What Subaru Owners Need to Know About Catalytic Converter Theft

No vehicle is completely immune to catalytic converter theft. If you own a Subaru, here’s how you can keep it protected.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
No Subaru is completely immune to catalytic converter theft, with the most targeted vehicles including the Outback and the Forester. If your own catalytic converter is stolen, having comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy can help cover the cost of a replacement.
Catalytic converter theft
rates have skyrocketed in recent years—and some vehicles are more frequent victims than others. To protect your Subaru, it helps to understand why catalytic converters are stolen, what factors can make your car more vulnerable, and which steps you can take to lower your risk—like having comprehensive coverage on your
car insurance
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Why are Subaru catalytic converters being stolen?

While Subaru vehicles aren’t the most targeted vehicles when it comes to catalytic converter theft, they certainly aren’t immune. Here are some factors that can make certain Subarus more vulnerable to catalytic converter thefts:
  • Hybrid models: Hybrids like the
    Subaru Crosstrek
    are great options to consider if you’re looking for a more fuel-efficient vehicle, but their catalytic converters also tend to have higher concentrations of rare metals that make them more attractive to thieves.
  • High ground clearance: Vehicles like the
    Subaru Forester
    or the
    Subaru Outback
    that have higher
    ground clearances
    are easier to access without the aid of car jacks, which can make them easier to steal. 
  • Popularity: Subarus are more popular in some regions than others, but it’s pretty easy to spot one just about anywhere you go. The more familiar a catalytic converter thief is with a particular vehicle, the easier it is to locate and steal the part.

What is a catalytic converter?

A catalytic converter is an important part of your Subaru’s exhaust system that helps reduce the amount of harmful substances that get released into the environment. They’ve been a requirement for vehicles sold in the United States since 1975.
But why would a catalytic converter be so tempting for a car thief?
Answer: its materials. For a catalytic converter to do its job, it makes use of precious metals like palladium, platinum, and rhodium to convert exhaust pollutants into less harmful substances, like nitrogen and oxygen.
In recent years, the values of these rare metals have exploded, and catalytic converter theft rates have followed suit. From 2019 to 2020, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that catalytic converter theft claims rose by 325%, and from 2020 to 2021, they rose by another 353%.
The other factor that makes catalytic converters so vulnerable to theft is their location. They’re usually found on the undercarriage of the vehicle, which allows an experienced thief to slip under the vehicle, cut it away, and sneak off with it to make a quick buck.
Since your catalytic converter isn’t sitting in plain sight, you might not notice that it’s missing right away, making it more difficult to collect evidence and track it down.

The Subaru models most targeted by catalytic converter thieves

Some vehicles are more prone to catalytic converter theft than others. A CARFAX report shared in November of 2022 identified the following vehicles as being some of the top targets for catalytic converter theft:
While no Subarus make CARFAX’s top 10, they do start to make an appearance when the data is broken down by region. Vehicles like the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Forester are named as some of the most commonly targeted vehicles in the West and the Northeast. 
Their vulnerability to catalytic converter theft is due in part to their high ride height, which is great for off-roading but also gives easier access to the undercarriage. Naturally, other Subaru SUVs with high ride heights, like the Crosstrek, Ascent, and Solterra, can also run into this issue.

Subaru catalytic converter replacement costs

Replacing a catalytic converter is unfortunately one of the most expensive repairs you can make on a vehicle. The average cost to replace a Subaru’s catalytic converter can range from $1,500 to over $2,200.
Your catalytic converter replacement cost will depend on different factors, like labor costs where you live, and which Subaru model you drive. Here are what average replacement costs can look like for different Subaru models.
Average cost to replace catalytic converter
Subaru Outback
$500 – $2,700
Subaru Forester
$900 – $2,000
$1,400 – $1,800
$900 – $1,300
Subaru RX
$400 – $450
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Since replacement costs can vary so widely from place to place and vehicle to vehicle,
getting a repair quote
from your go-to auto shop (or several of them) can give you a better sense of how much it might actually cost to replace your catalytic converter.

How to protect your Subaru catalytic converter from theft

While you might not always be able to prevent catalytic converter theft, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it happening to you:
  • Park in secure areas. If you have access to one, keeping your Subaru parked in a
    locked garage
    is the best way to keep your catalytic converter and the rest of your vehicle secure. When that’s not possible, parking in well-lit areas where it would be harder for thieves to go unnoticed can help you reduce your risk.
  • Invest in a cat shield or another anti-theft device.
    Anti-theft devices
    like cat shields and locks make it more difficult for thieves to get to your catalytic converter—and some providers might offer you a
    car insurance discount
    for certain devices. 
  • Mark your cat-con with your vehicle identification number (VIN). If your catalytic converter were to be stolen, marking it with your
    could make it easier to track down—and harder to sell to a reputable dealer.
  • Buy a camera or security system. The risk of getting noticed can sometimes be enough to deter a thief, which could make motion-sensitive lights for your driveway a worthy consideration. Additionally, home surveillance systems can help you collect the evidence you need to get a stolen catalytic converter back.
  • Purchase comprehensive car insurance. Car insurance can help cover the cost of replacing a stolen catalytic converter—but only if you have the right kind of coverage.
    Comprehensive insurance
    covers a range of incidents including theft. Just keep in mind you’ll have to pay your policy’s
    amount out of your own pocket before your coverage kicks in.

What to do if you see someone stealing a Subaru catalytic converter

The same advice you’ll see plastered on posters at a New York City subway stop also applies if you see someone stealing a catalytic converter—if you see something, say something. To law enforcement, that is.
When catalytic converter thefts are reported right away, it increases the odds that the catalytic converter can be retrieved. Plus, having a police report on file can also be helpful for the driver if they need to
file a car insurance claim
MORE: How to file an insurance claim with no police report
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On average, catalytic converter replacement costs can range from $1,900 to $2,100. The cost can vary depending on factors like the type of vehicle you drive, its model year, and labor costs where you live.
Whether your car insurance will cover your Subaru’s catalytic converter theft depends on what coverage you have on your policy
If you want coverage to help you pay for a catalytic converter replacement, you’ll need to have comprehensive coverage, which covers a range of incidents, including theft and vandalism. Before coverage kicks in, you’ll need to reach your policy’s deductible.
Without comprehensive coverage, you can expect to pay for a catalytic converter replacement out of pocket.
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