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New Regulation Will Have Toyota Prius Owners Scrambling For Parts

Toyota Motor North America has put a new regulation on the sale of catalytic converters. While it may seem like a solution it makes the problem worse. Here is why.
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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.

TMNA Corporate Headquarters Plano Texas

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.

Toyota Prius 2012 Red Generation 3

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.

Atomic Auto Portland Oregon

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.

Conclusion
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.


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Comments

Better yet, set up sting operations in areas that have significant thefts. Park cars with telemetry to detect theft and have the cops nearby to catch the crooks. It doesn't take many individuals to steal a lot of convertors. It is organized crime, treat it like what it is.
This is ridiculous. Aftermarket cats are dirt cheap and most people can put them on themselves. For $150 and 30-60 minutes, you've got a cat back on your car.
This is a bad idea if all they are doing is making it hard to get a new converter. But I think the reason for this is so that stolen converters are not sellable. Meaning the person has to have a converter to get one. If you stole it no one will buy it. I hope that’s the goal.
Mine was stolen last week. Car was parked in my driveway. The cat/pipe is on national backorder. Shop says it could be up to 3 months to get one. CA emission regulations are also a factor, meaning the part alone is $2,400. Insurance will cover most of it (and 30-days of a rental), but I'm still out of a car for another 2 months. Thanks a lot, a-holes. Someone needs to crack down on the scrap yards who are paying for these parts.
It would be better if they could make more affordable converters. In California the theft of a cat pretty much spells the death of a Prius because replacement costs more than the car is worth. There is no aftermarket california compliant cat for Prius so we have to buy the expensive oem one. My Previa got its cat stolen 10 years ago and I was able to replace it with a carsound California conliant cat for a couple hundred dollars.
I have two desirable Gen 2 Priuses and one had the cat stolen. Unfortunately, I had covered both cars with liability coverage and wasn't about to spend almost the worth of the car. I found an aftermarket cat that works fine but won't pass smog. Why can't CA regulators understand the issue and allow consumers the option to use non-oem cats if they still perform the same? I got a cat shield installed on my other prius and add comp/collision to my policy. Now, if I can only get the thief to come steal my after-market cat...
TMNA is transparently trying to murder the Prius, a car so well made that they are unstoppable otherwise. They'd love to wipe millions of them off the road by crippling their parts supply chain. As you've pointed out, no mechanic will accept a Prius on their lot with this strangulation. It serves no purpose but to force owners to retire their otherwise healthy machines with the side effect of weakening hybrid appeal. Convenient side effect considering they'll be pushing all electric vehicles shortly. The only solution is to go after purveyors of Rhodium. All CC/Rhodium purchases and sales will have to be regulated, scrutinized and be accompanied by authenticating paperwork. That's where the stings should be taking place. Cut off the demand and eliminate the irresistible incentive. Can't stop the thieves, new ones are born every day and the payoff is far too appealing. Toyota should be: designing new CC/pollution eliminating technology that doesn't use precious metals, designing their own nearly impossible to defeat, cheap security system to protect Prius owners from CC theft, corner the market on "Cat Shields" to obtain a deep discount, and offer deeply discounted installation rate to install them on the vehicles of loyal Toyota customers.
I Wonder why they couldn't stamp the vin# on each cat like they do on the body parts, and then have the recyclers check it against a stolen parts database when someone comes to sell it. That's how you can check thw history of a used iphone and ipad. Seems like it could work with other valuable things too. Put the onus on the one purhasing the used part to check it out.
Never seen a body part with the vin on it except windows. Great youtube from the Cap Muffler shop go on youtube and search PRIUS STOLEN
I had my converter stolen on my Gen 2 Prius last year in the parking lot where I work. It took over 3 weeks to get it replaced. Luckily insurance covered most of the $3,100 bill. Without insurance, I don’t know if I would have fixed it, who knows how long the hybrid battery is going to last on a 13 year old car. I got a cover for it and sold the car. Bought a new Prius Prime and had a cover put on it right away.
My Gen 2 was stolen under video severance at work ( it took 5 minutes), my three letter insurance company deemed my car a total loss. Even if I pay the 500 deductible and labor costs my car is no longer insurable other than liability. In addition, if a future accident occurs they will only pay 1/2 due to the salvage title. Even if I pay for the entire job out of pocket, the car is a salvage title. This is because according to the insurance company an inspector was sent out and photos were taken of the vehicle. I like John Linder's comments above.