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Which Cars Are Least Likely To Have Catalytic Converter Stolen?

Which Cars Are Least Likely To Have Catalytic Converter Stolen?

Catalytic converters are a common target for thieves stealing car components due to their high monetary value. These components contain precious metals like platinum, rhodium, and palladium, which means one can earn a fair amount of money even by selling them as scrap. Hence, safeguarding your catalytic converter should be a major priority if you are a car owner or planning to buy a car.

Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can cost you a fair amount of money. So, it makes sense to know whether your car will likely get this component stolen. This is exactly what this article is about – it will help you choose and buy a car that’s an unlikely target for catalytic converter thieves.

Cars that are least likely to have catalytic converters stolen

The risk of catalytic converter theft depends largely on your car, as not every vehicle is equally prone to it. For instance, if you own a car in which the catalytic converter is easy to access, the chances of theft would be especially higher.

Of course, the cost of a particular catalytic converter matters too. Some cars have more expensive catalytic converters than others, and are hence more preferred targets for thieves. If you own these cars, the risk of getting the catalytic converter stolen would be high.

1. BMW E46 3 Series

Cars that are a part of the BMW E46 series, such as 323i, 325i, 328i, and 330i are extremely less likely to have their catalytic converters stolen. This is due to the design features of these cars – the catalytic converters are naturally very difficult for thieves to remove.

BMW has integrated the catalytic converters in this model into the exhaust manifold. Hence, in order to steal the component, thieves would first have to unbolt the exhaust manifold from the cylinder head. This is impossible unless someone gets access to the hood. The configuration is also immune to most tools, except hacksaws.

2. Mini Cooper

The smart design of the area under a Mini Cooper’s hood makes it challenging for thieves to steal the catalytic converter. For example, the third-generation Mini Cooper is attached to the downpipe and lies next to the turbocharger.

Due to such a location, thieves cannot access the prized component from underneath the car.

Instead, they would have to figure out a way to open the hood and unbolt several other components before reaching the catalytic converter. The process is time-consuming and highly conspicuous, making it risky for thieves to try and steal a catalytic converter from a Mini Cooper.

3. Mazda RX-7 or RX-8

A Mazda RX-7 or RX-8 isn’t very prone to catalytic converter theft either. This isn’t because it is hard to steal the components from these cars. Rather, it’s because the catalytic converters in these cars tend to burn up easily.

The Mazda RX-7 or RX-8 use Rotary engines, which tend to send a lot of unburnt fuel to the exhaust. The rotary engines’ fuel is often premixed with oil to lubricate the apex seals. Both these factors result in the catalytic converter burning up, which means the thief can’t really salvage much from it.

Also read:

  1. How much rhodium is in a catalytic converter

4. Audis

Most Audis come with underbody panels that prevent direct access to the catalytic converters. Removing these panels requires special tools, such as Torx bits.

Firstly, a majority of the catalytic converter thieves do not have the necessary tools. Secondly, even if they do have the tools, it would take them quite a while to successfully remove the panels and steal the component. This process is time-consuming and hence, risky.

5. Diesel cars

All diesel cars are relatively safe from catalytic converter theft. This is because the catalytic converters in diesel cars are quite different from those in gasoline cars, with the former being far cheaper.

The precious metals for which thieves steal the component are also generally missing in diesel car catalytic converters. Hence, if you own a diesel car, you can stay assured that it’s not a big major target for catalytic converter thieves.

6. Cars with low ground clearance

Cars with very low ground clearance are unlikely targets too. This mostly includes high-end luxury cars, such as cars from Lamborghini, Ferrari, Audi Render, the latest Hyundai cars, etc.

Due to such low ground clearance, it is impossible to slide underneath the cars and operate on and remove the catalytic converters.

One would need special tools besides a regular jack in order to do it, and even then, it would take two or more people. The whole complexity of the process deters thieves from stealing the catalytic converters of cars with low ground clearance.

7. Cars that have built-in catalytic converters

A number of car brands like Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, etc. have started placing their catalytic converter in the inner part of the vehicle, rather than leaving it as an external component.

Repositioning the catalytic converter in areas such as around the engine has made it hard for thieves to reach. One cannot simply saw out an inbuilt catalytic converter. Hence, you may consider buying a car with an inbuilt catalytic converter if you are worried about theft.

8. Car brands with cheap catalytic converters

If it isn’t viable for you to go for high-end cars with low ground clearance or inbuilt catalytic converters, you may buy a car with a cheap catalytic converter.

Certain car brands, especially American ones, such as Chevy, Ford, Chrysler, and Dodge do not use a lot of precious metals in their catalytic converters.

Hence, their scrap value is quite low, and thieves don’t usually find it worth the effort to steal these catalytic converters. Even if these catalytic converters do get stolen, they’ll be cheaper to replace.

9. Car with protected catalytic converters

As mentioned earlier, thieves are unlikely to target a car if its catalytic converter is difficult to remove. Cars that come with additional protection for their cat converters, such as Honda’s Accord and variants of Jazz, are thus less prone to catalytic converter theft.

You may consider choosing vehicles with protected catalytic converters when buying a car. In this regard, you should also note installing protective equipment around a catalytic converter is possible.

10. Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are 100% safe from catalytic converter theft, as they do not have any of these in the first place. After all, the whole reason behind installing a cat converter is to reduce emissions. As electric vehicles do not release any emissions, they do not require any catalytic converter either.

Also read:

  1. How much platinum is in a catalytic converter

How do you know if someone steals your car’s catalytic converter?

Signs that your car’s catalytic converter is missing include:

  • Firstly, the check engine light will usually be on in the event of a cat converter theft. Vehicles come with an engine control unit (ECM) installed, which monitors several sensors and controls the fuel-to-air ratio in the emission system. Removing the catalytic converter will trigger a fault code, indicating something is wrong.
  • Secondly, your car would become extremely loud in the event of a catalytic converter theft. Removing the catalytic converter can raise a car’s operating noise volume to a level that’s impossible to not notice. It would be loud enough to prompt you to check what’s wrong, and you should definitely check whether your cat converter is missing.


There are plenty of options for you to choose from if you specifically want a car from which it is hard to steal the catalytic converter. Hopefully, this article has proved helpful, and you can now buy a car that’s unlikely to become a target for catalytic converter theft.

Even if you do not purchase a car that’s more prone to cat converter theft, such as an SUV, you can prevent it by installing protective equipment.