How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft on a Toyota RAV4

You may have heard recent news stories about catalytic converter theft and how the number of victims continues to increase. It’s true that more people look to steal cats as the economy struggles, but do you need to worry about Toyota RAV4 catalytic converter theft?

In this guide, I discuss ways to prevent catalytic converter theft on your RAV4. I also discuss the reasons why people steal the catalytic converter and show you how to prevent it.

toyota rav4 catalytic converter

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Is Your RAV4 a Target?

While catalytic converter theft can happen with any vehicle, the RAV4 isn’t a top choice. Among the top-ranked vehicles susceptible to this theft, the Toyota RAV4 doesn’t even make the list, while other models from the automaker do.

The catalytic converter on the RAV4 isn’t a simple one to steal. Here are some reasons.

  • Both catalytic converters have a plastic barrier on them that has to be removed, leaving more work for a thief
  • 2022 RAV4 models have 8.4 inches of ground clearance, while a thief needs a minimum of 10 to avoid using a jack

With that said, RAV4s do still suffer from catalytic converter theft. The RAV4 Hybrid is the most susceptible, with the Plug-in Prime model coming in second. These hybrid models have more precious metals in the converter, making them more valuable to thieves. 

The gas-powered RAV4 suffers from catalytic converter theft the least often. Thieves that do their research know that the value is lower with this model, and the converters aren’t worth as much. 

While catalytic converter theft is a nationwide problem, some areas see an increase in this crime. The cities where it seems to happen more often include the following:

  • Chicago
  • Sacramento
  • Los Angeles
  • Atlanta
  • Indianapolis

Even in an area where theft isn’t common, you could still be a victim. Thieves are becoming bolder, even stealing from well-lit parking lots and dealerships. For these reasons, I recommend reading further to get some helpful tips. 


Why It’s a Targeted Part

catalytic converter

What makes the catalytic converter so valuable to thieves?

For starters, the catalytic converter is easy to get to and only takes a few minutes to remove with simple tools. That alone makes it an easy target, but what do thieves get for it?

Within the catalytic converter, there are precious metals. These metals include Palladium, Platinum, and Rhodium. Over the last few years, these metals’ value has increased because mining has decreased.

With a limited supply of metals and an increasing price, people desperate for money see this theft as a quick answer. Plus, the catalytic converter has no defining marks or identification numbers, so nothing slows down the sale.

Within minutes, a thief can have the converter off your vehicle and be on the road. A quick trip to the local scrap metal yard gives them a nice income. 

Scrap Price

After a catalytic converter is stolen, it’s taken to a scrap yard for money. The amount it’s worth depends on what type of vehicle it came from, as some have more precious metals inside than others.

The catalytic converter contains a fraction of an ounce of each fine metal, but not much is needed. As an example, the average converter may have 0.1 ounces of palladium. Yet, when you look at the prices per ounce (as of December 2022), you see why they are so valuable.

  • Platinum: $1,037/oz.
  • Palladium: $1,919/oz.
  • Rhodium: $12,600/oz.

From a scrap yard, a RAV4 catalytic converter may earn anywhere from $95.97 to $438.38, depending on how much metal is inside. Also, keep in mind there are two catalytic converters on the RAV4, so they’ll be able to score double that amount if they take both.

The hybrid models can even fetch for a little bit more. That’s not a bad payday for a thief looking for some quick money. 


Part Location

It doesn’t matter whether you have the gas-powered RAV4, a RAV4 Hybrid, or the plug-in Prime,  all have two catalytic converters now.

The Toyota RAV4’s catalytic converters are attached to the exhaust manifold, bolted to each other.

toyota rav4 catalytic converter location

If a thief took the time to get both catalytic converters, they could earn double the money, depending on the quality. However, most aren’t willing to do this much work for fear of getting caught in the process. 


Preventative Measures

The RAV4 catalytic converter isn’t simple to get to, so thieves generally don’t mess with it. However, it doesn’t mean that your vehicle is immune. To protect your catalytic converter from these people, you should take additional steps. This is especially important if you live in a high-risk area.

The best protection against catalytic converter theft is a theft shield.

While taking the converter is still possible, more work is necessary with an anti-theft shield installed. Plus, the thief creates more noise during the removal. Instead of messing with your vehicle, the crook will likely move on.

The catalytic converter theft shield pictured is Miller CAT’s anti-theft shield for the RAV4 Hybrid and Prime. This is a newly released product from Miller CAT, which is a reputable brand in the anti-theft shield market.

miller cat anti-theft shield on a toyota rav4 hybrid

I discussed with Reddit user @avboden, who recently installed this Miller CAT shield. They said, “Very happy with the coverage and quality of the shield, it’s not invincible but it would absolutely slow someone down enough to make them not bother.”

For installation, they added that “[installation] was okay on a lift, mostly took a bit because the instructions had a photo reversed which confused me so I had to do it twice to fix a mistake on a spacer placement. For such a good product man, their instructions suck!”

In summary, this is a great option to provide optimal protection as long as you’re able to work with vague instructions from the manufacturer. If you’re unsure of doing this yourself, you can simply take the parts to your local mechanic or dealership for installation.

Additionally, you could implement these steps:

  • Park in a garage or well-lit area
  • Etch or stamp the VIN on the catalytic converter for easy identification
  • Spray paint the cat with a bright color so thieves know more work is needed to remove the paint before selling it
  • Install a rocker alarm that sounds if the catalytic converter is messed with

What to Do If Yours Is Stolen

If your efforts fail and the catalytic converter is stolen, you want to act fast. Here are some steps to take.

  1. Document the theft with plenty of pictures and a video
  2. Call your local police to file a report
  3. If you have comprehensive auto insurance, file a claim
  4. Get estimates from local repair shops for a replacement catalytic converter
  5. Once the new converter is installed, put anti-theft devices on to protect it

If you can install the catalytic converter yourself, you may spend between $800 and $950 for a new one. Otherwise, expect to pay around $1,300 to $1,400 for the parts and the labor at a local shop. However, you may only be responsible for the deductible if your insurance covers it.


Frequently Asked Questions

Not always. The exceptions to the rule include the Toyota Prius because the hybrid tends to have more valuable metals in it. Plus, the Toyota trucks have catalytic converters stolen because they are easier to get underneath. 

Vehicles built before 1974 don’t have catalytic converters, and thieves don’t want to crawl under cars low to the ground. Additionally, vehicles with two converters attached to each other can be less valuable to a thief. 

No, the newer the car is, the more desirable it becomes. Hybrids are especially popular because the lower emission rating means more metals are in the catalytic converter.

Protect Your Cats

I’m not talking about your pets here, although they are essential too. Take a few minutes to consider how you are protecting the catalytic converter on your RAV4, or you could end up with a hefty replacement bill after it gets stolen.

Just because the RAV4 isn’t heavily targeted doesn’t make you immune to this type of behavior. With a few simple steps, you can ensure that thieves overlook your car and move on. 

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  1. RAV4 Resource says:

    No, it will not.

    1. My Toyota dealer in Costa Mesa CA told me it would weaken the frame so they would not put on the CAT. I went to another Toyota dealer and they put it on my Prius.

      1. RAV4 Resource says:

        That’s strange. I have never heard such a thing and that does not make any logical sense to me.