How to Prevent Toyota RAV4 Catalytic Converter Theft

The Toyota RAV4 isn’t at the top of the list for catalytic converter theft, but it happens. Here’s how to protect your RAV from catalytic converter thieves.
Written by Matt Nightingale
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
Catalytic converter theft is on the rise across the country and, while no vehicle is 100% safe, you can take steps to protect your Toyota RAV4 catalytic converter such as stamping or etching your vehicle identification number (VIN) onto your catalytic converter or buying an anti-theft device to keep your cat in place.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons for the rise in catalytic converter theft. We’ll also go over how vulnerable RAV4s are and how you can prevent thieves from taking your RAV’s catalytic converter. As a bonus, we’ll also discuss what kind of
car insurance
can best protect you from catalytic converter theft.
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Is it easy to steal the catalytic converter from a Toyota RAV4? 

, it’s not especially easy to steal a RAV4’s catalytic converter.
The RAV4 has
two catalytic converters
—one connected to the exhaust manifold, and a second connected to the first catalytic converter—that are covered by a plastic barrier that thieves must remove to be able to access the cats. Of course, if they really want the catalytic converter, they can get it, but those extra barriers make the RAV4 a less appealing target for thieves than, say, the
Toyota Tundra
’s which is one of the
most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter thieves
The most targeted vehicles for catalytic converter thieves are larger trucks like the
Ford F-Series
and the
Chevy Silverado
, which don’t need to be jacked up in order to access the cat. For this reason, some of Toyota’s most targeted models are larger vehicles like the
Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Sequoia
, and the
Toyota 4Runner

Top Toyota RAV4 years that catalytic converter thieves target

While the RAV4 is generally not a big target for catalytic converter thieves, it can still be a target, and some models are more prone than others.
The most targeted RAV4s are hybrids, like the 2016
RAV4 Hybrid
or the new plug-in
RAV4 Prime
introduced in 2020. RAVs with traditional gas-only engines are less of a valuable target, though theft can still happen.
Older hybrid cars, like the first-generation
Toyota Prius
, have become favorite targets for thieves. Catalytic converters found on hybrid vehicles tend to
contain more precious metals
, making them more valuable overall.

Why are Toyota RAV4 catalytic converters stolen?

The catalytic converter is responsible for converting toxic emissions produced by your car’s engine into less harmful byproducts like steam. To do this, your engine’s exhaust is run through a filter inside the catalytic converter composed of precious metals like
, and
. The value of the precious metals used in catalytic converters has skyrocketed over the past few years, making cats a prime target for criminals.  
Here is what an ounce of each of the metals found in your RAV4’s catalytic converter was worth as of December 2022:
  • Platinum
    : $1,037
  • Palladium
    : $1,919
  • Rhodium
    : $12,600
While a catalytic converter only contains a fraction of an ounce of each of these metals, that is offset by just how easy they are to steal. If a vehicle has a ground clearance of
10 inches
, all a would-be thief needs to do is crawl underneath the parked vehicle and quickly cut the cat out. No jack required.
Luckily, the 2022 RAV4 has a ground clearance of
8.4 inches
, making it a little more difficult to get at the cat without the use of a car jack.

Toyota catalytic converter replacement cost

If you do happen to have your catalytic converter stolen, you will face a pretty hefty repair bill. The cost to replace a Toyota RAV4 cat hovers in the
range including labor. But, if you want to do the work yourself, an OEM catalytic converter for a 2022 RAV4 will cost somewhere between
$800 and $950
You can avoid having to pay for a replacement catalytic converter by getting yourself some good
comprehensive car insurance
. This type of auto coverage pays for damage from theft and vandalism, as well as damage from falling objects, water, hail, and wildlife.

How to prevent catalytic converter theft from a Toyota RAV4

The chance of your Toyota RAV4 catalytic converter being stolen is not zero, so you should take some precautions to ensure you’re not an easy target for thieves. Here are a few tips to help you keep your catalytic converter out of the hands of criminals.

Park in a secure area

The best way to keep your RAV4 from being tampered with is to park in a
or in an area with
good lighting
video surveillance
. If you don’t have a garage, installing
motion sensor lights
in your driveway can also be a good deterrent for criminals. Basically, by making it harder for thieves to approach your vehicle unseen, you lower the risk of your RAV4 being messed with by criminals.

Buy a catalytic converter shield

There are a number of
anti-theft devices
that you can get for your vehicle, including ones designed specifically to protect your catalytic converter. Devices such as the
and the
Cat Clamp®
make it impossible for thieves to remove your RAV4’s catalytic converter without a lot of hassle. Criminals who encounter these types of security systems are very likely to keep moving.
You can find affordable and effective catalytic converter security devices at
Cat Security™
or other online retailers like Amazon. If you own a
RAV4 TRD Off Road
, you’ll want to ensure that you purchase a device that is compatible with your RAV’s skid plate.
Installing an anti-theft device will not only help prevent your catalytic converter from being stolen, but you might also qualify for a
discount on your car insurance
for making your vehicle less of a liability. Check with your insurance provider to see if you qualify for an anti-theft discount.

Put your VIN on the catalytic converter

Remember how you used to write your name on your underwear so nobody would take them? Well, If you etch your RAV4’s VIN onto the catalytic converter it’s less likely that anybody will take your cat. That’s because your Toyota VIN can be
decoded and traced
, so it cannot be resold.
National Insurance Crime Bureau
puts on catalytic converter engraving events where you can have your VIN etched into your converter, but if you can’t find an NICB event in your area, you can have the engraving done at your local muffler shop, too.

Invest in comprehensive insurance

Adding comprehensive insurance coverage to your car insurance policy is a good way to protect your pocketbook in case your catalytic converter is ever swiped. Comprehensive insurance covers the cost of parts and damage caused by theft and vandalism. Without this type of insurance, you will be on the hook for the cost of replacing your catalytic converter.
If you want to protect yourself against collision damage as well as theft,
full-coverage insurance
gives you the best of both
collision insurance
and comprehensive coverage.

What to do if your Toyota RAV4’s catalytic converter is stolen

If you find that your Toyota RAV4’s catalytic converter has been stolen, you should
contact the authorities
immediately and file a police report. If there are security cameras in the area, they may be able to review the footage to help find the crook who stole your cat.
Next, you’ll want to
contact your insurance company
. If you have comprehensive insurance as part of your car insurance policy, you’ll be able to file a claim for the theft by using the police report number you were given. This could save you thousands of dollars in repairs.
After that, you and your insurer will
work out a time to have the repairs done to your vehicle
, and they will cover the cost of the replacement cat. You must
pay your deductible
before your insurance provider will cover the bill, but that will probably be significantly less than the cost of the replacement itself.
If your insurance won’t cover the cost of replacement, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. In that case, you can save a little money by using aftermarket parts, and you can save even more if you can do the work yourself.

Can you drive a Toyota RAV4 without a catalytic converter?

The catalytic converter is not essential to be able to drive your RAV4, but it is essential to keeping your vehicle compliant with emissions standards. If your car does not have a catalytic converter it won’t pass an emissions test, so if you live in an area that requires you to pass a regular emissions test, you’ll need to have your cat replaced sooner than later.
But, even if you aren’t required by law to meet certain emissions standards, a missing catalytic converter can cause an increase in
car noise
labored acceleration
, and a spew of
toxic gasses
into the environment.
To sum up: it is safe to drive a RAV4 without a catalytic converter, but it’s not necessarily legal, and it’s certainly not fair to Mother Nature.
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