10 Vehicles Most Often Targeted by Catalytic Converter Thieves

Catalytic converter thefts continue to be a major problem across North America, and this extends beyond private driveways. Parking lots, even ones that were well-lit, are getting hit now. So do car dealerships on a regular basis.

Thieves are attracted to catalytic converters due to the precious metals they contain, namely platinum, palladium and rhodium. While nowhere near its all-time high of around $35,000 CAD per ounce set in March 2021, rhodium is currently valued at $12,300 per ounce according to Metals Daily, making it about 4.5 times more valuable than gold.

Photo: Guillaume Rivard

In the U.S., Carfax recently conducted a deep-dive analysis to find out which vehicles were most  often targeted by catalytic converter thieves last year. Other than the addition of the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Explorer, the list remained fairly consistent from 2021 to 2022:

  1. Ford F-Series
  2. Honda Accord
  3. Toyota Prius
  4. Honda CR-V
  5. Ford Explorer
  6. Ford E-Series
  7. Chevrolet Equinox
  8. Chevrolet Silverado
  9. Toyota Tacoma
  10. Chevrolet Cruze

Larger vehicles are prime targets for two obvious reasons. One, their catalytic converters are bigger. Two, their higher ground clearance makes it easier to steal them. However, as the list shows, small cars like the Prius and Cruze are big-time targets, too. In the case of the Prius, more precious metals are needed for a hybrid’s catalytic converter since the combustion engine doesn’t run as often and the exhaust doesn’t get as hot.

Photo: Toyota

Tips to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft

Waking up one morning and finding out that your catalytic converter was stolen can be upsetting. By the way, you’d notice its absence right away because your car would get very noisy and would produce more smoke than usual, not to mention your engine operating irregularly at all speeds.

Replacing a catalytic converter can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. If your insurance policy doesn’t cover it, this can put a whole in your wallet! So, to prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, here are some precautions you can take:

  • If you have a garage, store your vehicle in it as often as possible;  
  • Park it in a well-lit area, against a wall or close to other low vehicles;  
  • Consider installing motion-activated lights;
  • Have your VIN engraved on your catalytic converter and spray it with a bright heat resistant paint to discourage thieves and make the resale more difficult at the scrapyard;
  • Get an anti-theft device. Some look like wire mesh cages that can be bolted around the catalytic converter. A Kevlar and steel wire strap that is very hard to cut can also be added. 
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