The past few years have been tough on car owners and car manufacturers, to say the least. New insurance data shows catalytic converter theft continues to be a huge problem that is showing no signs of slowing down. Car thieves continue to target this key auto part rather than stealing the entire vehicle itself. According to CBC News, “catalytic converter thefts rise nationally as metal inside ‘more valuable than gold’.” Although it is not a new issue, cases of these types of theft continue to rise nationally, so it’s important for you to have all the facts that will help keep your car(s) safe.

What is a catalytic converter? 

A catalytic converter is a piece of your vehicle’s exhaust system and helps to reduce the airborne pollutants that could harm us or the environment. It uses a chamber (called a catalyst) to change the harmful compounds from an engine’s emissions into safe gases, like steam.They are known to reduce about 90% of harmful toxins and emissions that are expelled into the air, including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. Catalytic converters in your car will positively affect the health, performance and overall efficiency of your vehicle. It is a canister with two pipes connecting to the exhaust underneath your car, and is accessible by lying beneath it.

According to the Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, theft of catalytic converters rose 60% over the past year, and a whopping 1,700% between 2018 and 2022. 

Why are car thieves targeting catalytic converters? 

Ironically enough, it isn’t the catalytic converters themselves that are valuable, but the precious metals inside them that are. “It’s not a new issue…catalytic converters have been stolen for years,” says Bryan Gast, National Director of Investigative Services at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. As the value of these precious metals has risen, so have the thefts with intentions of being sold on the black market. These types of valuable metals include palladium, rhodium and platinum, which are “more valuable than gold right now,” according to Gast.

Who are the targets of catalytic converter theft?

However, current car owners aren’t the only ones that need to be cautious. It now appears that criminals are targeting new and used car dealerships, where vehicles often sit unprotected overnight. New car owners calling in with complaints about their recently purchased vehicles have been given shocking explanations. In some cases, new car owners have been informed by the dealership that the original converter was stolen on the lot. The dealerships then had to install an aftermarket catalytic converter to replace it

Catalytic converter thieves may be getting away with even more thefts than ever before. That’s according to a report from Carfax, which estimates that as many as 153,000 “cat-cons” were liberated in 2022 south of the border.

How will you know if you’ve been a victim of catalytic converter theft? 

It may not be obvious by looking at your vehicle, but you’ll know something is wrong the minute you start your car. Your vehicle’s engine will give off a load roaring sound, which will only get louder as you accelerate. Another way to know for sure is by checking underneath your vehicle. A large, canister-shaped hole in your exhaust and/or roughly-cut pipes are proof.

What does this car part typically sell for? 

Depending on the size, condition and value of the metals inside, a catalytic converter can sell for anywhere between $150 and $200 a pop. Typically, it can cost up to $2,000 to replace, depending on what’s missing and the damage done while removing it.

Which vehicles are safest to own? 

Catalytic converters help to reduce both emissions and noise from the vehicle. They’ve been built into every car since 1993. These devices contain precious metals that are part of the exhaust conversion process and are expensive to buy. Therefore, thieves have been targeting them to make money by selling them for around US $500.

If your vehicle falls into one of the three categories below, you can rest a little easier that yours in one of the safer vehicles to own:

  1. If your car was made before 1974, it doesn’t have a catalytic converter. Converters were a mandatory implementation after the rules on emissions got stricter.
  2. Electric/eco-friendly vehicles also don’t have converters, as they produce no emissions.
  3. All diesel engine vehicles are also on the safe list as their converters do not contain precious metals.

Vehicles most at-risk in Canada

In Canada, many police divisions and insurance companies are pointing to Korean cars as being the converter of choice. Manitoba Public Insurance reports that the Hyundai Tuscon is high on the list, along with the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Santa Fe. J.D. Power reports that European cars are less likely to be targets, as their catalytic converters tend to be closer to the engine and harder to steal. Trucks and SUVs make it easier since they’re higher off the ground for easier access. 

Does my insurance cover catalytic converter theft?

In Ontario, a mandatory car insurance policy is comprised of four primary coverage types:

  1. Third-Party Liability
  2. Accident Benefits
  3. Direct Compensation-Property Damage
  4. Uninsured Auto

A basic auto policy will not offer protection or coverage form vandalism or theft of your vehicle. To safeguard your vehicle against these potential threats, consider adding optional comprehensive coverage to your policy. It will pay for damages related to vandalism, theft, or if damages to your car are a result of a natural disaster, like a flood or hailstorm.

A catalytic converter may be a small part of your vehicle, but replacing it can be costly: roughly between $1,000-$2,000. Also, it’s important to note that it’s illegal to remove it, purposely or by stealing it. 

As the catalytic converter is a permanent feature of your vehicle, your comprehensive deductible therefore applies. Your insurance company will inspect the vehicle, assessing all the damages. Afterwards, they will compensate you accordingly. However, it’s important to note that cars with a liability-only policy don’t have coverage for any type of theft. This means that you will not have coverage for theft of your catalytic converter in this case. Comprehensive coverage is, most times, inexpensive to add to your policy. So, be sure to speak with your isure broker about your policy’s protection coverage.

Tips for protecting your vehicle from vandalism or theft

The OPP recommends drivers take the following actions to protect their vehicles:

  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area or a garage if you have one.
  • Leave exterior lighting on at your house at night.
  • Invest in a dash cam. Parking mode is a feature of some dash cams that allows them to continue recording when your car is not in motion.
  • Review notifications from home security camera systems, and look for any suspicious activity.
  • Lock your vehicle and ensure that the security system is active. Use your alarm and set it so it reacts to vibration.
  • Always remove valuables from plain view inside your car. If this is not possible, secure it in the trunk or other unseen locations within your vehicle before reaching your destination.
  • Leave your vehicle as close to a building’s entrance or road as possible.
  • Use extra bolts and cables, or weld the converter to the bottom. This makes it more difficult to remove.
  • Engrave the VIN on your converter and write it down so you can easily identify it.
  • Be a good neighbour, share information, and look out for each other’s property.
  • Be sure to report any suspicious activity or incidents to the police immediately. Your information may help interrupt a potential crime, identify a crime trend, suspect, or prevent further crimes.

Anyone with information on catalytic converter thefts can contact the OPP by calling 1-888-310-1122 or online via You can also report any crime anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at

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