What Hyundai Owners Need to Know About Catalytic Converter Theft

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Hyundai models are not currently top targets for catalytic converter theft, but that doesn’t mean they are any less vulnerable than the most commonly stolen vehicles.
Hyundais have become more susceptible to catalytic converter theft due to the easy accessibility of this valuable vehicle part. Don’t let the lack of Hyundais on any catalytic converter theft rate list give you any false hope—cats are still being stolen from Hyundais, and if you own one, you need to learn how to keep yours protected.
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Why are Hyundai catalytic converters being stolen?

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that catalytic converter theft has been steadily rising for years now, and that number skyrocketed since 2020. Let’s dive deeper into why a thief may target your Hyundai.
  • Hybrid models. Hyundai’s growing hybrid catalog now has six models offered for 2023. Hybrid catalytic converters are the most valuable because they are made of the most precious metals and can provide a quick payday on the black market.
  • High ground clearance. Thieves want to be in and out, making elevated vehicles a more attractive target. With plenty of SUVs in the Hyundai lineup, these will be viewed as an easier job and more prone to cat theft.
  • Popularity. As one of the fastest-growing car brands in America, if there are more Hyundais on the road, they are going to be at greater risk for catalytic converter theft.

What is a catalytic converter?

And why will thieves risk jail time to get their hands on one?
Your Hyundai’s catalytic converter is an essential part of your car’s emissions system that converts dangerous toxins in the exhaust fumes into less harmful emissions. The actual converter is coated with precious metals, like platinum, rhodium, and palladium, which is where the value comes from. When intact, this part can be resold for up to $2,000, but if you melt these metals down, they can go for thousands of dollars per ounce!
Catalytic converters are boosted so often because, well, they’re easy to take. On most cars, they are essentially out in the open in the car’s undercarriage, and only take a few minutes to detach with household tools
If you suddenly hear a lot of unfamiliar noise coming from your Hyundai’s exhaust, you could have a failing muffler—or your catalytic converter may have been taken right under your nose.
MORE: Are Hyundais expensive to maintain?

The Hyundai models most targeted by catalytic converter thieves

Catalytic converters can be lifted off nearly any Hyundai, but some models are bigger targets than others. The following Hyundais are the most vulnerable to catalytic converter theft:
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Hyundai Santa Fe 
  • Hyundai Elantra 
Not only are these three models among Hyundai’s best-selling, but they also check just about every box that a thief could look for. For starters, the Elantra has a big hybrid engine, making it a great target. But then the Tucson and Santa Fe are elevated SUVs, which are even easier to access—and they come with hybrid powertrains! A jackpot for catalytic converter thieves. 

Hyundai catalytic converter replacement costs 

If your catalytic converter is ever unfortunately stolen, you will have to replace it. Check out the table below for average replacement costs for some popular Hyundai vehicles.
Average cost to replace catalytic converter
$693 to $734
$1,233 to $1,261
$1,825 to $1,849
$2,048 to $2,122
$2,127 to $2,152
$1,997 to $2,074
$2,219 to $2,341
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You can save a few bucks by opting for an aftermarket replacement instead of an
OEM part
—but just know, you will eventually have to buy a new one, and they’re never cheap.

How to protect your Hyundai catalytic converter from theft

There are plenty of ways to upgrade the security of your catalytic converter to help you avoid the headache of having to replace it. Here are some tips for Hyundai owners to better protect their valuable catalytic converter:
  • Park in a secure or well-lit area. Darkness and empty lots are essentially inviting cat thieves to target your vehicle. It would be ideal if you could park in a locked garage—but a crowded or visible area is a good alternative. 
  • Purchase a shield, lock, or cage. Popular
    anti-theft devices
    like cat shields and locks make it exponentially harder to remove your converter. You can find affordable options online or bring a shield into the shop to be professionally installed. 
  • Engrave your VIN on the cat. Marking up your catalytic converter with your VIN is a great deterrent because the part instantly becomes a much tougher sell to an aftermarket dealer. 
  • Paint it. Painting your catalytic converter with high-heat paint presents a warning to thieves that this part will be much easier for law enforcement to track down.
  • Buy a camera or security system. Motion-activated lights can offer a quick and inexpensive line of defense against cat theft, while a camera system can help you track the crook down.
  • Opt for comprehensive car insurance. A full coverage insurance policy won’t actually prevent the theft of your catalytic converter, but you can file a claim after it is stolen to recoup the cost of a replacement.
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The cost varies by model, but you can expect to pay anywhere from around $700 all the way up to $2,300 to replace a Hyundai catalytic converter.
Hyundai catalytic converters are stolen mainly due to their value and ease of access. These parts can be detached from underneath the car in as little as a few minutes and then immediately resold for thousands of dollars because they are made of precious metals.
Reviewed by Jaya Anandjit.
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