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Catalytic Converter Theft: Everything You Need To Know

Catalytic converter theft is at an all-time high. Learn more about why catalytic converters are stolen, how much they cost, and how to protect your car's catalyst
Owolabi Oluwasegun
Owolabi Oluwasegun
04/22/2022 · 7 min read
Catalytic converter, catalyst Catalytic converter, catalyst Catalytic converter, catalyst

Here at, we bring our customers and internet users up to speed on how they can sell their junk cars for the best prices. We also buy junk cars and address general issues in the automotive industry. One of the more serious problems we see among car sellers is the absence of catalytic converters in their vehicles. While some car owners are aware of this absence due to catalytic converter theft, others don’t know it is missing. This article takes you through everything you need to know, from what a catalytic converter is to why it is being stolen, how to detect catalytic converter theft, and how to protect yours from being stolen.

  • What is a catalytic converter?
  • Where is the catalytic converter located in a car?
  • Why are catalytic converters stolen?
  • Cars with most stolen catalytic converters
  • How to detect catalytic converter theft
  • Can you drive without a catalytic converter?
  • What to do when your catalytic converter is stolen?
  • How to prevent catalytic converter theft

What is a Catalytic Converter?

Catalytic converters are a crucial part of the vehicle exhaust system. They were introduced as part of ongoing efforts to make cars more environmentally friendly. The goal behind putting catalytic converters inside cars is to limit the toxic gases produced during operation. With the component inside your vehicle’s exhaust system, harmful gases like carbon monoxide and nitric oxide are converted into carbon dioxide and water before emitting through the exhaust pipe.

Where is the Catalytic Converter Located in a Car?

As for the catalytic converter location, it is installed somewhere between your car’s engine and muffler. Its strategic location makes it easier to collect harmful gases and convert them before releasing them into the environment. Most newer vehicle models have a front and back catalytic converter to improve environmental friendliness.

Why are Catalytic Converters Stolen?

Catalytic converters are toaster-sized components mostly located in the exhaust system of hybrid or gasoline-powered cars. You may wonder why people steal them; the answer is simple. Catalytic converter theft is on the rise because of its value. Thieves can get as much as $2,000 for each catalytic converter stolen.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals like rhodium, platinum, and palladium. These metals are expensive on the market and command good value. The economic downturn and material shortages also contribute to the increase in catalytic converter theft. Many manufacturers faced huge raw material shortages during the peak of the pandemic, causing an increase in parts prices. Catalytic converter theft and prices increased during the pandemic’s peak and continue to rise till today.

Cars with most Stolen Catalytic Converters

The Toyota Prius catalytic converter is one of the most stolen catalytic converters today. The hybrid vehicle’s catalytic converter is highly coveted among thieves because it has a higher concentration of precious metals than gasoline-only cars. According to reports, a catalytic converter shop near me can pay as much as $1,022 for a 2007 Prius catalytic converter compared to $143 for a 2007 Ford F-150.

Other than the Toyota Prius catalytic converter, other vehicles that are most likely to have their catalytic converters stolen include;

Luxury vehicles

The Ferrari F430 has the most expensive catalytic converter, priced at $3,770 each. Each Ferrari F430 has two catalytic converters, bringing the cost to about $7,540. Catalytic converter thieves can also get good value (about $3,000) for a Lamborghini’s catalytic converter.

Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles are designed to be more emission-friendly. This means that they have a higher concentration of expensive metals in their catalytic converters.

Older vehicles

Older vehicles were made at a time when precious metals were abundant. They often have a more generous amount of precious metals in them than the newer models. The 2002, 2003, and 2004 Honda Accord catalytic converters are examples.

SUVs and trucks

SUVs and trucks are more likely to have more expensive catalytic converters due to their size and the requirement to maintain emission friendliness. For example, the Dodge Ram 2500’s catalytic converter is worth about $2,000. In addition to the value, SUVs and trucks have higher ground clearance, making their catalytic converters easier to steal.

How to Detect Catalytic Converter Theft

Here are some signs that indicate you’ve been a victim of a catalytic converter theft.

Loud vehicle noises

One of the most obvious signs of a catalytic converter theft is the loudness of your vehicle upon ignition. Loud noises are often a tell-tale sign of a stolen cat or one of the common bad catalytic converter symptoms. Surely, the loud and unusual noise will prompt you to investigate the problem.

Check engine light comes on

Not all catalytic converter theft cases trigger a check engine light to come on. However, bad stealing practices may affect other areas of your car, causing it to turn the light on. If you’ve noticed a combination of unusually loud operation and a check engine light, you should see your auto repair and diagnostic shop quickly.

Harmful emissions

The major responsibility of your catalytic converter is to convert harmful gasses produced during your vehicle operation into carbon dioxide and water. With its loss, you may experience some negative symptoms like increased harmful emissions and headaches. Headaches may be a result of continued exposure to the harmful chemical. This is also one of the major catalytic converter symptoms to watch out for to prevent a hefty fine.

Can you Drive Without a Catalytic Converter?

With the increasing rate of catalytic converter thefts, many car owners may wonder if they can drive their cars without one in them. The short answer is No. While your car will function normally without a catalytic converter, it poses health risks to you and the environment. You may also begin to feel irritated by the loud noise and increased fuel consumption caused by the catalytic converter’s absence.

It is recommended that you replace stolen catalytic converters as quickly as possible to prevent the common hassles and fines attached.

What to do When Your Catalytic Converter is Stolen

Due to the catalytic converter location in car, the chances of theft have become higher. If your car’s catalytic converter has been stolen, here are the steps to take.

Contact the Police

Similar to how you report a stolen car, you should immediately report a catalytic converter theft to the police or other security operatives. They will check any available local security footage to investigate the case and detect possible culprits. You should also make a police report of the incidence for insurance purposes.

Contact your insurance provider

Auto insurance comes in handy in situations like this. Contact your insurance company to discuss the theft and your options.

Visit a mechanic or auto repair shop

Visit your local auto repair shop to address the problem. You may be lucky to get a used catalytic converter for your vehicle.

How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

The rise in incidences of catalytic converter thefts calls for mindfulness and preventive measures. Below are some of the recommended steps to take.

Install protective device

The increasing rate of catalytic converter thefts has led to innovative devices to secure this vehicle component. Car owners can search online for catalytic converter protective devices that can be installed to keep their valuable car components in place. These protective devices make it harder for thieves to cut it off. The downside is that it may cost a few bucks to install.

Install vibration-triggered alarms

Vibration-triggered alarms may be a cheaper way to secure your catalytic converter from theft. These alarms are triggered when unusual vibrations (which may be a cutting attempt) are detected.

Mindful parking

Car owners can also be more security conscious when parking their vehicles. Parking in secure lots instead of on the streets may be a good way to prevent catalytic converter thefts. – Your Trusted Junk Car Buyer

At, we buy cars in any condition, whether it is missing a catalytic converter or has become inoperable. Contact us today to discuss your junk car sale and we will be happy to offer the best prices for junk cars. We also have an instant online junk car price calculator to make the process faster. Contact us!

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