How to Prevent Audi A4 Catalytic Converter Theft

Audi A4 V6 models made before the 2010s have a double cat-back exhaust system, which unfortunately makes them prime catalytic converter theft targets.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
background
Older Audi A4 models with upgraded V6 engines have two catalytic converters—and they’re easier to get at than the single catalytic converters used on inline-4 A4 models. On the less-powerful inline-4 models, the catalytic converter is located further up inside the engine bay, making them much more difficult to quickly access and steal.
Catalytic converter thefts continue to plague vehicle owners, as the value of the precious metals within them remains quite high. Vehicles with catalytic convertss that are especially easy to access —such as SUVs, trucks, and some cars that are higher off the ground—are especially targeted.
We’re here to tell you about what kind of risk you might have of having your
Audi
’s catalytic converter stolen and how to help decrease your chances of theft. We’ll also go over how to navigate your
car insurance
claim and
car repairs
if it does happen.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from an Audi A4? 

It depends on which engine it has. That being said, it is less likely that a car as low to the ground as the Audi A4 would have its catalytic converters stolen compared to trucks, SUVs, and crossovers that sit high enough up for thieves to easily slide underneath
Even if they were to manage getting under the engine, not every Audi A4 has a catalytic converter that’s easy for thieves to get at from there. Audi A4s with inline-4 engines have been built with their catalytic converters located further up into the engine bay, rather than easily accessible on the vehicle’s underside.
However, V6 models that were built before the 2009 model year—including V6-equipped Audi S4 versions—were built with a double catalytic converter setup. If you have an older V6 Audi A4, you might be at risk of having these valuable parts stolen. On V6 A4s, the catalytic converters are located near the middle of the chassis, one on the left and one on the right.
Just because your V6-powered Audi A4 is fairly low to the ground, don’t think that thieves won’t be able to quickly steal a catalytic converter from under it. In fact, cars like the
Toyota Camry
,
Honda Accord
, and
Toyota Prius
are among the top ten most likely targets for catalytic converter theft in the U.S.

Top Audi A4 years that catalytic converter thieves target

Clever thieves will know that only certain years of the V6 Audi A4s will have the easily accessible double-cat setup, so these are likely the ones that are going to be most targeted. All A4 and S4 models made from model years 2009 and prior that are equipped with a V6 engine have the double cat-back exhaust system.

Why are Audi A4 catalytic converters stolen?

Catalytic converters are being stolen in record numbers and being harvested for the traces of valuable precious metals that they contain. While catalytic converters only contain very small amounts of these metals, it’s usually still enough to make them worth about $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the vehicle.
To give you an idea, here’s how much one ounce of each of the three common metals found in catalytic converters is worth as of January 2023:
  • Rhodium: $12,350
  • Palladium: $1,813
  • Platinum: $1,069
To compare, gold was worth $1,837 per ounce at the time of writing. Because these resources are so valuable, the ease of stealing an easily accessed catalytic converter is hard to pass up for thieves.

Audi A4 catalytic converter replacement cost

Ordering a catalytic converter replacement part for an A4 directly from Audi costs about $2,500 to $4,000, depending on the year of the vehicle. The cost of labor to replace it adds about $350 to $450 to that price. Both the right and left cats on models with the double cat-back exhaust are worth about $3,000 each when ordered from Audi.
One way that you can save money and make your vehicle a slightly lesser target for cat theft is by purchasing a third-party or aftermarket catalytic converter as a replacement.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from an Audi A4

If you’re worried about having your Audi A4 V6’s catalytic converter(s) stolen, then there are a few practical things you can do to lessen your risk and put your mind at ease. Here are our top tips.

Park in a secure area

If you can consistently park in a well-secured garage, you probably don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re parking on the street or in public parking lots, you should be more aware of how easy it might be for a thief to access your catalytic converter. Street parking and other public parking areas are the most common places for catalytic converter theft to occur. Parking near a streetlight or in a spot that’s in plain view of more people should help lessen your risk.
If you’re parking in your own driveway, consider installing motion-activated lights or even a home security camera system to help deter potential thieves.
MORE: How to tell if a parking garage is liable for a stolen or damaged vehicle

Buy a catalytic converter shield

If you’re worried about how easy it is to access the double cat-back system of your older V6 A4, consider investing in a device that provides a protective barrier between your catalytic converter and potential thieves.
Cat Shield™ from MillerCAT
and
Cat Security™
making products that fit a variety of vehicles. Make sure that the device you’re buying will actually be compatible with your A4 before you make your purchase.
Luckily, attaching a cat shield to your car shouldn’t be that complicated of a DIY process. And, as an added bonus, your insurance company might give you a discount on comprehensive insurance for installing this and other security equipment on your vehicle.

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

One practical thing that folks are being encouraged to do is to etch their vehicle’s VIN directly onto its catalytic converter. This makes these parts much harder for thieves to resell, and also makes it easier for them to be traced back to you if they’re found.
You can take your A4 into a mechanic to have them do this for you—it’s usually inexpensive. Bear in mind that etching a VIN onto your catalytic converters by yourself would be quite difficult, especially if you don’t have a way to lift the car and safely access it from underneath. 

Invest in comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive car insurance
doesn’t play any real role in scaring away thieves, but it definitely can provide you with some peace of mind that you’ll be able to make a claim and be reimbursed if your car is vandalized.
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What to do if your Audi A4’s catalytic converter is stolen

If you realize that your catalytic converter has been stolen, the first thing you should do is document the incident as best as you can. Take pictures of the spot where the converter was stolen from, showing as best as you can the points where the piping was cut and/or disconnected.
Now you can use this documentation to file a police report, which you’ll usually need to do in order to make an insurance claim. Police might be able to recover your stolen part, but most catalytic converter thieves aren’t caught by law enforcement. If your VIN is marked on your cat-con, it might end up being traced back to you if it’s recovered in the future.
If you have comprehensive insurance, you can simply file a claim and have your catalytic converter replaced. As with most insurance claims, you’ll need to pay a deductible before receiving reimbursement for replacement costs. Without comprehensive insurance, expect that you’ll need to pay out of pocket to replace a stolen catalytic converter.

Can you drive an Audi A4 without a catalytic converter?

Yes, it is technically safe to drive without a catalytic converter—especially if only one of your two cats in an Audi V6 model were stolen. However, this should only be a temporary situation. Your vehicle will put out far more pollution than usual with this part missing, and if your state requires that you pass an emissions test to register your vehicle, a missing catalytic converter will result in a failing grade.
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