How to Prevent Kia Telluride Catalytic Converter Theft

Catalytic converter theft for the Kia Telluride is unlikely—but not impossible. Here’s how to prevent this tricky type of theft.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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Your Kia Telluride could be a target for catalytic converter theft. This type of crime is on the rise across the nation. Although your Telluride is fairly resistant to thieves, you can take extra steps to protect your SUV by parking in a secure location and etching the VIN onto the cat.
Times are tough, and that means some people are turning to thieving to make ends meet. A thief could steal your Telluride’s catalytic converter and sell it for a nice profit due to the valuable metals contained inside.
Whether you’re dealing with a recent catalytic converter theft or you’re anxious to prevent one, here’s what you need to know. Keep reading to learn about effective theft prevention strategies and what kind of car insurance you need to protect your SUV against this type of damage. 
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Kia Telluride? 

Not especially. The catalytic converter on a Kia Telluride is located beneath the vehicle near the engine compartment. While it’s technically possible to cut through the pipes and remove the cat, it’s time-consuming and conspicuous. However, the Telluride might be appealing because of its high ground clearance—which would allow a thief to easily sneak underneath.
It’s far more likely that a thief will target a hybrid vehicle than your Telluride. Hybrid catalytic converters are worth more. Trucks and large SUVs are also more vulnerable to cat theft than your Kia Telluride.

Top Kia Telluride years that catalytic converter thieves target

The Telluride was released in 2019. While most experts agree that the 2019 Telluride is the worst for driveability, there’s no real difference between the model years when it comes to catalytic converter theft risk.
There is not currently a plug-in hybrid version of the Telluride—yet. But if you’re reading this in the future and you’ve got a hybrid Telluride, be warned! Your hybrid vehicle is at higher risk for cat theft than non-hybrid Tellurides.

Why are Kia Telluride catalytic converters stolen?

Thieves do not steal a catalytic converter for its automotive value. Instead, they steal it for the precious models contained inside. A catalytic converter filters out harmful emissions from your exhaust system by using a sieve made of rhodium, palladium, and platinum. The black market value of these metals has skyrocketed in recent years.
As of December 2022, here’s what each of the metals in your Telluride’s catalytic converter is worth: 
  • Platinum: $1,007 per ounce 
  • Palladium: $1,708 per ounce 
  • Rhodium: $12,350 per ounce 
Your catalytic converter contains far less than one ounce of each of these metals. A thief’s profit might be several hundred dollars, all told. But catalytic converter theft is so common because stealing a cat is relatively easy to steal if you find a vulnerable vehicle parked in a dark, unmonitored parking lot. 

Kia catalytic converter replacement cost

Replacing a catalytic converter is expensive—and required. Your Telluride will not pass emissions testing without a functional catalytic converter, especially if you live in a state with rigorous standards like California.
You can expect to spend up to $2,000 to replace a Kia Telluride catalytic converter. You can look for an aftermarket part to lower your costs somewhat. Unfortunately, this is an expensive part and you’ll have to pay for an hour or two of a mechanic’s labor to do the repair.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Kia Telluride

To prevent your Kia Telluride from becoming an easy target for thieves, try one of these anti-theft tactics. Protect your SUV’s cat by:

Parking in a secure area

Park your Kia in a secured indoor garage. If that’s not an option, then install motion sensor lights and video surveillance. If thieves cannot access your Telluride without being spotted, they’ll be more likely to stay away. 

Buying a catalytic converter shield

There aren’t many aftermarket catalytic converter shields built specifically for the Kia Telluride. However, it’s relatively simple to create one yourself or buy a universal kit. This is basically a cage or a plate that blocks access to the catalytic converter. 
Make sure to find a solution that is compatible with your specific Telluride measurements. DIY installation is usually possible, but a mechanic can help you with the installation if you’re not comfortable working on your own car.
Some insurance companies will give you a discount on
comprehensive insurance
after you install this anti-theft device! 

Putting your VIN on the catalytic converter

“Finders keepers” doesn’t apply if your name is etched right onto the part! A catalytic converter cannot be sold on the black market if it has been tagged with the vehicle’s VIN.
Call your local muffler shop and ask them to tag your cat with your Telluride’s VIN. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) holds regular catalytic converter etching events. 

Invest in comprehensive insurance

While
car insurance
can’t stop theft from occurring, it can protect your bank account in case your cat gets stolen. 
Basic liability coverage is not enough to cover repair costs to your own vehicle if you’re the victim of theft. You need comprehensive insurance. This type of policy allows you to submit a claim for your own vehicle—and get help paying for the replacement part. Otherwise, you’re stuck paying out-of-pocket for the new part. Full coverage is the best protection. 

What to do if your Kia Telluride’s catalytic converter is stolen

Oh no! If your Kia Telluride’s catalytic converter has been stolen, you should immediately contact law enforcement. Report the details of the theft, including the place and approximate time. They may be able to tap into nearby security cameras and track down the thief. If not, at least you’ll have a police report and a record of the incident.
Your next step is to report the theft to your car insurance company. If you have comprehensive insurance, you can file a claim for the theft. It may take some time to process your claim but you should receive a payout to help cover the repair costs. Remember that you have to pay a
deductible
before your coverage kicks in.
Then, you can book an appointment with a mechanic. Let your local mechanic know that you’ve suffered a catalytic converter theft. If you didn’t have comprehensive coverage, see if the mechanic can locate an aftermarket part to save you some money.  

Can you drive a Kia Telluride without a catalytic converter?

Technically, yes. You may notice an odd buzzing noise and reduced performance if your Telluride doesn’t have a catalytic converter. But you can drive it to the repair shop safely.
Ultimately, you can’t drive without a cat forever. Gas-powered cars need a catalytic converter to pass emissions testing and keep harmful toxins out of the atmosphere. Without a good grade on your emissions test, you can’t register your vehicle. There’s no good ending to this story without a new catalytic converter!
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