Why Are Catalytic Converters So Easy To Steal?

Why Are Catalytic Converters So Easy To Steal? (Urgent)

If you own a car that runs on gas or diesel, you’ve definitely been worried about catalytic converter theft at one point or another.

A catalytic converter, as part of the exhaust system, helps convert toxic substances produced during internal combustion into less harmful ones.

It does so thanks to the precious metals it contains, which means that the device as a whole can be sold for high prices.

Since catalytic converter theft is on the rise, you might be wondering why these devices are so easy to steal. So, let’s take a look at this issue.

Why Are Catalytic Converters So Easy To Steal?

Catalytic converters contain numerous precious metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These have a high resale value, which makes catalytic converters a common target for thieves.

Additionally, catalytic converters are usually located at the end of the exhaust emissions system. This location makes the catalytic converter very easy for thieves to remove and steal, allowing them to make a profit.

Some vehicles have catalytic converters that are harder to remove, so they’re not as commonly targeted. Still, all catalytic converters can be stolen, regardless of their location in the car.

Do all cars have easy-to-steal catalytic converters?

Parked cars

In most vehicles, the catalytic converter is located at the end of the exhaust system. From this location, the catalytic converter is easy to remove by using simple tools available in the hardware store.

Plus, stealing a catalytic converter can be done in minutes. In fact, an experienced thief can remove the catalytic converter in under just two minutes.

According to research, the Ford F-Series pickup truck is the most commonly targeted vehicle as a result of the catalytic converter’s location and how valuable it is.

It’s also very easy to remove, which makes the job straightforward for thieves.

American cars, such as Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Chevrolet, don’t tend to be targeted too much since they have less valuable converters with a lower concentration of precious metals.

Gray chevrolet car

In the same way, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Mazda also limit the number of metals used in their converters. So, since thieves target catalytic converters for their precious metal content, choosing these brands isn’t appealing to them.

The least likely cars to be targeted are from European brands like BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot, and Audi.

These vehicles have catalytic converters deep in the exhaust system, close to the engine. Such a location makes removing this device much more of a hassle, deterring thieves from choosing these cars as targets.

So, as you can see, there are cars that are more likely to become targets than others.

Are all catalytic converters prone to theft?

removing catalytic converter

Unfortunately, if you own a fuel-powered car that’s equipped with a catalytic converter, your vehicle may be targeted regardless of the location of the catalytic converter.

With that said, cars with catalytic converters closer to the edge and at the end of the exhaust system are chosen more often.

In addition, hybrids have very valuable converters since they have higher standards for cleaning emissions.

But if a thief is determined, they might target even the least likely vehicle brand and model. 

Why do thieves steal catalytic converters?

Platinum bar sale

The prime reason why thieves choose to steal catalytic converters is that they have a high resale value.

Catalytic converters contain precious metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These metals can be removed from the catalytic converter and sold separately or as a whole.

Additionally, catalytic converters are very easy to steal using simple equipment. Stealing just the converter also allows the thieves to make a profit without stealing the whole car.

So these reasons make catalytic converter theft so common.

How can I tell my car is missing its catalytic converter?

Check engine sign

If you’re not too familiar with the internal and external build of your car’s exhaust system, it might be hard for you to figure out whether your car is missing its catalytic converter.

Luckily, there are some simple ways you can figure out if someone has stolen this device from your car.

The most obvious sign that the catalytic converter is missing is a loud, screeching noise as you start the engine. This noise might get worse as you accelerate the car and will not go away with time.

You might also notice the ‘check engine’ sign appear on the dashboard. This should prompt you to get your car serviced to determine the cause since it might be the result of various things.

What’s more, without the catalytic converter, your car will produce much more emissions, often very smelly.

If you notice that, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible since the fumes might get inside the car, negatively impacting your health.

How can I prevent catalytic converter theft?

Parking garage

Now that you’ve learned that all vehicles can become targets for catalytic converter theft, you might wonder if you can do anything. Well, there are several things.

First of all, be sure to park your car in well-lit areas when out and about. When parking your car at night, it’s best to do so in a private garage or a garage structure.

That way, you’re lowering your theft risk by keeping thieves away from your vehicle.

If you live in an area with high vehicular crime rates, you might want to consider buying an anti-theft device. These devices make the catalytic converters harder to remove by attaching a strong wire.

In most cases, if a thief notices it, they will leave the vehicle and choose another target.

You may also want to paint the catalytic converter or write the VIN number on it. This reduces the converter’s value, making it less likely to become a target.


As you can see, all catalytic converters are quite easy to steal. They’re located in a very accessible location and can be reinstalled using simple tools found in most hardware stores.

That said, some cars are less prone to catalytic converter theft than others. So, if you’re in the market for a car and worry about having your catalytic converter stolen, you might want to look into some less commonly targeted vehicles.

Source: Research Gate, MDPI, Undergraduate Research Symposium, and Science Direct

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