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Which Cars Are Least Likely to Have Catalytic Converters Stolen?

catalytic converter in modern car

You may have noticed the rise in the theft of catalytic converters. These are way easier to steal and carry less of a penalty compared to grand theft auto. At the same time, they are valuable enough to make a good profit.

A seasoned thief needs only about 5 minutes to pick a catalytic converter from a parked car.

Cars that were made before 1978 do not have catalytic converters, which makes them safe. This often applies to electric cars and diesel vehicles as well.

Let’s take a deeper look at catalytic converters and how you can secure your car.

car and road divider

What Are Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters are an aspect of the exhaust. They are meant to turn otherwise dangerous compounds into harmless emissions, thus making cars more eco-friendly. They will take compounds like carbon monoxide, nitrogen gas, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons and convert them into water vapor.

Catalytic Converter
Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock

How Do Catalytic Converters Get Stolen?

It does not take much to steal a catalytic converter, just a fully charged Sawzall and possibly a jack if the car requires lifting. Otherwise, crawling under the car and cutting where the catalytic converter is attached to the exhaust is all that needs to be done.

There may be a lookout and a getaway driver, and within 10 minutes, the job will be done, and the culprits are gone. The owner of the car may not realize what happened until the car starts and loud noises ensue.

Why Steal Catalytic Converters?

With all the different parts in a car, why would thieves target the catalytic converter? There are a couple of reasons, including:

Ease of Access

Catalytic converters are easily accessible under the cars and are also easy to remove. With a reduced risk and a higher turnaround, thieves will see a bigger opportunity for making a profit.

Catalytic Converter Close up
Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Pixabay

Valuable Metal

Catalytic converters come with several valuable metals that may be even a bit more expensive compared to their weight in gold. They all have rhodium, platinum, and palladium materials. They can be sold for a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Economic Turbulence

This is more of a result of economic hardships and inflation, which will see more cars getting parked due to breakdowns or high gas prices. This increases the chances of potential theft.

How Can You Tell Your Catalytic Converter Is Missing?

Traveling without a catalytic converter will hurt the car and the environment, with long-term effects on the car.

There are a few ways you can tell your catalytic converter has a problem or is missing.

  • The check engine light comes on
  • Black smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Difficulty with acceleration
  • Extremely loud noises from the car
  • Drop in fuel efficiency
  • Difficulty with starting the car
driver starting the car engine
Image Credit: lzf, Shutterstock

Cars Least Likely to Have Their Catalytic Converters Stolen

Certain car types and brands may be less likely to have their catalytic converters stolen. At the top of the list is any car with the catalytic converter installed inside the engine compartment or car brands with less valuable catalytic converters, such as some Asian and American brands. You may also buy an electric car, diesel car, or older cars, which do not come with any catalytic converters.

Listed below are some cars less likely to be robbed of their catalytic converters.

Electric Cars

Catalytic converters clean up the fuel emissions, which means that there is no need for them in an electric car. Some of the most popular of these include the Tesla, Audi E-Tron, and Volkswagen.

Tesla electric car charging
Image Credit: Pixabay

Diesel Vehicles

Diesel vehicles use a whole different type of catalytic converter, which doesn’t fetch much in the market. They do not have the type of mineral materials that come with petrol cars, and this reduces their value greatly. Thus, it’s less likely for any thief to risk a not-so-valuable item.

Location of the Converter

Certain cars have their catalytic converters installed in the engine compartment, which makes it much more difficult to steal. These types of car models include BMW, Audi, Honda, and Volkswagen.

Converters with Beads

To reduce the risk of theft, certain car manufacturers use beads instead of precious metal in their catalytic converters to clean the fuel residue coming out of the car. Some General Motors cars and Chevy cars have been known to use such kinds of catalytic converters.

catalytic convrter installed in car
Image Credit: Orlov Alexsandr, Shutterstock

Cars Built Before 1974

As previously mentioned, cars built before 1974 did not have any catalytic converters installed, which makes them safe from catalytic converter theft. It was only after 1974 that it became mandatory to have catalytic converters in a vehicle.

Certain Brands

Certain Asian brands, such as the Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, and Nissan, plus some American brands, including Ford, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, and Chevy, all come with cheaper types of catalytic converters, which are way harder to sell. Thus, thieves don’t want to waste time stealing them.

Cars Most Likely to Get Their Catalytic Converters Stolen

The most targeted cars for catalytic converters are SUVs due to their high ground clearance and large engines, which provide both easy access and bigger loot.

Some of the most targeted vehicles include:

Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars are known for their clean emissions, which means manufacturers will do more with the catalytic converters to ensure clean exhaust discharge. This means they will mostly install catalytic converters with bigger concentrations of palladium.

toyota hybrid car
Image Credit: Photoman, Pixabay

Luxury Cars

Most high-end vehicles come with valuable catalytic converters, which at times may even be more than one, especially with a V10 or V12 engine. Currently, one of the most expensive catalytic converters is the Ferrari F430, which can run up to $3,500.

Trucks and SUVs

As mentioned before, SUVs have bigger engines and higher chassis, which makes them easier to steal from. With bigger engines, manufacturers need to make better quality catalytic converters that will fetch more money in the market.

One of the most targeted SUVs is the Ford F-250 and the Toyota Tacoma.

Older Cars

Older cars made after 1974 have a higher concentration of precious metals compared to modern cars. Overall, eco-friendliness was never that big back then, plus the cost of minerals was also lower. Due to the size of catalytic converters made back then and the number of precious metals inside, they will fetch higher prices in the market, making them a bit more valuable and more prone to theft.

blue Lincoln Continental car
Image Credit: 422737, Pixabay

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

If your car’s catalytic converter is located underneath, there are a couple of ways you can prevent theft.

Car Alarm

Install a car alarm on your vehicle and always check whenever it goes off. Most of the time, it could be nothing, but it could also be a sign that a couple of thieves are lurking nearby.

Parking

Where you park your car is crucial for preventing theft. The more secure the parking, the harder it will be for thieves to get access to the vehicle. If you are parking at a public place, ensure the area is well lit and that there are a number of pedestrians nearby who can raise the alarm in case thieves are spotted.

white and black car with roof cargo box
Image Credit: Thai Nguyen, Unsplash

Reinforce the Catalytic Converters

Some people use anti-theft devices for the converters, which include steel shields that make it harder to reach them. You can also attach some steel cables to it, which might cost you between $200–$750.

Choice of Car

If you live in an area prone to converter theft, the choice of car will help in securing your converter. You can choose a car with the converter in the hood or one with beads in it. The best choice, however, is an electric car.

Insurance

This is more of a remedy than a prevention option, as it helps in the replacement of the catalytic converters in case of theft. Depending on the kind of insurance you choose, you can get your catalytic converter replaced.

couple at the car dealer showroom
Image Credit: Nejron Photo, Shutterstck

Frequently Asked Questions

What steps does one take when a catalytic converter gets stolen?

The first thing to do is inform the authorities that will help in writing a report. Then, make a claim with your insurance agency.

Can I keep driving without a catalytic converter?

Older car models can move around without a catalytic converter, but for newer models, you will need the converter. It will be a horrible drive without one due to loud noises, stalling, and worse, idling and reduced power.

How much platinum is in a catalytic converter?

You will find at least 3–7 grams of platinum in a standard-style converter.

car and road divider

Conclusion

No matter how many precautions you take in securing your vehicle from catalytic converter thieves, you may still fall victim. You may want to choose a car whose catalytic converter is less likely to be stolen.

A good insurance policy will take you a long way in covering the losses. However, prevention is better than a cure, and any steps you take towards securing the converter may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.


Featured Image Credit: Ulianenko Dmitrii, Shutterstock

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