Subaru Catalytic Converter Theft (How Common Is It?)

Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control device that helps turn toxic gases produced during internal combustion, such as carbon monoxide, into less harmful ones, including water vapor and carbon dioxide.

This process makes your fuel-powered car less harmful to the environment.

Unfortunately, catalytic converter theft has risen substantially in recent years. These devices are a common target for thieves since they contain valuable metals that thieves can sell for high prices.

Some cars are more susceptible to catalytic converter theft than others, often because of the location of this device. So, let’s take a look at Subaru cars and how likely they are to have their catalytic converters stolen.

Are Subaru cars a common target for catalytic converter thieves?

Whether your Subaru car is prone to catalytic converter theft depends on the model, year of production, and various other factors. Lower-emission models like Subaru Forrester are more likely to be a target since there’s a higher concentration of valuable metals inside the convert.

Still, most Subaru models have their catalytic converters quite hidden. So, if you take some precautions, you should stay safe from catalytic converter theft.

Do all Subarus have catalytic converters?

Subaru Dealership Sign

As of now, Subaru produces only fuel-powered cars. These types of cars rely on internal combustion during which toxic substances like carbon monoxide and nitric oxide are produced.

Thanks to the presence of a catalytic converter, though, these substances are turned into less harmful ones.

As a result, it’s mandatory for all modern fuel-powered cars to be equipped with this device.

Currently, Subaru doesn’t offer any hybrid or fully electric vehicles, so all models that this company currently produces are equipped with catalytic converters.

Subaru does have plans to release its first hybrid and fully electric car in 2023, though. Cars that are fully electric don’t rely on internal combustion, so they don’t have the need for a catalytic converter.

So, these cars will not be equipped with this device.

Are all Subaru models prone to catalytic converter theft?

Blue Subaru

Subaru produces a wide variety of cars, including passenger vehicles, SUVs, crossovers, and Kei cars.

Most Subaru models have their catalytic converter hidden out of sight and difficult for thieves to access. This means that most models are less likely to be a target for catalytic converter theft.

On the other hand, Subaru produces a wide variety of SUVs and crossover vehicles.

These types of cars are the most common target for catalytic converter thieves. This is because these cars are higher, which makes accessing and removing this device much easier.

In recent years, Subaru Forester has become a primary target for catalytic converter thieves.

This car, which is an SUV, is higher off the ground, making the exhaust emissions system easier to access. On top of that, this model is a lower-emission car.

This means that it contains a higher concentration of precious metals in the catalytic converter, making it more valuable.

As a result, it’s important to take precautions if you’re an SUV owner to avoid getting your catalytic converter stolen.

Do Subaru cars have more than one catalytic converter?

Most Subaru vehicles have two catalytic converters: primary and secondary. This is because Subaru models like Forester and Outback have dual exhaust systems. As a result, they need two catalytic converters, one for each exhaust pipe.

In general, the primary converter is much harder to steal since it’s hidden and difficult to access. The other, the secondary one, is slightly easier to remove, but it’s not very commonly stolen, as it’s not as valuable as the primary catalytic converter.

How can you tell you had your Subaru catalytic converter stolen?

Subaru Outbacks Sport Utility Vehices
Subaru Outbacks Sport Utility Vehicles

Most people don’t inspect their car’s underside right before every single drive. So, it might be difficult to determine whether you have had your car’s catalytic converter stolen.

But there are some ways you can figure out if this device is missing.

First of all, your Subaru will make a loud noise when you start it if the catalytic converter is missing. This could also indicate that you may need to replace your muffler, though. So, it’s important to inspect what’s wrong.

The loud, roaring noise will get even louder when you try to accelerate if a missing catalytic converter is a culprit.

In addition, if the catalytic converter is missing, the oxygen sensors in the exhaust will be triggered. This means that you might notice the “check engine” light appear.

Mechanic At Work

When that happens, it’s important not to ignore it and get your car checked.

Without the presence of the catalytic converter, your car will also produce way more emissions. The gases will also be smellier and much more toxic.

So, if you start smelling exhaust gases in the car, get out and get your car checked out since it can be deadly, particularly if it’s carbon monoxide.

While any of these signs alone can be a sign of some other problem, all of them together definitely indicate a missing or damaged catalytic converter.

Can you drive a Subaru car if you had the catalytic converter stolen?

Car Catalytic Converter Check

Once you’re sure you’ve had your catalytic converter stolen, you may be wondering whether it’s safe for you to drive your car.

Generally, most cars are safe for driving without the catalytic converter, but only for a short period of time.

The catalytic converter is responsible for neutralizing toxic gases created during internal combustion. Without this device, these gases are not only released into the atmosphere but can also find their way into the inside of the car.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is incredibly dangerous, and it’s one of the gases that internal combustion produces. Because of that, it’s crucial for a fuel-powered car to have a working catalytic converter.

In addition, your car may not be as efficient as it used to be without the catalytic converter present. For example, you may find that your car doesn’t accelerate as well as it used to, doesn’t run as smoothly, and feels overall heavier.

Blue Subaru Legacy

What’s more, driving a car without a catalytic converter is illegal in most a lot of the world.

This is because exhaust emissions laws are quite strict in order to protect our environment and make fuel-powered cars as neutral as possible.

That’s why it’s important to notify your insurance company when you notice that you’ve had yours stolen.

If you absolutely have to, you should be fine driving your car without a catalytic converter for a couple of days. But be sure to replace it as soon as possible to avoid any serious problems, both to the car and your health.

How can you prevent Subaru catalytic converter theft?

Even though most Subaru cars aren’t particularly prone to catalytic converter theft, thieves can target any car.

Removing a catalytic converter takes only a few minutes and can be done using easily accessible battery-powered tools.

For thieves, it makes for a great deal. But for the car owner, it’s incredibly costly and time-consuming to replace this device.

That’s why it’s important to take preventative measures that can help you avoid catalytic converter theft, even if your Subaru car model isn’t the most common target.

The best way to prevent catalytic converter theft is to park your car in a private garage or garage structure that doesn’t allow unauthorized access.

This greatly reduces the risk of theft as well as vandalism and other problems.

When out and about, be sure to park your car in well-lit areas that are close to public entrances. Doing so will make your car unappealing for thieves since the location makes it easier for them to get caught.

Cars in Garage

If you want to do more, you can invest in motion-sensitive cameras and lights. These are particularly beneficial for a private garage, as they will notify you instantly if someone approaches your car.

Plus, you can also install an anti-theft device on your car.

There are several types of these devices. For example, these can produce a loud noise when someone tries to tamper with the catalytic converter.

Others are made of wire rope that’s attached to the catalytic converter, making removal incredibly difficult, even with power tools.

What’s more, experts also recommend painting the catalytic converter itself. Doing so makes the device less valuable for thieves, which deters them away from your car.

So, even if you own a Subaru model that’s not a primary target for thieves, it’s a good idea to utilize some of these anti-theft techniques, just to be on the safe side.


Luckily, most Subaru car models aren’t particularly prone to catalytic converter theft. This device is usually quite hidden, which makes accessing and removing it much harder for thieves.

With that said, all cars can be a target for catalytic converter theft as long as they are equipped with this device.

Because of that, be careful where you park your car and take extra preventive measures to avoid spending a lot of time and money on replacing the catalytic converter.

Sources: Subaru, Consumer Reports, and NADA

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