Catalytic converter theft is at an all-time high and showing no signs of slowing. In this article, we dig into whether or not a catalytic converter cage is a viable option for protecting your catalytic converter.
A stolen catalytic converter can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the make and model of your vehicle. And being victimized is a huge inconvenience. Not only is it expensive, but it is a major inconvenience waiting for your car or truck to be repaired. In some cases, repair shops are waiting days or weeks to get replacement parts.
Catalytic Converter Anti-Theft Shield vs. Catalytic Converter Cage
The best solution to prevent catalytic converter theft is to install a catalytic converter shield. Unfortunately, most vehicles do not have custom-fitted catalytic converter shields readily available.
So if you are one of the millions of unlucky vehicle owners where a shield is not available, then a catalytic converter cage might be your next best option for protecting your vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Some models like the Honda Element, Toyota Tundra, or Toyota Prius are fortunate to have custom-fitted catalytic converter shields ready to install. These shields are made of stainless steel or high-strength aluminum and are predrilled and pre-molded to fit your car or truck.
However, if you drive another make and model of vehicle, you are highly unlikely to find a pre-formed cat shield. And that is where a catalytic converter cage comes in.
Catalytic converter cages must be custom-fabricated by a shop and usually made of steel rebar. Installing rebar cages creates a nearly impenetrable barrier around your converter. And because they are welded to your car frame, thieves cannot remove your catalytic converter.
Where can I get a catalytic converter cage?
Before considering a rebar cage, the first place I would check is Amazon or MillerCAT to see if there is a custom-fit catalytic converter shield available for your car or truck. Especially if you drive a Honda, Toyota, or Lexus. This would be the best choice because they are custom-fitted to fit your car and do not require welding.
Your next best bet would be to get a custom fabricated cage or a CatClamp. To get a custom fabricated rebar cage, you will need to find a place that does custom exhaust work or custom welding. In most cases, they can install a rebar cage in just a few hours and for a few hundred dollars. I cover the CatClamp in more detail below.
One big caution, however, is that installing a cage will likely be against any lease terms for leased vehicles or potentially void warranties on some vehicles. It can also make accessing your converter harder down the road unless it is fabricated with an access door.
Catalytic converter cages are much cheaper than a replacement catalytic converter and will protect your catalytic converter by surrounding your catalytic converters with steel rebar or steel cables.
Replacing a catalytic converter can cost anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Rebar Catalytic Converter Cage Alternatives
If you can’t find a protection shield or you don’t want to weld rebar to your vehicle frame, then another option is to install an alarm system or CatClamp. I like this particular device better for my cars because it does not permanently weld anything to the vehicle and can be removed when needed.
Painting your converter with high-temperature paint and etching is another low-cost option, although not as secure, and is mostly just a deterrent.
What is a Cat Clamp?
CatClamp is a well-known company with a catalytic converter anti-theft device that locks in and protects your catalytic converter. It is a security device with a series of cables that prevent your catalytic converter from being removed. When installed, thieves would have to spend a lot of time and energy trying to cut through the high-quality cables.
While we recommend using a professional installer or mechanic to install your CatClamp or you can install them yourself if you have a car lift or jack and basic automotive tools. Installation took me about two hours with my car up on ramps and another person helping me. After a couple of days, I had to tighten it because I heard minor rattling. I feel like I rushed through the process as it was getting dark and did not get my cables as tight as I could have the first time.
You will need to install two split clamp assemblies and thread steel cables through these assemblies and around a hardened structure on your car or truck, mainly the frame. You will also need one kit per catalytic converter if your vehicle has one, and make sure you have at least 3″ of clearance on the exhaust pipe to attach the split clamp assemblies.
Here is a short video showing the installation of a CatClamp.
Where to buy a CatClamp
The best place to buy a CatClamp is directly from the manufacturer, or they can sometimes be found cheaper (and still new in the original box) on eBay. Just make sure it fits your vehicle.
A few online Automotive stores sometimes have them as well. Amazon sometimes carries them, but I have not seen them recently.
Catalytic converter theft is out of control. Protecting your vehicle is necessary, especially if you park outdoors. Many options are available for protection, so check out our site for different options and tips to prevent catalytic converter theft.