How To Protect Your Car Against Catalytic Converter Theft

Prices for the valuable metals found inside catalytic converters are rising, so do the theft. Here's how to protect your catalytic converter.

How To Protect Your Car Against Catalytic Converter Theft

The catalytic converter is designed to convert exhaust gases into substances that are less harmful. Because this auto part contains valuable metals, it’s often the target of thieves. By learning how to protect your car against catalytic converter theft, you can save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

You can protect your vehicle by etching your license plate number on the catalytic converter. You can also park in a well-lit area to discourage thieves and install a specialized anti-theft device to keep this valuable car part intact. 

In this guide, we cover the reasons people steal catalytic converters. We also look at ways to prevent this from happening and lay out the steps you should take if you fall victim to this crime. 

3 Ways to Avoid Catalytic Converter Theft

1. Park the Vehicle in a Well-Lit Area

Lit Parking Lot

You don’t want to make your vehicle an easy target. Most thieves don’t want to do anything that will draw attention, especially if there are other vehicles that would be easier to steal from.

Most thefts will occur overnight when there is less light. To prevent this, you want to park in an area that is well-lit so the vehicle can be seen easier. Even better, if you can park in a location with security cameras focused on the vehicle, you will further deter would-be thieves. 

2. Etch License Plate Number to Converter

Catalytic Converter

By having your license plate number etched into the catalytic converter, you make the stolen part identifiable to law enforcement agencies. Hopefully, if the thief sees the license plate etched on the converter, they will avoid it altogether.

In some regions, you can take part in a local etching event. Contact your local auto shop to see if the police sponsor any events near you. 

3. Add an Anti-Theft Device

Catshield

Paying attention to where you park the vehicle and etching your license plate number into the catalytic converter are both going to deter thieves, but neither of these will stop the part from coming off of your vehicle. The only way to do that is to install an anti-theft product. 

You can have a metal shield bolted to the frame of your vehicle that covers the catalytic converter. In total, you might spend $250 to $500 for this shield. You can also find armor plating or caged designs that work the same.

Plus, you can purchase the same products for about $100 online and put it on at home. To install it, you only need to drill a few holes in the frame and attach it with the included fasteners. However, you will need to lift the vehicle to get underneath it. 

One brand selling these that we heard a lot good about is the Catshield Anti Theft. You can check if they have one ready for your car model. We receive a small commission if you buy one through our link. You can use the coupon code MECHANICBASE to get 5% off your purchase.

Why Do Catalytic Converters Get Stolen?

Inside Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are made from a variety of precious metals. These converters contain palladium, rhodium and platinum to create a chemical reaction that changes the dangerous exhaust gases. By taking the catalytic converter to certain auto repair shops or recyclers, they can make a few hundred dollars.

Theft of catalytic converters isn’t a new phenomenon. Still, there seems to be an increase in this crime lately because of the economic insecurity created by the pandemic. With people still spending a lot of time indoors, there are also fewer people around to witness the event, making it easier to accomplish. 

Furthermore, the catalytic converter isn’t difficult to remove with the tools. In total, the criminal might only need a few minutes to get the converter off. However, stealing the converter is also a crime and can be punishable by law. 

Some cars seem more susceptible to catalytic converter theft than others. For example, the Toyota Prius has a catalytic converter that stays in better shape because of the hybrid powertrain, making it worth more money. Additionally, trucks and SUVs tend to be victimized because of how easy it is to get underneath the vehicle. 

RELATED: How to Clean a Catalytic Converter (Without Removing it)

Steps to Take if Catalytic Converter is Stolen

It’s not hard to tell when the catalytic converter has been stolen off of a vehicle. Immediately after starting the engine, you will hear a loud rumbling from the exhaust, signifying that this valuable part is missing. 

For starters, you will need to contact your insurance company if you plan to file a claim. You will have to supply pictures of the area where the catalytic converter once was. The provider might also require a police report, which should be filed whether insurance is covering the replacement or not. 

Your next step is to have a new catalytic converter installed. Your local muffler shop will know what’s best and legal, as some states don’t allow aftermarket converters. If you can choose an aftermarket option, it might make the catalytic converter less attractive to thieves in the future.

You don’t want to wait to have the converter put on. It not only pumps out harmful emissions, but it could also be harmful to your health. Additionally, you could get pulled over and receive a hefty fine. While you are having the new catalytic converter installed, make sure you speak to the repair shop about an anti-theft device to prevent this from happening again. 

Catalytic Converter Replacement Cost

Replacing a catalytic converter can cost $800 to $2500. The parts alone can make up the majority of that bill since this is such an expensive part. It’s not the labor that adds to the cost. 

On the bright side, you might be able to have your insurance provider pay for the new catalytic converter. The full coverage policy that includes liability, collision and comprehensive typically covers these stolen parts. You will have full coverage if you have an existing car loan or lease. 

If you want the insurance company to pay for the catalytic converter, you will be responsible for paying the deductible. If this deductible is high, it might not make sense to run it through the insurance company at all because your rates will likely go up.

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Written by:

Adam is a car enthusiast who spends his time driving and fixing fast sports cars. He knows everything you need to know about the car market and will definitely help you make good car deals. He also has extensive knowledge in car financing, insurance and leasing.