Back to top

Protect Your Vehicle Against Catalytic Converter Theft

Published: November 2018

Catalytic converters are designed to act as a line of defense against harmful exhaust system emissions by turning pollutants into harmless gasses, according to Thieves target catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, like platinum, palladium or rhodium, that are valuable to metal dealers. They can sell them to scrap yards for up $200, says Edmunds. But, how are catalytic converters removed?

Thieves typically use a saw or wrench to remove it, depending on whether the catalytic converter is bolted or welded in, says Edmunds — and removal can take as little as one minute. So, what can you do to help prevent catalytic converter theft? Read on to learn more about what thieves might be looking for and tips to help protect your vehicle.

A catalytic converter is being removed from under a car.

Quality Auto Coverage Starts Here.

When you drive with quality coverage, you drive with peace of mind. Allstate auto insurance can help you stay protected for wherever the road takes you.

Get a quote Find an agent

What Cars Are Thieves Looking For?

Fuel-powered vehicles manufactured after 1974 have catalytic converters, according to Angie's List, so there are a lot of cars on the road that might appeal to catalytic converter thieves. However, thieves often target taller vehicles (such as pickup trucks or SUVs) because they can easily fit under the vehicle to access the catalytic converter, says The Spruce. The location of your car may also be a factor — regularly parking in one area for a long period of time, such as a shopping mall or mass commuter parking lot, can give thieves more time to access your vehicle and steal the catalytic converter, says The Balance.

How Do I Know if My Catalytic Converter Was Stolen?

You may not be able to tell your catalytic converter was stolen by looking at your car, but you will know as soon as you start the engine. When the catalytic converter has been removed, your vehicle will make a loud roaring sound that will get louder as you push the gas pedal, says The Spruce. Your car might also make a sputtering sound as you change speed, or you'll notice it's not driving smoothly.

What's Being Done to Help Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft?

A victim of theft may spend up to $2,000 getting their vehicle repaired, says The Spruce. There are several states trying to help reduce metal theft by instituting laws that regulate scrap metal transactions or dealers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Some of these laws may require scrap dealers to document the seller's ID before accepting the metal, or document vehicle descriptions and pictures of the pieces brought in by the scrap seller, says the NCSL.

What Can I Do to Protect My Car's Catalytic Converter?

Consider these tips from The Spruce to help protect your car from catalytic converter theft:

  • When possible, park in well-lit areas and close to building entrances.
  • If you have a garage at your house, park your car inside and keep the garage door shut.
  • Have the catalytic converter welded to your car's frame, which may make it harder to steal.
  • Consider engraving your vehicle identification number (VIN) on the catalytic converter — this may help alert a scrap dealer that it was stolen and make it easier to identify the owner.
  • Calibrate your car's alarm to set off when it detects vibration.

Understanding when your car might be a target for catalytic converter theft is the first key to preventing it. By following these protective measures, you may help deter thieves from targeting your car.

Related Resources:

Our pages are filled with helpful tips and information about the topics that most of us face in our everyday lives. We focus on safety and maintenance issues with regard to your home, auto, apartment, motorcycle, boat, small business, finances and more. Please recognize that a particular tip may not be effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate for you and your property and always consider safety.
ECC Monitor: OK