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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is It Illegal to Drive Without a Catalytic Converter in Iowa? What State Laws Say

Catalytic converters are among the toughest parts of a motor vehicle. This sturdiness is common in these components because they need to withstand high temperatures. However, that doesn't mean they'll last forever.


Over time, a catalytic converter or "cat-con" can break down or fail. Common causes include rust, performance problems, and impact damage.


What should a person do if their car's catalytic converter breaks down while they're on the road? Can someone keep driving a vehicle without it? How long can an individual drive a car before having to replace the cat-con? This article contains the answers to these questions!


Is It Possible to Drive a Car Without a Catalytic Converter?

Is It Possible to Drive a Car Without a Catalytic Converter?


Technically, a person can drive a vehicle with a catalytic converter if it has failed or broken. People were able to operate older cars without one before these parts became commonplace over 50 years ago.


However, driving a car without a catalytic converter is a risk that people shouldn't take, as this can be considered illegal and unsafe.


Why People Shouldn't Remove the Catalytic Converter from Their Cars


As mentioned, not only is it illegal, but removing the catalytic converter from a vehicle isn't a secure proceeding.


The catalytic converter is an essential part of a vehicle exhaust system and is responsible for minimizing air pollution. That means driving a car without this component, or if it's failing, won't likely result in a crash.


However, people are required to avoid driving a vehicle with a faulty, broken, or stolen catalytic converter because it isn't legally safe.


If someone drives a car without this component, that vehicle will accumulate high levels of harmful emissions, including carbon monoxide, which can be quite dangerous. Actually, this increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning death.


Most carbon monoxide poisoning deaths occur when people drive in enclosed settings, so operating a vehicle without a catalytic converter can pose health risks to drivers and passengers. Almost all diesel engines built after 1990 have this technology because of that.


Also, a clogged, faulty, or broken catalytic converter can affect the engine performance of a vehicle.


If a person removes the light-off catalyst, which is the one located near the engine, from a vehicle manufactured after 1996, this could cause the car to fail emissions testing.


Understanding Catalytic Converter Laws


It's important to understand that tampering with a vehicle's catalytic converter in any way is illegal. That means people shouldn't remove or disable this essential component in their cars.


Some states, such as California, have strict emissions testing requirements. If the catalytic converter is failing, breaks, or is removed from a vehicle, this car will fail these tests.


In Iowa, there are no laws mandating emissions testing for passenger cars, which means drivers aren't required to pass smog check requirements but can get voluntary tests done.


However, people who remove a catalytic converter from their vehicles and drive a car without this component could be violating federal law, which could cost them thousands of dollars in fines.


How Long Can People Drive Without a Catalytic Converter?


As mentioned, vehicles can be driven without a catalytic converter. However, removing this component is illegal in every state, even in those that don't enforce emissions testing.


In other words, living in a state that hasn't imposed emissions standards isn't an advantage. The government can still legally fine people thousands of dollars for the removal of this component from their vehicles.


If the catalytic converter has been stolen, drivers will notice this as soon as they start their vehicles. A loud and rumbling idle may be a sign that this part of the car has been sawed off.


In this scenario, most people will file an insurance claim to get their exhaust system repaired. However, Iowa has imposed laws against catalytic converter thefts that should be considered. Tom Fowler Law can also advise on questions like is it illegal to drive backwards in Iowa?


Iowa Laws Against Catalytic Converter Thefts


In Iowa, laws have been imposed to curb the theft of these components. As a result, state police are required to keep a record of lost or missing catalytic converters.


Additionally, this law states that dealers cannot sell catalytic converters unless they have and receive the necessary details and documents, which should include:


  • Name

  • Address

  • Passport copy

  • Place of sale

  • ID proof

  • Photo

  • Proof of regular tax payment


Buyers are also required to provide basic details and some documents to complete the purchase correctly.


This law also refers to catalytic converter replacements, explaining that buyers are required to provide a bill of sale that is no older than 30 days and a junking certificate.


The junking certificate prohibits the removal of the catalytic converter unless the car requiring this is in a dismantled condition.


Buyers must also prove they're Iowa residents and maintain proof of that purchase for at least two years.


In other words, if the catalytic converter is stolen, people are required to report it to the Iowa police and replace it as soon as possible following legal requirements.


Final Thoughts


In Iowa, there's no law prohibiting people from driving without a catalytic converter. Actually, this state hasn't imposed rules on emissions testing. However, that doesn't mean it's safe and legal to do so.


It's strictly prohibited to remove this component from a vehicle. Additionally, when replacing a faulty or stolen catalytic converter, buyers are required to request proof and documentation from dealers to determine that the purchase is legal.


Contact Tom Fowler Law Today!

Contact Tom Fowler Law Today!


Understanding Iowa catalytic converter laws is challenging for most people. That's why many make mistakes that put other people's lives at risk. Tom Fowler Law can help with other question like is it illegal to drive with an expired license in Iowa?


However, those who decide to drive without a catalytic converter, ignoring federal or state laws and the risks involved, may face harsh penalties under these circumstances. Victims have the right to contact an experienced car accident law office for their cases.


At Tom Fowler Law, located in Des Moines, Iowa, we understand the laws and rules about driving without a catalytic converter and what people should do if this component is failing, broken, or has been stolen.


Our team is ready to review personal injury cases involving incidents caused by someone who operated a vehicle without this component and help victims hold at-fault parties accountable for their actions.

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