How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

May 09, 2022

If you find yourself wondering how to protect yourself from catalytic converter theft, you’re not alone. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise lately, making it a common concern among many car owners. Catalytic converter theft can also be costly and will leave your car inoperable until the catalytic converter is replaced. Here’s everything you need to know about how to prevent catalytic converter theft.

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is a part of your engine’s exhaust system; a group of parts that work together to reduce emissions and engine noise. Catalytic converters are made from palladium, platinum and rhodium; these are rare metals which coat a ceramic interior that’s shaped like a honeycomb or bead. You can find it located between your car’s intake manifold and your muffler. [1]

What does a catalytic converter do?

Also referred to as a cat, the catalytic converter converts the more hazardous compounds of your engine’s emissions into less threatening byproducts to keep them from harming you and other passengers in your vehicle. These compounds include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. [1]

Do all cars have catalytic converters?

Catalytic converters have been required in all gas-powered U.S. vehicles since 1975. It is considered dangerous and illegal to operate a car without a catalytic converter or with a faulty one, so if yours has been stolen or damaged you will need to replace it promptly. [1]

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Catalytic converters are frequently stolen due to the high payoff they can provide when purchased by repair shops and individuals looking for discounted parts. Additionally, the metals in catalytic converters—palladium, platinum and rhodium—are worth thousands of dollars. [1]

Which cars are the most and least likely to have a catalytic converter stolen?

When it comes to catalytic converter theft, some car models may be more vulnerable than others. Analysts say these are the most common targets: [2]

  • Hybrid cars: Catalytic converters in these cars tend to hold up better than in other vehicles because the gasoline engine is supported by an electric one, so catalytic converters on these cars remain in better condition and contain more precious metals
  • SUVs and trucks: These vehicles are believed to be targeted by thieves because they sit high off the ground, making it easier to get underneath them to steal their catalytic converters

While catalytic converter theft is still a possibility, these types of vehicles seem to be less popular among criminals: [3] [4]

  • Electric cars are safe from cat theft because they don’t have catalytic converters
  • Cars manufactured before 1974 are also never targeted by crooks because they do not have catalytic converters
  • Diesel cars are unlikely to have their catalytic converters stolen because their cats don’t contain any precious metals
  • Cars that sit low to the ground don’t get their cats stolen as often because they are more difficult for thieves to access without a jack
  • Subarus, Jeeps, Mazdas, Dodges, Nissans and Hyundais aren’t as popular among criminals because their catalytic converters are unlikely to contain any precious metals

Catalytic converter theft protection

So how can you protect your car from catalytic converter theft? Parking your car in a garage or enclosed space when possible is the best way to avoid having your catalytic converter stolen. Find a well-lit, highly visible location near security cameras if possible. If you have a high-riding vehicle, park next to low-profile cars or close to a wall to make it more difficult for thieves to access your cat. You can also etch your car’s license plate or VIN number into the catalytic converter so it can be more easily traced if stolen. As another safeguard, your mechanic can install a catalytic converter protection system that includes a metal shield to cover your catalytic converter. [2] [4]

Does insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

Not all insurance plans are created equal when it comes to covering catalytic converter theft. Comprehensive insurance plans will cover catalytic converter loss as well as other types of nontraffic losses and theft, but you will have to pay a deductible. Depending on your plan, the cost of your deductible may even be greater than or equivalent to the cost of replacing your catalytic converter.

Replacing your stolen catalytic converter can run from $3,000 to $5,000—a hefty financial burden. But there are a number of ways to protect your car from having its catalytic converter stolen, and insurance can help when the unexpected happens. Find out how Nationwide insurance plans can help cover your vehicle if your catalytic converter gets stolen.


[1] “What is the Catalytic Converter and What Does it Do?” Accessed, April 2022.
[2] “What Cars Are Targeted for Catalytic Converter Theft the Most Often,” Mia Bavacqua, Accessed, April 2022.
[3] “Which cars are least likely to have catalytic converter stolen?” Accessed, April 2022.
[4] “Which Cars Are Least Likely to Have Catalytic Converters Stolen?” Accessed, April 2022.
[5] “Insurers Warn of Increase in Catalytic Converter Theft,” Elizabeth Festa, Accessed, April 2022.

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