The problem with catalytic converter theft is that it has skyrocketed over the past year as rhodium has become the most expensive precious metal on the market.
The theft of catalytic converters on Toyota Prius has caused such a stir that it has finally caught the attention of Toyota Motor North America.
The new regulation is not quite a solution, though, and while I applaud TMNA for trying to help, this regulation is only going to add more complexity to the problem.
The regulation requires that the sale of new OEM catalytic converters have data attached. It requires the business or individual installing the catalytic converter to show proof of theft and provide a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to purchase a replacement.
While this seems like the right direction, we need to look at where it is hurting more than helping the problem with converter theft.
How This Regulation Hurts The Consumer
Think about this, your catalytic converter is stolen, and all you need to do is drop off your car at your local dealer or muffler shop. Later that day or early, the next your Prius is ready to go, and you are on your merry way.
That used to be the case. With the regulation TMNA has imposed, getting your Prius or other Toyota vehicle repaired could take days or even longer.
If you rely on your car to carry on your basic everyday needs, you get hosed. It is not that you cannot get a converter, but because of the demand due to theft, supply is low, which means backorder.
Another crappy thing about having your Prius sit for days or maybe weeks on end is that if your hybrid battery was marginal, this could be the tipping point.
The domino effect this regulation imposes on the consumer is not worth it.
How The Regulation Hurts The Business Owner
Businesses make money by selling products, providing services, or both. For dealerships and independent shops alike, the more cars they can push through their facility, the more money they can make.
Being able to collect on a job is one thing; having a parking lot full of vehicles you cannot get parts for is another. Businesses that want the work will now have to wait until they are approved to buy a new converter which may or may not be on backorder.
All of this waiting around brings business to a crawl, and profitability takes a massive nosedive.
As a strong voice in the Prius community, especially with all this noise about catalytic converter theft, I cannot support this action. Again, I think that Toyota is trying to do the right thing, but this does not help with catalytic converter theft.
All this regulation is going to do is cause businesses and individuals to scramble for parts. If we want to help the problem we need to regulate the recyclers not the sellers of the converters.
Converter theft is a rampant disease and a plague on society. I also applaud companies like Cap City Muffler, the creators of the Cat Security™ products that are helping wage war against theft.
My advice to Prius and other high-target car owners everywhere is to get your converter protected and park somewhere that thieves cannot easily steal it.
Converter theft is a bigger problem than most realize. I have covered the stories on it for a year now, watching how it has impacted the world in which we live. I hope that we can get some resolution soon.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporters.