Protect cars with catalytic converter anti-theft devices: Do shields work?

The climate of our planet is constantly changing. Unfortunately, it has been declining for a while. Pollution reduction is a common goal shared across the globe. We have to reduce emissions and protect the environment for a better future. 

There are an estimated 1.4 billion vehicles in total, and they all contribute to pollution with their emissions. Luckily, the manufacturers are aware of this problem, and they quickly come up with new solutions. 

One of these solutions is the catalytic converter, an important part of your vehicle. They ensure environmental protection by reducing toxic exhaust emissions. But because they are manufactured with precious metals, they are also the most expensive part of a vehicle. 

catalytic converter

If you are interested in protecting cars with catalytic converter anti-theft devices, continue reading as we explain and debate whether they work. 

Here are some tactics we’ll look at.

  • Use a camera
  • Paint it
  • Install a theft shield
  • Safe parking practices
  • Reporting suspicious activity

What do catalytic converters do?

Each car manufactured after 1975 has a catalytic converter installed. They became mandatory parts in an attempt to reduce emissions worldwide. Exhaust emissions can cause poor air quality, which results in several breathing illnesses experienced by the population of an urban area. 

Located under your car, the catalytic system uses metal catalysts to separate the molecules from the exhaust. After separation, oxygen molecules are released while nitrogen ones are kept within the converter. This way, pollution is greatly reduced with the help of a single part.

The catalytic converter easily filters harmful byproducts in the exhaust, but this part has many more purposes. It also improves fuel economy and ensures that your car is functioning properly. This part will not need a replacement for a long time if well maintained. 

catalytic converter on the ground

Why do people steal catalytic converters?

Because it is the most expensive part of a car, thieves often set their eyes on catalytic converters. While most of these parts sell above $1,000, the most expensive one can be found on a Ferrari F430, which features two of them. 

Catalytic converters are manufactured with precious metals, such as platinum or palladium. They are sold for high prices, so it makes sense why thieves are targeting them. With some basic skills, precious metals can be extracted from the component and sold separately.

Even though they are located underneath your car and quite difficult to access, some thieves can remove them within minutes. They have various tools that make this operation easier. You must install a catalytic shield, especially if you park your car in a dangerous area. 

How much does it cost to replace a catalytic converter?

Universal catalytic converter with 02 sensor outlet and heat shield

While the part is quite expensive, you will also have to pay the labor costs. It is not easy to install a catalytic converter, so you should seek the help of a mechanic at an auto repair shop. It is acceptable to consider replacing your catalytic converter as a last resort, especially if the car is old and not reliable.

But replacement is mandatory when your car produces high emissions due to a broken catalytic converter. The state has fixed laws in this regard, and you risk getting fined if you don’t pass the emissions tests. Better to pay the price of replacement now, and you will also avoid getting in trouble with the law.

You can expect to pay between $945 and $2475 for a catalytic converter replacement. This price should also include the labor fee, but the exact amount varies from model to model. 

How to prevent & protect against catalytic converter theft

You do not have to live in constant fear and worry about the safety of your vehicle and its parts. There are some easy ways to prevent and protect against catalytic converter theft. Look at the most effective ones and sleep well at night, knowing your car is protected.

Universal catalytic converter

1. Set a camera to catch thieves

You can install motion-sensitive lights in your driveway to light up as soon as they detect motion. Because thieves like to work in the dark, you are ruining their entire operation once you expose a bright light to them. 

Additionally, you can install cameras to catch the brave ones and use the footage as proof when you ask authorities for help. 

2. Paint the catalytic converter

Thieves will sell the stolen catalytic converters, and the companies that buy them will ask no questions. However, there is something you can do to prevent these buyers from collaborating with thieves. 

Paint the catalytic converter in bright orange color and mark your vehicle identification number on its surface. This way, the thief cannot prove his ownership of the part, and the buyer might even contact the authorities. 

3. Install a catalytic converter shield

Some special cages and devices are designed to protect this valuable part from being stolen. A steel shield is a good choice because thieves will have difficulty cutting through this protection made from a strong material. 

You can also weld stainless steel cables onto the car’s frame to reduce the risk of losing this part. Additionally, look at the products we recommended below, as they do a good job of keeping your catalytic converter safe.

Catalytic Converter 2008 F350

4. Park in a safe area

When you have to leave your car somewhere for an extended period, it is recommended to park in a secure area where it won’t be a target for thieves. Thieves don’t like exposure, so that you can park in places with lots of traffic.

They cannot avoid being seen if people are always walking or driving around. At night, look for well-lit areas and avoid parking in dark places.

5. Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood

Before performing the act, criminals often take their time to investigate the target vehicle. Pay attention to people that are getting too close to your car. If they start investigating, they might be picking their next target.

Loud noises and the sound of breaking glass are also clear signs of dangerous activity in your area. Local law enforcement will take these signs seriously and offer additional support in your area.

6. Figure out the value of your catalytic converter

Most people believe thieves only target luxury cars since they are worth more. But it is much easier for them to steal the components of a regular vehicle because it lacks other security systems. 

SUVs and cars with high ground elevation are favorite targets since their catalytic converter is easily accessible. Other vehicles, such as Toyota Prius, are targeted for the high value of their catalytic converter. They contain more platinum and rhodium. 

Do catalytic converter shields work?

Catalytic converter on grass

The shields that protect the catalytic converters are highly effective. They drive thieves away because the stealing operation is no longer profitable for them. Cutting a catalytic converter and removing it from your vehicle is already a difficult task in itself.

With the additional protection of a shield, this operation is much more difficult. Thieves have to cut through this shield to reach the valuable part, which is very difficult since the shields are manufactured from durable materials. 

You will discourage anyone considering stealing your catalytic converter as soon as they notice a complex and sophisticated shield underneath your car. 

Best catalytic converter shields

Because you are already stressed about the safety of your vehicle, you might get overwhelmed trying to find the best catalytic converter shield for your car. The good news is that we did this job for you and found the best shields currently available on the market. 

Catalytic Converter Protector Shield Defender Aluminum

This shield is highly efficient and protects the underside of your car from several dangers. It increases the lifespan of your car by protecting the underneath area from getting damaged as you drive over dangerous roads. This protector also keeps thieves away and makes it more difficult for them to attempt to steal your catalytic converter.

While other models interfere with the ventilation systems, this one has a cooling hole designed for better airflow. Made of aluminum enforced with stainless steel, this shield offers maximum protection while also being resistant to corrosion.

We ordered this product and installed it on a Toyota Prius. We noticed several improvements ranging from security to reliability and even aesthetics as the underside of the car looks better and simpler with this shield.

NameProtector Shield
Country of Origin‎China
Item Weight‎3.39 pounds
Manufacturer‎LANHO AUTO PARTS
Package Dimensions‎23.62 x 18.74 x 0.71 inches

Pros

  • It will save you a catalytic converter replacement worth many hundred dollars.
  • Pretty sturdy
  • It’s a good theft deterrent.
  • We were quoted $130 to have it professionally installed.
  • A pro said this device is really effective.

Cons

  • Reasonably hard to install.
Sale
Protector Shield
46 Reviews
Protector Shield
Protector shield for Toyota Prius.

MZS Catalytic Converter Protection Shield, Anti-Theft Cat Protector

Another option worth considering is the one created by MZS, which is a company that always delivers only high-quality products. Made of aluminum, this shield is lighter. It won’t affect the performance of your car by adding more weight. 

Anti-theft systems are designed so thieves will have difficulty unscrewing and cutting through the hard material. Lower vents help the air pass through, and exceptional ventilation is ensured even with the shield installed.

Several customers expressed their satisfaction through positive reviews. Most of them are relieved that their Toyota Prius is now protected. They say this product is very easy to install and has instructions if you need help.

NameMZS Protection Shield
Item Weight‎2.93 pounds
Manufacturer‎MZS
Package Dimensions‎25.6 x 16.5 x 0.25 inches

Pros

  • Great quality product
  • It’s a simple design.
  • Very affordable protection

Cons

  • Pretty good fit but not perfect for a 2021 Prius
  • Holes needed to be honed to accommodate the rivets.

What should you do if your catalytic converter is stolen?

used Catalaytic converter

If you wake up one day and you notice that the catalytic converter is missing from your car, there are a couple of things you have to do. Firstly, it is important to avoid driving your vehicle. Removing the catalytic converter is a criminal offense, and driving a car without this part is illegal.

Contact the authorities immediately and inform them about the theft. Nowadays there are several security cameras installed at every corner. They might be able to catch the person who stole your catalytic converter. Continue by contacting your insurance company, as they might cover a replacement of this car. 

Based on your insurance, the conditions can vary. You should get in touch with an agent and negotiate a solution. Lastly, a mechanic should verify the integrity of your vehicle. Take your car to the nearest auto repair shop, but use towing services as you are not allowed to drive yourself. 

Catalytic converter cage installation

The installation of a catalytic converter cage is a good idea if you want to increase protection. But be advised that such a cage will not reduce the risks completely. They are intended to slow the thief down and make it harder for them to steal your part, but a motivated one might not give up. 

However, it will give you enough time to intervene or contact the authorities. You can take many more steps to increase your vehicle’s security and lower the risk of being targeted by criminals. 

The installation of a catalytic converter cage is quite difficult and you might want to seek the help of a skilled mechanic. Depending on the materials used for this protector, cages will cost you between $150 and $200. Take into consideration the labor costs if you don’t install the cage yourself. 

FAQ

Do Prius have catalytic converters?

Since every vehicle manufactured after 1975 has a catalytic converter installed, Toyota also puts this valuable part in their Prius models. They are created using precious metals, and catalytic converters can get quite expensive for this particular model.
The average cost for a Toyota Prius catalytic converter is $2,150. Because of its increased value, most thieves look for this car when they are searching for a new victim. 

How do you know your catalytic converter is stolen?

You are not supposed to look underneath your car every morning before you drive to work. When the catalytic converter disappears, you might not notice it if you are unaware of what to look for. There are some specific symptoms that will appear only when this part is missing, and they are:
– The exhaust fumes have a specific smell
– Loud sound when you start the car
– Uneven acceleration due to improper exhaust regulation
– The car gets louder when you accelerate
– The check engine light comes on

How quickly can someone steal your catalytic converter?

It depends on the skill and agility of the thief. Inexperienced ones will have a hard time locating and extracting this valuable part. Some expert criminals can steal your catalytic converter in less than two minutes, especially if equipped with the right tools.

Some of them will continue trying to extract this part even after minutes have passed. That is why you should park your car in areas where committing such a crime would be clearly visible to the public. 

Can a car run without a catalytic converter?

This part aims to reduce emissions and protect the environment. Hence, its purpose is not strictly dependent on your vehicle’s performance. 

That is why a car without a catalytic converter will continue to run the same. However, you might experience louder sounds and uneven acceleration. While your vehicle can run without a catalytic converter, it is illegal, and the authorities will give you several penalties. 

Can catalytic converters be traced stolen?

Stealing this part is convenient for thieves. While they are expensive and highly valuable, catalytic converters are also untraceable. The buyers who will purchase these parts are not asking any questions since they cannot determine the ownership. 
However, there are a couple of methods that you can use to make your catalytic converter traceable. One of them implies the inscription of your vehicle’s registration number on the surface, where it is visible to others.