Your Car: Which Parts do ‘Chop Shops’ Want?

If you’ve ever had your car broken into or stolen, you know there is nothing worse than the feeling you get when you return to the spot where you left your car and you don’t find it. Having your car stolen, or even finding that someone left your car but took your wheels or radio, is usually a hassle and time-consuming process to report the crime. Thieves often sell these parts to chop shops, where they strip cars for parts to sell or strip cars down to sell as scrap metal. If you don’t want to see your car or car parts stolen, make sure you know what parts thieves commonly go for.

Catalytic Converters

The catalytic converter is an essential part of your car’s emission system, eliminating many of the harmful pollutants that would otherwise come out of your car’s tailpipe. Catalytic converters are made out of coveted metals, like platinum, that fetch a high price when sold for scrap, and can be expensive to replace. According to, the cost to replace the rear catalytic converter on a 2010 Cadillac Escalade ranges from $710 to $1,227, including parts and labor.

SUVs and pickup trucks are in the most danger, according to, because they sit up higher off the ground, which makes their exhaust systems and catalytic converters easier for thieves to access. Plus, they can be stolen very quickly, in as little as a few minutes. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to keep thieves’ hands off your catalytic converter, so your best bet is to park in a well-lit, well-trafficked area or in a parking garage with security cameras in order to discourage criminals from touching your car.

Entertainment and Infotainment Systems

Car thieves are also interested in entertainment systems, like combined navigation systems and radios, CD players or DVD players. Aftermarket stereos and in-dash systems are made to be easy to install, which means they’re usually fairly easy to remove as well. These kinds of aftermarket audio systems can sell for a lot of money. Crutchfield, a company that sells vehicle and home audio systems and electronics, lists new 2,500-watt audio amplifiers for as much as $1,600, and a set of two video screen headrests for as much as $600.

Although factory-installed systems are a bit more expensive than buying aftermarket systems, it may be a better idea to opt for a factory-installed entertainment system if you’re worried about your player getting stolen. “There isn’t as huge of a market for the factory car systems,” Michael Calkins, manager of approved auto repair with AAA inHeathrow,Fla., said to


Car wheel theft has been around for a long time, and according to The New York Times, it’s not on its way out anytime soon. Thieves can put your car up on blocks and steal your wheels faster than they used to, thanks to the easier availability and lower price of cordless power tools. Your tires and rims can be sold separately, garnering even more money for the chop shop, which can make upwards of $500 per wheel on new wheels made out of alloy. Adding locking wheel nuts or big, boot-looking tire locks to your rims can make it harder to steal your car’s wheels, but in the end, it’s hard for chop shops to resist stealing something that can garner so much quick cash.


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