A catalytic converter is hardly the crown jewels, right? But it does contain precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium. This makes it one of the most valuable components of a motor vehicle—and not because it does a wonderful job reducing all those toxic gasses that get pumped out of your exhaust pipe. When Peddle buys a used car, it’s the catalytic converter that makes up a sizeable chunk of the car value.
And catalytic converter theft has been booming in recent years. Since the pandemic, it has hit new heights. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, thefts of catalytic converters increased by 325% in 2020, and auto insurers have forked out millions of dollars in claims. A replacement can cost thousands of dollars.
Low emission vehicles like the Toyota Prius are particular targets, as well as hybrid vans, trucks, and SUVS, because it’s easy to get under the vehicle without a jack. But older cars are particularly targeted too—that’s because their catalytic converters contain more precious metals than the more recent models.
So what can you do to keep your catalytic converter safe and secure? Here are some tips to help you.
For just 30 bucks you can get a neat alarm that hangs under your car or truck exhaust. It’s quick and easy to install and if a thief starts jostling around under your car they’ll be hit with a 113db siren.
The CatClamp is a specially designed catalytic converter lock. It’s a bit like a cage that fits around the component and it comes in a range of sizes to fit everything from small to heavy duty vehicles. Depending on the size it can cost between $180-$900 but that’s nothing compared to the price of a new part. If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you could ask your garage to weld the bolts to make it even harder to remove.
There are a range of metal catalytic converter shields available on the market, especially for the Toyota Prius, which is a common target for thieves. These are a bit cheaper—we’re talking about $100 or so—and easy to screw on yourself. Another option is the CatStrap, a high temperature strap that runs along your exhaust pipe and is super difficult to cut through.
A budget tip is to spray your catalytic converter with a fluorescent paint, and to mark it with your vehicle ID or license plate number. By making it traceable you could put off an opportunistic thief—especially if it could lead to awkward questions at the scrap yard.
This is a good tip generally, but if you want to deter thieves from your vehicle, always park off-road if possible, ideally in a locked garage. If you have to park on the street, do so in a well-lit area. Setting up a camera outside your house is another way to keep your car under watch—and if it’s visible, deter thieves.
If you have an old car collecting rust, it could become a prime target for thieves. You might not want to invest in gadgets and gizmos to protect it—and you might want to think about cashing in on that catalytic converter before someone else does…
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