How to Prevent Acura MDX Catalytic Converter Theft

Acura MDX has a front and a rear catalytic converter. The rear cat may be a target for catalytic converter thieves.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Jessa Claeys
background
Most Acura MDX models have multiple catalytic converters, and the valuable ones are safely tucked away in the engine bay. However, if you have a 2001 or 2002 Acura MDX, you might be more at risk, since these models only have a single catalytic converter in an easily accessible location.
Catalytic converter theft has been all over the news lately, as it continues to happen more and more to unsuspecting vehicle owners. Vehicles such as SUVs and trucks that are higher off the ground with easier access to the underbody are more commonly targeted. 
Here, we’ll discuss how vulnerable MDXs are to catalytic converter theft, how to prevent it, and what to do if yours is stolen.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from an Acura MDX? 

The short answer is yes. But there’s more to it than that. Only the 2001 and 2002 Acura MDX models have an easily accessible catalytic converter (also known as a cat or cat-con) that’s of high value in thieves’ eyes. 
Every other model has a system of three catalytic converters. On these
Acuras
, the rear cat is the only one that is easily accessible—and it isn’t very valuable. This is due to the fact that it contains a fairly low concentration of precious metals compared to other catalytic converters.
Of course, some thieves might not be aware of this, so your MDX crossover SUV could still be a target of catalytic converter theft. SUVs like the
Jeep Patriot
,
Chevrolet Equinox
, and
Honda CR-V
are among the most targeted. And out of all vehicle models,
Ford F-Series
pickups statistically have the highest chance of having their cat-con stolen.

Top Acura MDX years that catalytic converter thieves target

If a thief is clever, they’d know that the 2001 and 2002 model years are the only Acura MDX models with a valuable catalytic converter that is easily accessible. However, new SUVs in general have been commonly targeted as of late.

Why are Acura MDX catalytic converters stolen?

The reason that catalytic converters are being stolen in such high volumes is the fact that the precious metals contained in them are extremely valuable. Of course, catalytic converters only contain very small amounts of these metals, making them worth about $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the vehicle.
To give you an idea, here’s how much one ounce of the three common metals found in catalytic converters is worth as of December 2022:
  • Rhodium: $12,400
  • Palladium: $1,619
  • Platinum: $991
To compare, gold was worth $1,796 per ounce at the time this article was written. The high value of these metals coupled with how easy it is to steal catalytic converters and get away with it explains why this phenomenon has become so common.

Acura MDX catalytic converter replacement cost

The original catalytic converter part for a 2001 or 2002 Acura MDX costs about $3,000, and the labor to replace it will cost about $100. However, if you have a newer MDX, each of the three converter assemblies costs about $1,200. Replacement parts for older models with the three-cat system are closer to $800.
The under-floor three-way converter (TWC) is less valuable to thieves but still fairly expensive to replace. It is unlikely that you’ll have the warm-up three-way catalytic converters (WU-TWC) stolen since they are safely secured under the hood.
Purchasing a third-party or aftermarket catalytic converter for your vehicle might save you money over buying an OEM part, but it’s important to make sure the part fits your MDX.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from an Acura MDX

If the thieves are as informed as your trusty Jerry researcher, they’d know that your 2003-and-newer Acura MDX’s rear converter would not be very valuable to them. Of course, that might not actually be the case. You’d still be wise to protect yourself from cat-con theft. Here’s how.

Park in a secure area

The safest place to park would naturally be a secured garage. Most catalytic converter thefts happen in public parking lots or remote street parking spaces where fewer people are around.
If you can park near a light and in plain view, that may help. Your vehicle is also less likely to be a target in a parking lot that is closely monitored by security.
MORE: How to tell if a parking garage is liable for a stolen or damaged vehicle

Buy a catalytic converter shield

Catalytic converter shields do what the name suggests—they provide a protective barrier to prevent access to the catalytic converter.
Cat Shield™ from MillerCAT
or
Cat Security™
are two companies to look into if you’re interested in a cat-con shield. You just need to make sure that it fits your Acura MDX.
Attaching one of these devices is a pretty easy thing to do yourself. Plus, installing one might make you eligible for a discount on comprehensive insurance from your insurance provider.

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

If you haven’t already done so, it’s good practice to bring your vehicle to a mechanic to have them etch your VIN directly onto the catalytic converter. Bring them some coffee and donuts, and they might even do it for free! 
This is one job that is fairly difficult to do on your own if you don’t have a way to lift your car to get underneath it. But marking your catalytic converter permanently with your car’s VIN makes it less of a target because it’s more difficult for thieves to resell. It’s also easier to trace the part back to you if it does end up being stolen.

Invest in comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive car insurance
won’t exactly deter thieves, but it will give you peace of mind in knowing that you’ll be covered if you end up a victim of cat theft. Comprehensive coverage deals with non-collision-related claims such as theft or vandalism, meaning you could make a claim for a stolen catalytic converter and be reimbursed. 
If you financed the purchase of a new Acura MDX recently, you likely have full-coverage car insurance—because your lender requires it. This is good news! Full coverage is a package deal that includes basic
liability coverage
, comprehensive coverage, and
collision insurance
.

What to do if your Acura MDX’s catalytic converter is stolen

If your cat is stolen, first off, document the incident. Take pictures that show where and how the catalytic converter was removed from your vehicle. 
Once you have your documentation, use it to file a police report. It’s possible (but fairly unlikely) that police can source video security footage from the incident location to identify who stole your catalytic converter and where it may have ended up.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t tend to happen much lately. Catalytic converter thieves are usually pretty good at obscuring their identity. And if your VIN isn’t marked on your cat-con, they don’t have any way of tracing the part back to you—even if a thief's cache is recovered.
If you have comprehensive insurance, you should contact your insurance company to file a claim for theft as soon as possible. Be aware that you’ll need to pay a deductible before receiving your payout, though. 
If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to replace your catalytic converter, and this is a repair you won’t want to leave on the back burner.
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Can you drive an Acura MDX without a catalytic converter?

Yes, it is technically not dangerous to drive without your catalytic converter—especially if you have a model with three of them. However, it’s not a good long-term solution to just leave it.
For starters, the laws around driving with a missing cat-con are rather dicey. Plus, if your state requires emissions testing as part of a pre-registration safety inspection, your missing cat will not fly. You’ll be required to replace this part before being able to register your vehicle.
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