With vehicle emissions becoming a major factor behind global warming and pollution, catalytic converters became a mandatory component for cars manufactured 1974 onwards.
Primarily consisting of a ceramic hive coated with platinum, palladium, and rhodium, this component converts toxic emissions into less harmful gasses.
However, all cars have catalytic converters. This is exactly what this article is about, and it will help you get a better idea of which cars are at risk of cat converter theft.
Does every car have a catalytic converter?
Although catalytic converters are extremely important, and there are laws mandating the installation of this component, there are exceptions. Not every car has a catalytic converter installed.
Firstly, laws mandating the use of catalytic converters came into place in 1974, and vehicles manufactured before then didn’t usually come with the component.
Hence, although it’s rather rare to find such an old vehicle that still runs, technically they are an exception and do not have catalytic converters.
Electric vehicles are another exception, but the reason is quite obvious. Cars running completely on batteries have zero emission, which means there’s no need for a cat converter in the first place. Hence, if you were to buy an electric vehicle, you won’t have to worry about replacing stolen catalytic converters.
It’s the cars with standard fuel-injected systems that have catalytic converters. This includes cars running on petrol, diesel, and hybrid engines – meaning most of the cars in the world. Catalytic converters would become less common in the future with the growing popularity of EVs, but for now they are present in most cars.
Are all cars at risk of catalytic converter theft?
The high scrap value of catalytic converters makes them a prized target for thieves.
The platinum, palladium, and rhodium present in cat converters can fetch a good deal of money. However, not every vehicle is at equal risk of catalytic converter theft. Thieves looking for catalytic converters usually avoid the following:
- Car brands that use cheap cat converters: Many cars from American brands like Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, Nissan, etc. have cheap catalytic converters with very little precious metal. Hence, thieves don’t usually target them as the value of these cat converters isn’t worth the effort. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every car manufactured by these brands, as the same brands have also produced high-end cars with expensive cat converters.
- Cars with protected catalytic converters: In some cases, cars with expensive catalytic converters are immune to theft simply because their converters are too hard to steal. This is usually because the cat converters are inbuilt or simply impossible to access directly due to their positioning.
- Exotic cars: Although exotic cars usually have powerful engines and expensive catalytic converters, their ground clearance tends to be too low. This renders it extremely difficult for thieves to lift the car high enough and access it from the bottom.
- Electric cars: This is a little obvious, but as electric cars do not have catalytic converters, the risk of theft is nil too.
What car have most catalytic converters stolen?
When buying a new car, it’s a good idea to check out its likelihood of becoming a target for catalytic converter theft. If the car you purchase faces a high risk, you should take necessary protective measures instead.
Of course, you could also avoid buying those cars unless you really like them and do not want to go for something else. Cars that have the most catalytic converters stolen include:
1. Toyota Prius
This popular hybrid truck also happens to be one of the favorite targets for catalytic converter thieves. While the car itself is a good choice for those seeking an affordable vehicle, its cat converter is quite expensive and costs USD 2,100 to replace.
Naturally, a costlier catalytic converter also means a better scrap value, due to higher content of precious metals.
Moreover, the Prius has a high ground clearance, which means thieves can easily slide underneath and access the cat converter. While high ground clearance is usually good, it also makes the Prius a bigger target.
2. Honda Accord
The Honda Accord is somewhat in the same boat as the Toyota Prius. Besides being an affordable car to own, it’s also one of the most reliable midsize sedans in the market.
The Honda Accord is very popular among car buyers and catalytic converter thieves. Priced at USD 2000, its catalytic converter is almost as expensive as that of a Toyota Prius. Thieves frequently target this car, resulting in expensive replacements.
3. Dodge Ram 2500
Considering that the Dodge Ram 2500 has the third most expensive catalytic converter in the world, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this pickup truck is a major target.
A brand-new Ram 2500 cat converter costs USD 3,460. Not only does such an expensive cat converter attract the attention of thieves, but the design of the vehicle also makes it vulnerable. SUVs and pickup trucks such as the Ram 2500 have high ground clearance, making it much easier for thieves to steal the catalytic converter.
4. Jeep Patriot
This compact crossover SUV comes with a catalytic converter worth USD 1400, which is quite pricey. Together with the general vulnerability of SUVs to cat converter theft, makes the Jeep Patriot a prime target for thieves.
If you own a Jeep Patriot, you should definitely take care to protect its catalytic converter. However, as Jeep stopped production of this vehicle in 2017, the only way you can now acquire it is by purchasing a used one.
5. Chevrolet Equinox
The Chevrolet Equinox is a great choice for those looking for a stylish and versatile car. This midsize car has a catalytic converter worth USD 1200, and a high scrap value. Being an SUV, it’s also prone to cat converter theft due to its high ground clearance.
6. Ford F-150
The first vehicle of the Ford F series, this truck is a popular target among thieves seeking catalytic converters too. Ford F-150 is available in three options – gas, electric, and hybrid.
The hybrid version is the most attractive target because a hybrid engine has cleaner emissions than a regular gas engine. The catalytic converter doesn’t burn out as fast, and hence has more salvageable metals in it.
A Ford F-150 cat converter costs around USD 1400, which makes it expensive to replace. However, the risk of cat converter theft shouldn’t prevent one from buying an F-150, as it’s an excellent truck with a high towing capacity.
7. Ford F-250
Once again, it’s a Ford F series truck with a highly valuable catalytic converter. This super duty truck is one of the most powerful trucks you could buy.
Naturally, such a powerful truck also has a proportionately large catalytic converter. A new Ford F-250 cat converter costs USD 2800, which also makes it one of the particularly expensive catalytic converters.
8. Ford Econoline
Another Ford vehicle targeted highly by catalytic converter thieves is the Ford Econoline. This is a very large van, used mostly by businesses to shuttle employees or transport goods.
A large van means a powerful engine, and consequently, a larger catalytic converter. A Ford Econoline Catalytic converter costs USD 2,200 to replace. Failure to adopt adequate preventive measures to protect the component can prove to be a very expensive mistake.
How can I prevent my catalytic converter from being stolen?
Just because you own a car with a valuable catalytic converter, you shouldn’t have to deal with catalytic converter theft. There are different ways in which you could secure your cat converter from thieves, such as:
- Anti-theft devices: There’s a variety of anti-theft devices that you could install, such as cable locks, steel shields, and rebar cages. These devices prevent catalytic converter theft by denying access to the component. A thief would need special tools to cut through these devices, and the process would be too time-consuming.
- Car alarms: You can simply increase the sensitivity of your car’s security alarm, so that it would alert you in the event of a cat converter theft. However, this can also cause the alarm to go off frequently. As an alternative, you can install a motion sensor-based alarm that would alert you in case someone jacks up your car.
- Avoid parking in the dark: Quite naturally, thieves prefer to target cars parked in the dark. If you have to park your car outdoors, choosing a well-lit area will deter thieves and significantly reduce the chances of theft.
Unless you are planning to buy an electric vehicle, your new car will come with a catalytic converter. Regardless of whether we listed it among the most targeted cars for cat converter thieves, you should take preventive measures to safeguard the valuable component.
Installing safety devices is much more cost-effective than replacing a stolen catalytic converter. Also, do not let the fear of catalytic converter theft deter you from buying a particular vehicle, as most of the targeted cars are great choices.