help prevent this as will using the right clamps.
Welding is the stronger of the two options but both will need help from those theft prevention suggestions to keep your converter own your car. If you weld make sure you not smelling and fuel leaks.