How to protect against catalytic converter theft

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Discover how to protect your vehicle from criminals with advice from Boundless insurance partner LV=, including tips on securing your catalytic converter and making sure you have the right motor insurance

Catalytic converter theft is a serious problem for UK motorists. According to data published by Sky News in January 2023, nearly 100,000 of these emissions devices were reported stolen in the previous three years, leaving drivers with a massive headache, not to mention a costly bill.

But why do criminals target catalytic converters, and what can you do to protect yours from being stolen? In this article, we’ll answer all your questions so that you can secure your car from theft and give yourself peace of mind.

What is a catalytic converter?

First deployed in 1975, catalytic converters help to clean harmful emissions produced by our car engines. Coated with precious metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, they cause a chemical reaction when heated, which converts toxic gases into carbon dioxide and water vapour before they’re emitted into the atmosphere.

Where is the catalytic converter located?

Catalytic converter

The catalytic converter is part of a car’s exhaust system. Since it needs to be heated in order to cause a chemical reaction, it’s typically located as close to the engine as possible.

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Criminals target catalytic converters because they can be stolen in a matter of minutes, and they contain valuable materials. Palladium and platinum ­– both found in a catalytic converter – are among the most expensive metals in the world. Once stolen, catalytic converters are often transported around the world, where the precious metals are recycled and sold on.

What cars are vulnerable to catalytic converter theft?

While no car with a catalytic converter is completely safe from criminals, some are at higher risk than others. Hybrid cars are often targeted because they use their internal combustion engine less often, meaning the catalytic converter and its precious metals are less corroded. Vehicles with a higher ground clearance ­­– such as SUVs and vans – are also vulnerable because it’s easier for thieves to climb underneath. 

According to Parkers, the car valuation experts, some of the UK’s most targeted vehicles are from Toyota and Lexus, as Japanese cars in general have expensive replacement cats and high-quality components – Mazda MX-5 and RX-8s are frequent victims. Popular small cars such as the Ford Fiesta Mk6 or Vauxhall Corsa are often targeted, too. 

What happens if your catalytic converter gets stolen?

The good news is that your car will still run without a catalytic converter, meaning you won’t be stranded. However, your vehicle will almost certainly no longer meet emissions standards levels, meaning it will be illegal to drive it; it will sound much noisier than usual, especially when changing gears; and you shouldn’t drive it for any longer than you need to as it could damage your engine. 

The bad news is that replacing a catalytic converter can be expensive. According to a 2023 article on, the cost for catalytic converter replacement in the UK can be anywhere from £150 to over £1,000, depending on location, type of vehicle, etc. In some cases a car will even be written off due to the damage caused by the theft. 

How can you prevent catalytic converter theft?

Police have highlighted a number of measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of having your catalytic converter stolen: 

  • If possible, park your car in a garage or secure compound overnight. Failing that, leave it in a well-lit area
  • When you’re out and about, park close to obstacles so that thieves can’t easily access your exhaust system, and within sight of a CCTV camera
  • Consider buying a catalytic converter anti-theft product, such as a guard or locking mechanism. Look for one that’s been made to the Sold Secure Gold standard
  • Marking and registering your catalytic converter will give police a better chance of tracing it if it’s stolen. Make sure any security product you purchase is accredited by Sold Secure, or Secured by Design 
  • If your catalytic converter is bolted on, ask your local garage if they can weld the bolts 

If you drive a Toyota or Lexus car, ask at your dealership about SmartWater forensic protection 

Does car insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

Mechanic holding catalytic converter 

If you have a comprehensive insurance policy, there’s a good chance you’ll be covered for catalytic converter theft and any resulting damage to your vehicle. However, you may not be covered for additional costs or if your car is written off during the incident. For peace of mind, go through your documents or talk to your insurer to find out what your policy includes. 

You’ll find more tips and further information on insuring your vehicle against catalytic converter theft in this article from LV=. Boundless members get discounted car insurance from LV=, as well as great deals on breakdown cover, electric car insurance and more. 

Find out more

Boundless members receive an exclusive member discount on LV= Car Insurance general public prices, and up to £100,000 motor legal expenses cover included as standard – saving £25.99 per year compared to general public prices*. They receive an extra 5% when booking it online**, too – find out more here

Do more with Boundless

Boundless members enjoy year-round access to deals and discounts, with savings on everything from holidays to high-street shopping, motoring services to meals out. If you haven’t signed up yet, visit the Boundless membership page.   

*Exclusive Boundless member discount vs direct general public prices on and through the call centre.
**When more than one discount is relevant, each is applied individually.
Boundless by CSMA acts as an introducer to Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited for general insurance.

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