October 14, 2022

Stealing of catalytic converter as the vogue

catalytic converters

By Theodore Opara

Don’t buy car without checking if removed

STEALING of vehicle catalytic converters is one of the biggest challenges facing car owners in Nigeria, especially those who maintain their cars with roadside mechanics.

Unlike in the past, when people didn’t care about what a catalytic converter does to their cars, a catalytic converter plays a very vital role in the performance of automobiles. Since 1975, automobile manufacturers have been installing catalytic converters in their cars to enhance the performance and to reduce the pollution of the environment.

This means that every car on the road that was produced in the last 47 years should have this vital part fixed to the exhaust. The fact remains that while catalytic converters have drastically reduced pollution, they have created a problem for vehicle owners, having become the target of most dishonest mechanics. It should be recalled that environmental concerns of the 1970s led to the introduction of catalytic converter installation in the exhaust systems of cars to turn toxic exhaust fumes into water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. But this good gesture has become a curse to car owners as both mechanics and automobile importers take advantage of the location of this part that is located under the car to steal it bearing in mind that the buyer or owner might not find out after all.

As a result, people who buy used cars from abroad fall victim to the fraudsters who remove the catalytic converter before displaying the car for sale. Even the mechanics connive with panel beaters to remove the part when cars are brought for regular maintenance. They sell the converter for as much as N450,000 without the owner knowing that it has been removed. They remove the converter and use an ordinary pipe to replace it without the knowledge of the car owner. It could take months or years before the owner would discover that it has been removed. It is usually very difficult to discover that the catalytic converter has been removed, except the car owner changes the mechanic. Even at that, some importers do remove it before displaying the car for sale in the market.

The sane thing to do is to ensure that before you buy any used car, ensure that a qualified technician scans the car to ascertain if the catalytic has been tampered with. Though some car dealers would reject the request to scan the car, that implies that the catalytic converter has been tampered with. Do not purchase such car if you are confronted with such refusal. Often times the dashboard might not show ‘check engine’ sign. This is not a guarantee that the converter has not been tampered with. They can use the diagnostic machine to wipe out the sign sometime, which might reflect shortly after a while. Mr Kehinde Ojo, a car owner, shared his experience with Vanguard. He said he discovered after five years of using his car that it had no catalytic converter and could neither trace it to the importer nor mechanics, having used many roadside mechanics all the while. There are many with similar experiences who do not know where to trace the missing catalytic converter to.

A young man who also shared his personal experience with Vanguard, but does not want his name in print said that he almost became a victim recently when he went for a Honda CRV Tokunbo car in Lagos. At the point of making payment, he decided to call his mechanic to run the test. He was shocked when it was discovered that the dealer had removed it. On inquiry, the dealer said that the clearing agent must have removed it. This is the situation and the commonest thing when buying a used car, both local and imported. So take precaution before purchasing. There are no exemptions. All cars can have their catalytic converters stolen because of the high demand for it and the financial gain they make. But beware of Toyota, Honda, and most cars that are in very high demand in the country. If you go to most mechanic villages, this act is going on every day. They cannibalise the vehicles and notable spare parts markets like Ladipo, Trinity are the receivers as the item is often displayed freely waiting for the highest bidder. It doesn’t come cheap to buy because it determines your car performance, fuel consumption and pollution of the environment for those who care.