How to protect your vehicle from catalytic converter theft

catalytic converter diagram

Did you know a thief can take the catalytic converter from your car in a matter of minutes and leave you to foot the bill?

Precious metals such as rhodium, platinum and palladium are used in catalytic converters. The price of some of these metals has risen sharply in recent years and as a result has led to an increase in the theft of catalytic convertors because there’s a loophole in the law for scrap metal merchants. The distinction between metal and parts means catalytic converters can currently be sold as parts for cash ‘no questions asked’ even though they can never be used as parts once they have been sawn off a car.

The good news is that a campaign is lobbying for the law to be tightened and paper trails improved so the police can investigate where the catalytic converters sold to scrap metal merchants come from. For more details see this article in the Express from 16 May 2021.

In the meantime, cars that are most often being targeted are hybrid vehicles, as these vehicles have two power sources, so the catalytic converter is used less frequently. The metals are less likely to corrode, meaning they are worth more and therefore more attractive to thieves.

SUVs are also at risk, as the ride height makes access to the exhaust system beneath them easier.

You will know if your catalytic converter has been nicked if the engine sounds awful.  A lot of warning lights will come up on the dashboard and if you look under the car you will see the damage. The engine should not be run for long in this condition.

Elite Garage Services in Newbury is happy to weld bolted-on catalytic converters, but owner Jason says “these thieves are extremely professional and usually cut them off – they don’t bother undoing the bolts, so welding them often doesn’t make any difference. Cages are available for certain makes and models, such as vans, but they can be extremely expensive. We also recommend a Thatcham approved tilt sensor alarm.

How to protect your car from catalytic converter theft

Please see this advice from the West Yorkshire Police :

To reduce the risk of having your catalytic converter stolen, you should:

  • Park your car in a locked garage where possible, but if this isn’t an option, then park it in a well-lit and well-populated area
  • Park close to fences, walls or a kerb with the exhaust being closest to the fence, wall or kerb to make the theft more difficult
  • Avoid parking your vehicle half on the pavement and half on the road, as this may make it easier for thieves to access the catalytic converter
  • If there is a fleet of vehicles, park the low clearance vehicles to block the high clearance vehicles. This will obstruct access underneath
  • If parking in a public car park, consider parking alongside other cars and facing you bonnet towards the wall if possible. With the catalytic converter positioned at the front of your vehicle, this will make it harder for thieves to get close enough to steal it
  • For thefts occurring on driveways, consider the use of a Secured by Design (SBD) approved driveway alarm and sensor. This may assist in alerting you of a potential intruder entering your driveway or garden
  • If your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask for your local garage to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove
  • Alternatively, you can mark your catalytic converter. Please ensure any property marking is Secured by Design (SBD) approved
  • You can even purchase a ‘cage clamp’ which is a cage device that locks in around the converter to make it more difficult to remove.
  • Speak to your garage about the possibility of installing a Thatcham approved alarm and tilt sensor that will activate the alarm should any thief try to jack the vehicle up to steal the converter
  • If you see someone acting suspiciously under a vehicle, report it to the Police. Obtain as much information as possible.


(c) Can Stock Photo / isuaneye

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One Response

  1. This happened to my hybrid in London a couple of months ago. I have had a manufacturer’s cat lock fitted but as well as the expense of the insurance excess and the cat lock, the biggest issue was the middle-of-the-night disturbance and the car being off the road for three weeks due to parts availability – fine if you have a courtesy car or live close to public transport but not in the countryside. Follow the advice as closely as you can

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