Cat Clamp Review – Honda Catalytic Converter Theft

by | Mar 27, 2020

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As a new Honda Accord owner, we got a big surprise when our Catalytic Converter got stolen.  We replaced it and put on a Cat Clamp for good measure.

This review is a little out of character for Gearist.  However, it’s our soapbox and hopefully this will protect other Honda Accord, Toyota Prius and Tacoma owners from Catalytic Converter theft.  Read on…

Updates February 2022

Since we first published this, catalytic converter theft has skyrocketed. There have been a few other catalytic converter lock devices released to meet an overwhelming demand for people looking to prevent catalytic converter theft.

The CatStrap looks nice with an alarm option, but the overall Cat Strap theft deterrent appearance doesn’t look substantial to me. If you’ve got experience with installing the CatStrap, or have one, let us know in the comments below!

One device that looks good for preventing Toyota Prius, Honda Element and Lexus CT 200h catalytic converter theft is the Miller Cat Shield. This is not a catalytic converter clamp or lock, but a catalytic converter shield. It almost looks like a factory component.

Update Feb, 2022: MillerCat has expanded their line up to include catalytic converter shields for the following vehicles: Toyota Tundra / Sequoia, Toyota Tacomas and finally, The 7th gen Honda Accords!

The MillerCat Honda Accord catalytic converter shield are available for the 2003-2007 Honda Accord.

Available in both Aluminum and Stainless Steel for extra cut resistance, they even have certified installers. Some are actually Toyota dealers.

The big standout over the other Catalytic Converter shields that I found is that thermal testing was a part of Miller’s design process.

Catalytic converters can have a normal operating temperature of 1200 to 1600 degrees fahrenheit and that heat has got to go somewhere. Its good to know that they went through a few design revisions before they released products that won’t trap too much heat and kill your catalytic converter!

Photo: MillerCat

Here’s a MillerCat Cat Shield on a Prius 3rd Gen (2010-2015). Definitely the best looking of all of the catalytic converter anti theft devices and also well thought out by a big manufacturer.  I do wonder if the crazy appearance of the Cat Clamp is a better deterrent for Catalytic Converter anti-theft. 

The bad news is they’re only available for the Toyota Prius, Honda Element and the Lexus CT200h so the Miller Cat Shield is a no go on my old Honda Accord. (MillerCat now makes Cat Shields for the 2003-2007 Honda Accord).

You can find the Miller Cat Shield Factory direct from Miller. We were able to get connected so you Toyota Prius and Honda Element folks can get a discount if you order direct and use the Miller Cat Shield Coupon Discount Code : GEARIST

Also available is the similar Cat Security Shield from CCM on Amazon. It uses a slightly different fastening system and is only available in Aluminum. The upside is if your Toyota Tacoma Catalytic Converter has been stolen, they got you covered!

If any readers have experience installing or using the CatShield on their Toyota Prius or Honda Element to prevent catalytic converter theft, please let us know in the comments below.

What is a Catalytic Converter and why do they get stolen?

Simply put, a catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts pollutants in your car’s exhaust to a less toxic exhaust through a chemical reaction with exotic precious metals including platinum, palladium, and rhodium and gold. 

This makes them valuable for thieves to sell as scrap, but nowhere near the replacement costs which can run in the thousands of dollars.

Certain cars, like the Honda Accord, Honda Element and Toyota Prius are desirable targets due to the quantity of the metals involved to acheieve super-low emissions (Honda ULEV designations).  Other vehicles like the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra  and 4runner are easy targets because of their ground clearance and multiple units.

The Theft of my Honda Accord Catalytic Converter

When we needed a car we figured a 6th Gen (1998-2002) Honda Accord would make a great city car. Reliable enough to get us places, inexpensive enough not to worry about the daily abuse.

5 days into ownership we got a surprise: some one stole our Catalytic Converter!

How do I know my catalytic converter has been stolen? Well, I started the car one day to a LOUD grumble and a check engine light.  A loud WTF from me and a look under the car revealed a nice clean cut where my Honda’s Catalytic Converter used to be.

Photo by Gearist

That empty space? That’s where my Catalytic Converter USED to be.

A quick call around left us looking at OEM Honda Catalytic Converter replacements in the $12-1500 range.  No go on my wallet.

An quick online search showed aftermarket Walker Catalytic Converters for my CARB compliant Honda Accord coming in at around $300. (Walker 82901 is around $500 as of early 2021!!) Great option for a DIY job, not so much if you don’t have a garage to do the work.

Most independent garages and mechanics here in NYS will not install an aftermarket Catalytic Converter because of record keeping requirements of a federally mandated device.

I finally came up with a solution to get an aftermarket Cat installed through a friend and got it done.

Whew!

What is a Cat Clamp Catalytic Converter Lock?

Now I’m thinking “The first theft isn’t so bad, it’s the second time I’ll feel like a idiot”. A little internet searching came up with some horror stories.  It’s apparently super easy to steal a Catalytic Converter.  I found a video of a similar Honda Accord getting its Cat stolen.  The video is 1:07 long, the actual theft about 30 seconds!

Fortunately, the searches also came up with an anti-theft device called the CatClamp Catalytic Converter Lock.

Invented by American Welding Inc. after being approached by a longtime customer experiencing catalytic converter theft of their vehicle fleet, The CatClamp underwent over 18 months of testing and development.  CatClamp claims a 99.9% effective rate for over 5 years running.

The basic premise of the CatClamp is to encase the Catalytic Converter in a hard to cut “cable” cage and attach that cage to several points on the chassis. At first your mind starts running through all of the scenarios that you’d try to get through, but you quickly realize that none of them would really work quickly.

There are some different models available and I chose The CatClamp® Standard Security Kit for our Honda Accord after a quick phone call to their customer service line.  They couldn’t guarantee a fit for the 2000 Accord, but were “pretty sure” it would fit.

The kit basically consists of two split clamps that go on either side of your converter, an assortment of different diameter exhaust spacers, 40 feet of 8mm aircraft grade wire rope, and shear bolts with matching tool with a special head pattern to hold the clamps together.

Install and use of the Cat Clamp

A quick glance at the box contents and directions and I was ready to go. After getting the Honda Accord in the air and being redundant with jack stands, a jack in place and some paver blocks (I know, I know) I crawled around with the Cat Clamp parts, to make sure it would all fit and to pick out some non-moving cable loop points.  There we’re three easy spots I found. 

The next step is where it gets a little tricky, all because I did not follow the directions at first.

I started threading the cable from one end through the holes. I figured this would give me one big coil of left over cable at one end to tuck away somewhere. This was a big time suck due to having to thread the full length of cable. There was also too much left over cable that just didn’t fit anywhere tucked away.

The instructions clearly tell you to start with two holes at the MIDDLE of the cable and I’d suggest doing that.

Running out of daylight, I took a cue from the customer install pictures on the CatClamp website. I decided to wrap the cable excess around the Catalytic Converter with a plan to redo it neatly at a later date.

The bad news is it looks like a hot mess. The good news is you don’t see it, nothing rubs or vibrates and the hot mess appearance is probably a good visual deterrent as well.

Photo by Gearist

The Cat Clamp Installed!  Looks like a mess, but would you try and steal that?

Overall

I’m pretty happy with the CatClamp.  If you or your installer follow the directions, keeping excess cable in mind it should go pretty quickly. Maybe and hour or two for a first timer. 

I’ve had it installed for over a year and there’s been no rattling, and nothing out of the ordinary with clearance even with the less than perfect cable wrap that I never redid. 

I’m not sure if anybody has tried to steal my Catalytic Converter, but it definitely gives me some piece of mind.

Questions? Comments? Tell us below!

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42 Comments

  1. Tonyp

    Cables don’t deter bike thieves. Just saying ?

    Reply
    • Jay

      Tony-

      Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate your comment.

      That’s one of the things I was thinking when I first saw the CatClamp. Then you start thinking everything through. The cable is 3/8″ (or so) thick and depending on how it’s installed, you’d have to make multiple cuts. It would be pretty tough to do it with a cable / bolt cutter on a low slung car (no leverage). A sawsall (reciprocating saw) would be tough because you’d have to hold the cable to prevent it from following the blade. A cutoff wheel, possibly, but making the correct multiple cuts would be time consuming. I think a would be thief would be nuts to spend the time to do that much work and probably move on to an easier target. I would!

      Reply
    • SOS

      4:40AM stolen Honda Accord CAT. Thieves (one driver, three others) only took 1.5 minutes to put the CAT into their car’s trunk. They are professional crime origination. Before and Later, stolen CAT happened Bay Area in California every day. It is crazy not peaceful anymore in USA. The only way to stop is to close recycle metal or put more restriction to buy All stolen CATs at collect CATs center. Search subject stolen CATs online there are so many thieves want to make money to steal CATs. People need cars to do essential jobs in daily life. If thieves leave notice to ask money I would give money to them instead of cutting the CATs. Victims have to suffering much stress, frustration, resource so on to deal the useless cars no CATs … I think we should have some alarm or sensors around or under the car to detect to cut CATs. The CatClamp is good product but it added the weights and make more difficult to remove if car needs to do some serveries around the CATs. IMO

      Reply
    • Ray

      Wouldn’t a thief just cut in front of and behind the cables with a sawzall and take the whole thing?

      Reply
      • Jay

        Ray-

        For a little more clarity on how the CatClamp is secured to the vehicle, scroll down and check out the reply to Kieran’s comment. He asks the same thing..more or less.

        Thanks for reading!

        Reply
  2. SVD

    How long have you had the CatClamp? Has it deterred the thieves from taking it from you honda accord again?

    Reply
    • Jay

      Going on about 3.5 years now with the CatClamp on my 2000 Honda Accord. No problems with it and and as far as I can tell, no one has tried to steal the new Catalytic Converter- and cat converter theft is still a big issue in my neighborhood and getting worse. At least with the older Hondas we have some choices for aftermarket cat converters, but definitely get some protection on there. If you look at the features of catstrap vs catclamp, like I mentioned above, I think the Cat Clamp is the best choice for a catalytic converter lock for the older cars like the Accord.

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

      Reply
      • SVD

        Good to know it’s still In place for 3.5 years. I wonder too is it because the catalytic converter is now aftermarket?? I heard too the thieves don’t like aftermarket converters.
        Anyway I ended buying the cat clamp too.

        Thanks

        Reply
        • Jay

          Interesting about the aftermarket catalytic converters. Don’t know if that’s the reason…or the fact that it looks like a mess under there and there’s probably an easier target parked next to me!

          Glad to hear you bought a Cat Clamp. If you have a chance please report back with your car make / model and install details. It would be great to hear how it goes for you!

          Reply
      • Loretta

        Hi what would you suggrst i have honda civic

        Reply
        • Jay

          Hi Loretta. Thanks for the question. If you’re looking to protect your Honda Civic’s catalytic converter, there are really only two commercial options: The CatClamp or the Cat Strap. You can read a little more detail on this page.

          Good Luck!

          Reply
  3. catquestionv

    I just purchased a 2006 Honda Accord EX, and getting an after-market cat if mine gets stolen is not an option for my model for some reason. So aggravating. What product specifically do you recommend to protect my cat and what would you say is a fair price for installation by a mechanic? (Idk anything about cars). Thx!

    Reply
    • Jay

      I think it may be worth doing a little more research should you need an aftermarket cat converter. It is more difficult to find them for CARB states like CA and NY, or mechanics willing to install them because of the record keeping they need to do. I do know Walker makes direct fit after-market cat converters for most of the older Hondas, even the CARB states and the Hybrid Accord for 2006.

      Edit: Was looking up part numbers at Walker for an aftermarket cat converter for a 2003 Honda Accord and there was one specific model number that wasn’t listed. Not sure if there are functional differences or just a numbers crossover. Regardless, I hear California is very strict about matching approved part numbers on after market catalytic converters with the respective vehicles. Rumor has it that OEM catalytic converters for this particular Honda are on backorder for weeks / months and the Bureau of Automotive Repair in California is issuing waivers for these situations.

      I won’t make a specific recommendation as I personally haven’t installed a cat anti-theft device on a 2006. But looking at the 3 “off the shelf” choices… The CatLock, CatStrap, or CatClamp, the Cat Clamp would be my favorite.

      I’d definitely call around to independent garages in your area and see who has experience with installation. I’m no pro, but even doing it on my car in my driveway I don’t think it would take more than 2 hours to install the second time around. Not sure what labor rates are in your area, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t expect to pay more than $200 for install labor.

      Please report back with your experience!

      Reply
      • viorica

        Will do, thank you so much for advice!

        Reply
  4. Norm C.

    Thanks for the review. What happens to the two ends of the cable when you are done threading (and/or wrapping) them? Every picture I’ve seen makes it look like one continuous cable, but the ends must be joined or fastened or sealed somehow. Could this be the weak link of the whole thing? Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Norm.
      You just end up with the ends sticking out of the holes on the outside of the clamps. The cable end itself is finished to avoid fraying.

      If you look at the picture of my install above, the lowest cable sticking out on the left is a bare end that doesn’t loop around. Everywhere a cable passes through one of the 16 holes, it gets clamped in when you tighten up the whole thing. So if you were to cut the cable on either side of the clamp, you couldn’t pull it through unless you loosen the clamp mechanism.

      Given enough time and the right tools, everything has it’s weakness, but the overall design of the CatClamp is very clever.

      If you go with the CatClamp, It would be great to hear what vehicle you’re putting it on and your experience!

      Reply
      • Norm

        Thanks Jay for your quick reply! I just ordered a CatClamp Maxx, it’s twice the cost for stainless steel cables instead of galvanized, 5/16 in place of 1/4, and some extra bolt covers or locks. Not sure it was worth the extra cost. I have a muffler shop with good experience doing this scheduled to install in a couple weeks. I’ll let you know how it all goes. It’s for a 2011 Honda Element. -Norm

        Reply
  5. Anthony W

    Why don’t car manufacturers install this solution as standard?

    Reply
    • Jay

      I think it comes down to trying to cover yourself for every eventuality…much like not every car comes with wheel locks, another high theft item.

      It seems that there’s at least one Prius owner that is raising a voice to get Toyota to issue a recall of some sort and install a catalytic converter shield but I don’t think it’ll get very far. Rumor also has it that some dealers in high theft areas are adding the protection as a dealer perk for the Prius.

      On 2016 Toyota Tacomas, (The Tacoma cat converter is on the most stolen list), Toyota moved the catalytic converter closer into the engine bay with the added benefit of being harder to steal.

      Other than that, I haven’t seen or heard of any other manufacturers of high target cars talking about anything like this. It stinks, but at least there are a few options available on the aftermarket, depending on your vehicle.

      Reply
    • Mark F

      They don’t need to, Cats are now up in the engine bay so they get hotter quicker and start working sooner, and are also much more difficult to get to than the old cars where they were just positioned under the car.

      Reply
      • Jay

        Thanks for your comment. Although I do see more newer cars are moving the Cats into the engine bay for efficiency, some still have secondary ones “out in the open”. Regardless, it doesn’t help that there are tens of millions of cars on the road that are still easy targets for catalytic converter thieves!

        Reply
    • Dee

      I used to work for a car mfg and tier 1 part supplier. Car companies run studies to cut costs in every way possible even down to cents per vehicle. While I would love to have stainless steel disk rotors to prevent rusting on my brakes from salt, this will never happen due to cost. Same for special shields. But maybe if enough people demand it, like locking gas caps, the car companies with add something.

      Reply
  6. Anthony

    Fair warning, we used catclamp on our van and the thieves cut through the cables and stole the converter. Not foolproof if they’re committed.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Thanks for commenting with your experience. I’m assuming you’ve had your van’s catalytic converter stolen twice? That’s a bummer. Like you wrote, nothing is foolproof. At least last I checked, CatClamp did have their “product” warranty, which covers the cost of the CatClamp if your cat converter gets stolen.

      After a ton of questions like “Does the CatClamp really work?”, I wrote another article about the real world scenarios to do the best you can to stop your catalytic converter from being stolen: https://www.gearist.com/how-to-prevent-catalytic-converter-theft/

      Reply
  7. Lorian B

    Nice review. I’m concerned about the potential rattle, which others have reported as bothersome, but I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t a problem for you. It sounds like it all comes down to installation.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Lorian-
      Thanks. Yes, it does all come down to the install. It’s going to rattle in one of two places.

      If the clamps (the red things) or the “cage” the cables make don’t have enough clearance away from, let’s say a heatshield or other part, you’ll probably have some rattle. The exhaust system in general is made to have some flex movement to avoid cracking, etc, so this is something to look out for during install. Especially during hard accelerations. Or at stoplights when in “D” with your foot on the brake. On an older car (like my Honda) you may feel a little more vibration in those situations, and that’s when you’ll notice if you don’t have enough clearance.

      The second is the cable wraps around the frame, etc. The cable is VERY rigid, not floppy at all so it can make “stiff loops”. Any loops made to secure the CatClamp should also have enough clearance for the same vibration reasons above.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Kieran

    Hey Jay, Thanks for the helpful article. I’m curious about whether the cables wrap around any part of the vehicle’s frame? Otherwise couldn’t a thief just cut the exhaust pipes farther out from the cables to remove everything at once?

    Reply
    • Jay

      Kieran-

      The whole purpose of the CatClamp is to create a “cage” around the catalytic converter, then secure that cage to the vehicle’s frame or other body part with cable loops wrapped around your vehicles frame or other points.

      For example, my Honda Accord’s CatClamp is attached in 3 different places to my frame / car.

      In what you describe, the thief would only be “freeing” the caged part containing the catalytic converter from the rest of the exhaust system. They then would have to cut either the cables that make up the “cage” or the 3 places (in my case) where the cables are looped to the frame.

      I hope this makes sense. I think CatClamp has a video or two on their site which shows this better than my pics!

      Thanks for your comment and good luck protecting your catalytic converter.

      Reply
  9. JRed

    I have an 04 Honda Element and the CAT has been stolen twice so far. The second time, I bought the CatClamp and they cut through it in 1:57, right in front of my apt bldng, on camera and everything. To be fair, they did not use a saw tho. So, IDK.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Thanks for sharing. Nothing is foolproof, as you’ve found out, but it’s better than doing nothing. Since mine has gotten stolen, I’ve spoken to tons of people and more than a few shops… this article is what I came up with.

      Wishing you better luck in the future.

      Reply
  10. HT

    My son and daughter both have 2007 Accord and both got the CC stolen one month apart. I bought the cat clamp below. However I cannot find any where on the rear to wrap the cable around. If anyone have used this cat clamp please share how you did, and pictures are helpful.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hey HT. Both the 6th (1998-2002) and 7th (2003-2007) Generation Accords are still big catalytic converter theft targets. My 2000 accord didn’t have any rear mount points to wrap the cable around. I ended up using 3 points in front of the CatClamp. It was some kind of small bracket, then a cutout in the subframe, and the last was a wrap around an immobile part of the steering rack.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  11. Bonny

    Hi, just discovered my bf 2001 Honda Accord cat converter was cut out. Cold & getting dark so I couldn’t really check if any more damage caused. Not sure when it happened, it’s his 2nd vechile and has an oil leak so it sits most of the time. Got me spooked when I read how easy they can be taken. I have a 2009 Nissan Versa. Will this work on my vehicle? Is there a lock of any sort or is the deterrent the time consuming to remove? Thanks

    Reply
    • Jay

      Bonny-
      As an old Accord owner, I know how that feels! Hopefully you can get an aftermarket catalytic converter installed on the cheap. Unfortunately, when they cut out my Honda’s catalytic converter they cut the flanges (where it bolts into the rest of the exhaust) off on the actual exhaust pipes. This meant my replacement catalytic converter needed to be welded in instead of bolting a new one in myself.
      I also needed to replace the oxygen sensor that goes into the cat.

      But about the Versa- I can’t recall what year Nissan Versa it was, but I checked out one for someone who had a “will it fit?” question. It was an earlier model though. I saw the Versa actually has two catalytic converters connected by a small run of pipe, much like the Prius.

      If I remember correctly a single Cat Clamp SHOULD work on a Versa, but you’d ideally want one for each converter. After some discussion, he decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

      I don’t know if he ended up doing anything about his Nissan Versa’s catalytic converter situation, but that Versa went over 225,000 miles before the transmission went!

      Reply
  12. Paige B

    I am a senior citizen. I have a 2019 Nissan Sentra, and I need to try to least install the Cat Clamp
    as perhaps a deterrent for “would be thieves”. I do not gave garage parking. Can you tell me
    what type of auto shop installs these. Am I correct to assume a auto body and repair shop could
    install? Please advise. Thank you in advance

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Paige. With a newish 2019 Sentra, you probably don’t have a “regular” auto shop. It’s a great little car!

      I’d make a few phone calls to muffler and exhaust shops first and ask the simple question: Do you install CatClamps? You’ll probably find one that has experience with them, but it may take a few tries so don’t get discouraged.

      Otherwise, try references from friends for a trusted mechanic. With the exponential increase in catalytic converter thefts, I’d be surprised if you don’t quickly find someone local with CatClamp experience.

      Let us know how it goes!

      Reply
  13. Kathryn G

    Good morning I had my cat converter snipped out on Sunday in broad daylight on my pretty active street. I went to start the car and it sounded like an airplane was landing on my head. Do you have any advice for a new 2022 Honda HRV? Thank you! So traumatizing.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Kathryn-
      That stinks! Traumatizing it is. That type of catalytic converter theft in broad daylight is just the type that can be avoided by using some kind of physical anti-theft device.

      I honestly don’t know much about the new Honda HR-V. The older ones were based on the CatClamp friendly Honda Fit platform but not so sure about the new ones. The CatClamp would definitely be my first choice.

      Much like I suggested to Paige with her 2019 Nissan Sentra, Make a few phone calls to some auto shops and see if they heard of the CatClamp. Start the conversation with “My catalytic converter was stolen, do you have any experience with the CatClamp?”

      I’m sure you’ll get a couple of “Huh?’s” before you find one, but I’m sure somebody local can help you out.

      As an alternative, give your Honda dealer a call. With Honda catalytic converters getting ripped off like crazy, maybe they can point you in the right direction.

      Good Luck! Let us know what turns up for you- it will help out others!

      Reply
  14. Tommy

    I read a comment somewhere else where the ‘poster’ said maybe the auto manufacturers should be doing something about this, since this is NO SECRET. I have a high clearance pickup (stock though) and I know they make short work of this kind of theft due to the easy access underneath.

    Reply
  15. Linda

    Hi, do you know if the Cat Clamp works with the 2021 Honda Accord? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Jay

      Hi Linda-

      The 2021 Accord has the Catalytic Converter up in the engine bay… it’s just not a part at a high risk for theft as the older models.

      Reply
  16. Jay

    Aita-
    CatClamp updated their products since my personal install.

    On the lower end model ( CatClamp CCS175300-40 Universal Standard) they have eliminated the bolt protection of the same earlier models.

    The higher end model (CatClamp CCM175300-40 Universal Maxx) has the bolt protection, along with the thicker cable and stainless parts.

    If you have the $$$, I’d go with the Maxx, primarily for the protected bolt reason. The only thing to look out for is if your “wrap” locations are a tight fit, you may have a tough time making tight enough loops with the thicker cable.

    Back to your question- Is it worth it? That’s really up to you. A determined / experienced thief with enough time and privacy will hack away at either, making quicker work of the standard model. An amateur may look at either and take a pass.

    Reply

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