How to Prevent Fiat 500 Catalytic Converter Theft

Your Fiat 500 isn’t particularly at-risk for catalytic converter theft, but that’s no guarantee. We’ve got the best ways to protect it right here.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Thanks to its compact stature and hard-to-access catalytic converter, the Fiat 500 isn’t typically targeted by cat thieves—but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Up your protection game by parking wisely, marking your converter, and purchasing additional
car insurance
If you’ve watched the news or checked your NextDoor app lately, you’ve probably noticed catalytic converter thefts are going up everywhere. Should you be worried about your Fiat 500?
Whether you’re looking to take extra precautions or you’re recovering from a catalytic converter theft, we have everything you need to know in this short guide. We’ll cover how much of a risk your Fiat 500 is for this type of
car theft
, what to do if it does happen, and how to protect your car for the future. Let’s get started. 

Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Fiat 500? 

Not really. The Fiat 500’s catalytic converter is located between the two front wheels behind the radiator fan—but removing it will require removing brackets and bolts first. That, in addition to the 500’s minimal ground clearance, means the Fiat 500 isn’t often targeted by catalytic converter thieves. 
Thieves look for vehicles that they can slide under quickly without using a jack. Since the Fiat 500 is so low to the ground, even the skinniest thief would have trouble squeezing themselves under its chassis.  

Top Fiat 500 models that catalytic converter thieves target

With so many variations of the Fiat 500, not all of them are as safe as the standard model. For instance, the
Fiat 500L
is probably pretty secure thanks to its 4.7-inch ground clearance.
Fiat 500X
models, however, have slightly higher ground clearances, making them a tiny bit more susceptible. 
Hybrid 500 models are also at a slightly higher risk due to their more valuable converters. All 500e models are safe because electric vehicles don’t have catalytic converters. 
Overall, the Fiat 500’s low ground clearance and difficult-to-access catalytic converter make them a rare target for catalytic converter thieves.
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Why are Fiat 500 catalytic converters stolen?

Catalytic converters are essential to vehicles’ exhaust systems because they convert toxic exhaust emissions into less harmful gasses. They can’t do this without precious metals like rhodium, platinum, and palladium acting as catalysts, though. The value of these metals has soared over the last several years, meaning the rates of catalytic converter theft have soared, too. 
As of late December 2022, here’s what each metal in your catalytic converter is worth: 
  • Platinum: $1,034 per ounce 
  • Palladium: $1,780 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $12,350 per ounce 
And these numbers have gone down compared to early 2022. Even so, they’re still worth enough to tempt thieves looking to score some quick cash. 

Fiat 500 catalytic converter replacement cost

If you do find yourself needing a new Fiat 500 catalytic converter, the average cost of replacement will set you back between $1,400 and $2,400 depending on your specific model, the replacement part you get, and your local labor costs. Opting for an aftermarket catalytic converter could put you on the cheaper end of that spectrum—but you’ll want to make sure that part meets your state’s emissions requirements first. 

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Fiat 500

Your Fiat 500 may have a slim chance of being targeted—but that doesn't mean it’s impossible. With previous metals increasing in value, catalytic converter thieves are getting more desperate. That’s why it might be a good idea to put a few new anti-theft strategies into play. 

Park in a secure area

The most secure method of protection is by parking your Fiat in a safe garage. If that’s not a viable option, though, aim for somewhere well-lit with video surveillance. A good way to deter thieves is by adding a motion sensor light in your driveway. After all, thieves are less likely to target cars in places they could easily be seen. 

Buy a catalytic converter shield

If your area seems to be experiencing more thefts, you may want to go the extra mile and install a catalytic converter shield in your Fiat. It might be hard to track down one that fits your Fiat, but these parts are generally made for easy installation. In addition to the extra protection, you might even
get a car insurance discount
applied to your premium.
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Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

Another way to deter thieves is by etching your VIN onto the catalytic converter itself. This makes it less desirable for thieves since the part won’t be as easy to sell on the black market. Your local police, a muffler shop, or even the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) may be able to help you with this service. 

Invest in comprehensive insurance

So this one won’t exactly prevent the theft from happening, but it can prevent your bank account from being drained if it does happen!
Comprehensive insurance
covers crime and vandalism, including catalytic converter theft. You’ll be paying out of pocket without this coverage to replace your cat. 
Of course, you should still take every possible precaution to prevent theft, but it’s always wise to be prepared for even the worst outcome. 

What to do if your Fiat 500’s catalytic converter is stolen

If you suspect that your Fiat 500’s catalytic converter’s been nicked, don’t panic. First, you’ll need to contact the police. If this theft is a part of a local string of thefts, they may be able to connect the cases to catch the suspect—especially if they can use security footage or other evidence. 
Even if they can’t identify the burglar, they’ll file a police report for you to use when you
file a car insurance claim
. If you’re covered with comprehensive insurance, your insurance company will get the replacement process started. You’ll need to pay your deductible before your insurance company takes the reins, but they should take care of the rest of the repair costs. 
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage in your insurance policy, you’ll have to pay for the catalytic converter replacement yourself. However, you could save a few bucks if you find a mechanic who is willing to install an aftermarket converter instead. 

Can you drive a Fiat 500 without a catalytic converter?

Yes…and no. You can technically drive your Fiat 500 without a catalytic converter, but only while you’re waiting for your new converter to come in or get replaced. Driving without a catalytic converter will not only lead to harsh acceleration and loud road noises, but you’ll also be cranking out toxic gases from your muffler. This will lead Mother Earth to suffer—and you will, too, if you don’t pass your state’s emissions testing
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