Catalytic converter theft prevention: Tips for car owners

Since 1974, catalytic converters have been an integral part of every exhaust system installed, and their job is to transform pollutants into harmless neutral gases. Many precious metals are used in the mechanism in catalytic converters that causes this reaction. The converters contain various amounts of platinum, palladium, rhodium, and other metals, and because of the high market value of these metals, many thieves believe that stealing a converter is well worth the short amount of time it takes. Unluckily for car owners, it is incredibly easy to steal a catalytic converter, particularly if the thief is carrying small, cordless power tools.

Catalytic converter

It only takes a few minutes, and because of how quickly it happens, it might occur in a driveway during the day or in a public parking lot without drawing any attention. Organized criminals can overnight target an entire neighborhood. Along with being easily accessible, the catalytic converter is also not immediately obvious that anything has been taken; should a resident glance out a window after the motion lights go off in the driveway, there will be no indication that anything is wrong. This is especially true for vehicles with higher ground clearance, such as SUVs and pickup trucks. So, how can you prevent catalytic converter theft?

Use a closed garage, regularly shift your car’s place, or park in well-lit areas close to exits for the general public. Install a theft-prevention device. Put cameras and motion-activated lights in your parking area. To discourage buyers, paint your catalytic converter; some local police agencies even provide free painting services. Well, in this article, we’ll be looking at catalytic converter theft prevention. Nevertheless, we’ll get to be discussing the answers to the following questions:

  • Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?
  • What are the signs and symptoms that your catalytic converter has been stolen?
  • How much does a catalytic converter cost?
  • What cars do catalytic converter thieves target the most?
  • How can you prevent Catalytic converter theft?

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Alright then, let’s get to it!


Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?

Thieves target catalytic converters more frequently because of:

  • The price of precious metals used in catalytic converters in the current market.
  • It is easy for an experienced thief to steal a catalytic converter.
  • Catalytic converters are difficult to track.

Precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium are used in catalytic converters, which act as catalysts to change hazardous exhaust gases from moving automobiles into less damaging emissions. Catalytic converters have been a common target for theft because of the high value of these metals.

The valuable metals in stolen catalytic converters can be removed and sold on the black market by selling them to metal recyclers or scrap yards. The price of these metals has increased due to increased demand, particularly in developing nations like China and India, making it profitable for thieves to steal catalytic converters.

Moreover, catalytic converter theft is a quick and very simple crime to commit. A catalytic converter may be stolen from a car in a couple of minutes using only a few basic hand tools. Catalytic converters can be taken without drawing much attention because they are frequently hidden underneath vehicles and are not immediately obvious.

These reasons collectively have led to a rise in catalytic converter theft as a global issue. By parking in well-lit places, adding security cameras or alarms, and engraving the vehicle’s VIN number onto the catalytic converter to make it simpler to detect if it is stolen, car owners can protect their automobiles.

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What are the signs and symptoms that your catalytic converter has been stolen?

The following are a few signs and symptoms that can indicate that your catalytic converter has been stolen:

Loud noise:

The exhaust system will be significantly louder than typical without a functional catalytic converter, and you might hear a loud roaring or hissing sound coming from underneath the car.

Reduced performance:

If the catalytic converter has been stolen, your car may operate noticeably worse, with less power, acceleration, and fuel economy.

Dashboard warning light:

The dashboard of the majority of contemporary cars is equipped with a warning light that will flash if there is an issue with the emissions control system. This light will probably turn on if the catalytic converter has been stolen.

Visible damage:

If the catalytic converter was removed carelessly, the exhaust system may have apparent damage, such as dents, scrapes, or broken bolts.

Scrapes or cuts underneath the vehicle:

The catalytic converter is frequently stolen using a saw or an angle grinder, leaving cuts or scrapes on the car’s undercarriage.

If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately check the exhaust system to see if the catalytic converter has been stolen. If it has, you need to report the theft to the police and file a claim with your insurance company.

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How much does a catalytic converter cost?

You should budget between $300 and $1,650 (excluding labor) for a new catalytic converter for most modern vehicles. However, the cost of the parts and local labor rates typically affect these prices. For instance, the cost to replace a standard catalytic converter (CAT) in a contemporary vehicle might range from $500 to $2,200.

It’s important to keep in mind that occasionally you might not require a brand-new catalytic converter. Used or refurbished catalytic converters could be cheaper in some repair shops. But, it’s crucial to ensure that any replacement catalytic converter is installed correctly by a skilled mechanic and complies with the necessary emission requirements for your vehicle.

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What cars do catalytic converter thieves target the most?

Carfax recently performed deep-dive research in the United States to determine which cars were the most frequently targeted by catalytic converter thieves the previous year. Here’s a list of the vehicles catalytic converter thieves target the most:

  • Ford F-Series
  • Honda Accord
  • Toyota Prius
  • Honda CR-V
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford E-Series
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Chevrolet Cruze

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How can you prevent Catalytic converter theft?

catalytic converter theft prevention

Catalytic converter theft prevention

The following are several ways to prevent catalytic converter theft:

  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Install a catalytic converter protection device.
  • Etch the catalytic converter.
  • Use a security system.
  • Consider replacing it with a theft-resistant catalytic converter.
  • Park strategically.

Park in well-lit areas:

Thieves prefer to operate in the shadows because it makes them less visible. Parking in places that are well-lit, ideally with CCTV cameras, helps stop thieves from targeting your car.

Install a catalytic converter protection device:

There are many different items that are available that may be installed on the car to make it more difficult for the catalytic converter to be stolen. They include security cages, clamps, and shields that can make it more difficult for thieves to access the catalytic converter.

Etch the catalytic converter:

If your vehicle’s catalytic converter is marked with the VIN number, it may be simpler for law enforcement to locate it if it is stolen and found.

Use a security system:

If someone tries to steal the catalytic converter, you can be informed or other nearby people can be alerted by installing an alarm or motion sensor.

Consider replacing it with a theft-resistant catalytic converter:

Some manufacturers offer theft-resistant catalytic converters that are harder to remove without specialized tools or equipment.

Park strategically:

The catalytic converter can be more difficult for thieves to access with their tools if you park with the exhaust system close to a wall or other obstruction.

You may lower your risk of becoming a catalytic converter theft victim by taking these precautions.

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What cars are most likely to have catalytic converters stolen?

Top Cars Targeted Nationwide


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Does spray painting your catalytic converter prevent theft?

You can make a visual deterrent to warn thieves to leave by adding bright paint. Moreover, this paint alerts recyclers and law enforcement to dig more deeply for serial numbers or other identification. By prominently identifying your catalytic converter, you can prevent theft from ever occurring.

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Is there an alarm for a catalytic converter?

There are catalytic converter alarms that are intended to scare off the thief before they can cause any damage to your automobile.

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What car is popular to steal a catalytic converter?

The top five cars that catalytic converter thieves target, according to MPI, are as follows:

  • Honda CR-V.
  • Mitsubishi RVR.
  • Hyundai Tucson.
  • Kia Sportage.
  • Hyundai Santa Fe.

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Where is the most catalytic converter theft?

Trucks: The Ford F-Series pickup truck produced between 1985 and 2021 is the one most likely to have its catalytic converter stolen, according to the NICB. It is the most frequently targeted car in the northeast, south, and Midwest even when broken down by US regions. In the West, only one vehicle surpasses it.

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How do I know if my catalytic converter is stolen?

You may notice one (or all) of these plain symptoms if your catalytic converter has been stolen or is damaged:

  • During idle, the exhaust noise is loud.
  • Reduced Performance, Warning Lights, Exhaust Fume Smell, Scrapes and Dents, Increased Emissions, Warning Lights, Exhaust Fume Smell, Warning Lights, etc.
  • When accelerating, there is a loud noise, and starting the engine is difficult.

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How long does it take to steal a catalytic converter?

A converter can be stolen with a battery-powered saw and a few minutes. It typically takes between 30 and 60 seconds to get in and out after sliding under the car and cutting through the exhaust system, according to Glawe.

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Do all cars have catalytic converter theft?

Since 1975, the federal government has required them for all new vehicles. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that the three valuable metals present inside catalytic converters—palladium, rhodium, and platinum—have caused a sharp increase in catalytic converter theft.

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Do newer cars have catalytic converters stolen?

Hence their catalytic converters’ metals often have a longer lifespan. The risk is higher for newer cars than for older ones for the same reason. Thieves also target vehicles they can swiftly and easily sneak under. According to police reports, vehicles, and SUVs are particularly dangerous.

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Prevention of catalytic converter theft requires a multifaceted approach. A few important precautions to take include learning about the local automobiles that are frequently targeted, parking in well-lit, busy places or indoors, installing shields, and securing the converter to the car.

That is all for this, where we looked at catalytic converter theft prevention. Nevertheless, we got to discuss the answers to the following questions:

  • Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?
  • What are the signs and symptoms that your catalytic converter has been stolen?
  • How much does a catalytic converter cost?
  • What cars do catalytic converter thieves target the most?
  • How can you prevent Catalytic converter theft?

I hope you learn a lot from the reading. If you do, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading see; you around!