How to Prevent Chevrolet Equinox Catalytic Converter Theft

The Chevy Equinox is one of the most targeted vehicles in the nation for catalytic converter theft—here’s how to prevent it.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Catalytic converter theft rates have risen at an alarming rate in the past few years, and the Chevrolet Equinox has a significant target on it. To help deter would-be thieves consider parking your Equinox in a secure place, installing an anti-theft device around your catalytic converter, or etching the VIN onto it. 
The recent reports of skyrocketing catalytic converter thefts are worrying at best. Then you click on that headline and find your Chevrolet Equinox has made the list of the most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter crimes and now you’ve moved into a panic. 
A great way to temper that panic is with preparedness, so we’ll cover how to prevent Chevrolet Equinox catalytic converter theft, what to do if it unfortunately happens—and what type of
car insurance
would cover this kind of theft.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Chevrolet Equinox? 

The catalytic converter of a Chevrolet Equinox can be easy to steal. This crossover SUV has a relatively roomy ground clearance of around 8 inches, meaning it wouldn’t take a lot for someone, albeit a thin someone, to shimmy under the Equinox and get to work. Sitting higher off the ground is a common denominator for many of the most targeted vehicles, including the
Ford F-Series
,
Chevy Silverado
, and
Toyota Tacoma
On top of that, some of the Chevy Equinox models with larger engines come with two catalytic converters—that bounty can make a very appealing prize for some. 
Depending on the model year, the catalytic converter of an Equinox could be bolted or welded on among the exhaust system but there are efficient removal tools for both of those adherents these days. 

Top Chevrolet Equinox years that catalytic converter thieves target

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and car-history tracking companies like
CARFAX
, the most targeted model years for the Chevrolet Equinox are between 2005 and 2021…or, ya know, just about all of them. It seems your Equinox isn’t safe even if you’re rolling with the original model. 

Why are Chevrolet Equinox catalytic converters stolen?

The job of a catalytic converter is to take the harmful bi-products of combustion engines and convert them into less harmful substances to be released. So, instead of nitrogen and carbon monoxide exiting the tailpipe, you get water, carbon dioxide, and heat. 
But for this reaction to work precious metals, namely rhodium, palladium, and platinum, are used in the converter to act as catalysts for the change. These metals were already high-value, but with halts in their mining and the global supply chain, their value has taken a sharp incline. 
As of March 2022, rhodium, palladium, and platinum are worth:
  • Platinum: $1,128 per ounce 
  • Palladium: $2,938 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $20,000 per ounce 
Now, you won’t find an ounce of each of these metals in just one catalytic converter, but the scrap price can still seem worth it, especially with how easy it can be to steal them. With the right tools, a catalytic converter thief targeting a vehicle with a high ground clearance can be in and out in about one minute. 

Chevrolet catalytic converter replacement cost

Getting anything stolen from you is a pain in the you-know-where, but a stolen catalytic converter can cut especially deep—the average replacement cost for a Chevy Equinox cat con lands between $1,200 and $1,500. That price includes both parts and labor, but you may find cheaper or more expensive options depending on your mechanic and their willingness to use aftermarket parts.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Chevrolet Equinox

The rising rates of catalytic converter theft are troublesome, and seeing the Equinox in the top 10 list for most vulnerable cat cons makes it even worse. Here are some preventative measures for keeping your catalytic converter more secure:

Park in a secure area

A locked garage is likely the best place for your Equinox when you’re not actively driving it, but if that’s not possible, you’ll want to opt for a surveilled and/or well-lit parking area. Consider installing motion-sensor lights or security cameras around your home for extra deterrents. A light turning on isn’t necessarily going to frighten every criminal away but it could get a few! 

Buy a catalytic converter shield

Catalytic converter anti-theft devices are a great option for protecting the car part. Look around at your local auto supply store or online for cat con anti-theft shields that are basically cages or plates that cover the catalytic converter. 
If you don’t want to pay for the installation costs, buy one that comes with the necessary tools and is aimed at beginners. Most catalytic converter anti-theft devices are intended to be easy to put on but tough to remove, so they’re worth looking into if you’re worried about someone stealing your vehicle’s catalytic converter. 
And bonus! Many car insurance companies offer discounts to drivers with protective devices installed on their vehicles! Contact yours to inquire about their potential anti-theft device discounts.

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

Find a mechanic willing to etch your VIN onto the catalytic converter in an obvious way. When a catalytic converter is marked with the information of a specific vehicle, it makes the selling process more difficult and can deter the theft altogether. 
Check in your area for catalytic converter etching events held by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) or just call around to your local auto shops to see if any of them provide the service. 

Invest in comprehensive insurance

OK, so this may be a little misplaced among “preventative measures against cat con thefts” but upgrading your
car insurance
to include
comprehensive coverage
will be the thing to help you after your catalytic converter gets stolen. 
Comprehensive insurance provides coverage for accidents and events that are beyond your control like vandalism and theft, natural disasters, hitting an animal, etc. If your converter gets stolen but you’re rolling with just the basic liability insurance, you’ll be left to pay the thousand to a couple thousand dollars on your own. Upgrading your insurance policy before a theft can happen will protect you and your wallet from that major expense. 

What to do if your Chevrolet Equinox’s catalytic converter is stolen

We hope this day never comes, but if you find yourself the victim of a Chevrolet Equinox catalytic converter theft, first of all, we’re sorry that happened to you. You’ll want to contact the authorities as soon as possible with all the details of the event you can gather. If you were anywhere around security cameras, law enforcement will be able to get access to the recordings.  
Regardless of the presence of security (or not so much), the police will file a report. It’s crucial for you to obtain a copy of that report so you can contact your insurance company to make a claim if theft is covered in your policy. Your insurer will work with you to figure out repairs and replacements. 
If theft is not covered in your policy, you’ll want to start shopping around for new catalytic converters as soon as you’re able. Aftermarket parts tend to be the cheapest, but you’ll want to make sure whatever mechanic you go to is willing to install aftermarket parts before making any big purchases. You’ll be responsible for paying for it and you don’t want to waste money. 

Can you drive a Chevrolet Equinox without a catalytic converter?

If your Chevrolet Equinox’s catalytic converter was stolen out from under you, it won’t necessarily immediately impede your driving abilities—but it won't be a viable option for long. 
Sans catalytic converter, your Equinox will be loud. The engine and exhaust system are missing a key piece and for that, your ears may suffer. But that’s not all—if you live in an area that requires emissions testing for your car’s legal registration, you won’t be able to pass without a catalytic converter
And on top of that, your vehicle will be free to shoot as many (very) harmful emissions out into the environment and into your car’s cabin as it pleases. As you can imagine, that’ll be quite damaging for any substantial period of time. 
A Chevrolet Equinox without a catalytic converter is also at risk of start-up failures, reduced fuel economy, loss of engine power, and more. So, you could drive without a catalytic converter but it’s not practical and can cause a lot of damage to yourself and the planet.
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