All About Maine’s Catalytic Converter Laws

Any vehicle with a model year of 1983 or later is required by Maine law to have a catalytic converter. Click here for some pointers on how to keep it safe!
Written by Natalie Todoroff
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To comply with
state law, all vehicles with a model year of 1983 or later must be equipped with an EPA-approved catalytic converter. 
Love taking a deep breath of Maine’s crisp, fresh air? You’ve got catalytic converters to help thank for that! This small but mighty car part not only helps filter harmful chemicals from your vehicle’s emissions but can even boost your fuel mileage. It’s made of extremely valuable metals, so they’re at a
high risk of being stolen
If yours gets nabbed, you’ll want to get it replaced ASAP. Maine’s catalytic converter laws require the part for all vehicles made in 1983 or later, and there are some serious consequences if you get caught without one. 
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Do I need a catalytic converter in Maine?

Catalytic converters are required by both Maine state law and federal law. Under
Maine state statutes
, all vehicles with a model year of 1983 or newer are required to have a catalytic converter in order to pass a
vehicle inspection
In 2018, the state of Maine also adopted stricter guidelines for replacing catalytic converters. Under these rules, a replacement catalytic converter must either be an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part or a new aftermarket catalytic converter certified by the state board. Notably, these rules only apply to gasoline vehicles that weigh less than 14,000 lbs and have model years of 2001 or newer. 
And, if that wasn’t enough, replacement catalytic converters also must follow these federal, EPA-mandated regulations. The replacement must be: 
  • In the same location as the original
  • The same type as the original
  • The correct model for your vehicle
  • Properly installed
  • Accompanied by the installer’s warranty information card

Penalties for driving without a catalytic converter 

Driving sans catalytic converter is not only harmful to the environment, but also to your wallet. Breaking Maine catalytic converter laws is punishable by a fine of up to $500 or 30 days in prison—not to mention, you’ll fail your emissions test, which will wrack up an even heftier bill. 
Getting your catalytic converter stolen is one thing, but if it’s discovered that you were the one who removed it, you could be facing a maximum fine of $10,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency on top of state penalties

Why are catalytic converters being stolen?

Catalytic converters are highly valuable and absurdly easy pickings for thieves. In as little as two minutes, a thief can swipe your catalytic converter and sell it for anywhere between $300 and $1,500. The converters contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium, which can be melted down and sold for even more. 

How to keep your catalytic converter safe 

Although there’s an epidemic of catalytic converter theft sweeping the nation, there are still some steps you can take to help keep thieves at bay: 
  • Equip an anti-theft device. If you install a metal cage around your converter, you’ll never have to worry about theft again. Sure, it costs about $300 to install—but that’s a bargain compared to a catalytic converter replacement, which will run you between $1,000 and $2,500!
  • Choose a safe parking space. Park in a well-lit area, preferably without much space around your car, to deter criminals. It’s even better if you can park in a locked garage. 
  • Engrave your catalytic converter with your license plate number. If a would-be thief sees your plate number (or Vehicle Identification Number) etched into your converter, they’ll probably leave you alone.

Is catalytic converter theft covered by insurance? 

Catalytic converter theft is covered by
comprehensive insurance
! With this kind of coverage, your insurance provider will pay for the cost of replacing the catalytic converter. 
If reading about Maine catalytic converter laws and the rise of catalytic converter theft has you panicking about your car insurance coverage level,
can help you boost your coverage!

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Yes, they are required by both Maine state law and federal law. Without a catalytic converter, you’ll face not only penalties from the state of Maine but from the EPA as well.
In recent years, catalytic converter theft has skyrocketed. Take a look at the numbers: In 2019, there were 3,389 reported thefts, but by 2020, that number had ballooned to 14,443. Take a look at the tips above to learn how to deter would-be thieves.
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