Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Prevent catalytic converter theft

Prevent catalytic converter theft

Your catalytic converter contains expensive precious metals. When the price of those commodities goes up, catalytic converter theft rises too. It only takes about 5-mins for a thief to saw off your catalytic converter. The risk of getting caught is low and the price they’ll get at the recycler is high, in some cases as high as $300.

Here’s how to prevent catalytic converter theft

Several companies make steel skid plates that block the thieve’s access to the catalytic converter. Other companies make catalytic converter “cages” that surround the converter with thick cables that the installer weaves through structural members. So even if they saw the exhaust pipes, they still can’t remove the converter. These devices are worth considering, but they’re not foolproof. Given enough time and incentive they can be defeated. It’s up to you to create enough disincentive to force them to move on to the next poor victim.

Make it harder for thieves to get under your vehicle in the first place

Converter thieves don’t want to spend time jacking up your car. That want to slide under, saw the catalytic converter off with a battery-powered reciprocating saw, grab it and toss it in their vehicle.

The harder you make it, the less attractive your vehicle becomes.

Prevent catalytic converter theft at home

Light up the area

Swap out your outdoor floodlight with LED floodlight bulbs and leave them on all night. Add more lights if possible to light up the entire area. LED floodlights cost about 0.30 per month to run from sundown to sunrise. Forget about motion sensor lights; they don’t deter thieves!

Park your vehicle as close to a fence or garage as possible

Some catalytic converter thieves work in teams, with one person sawing the front of the converter and the other sawing the back portion. Parking close to a fence or garage limits access to just one side.

Block side access

Locate garbage cans and recycling bins on the open sides of your vehicle. That forces thieves to move noisy objects before they can even slide under your car.

Pull forward to block front access

Catalytic converters are installed in front of the muffler, so the thieves can access them from the front or side of your vehicle. Pull forward when parking to block front access

Park on dirt or gravel

Thieves love it when you park on a concrete or asphalt drive because it’s such a nice smooth surface to slide on. If you park on dirt or gravel or even leave gravel on your driveway, you make it harder for the thieves to slide under your vehicle.

Prevent catalytic converter theft in parking lots and ramps

• Park in heavily trafficked areas of the ramp near walkways. Avoid the top floor/roof areas if possible.

• Park in well-lit areas of the lot or ramp

• Pull in nose first to a wall rather than backing in. Backing in allows thieves to work from the back of the vehicle where they’re less likely to be noticed.

• Park near video surveillance cameras.

• Park between vehicles and in front or behind others. Never leave your vehicle out in the open

Install catalytic converter protective devices like a catalytic converter cage or skid plate

Catalytic converter protective devices cost around $200 plus around $50-$100 for installation. Nobody wants to spend money on a protective device for a catalytic converter. Sure, converter theft is covered by your vehicle’s comprehensive coverage, but if you own an older vehicle the insurance company may determine that the cost to replace exceeds the value of your vehicle. Wouldn’t you be better off spending the $300 on a protective device rather than be forced into buying a replacement vehicle?

Install a catalytic converter skid plate/shield

A catalytic converter skid plate/shield mounts directly under

catsecurity catalytic converter shield

Underside view of CatSecurity skid plate mounted below the catalytic converter on a Toyota Prius. Great way to prevent catalytic converter theft.

the converter and prevents the thieves from quickly sawing and grabbing the converter. Even if they cut the exhaust pipes, the shield blocks them from removing the converter. The skid plate mounts to the structural supports under your vehicle. CatSecurity makes plates for Prius vehicles.

Install a catalytic converter cage

A catalytic converter cage bolts to the converter and surrounds the converter with hard to cut aircraft cables. During installation, simply run the seven cables through surrounding structural components. The thick cables are very difficult to cut with a reciprocating saw and force the thieves to spend far more time than they’d like.

catclamp cage

CatClamp uses hardened steel clamps and heavy-duty aircraft cables to surround the catalytic converter.


CatClamp on a Honda

Make a DIY catalytic converter cage to prevent theft

If you have access to a welder, simply weld rebar to the exhaust system to obstruct the thieves. If you dont’ ahve a

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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