Subaru Forester Catalytic Converter Location

The Subaru Forester catalytic converter can be found in the SUV’s undercarriage, making it a prime target for thieves.
Written by Matthew Lynaugh
The catalytic converter for a Subaru Forester is located underneath the SUV, in between the muffler and exhaust manifolds, leaving it a vulnerable target for thieves.
There has been an extreme surge of catalytic converter theft in recent years, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and those rates continue to surge. As one of the priciest parts to replace, you need to know where your catalytic converter is located so you can monitor it and take necessary cautions to protect it.
Thankfully, this article will guide you through everything you need to know—the benefits of this part, why they’re so valuable, and ways to minimize your risk through anti-theft devices and the right
car insurance
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Where is the catalytic converter on a Subaru Forester?

While some manufacturers have adapted to the rising rate of catalytic converter theft by moving the part to a more secure location within the vehicle’s build, Subaru continues to leave the Forester’s underneath the vehicle.
The Subaru Forester catalytic converter can be found in between the muffler and exhaust, behind some heat shields. This leaves the valuable part a sitting duck for theft, as it can be removed within minutes with the use of common tools. The fact that the Forester is an SUV that can be easily crawled under makes it an even more enticing target.

What are the benefits of a catalytic converter on a Subaru Forester?

So, why is there so much talk about catalytic converters, anyway? 
As a vital part of the exhaust system, it works to convert toxic gasses into emissions that are much less harmful to the air and environment. Without a catalytic converter, your car will not pass an EPA emissions test, and your car’s overall performance will decrease as well. 
But their environmental impact is not the reason thieves want to get their hands on them. These converters are made of a combination of precious metals that can be sold for thousands of dollars. In fact, the rhodium found in these converters can go for over $10,000 per ounce!
While your catalytic converter might not have a full ounce of rhodium, it’s still easy to see what makes this part an enticing target.

How to protect the catalytic converter on your Subaru Forester

Catalytic converter theft is a big problem for Forester owners due to the ease of access. Newer models are even more attractive to thieves because their low-emissions system is composed of the most valuable metals. Pair that with the relative simplicity of removing the converter, and the Forester becomes a prime target.
Keep these tips in mind to protect your Forester catalytic converter from theft:
  • Purchase an anti-theft device. Installing devices from popular brands like
    are a simple way to deter thieves. You could also consider an alarm or shield to protect your catalytic converter.
  • Change where you park. Ideally, you would keep your car in a locked garage, but for those forced to park in a driveway or on the street, consider adding motion lights or finding a spot under a streetlamp. 
  • Mark your catalytic converter with your VIN number. This won’t directly stop any theft, but it can make tracking yours easier if it is stolen, and can make it a more difficult sell to an aftermarket parts dealer. 
Another way to keep yourself protected if your catalytic converter ever is stolen is to add
comprehensive coverage
to your car insurance policy. This coverage will cover the cost of replacement parts after a theft, making it a worthwhile investment for cars susceptible to catalytic converter theft. 

What to do if your catalytic converter is stolen

If your Forester catalytic converter is in fact stolen, remain calm and take the following action:
  • Take pictures of your exhaust system and any missing parts to document the incident 
  • Report the theft to the police
  • File an insurance claim 
  • Consider installing anti-theft devices to keep your converter safe and sound
  • Think about purchasing an aftermarket replacement catalytic converter to lower costs and the likelihood of future theft

When to replace the catalytic converter on a Subaru Forester

In most cases, a catalytic converter will last about 10 years—but as is the case with all car parts, there is no exact lifespan. If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to replace your catalytic converter:
  • Sluggish acceleration or decreased performance
  • Dark or rotten-smelling smoke coming from the exhaust
  • Undercarriage is overheating 
  • Failed emissions test
  • Check engine light is on
If you see any of these warning signs, you can use an onboard diagnostics (OBD) scanner to find out exactly where the problem is coming from. As always, you can also take your vehicle to a mechanic for professional analysis.
If your catalytic converter is malfunctioning, it's possible that you only need to replace one part of it—like the heat shield. But in the event of a complete replacement, you could be looking at a bill for $1,500 to $2,000 for parts and labor.
New Subarus come with an Emissions Performance Warranty good for eight years or 80,000 miles—whichever comes first. If your catalytic converter is deemed defective within this timeframe, your replacement could be covered by Subaru. If you need a new converter due to general wear and tear or it's after the warranty window, you’ll need to cover the cost yourself.
MORE: Mechanical breakdown insurance: what is it and do I need it?

How to replace a catalytic converter

Unless you are mechanically experienced, replacing your catalytic converter is not a recommended DIY project. Tack on the dangerous tools needed to complete the job and we advise paying the cost to have this done by a professional.
If you are confident in your abilities, however, make sure you look up the part number for your specific Forester and purchase an original equipment manufacturer replacement. Sure, aftermarket parts can help you save some money, but catalytic converters are important enough that you probably don’t want to compromise quality.
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