All About Arkansas’ Catalytic Converter Laws

Under Arkansas state law, all vehicles built after 1974 are legally required to have an EPA-approved catalytic converter installed.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Under Arkansas state law, all vehicles manufactured after the 1974 model year are legally required to have an EPA-approved catalytic converter. There are also certain state laws you must comply with when buying used catalytic converters.
You might not know it, but the catalytic converter is one of your vehicle’s most important parts and keeps toxic emissions at a minimum by filtering your exhaust, converting carbon monoxide and other harmful compounds into cleaner gasses and byproducts. Due to their role in reducing vehicular pollution, catalytic converters are required in all vehicles produced after a certain model year, depending on the state you live in.
But if cars aren’t really your thing, trying to make sense of Arkansas’ catalytic converter legislation can be confusing. That’s why
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Do I need a catalytic converter in Arkansas?

Yes. Regardless of where you live in the United States, a catalytic converter is required in almost all gas-powered vehicles manufactured after the 1974 model year—and Arkansas is no exception. 
Unfortunately, however, Arkansas has no explicit legislature detailing any further guidelines when it comes to catalytic converters—which means you’ll need to follow all of the federal catalytic converter laws, especially when it comes to the installation of a new converter.
If you ever need to replace your catalytic converter, the EPA dictates that it must be:
  • The same type as your original
  • The correct model for your vehicle
  • Installed in the same place as the original
  • Installed correctly
  • Accompanied by a warranty information card
Remember: your vehicle will still be operable without a catalytic converter, so it can be tempting to continue driving without one if yours gets stolen—but under state and federal law, you are obligated to have it replaced as soon as possible.

Penalties for driving without a catalytic converter

If your catalytic converter was stolen and you are found to be driving without a replacement, you may be required to pay up to a $250 fine. Driving without a catalytic converter will also cause you to fail emissions testing, which can lead to even further penalties—meaning it’s always best to replace your catalytic converter as soon as possible.
If, on the other hand, you were the one who removed your catalytic converter, the penalties are much steeper—you may even get hit with a maximum $10,000 fine, on top of additional state-regulated penalties.

Laws buying used catalytic converters in Arkansas

It is also worth noting that Arkansas’ state legislators recently enacted several laws regarding the proper buying of used catalytic converters—largely to curtail rampant catalytic converter theft and reselling.
If you are buying a catalytic converter in Arkansas—and you are not a licensed scrap metal recycler—you will need to:
  • Be registered with the county sheriff as a legal buyer of used catalytic converters.
  • File an electronic record of the purchase, taking care to note both the seller’s and your own home address, the seller’s license plate number, the seller’s driver's license number, the number of used catalytic converters you are purchasing, and photographic evidence of the catalytic converters purchased.
  • Enter said electronic record into the statewide database within 24 hours after the initial purchase of the catalytic converter(s).
  • Hold onto a receipt of said electronic record as proof of purchase.
Failure to adhere to these laws can result in loss of registration, a civil penalty of up to $500, the issuance of a Class A misdemeanor, or even a Class D felony, depending on how many violations were made. 
MORE: How to pass emissions testing

Why are catalytic converters targeted by thieves?

It might come as a surprise, but catalytic converters are actually one of the single-most stolen vehicle parts in the United States, largely because they contain precious metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium. If someone steals your catalytic converter, they can easily sell it for up to $300—and that’s just for your everyday, run-of-the-mill converter. 
If you drive a luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz or have a hybrid vehicle, you’re at even greater risk of theft, as these catalytic converters can be resold for over $1,000!
It also doesn’t help that catalytic converters are relatively easy to remove. In fact, the best thieves can steal a catalytic converter in under five minutes, meaning theft can occur even in broad daylight.

How to keep your catalytic converter safe

That said, there are things you can do to keep your catalytic converter safer from theft—follow these three steps to fight back against would-be thieves:
  • Install an anti-theft device: If you really want to keep your catalytic converter safe and never worry about it being stolen, install an anti-theft device around it. This procedure is somewhat expensive and usually costs around $300—but it’s better than paying over $1,000 to replace a stolen converter!
  • Engrave your license plate number on the catalytic converter: Though it won’t deter the most determined of thieves, engraving your license plate number on your catalytic converter will require extra work to remove, so they’ll probably leave your vehicle alone and go after an easier target.
  • Park in a safe place: If you need to leave your car someplace for a long period, park in an enclosed or well-lit area that offers little space for thieves to operate.

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance?

It depends. If you have a standard car insurance policy, it’s highly unlikely your insurance provider will cover the costs of a stolen catalytic converter. But if you have a
comprehensive insurance
policy, you won’t have to worry about paying out of pocket if your converter is targeted by thieves.
In the unfortunate event that your catalytic converter does get stolen, you’ll definitely want a comprehensive insurance policy to have your back—it costs more than your standard policy, but it will cover the cost of the part’s replacement.

How to find affordable car insurance in Arkansas

Protecting your catalytic converter with a comprehensive car insurance policy can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if you use the licensed
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For all intents and purposes, yes. Arkansas, like most states, requires all vehicles manufactured after the 1974 model year to have an EPA-approved catalytic converter that passes emissions testing.
Catalytic converters are frequently targeted by thieves as they are easy to remove and contain precious metals like platinum. They often can be resold for close to $300—or much more if it’s from a hybrid or luxury vehicle.
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