Prius Stolen Catalytic Converter
As you may know, stolen catalytic converters have become increasingly popular. Let me share my first hand experience of my Catalytic Converter being stolen from my Toyota Prius in California back in November 2021. I immediately knew something was off in the morning when I started my car and when then engine kicked in; the exhaust running from the bottom of the car made it sound like a loud motorcycle. Based from what I’ve heard from other people’s stories, I figured it must be the cat. Indeed it was, I checked underneath and all there was left on the ground were two bolts with springs. Even though I had insurance, I decided to take matters into my hands since I knew submitting a claim would take a few days or perhaps even weeks. I also needed a car the same day but did not want to be riding around in a motorcycle sounding Prius.
I started by quickly searching the internet for the price of a new OEM catalytic converter and realized the cost was upwards of $2500 excluding labor. I try searching for used ones with no luck in sight. I even called some California junk yards and quickly learned it is illegal for them to sell you a used one without exchanging it for your OEM converter as a core, which obviously I did not have. I came across multiple aftermarket that were below $200. Aftermarket catalytic converters did not guarantee it would pass California smog nor turn off the check engine, but I kept hearing from people that some aftermarket cats would turn off the check engine and pass the smog. To pass the smog it must comply with emissions and a visual catalytic converter inspection, which apparently from word on the street it’s a 50/50 chance of passing depending on the technician.
Long story short, I took my chances on an aftermarket converter that I ended up finding on Craigslist for $200. I then found a muffler shop to weld it on for $50. I figured this was the cheapest and quickest solution in order to stop the motorcycle inside my Prius, lol. I completed this within a day and in a matter of a few hours. Unfortunately, this did not turn off the check engine, yet it did remove the loud motorcycle noise coming from the exhaust, which was good enough for me to drive around comfortably. Besides the check engine light not turning off, I also noticed a gas smell when driving on the freeway.
Anyways, later that day, I submitted a claim through my insurance in order to get it fixed with the correct part and got it fixed within a couple weeks. In addition to this, a new oxygen sensor and a Cat Security Shield got ordered. The Cat security shield is to avoid getting the cat stolen again.
For your convenience, I added some links below for all the parts mentioned. Please note, I have some experience working with cars but I am not a mechanic nor professional, I am only sharing my experience in the hope to support other’s dealing with the same situation. If you have doubts, I recommend consulting with a mechanic or dealer. Also, make sure to do some research as my links may become old and prices may have changed.
FYI, not sure if all the insurances do this, but I was told by my insurance that I also had the option to purchase the parts, take it to whichever shop, and then submit the claim along with the receipts.
Affiliated eBay links for suggested parts:
Less than $100 Universal Cat for Prius (Not for California or New York) – eBay
Cat Shield (Secure your Cat) – eBay
Oxygen Sensor (Downstream) – eBay
If you have insurance, definitely go that route to avoid paying anything out of pocket (beside your deductible), then you’ll have the option of getting fixed at a shop or receiving a cash option to fix however you please, like I did with the MagnaFlow.
If you don’t have insurance I would first try finding a used cat from someone who is parting out their Prius, maybe Craigslist or OfferUp. If you’re not in California or New York, I would perhaps try going for a universal one, there are some online for about $100. Your last option would be to purchase OEM or the MangaFlow.
I really hope this information helps and that you’re able to get your Prius back on the road ASAP. Good Luck!
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