All About Florida’s Catalytic Converter Laws

Florida’s state law requires all vehicles to have their OEM catalytic converter or an aftermarket EPA-approved catalytic converter.
Written by Talullah Blanco
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
In Florida, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle that has received a failed emissions test, doesn’t have a catalytic converter, or emits visible emissions from the exhaust pipe for a continuous period of five seconds. 
  • Tampering with a catalytic converter is illegal in Florida, as is selling or trading a vehicle with a dismantled or missing catalytic converter.
  • Florida lawmakers are currently considering SB 306, which would make aspects of catalytic converter theft a felony.
  • Simple ways to protect your catalytic converter include installing an anti-theft device, parking in a well-lit area, and engraving identification information into the converter.
MORE: Car insurance quotes in Florida

Florida’s catalytic converter laws

According to Florida law, it is illegal to:
  • Drive a vehicle without a catalytic converter (OEM or EPA-approved aftermarket)
  • Drive a vehicle that has failed an emissions test
  • Drive a vehicle that emits visible emissions from the exhaust pipe for a continuous period of five seconds
  • Tamper with a catalytic converter
  • Sell, lease, or trade a vehicle with a catalytic converter that has been dismantled, removed, or rendered ineffective
Additionally, the Catalytic Converter Anti-theft Act (Senate Bill 306), introduced by Florida lawmaker Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) last year and currently under consideration by the Florida legislature, would prohibit any person from purchasing a detached catalytic converter unless they’re a registered secondary metals recycler. Plus, it would make knowingly buying, possessing, or selling a stolen catalytic converter a third-degree felony.
In other words: If passed, SB 306 would make being in possession of a detached catalytic converter without proof of ownership or recycler registration a felony.
In addition to Florida’s state laws, there are also federal laws regarding catalytic converters. In 1986, the EPA announced a series of rules regarding catalytic converter replacement which still hold true today. 
Under federal law, your catalytic converter must be
  • In the same location as the original
  • The same type as the original
  • The correct model for your vehicle
  • Properly installed in the exhaust system
  • Accompanied by the installer’s warranty information card
If your catalytic converter is stolen, your vehicle can still operate, but you cannot legally drive until it’s been replaced. You should tow your vehicle to the nearest repair shop if you discover that your catalytic converter has been stolen.
MORE: How to know if your catalytic converter was stolen
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Penalties for driving without a catalytic converter in Florida

You’ll have to pay a $250 fine if law enforcement catches you driving without a catalytic converter. And without a catalytic converter, you’ll fail emissions testing, which could lead to additional penalties!

What you need to know about catalytic converter theft

A stolen catalytic converter can fetch a pretty penny because it contains precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium. Your average catalytic converter can be sold for up to $300 while hybrid converters (watch out Prius owners!) can go for almost $1,500!
Not only are they worth a lot of money, but catalytic converters are also easy to steal. Located under your vehicle, thieves can slide under your car and steal your catalytic converter even in broad daylight without trouble. 
MORE: Cars most targeted by catalytic converter thieves

How to keep your catalytic converter safe

Here are three steps you can take to keep your catalytic converter safe:
  • Get an anti-theft device: For just $300, you can have a metal cage installed around your catalytic converter and never have to worry about theft again!
  • Find a safe parking space: If you can’t park in a garage or driveway, park in a well-lit area to deter theft. 
  • Get your catalytic converter engraved: Etching your license plate or VIN number into your catalytic converter will make it more difficult to sell and discourage thieves. 
MORE: The best vehicle anti-theft devices to keep your car safe

Insurance coverage for catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converter theft is covered by comprehensive coverage but not collision coverage or
liability insurance
MORE: Collision vs. comprehensive car insurance
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Yes, catalytic converters are required by federal law. If you are caught driving without a catalytic converter, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can issue you a fine.
Due to their value and ease of access for thieves, catalytic converters are being stolen across the nation! There were 14,443 catalytic converter thefts reported in 2020 alone.
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