Report: California Prius Drivers Stuck Waiting Months for New Catalytic Converters After Theft

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

We know catalytic converter theft is a problem and that thefts have risen since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report out of Los Angeles shows just how much of a pain it can be to have your converter swiped, especially if you drive a Toyota Prius.


The Prius has been a prime (get it?) target because so many have been sold in California, and because hybrids like the Prius have a higher concentration of the precious metals that make catalytic converters so desirable.

The LA Times called a few Southern California Toyota dealers and found that the wait for a replacement part can range from three months to nine.

This is obviously a huge hassle -- folks are finding themselves without their cars for months in car-centric Southern California. And at least one owner found that while insurance will pay for the repair, it wouldn't pay for a rental car for more than a month. Nor would it total the Prius, thus allowing the driver to buy another car.

There are several reasons why the repair takes so long. The California Air Resources Board has only approved a few catalytic converters for use in older Priuses. It also takes a long time to manufacture the part -- from four to nine months -- and as you know, the industry is still facing supply-chain problems driven by the pandemic. Automakers are also focusing the limited supply on new cars as opposed to used ones.

Other Toyotas have a much shorter wait time -- the Times profiled a couple that owns a Prius and a Highlander, and both cars had their converters swiped. The Highlander was fixed in just a few days, while the Prius will be sidelined for months, maybe a year.

California is attempting to crack down on the crime. New laws require recyclers and junk dealers to prove they bought catalytic converters legally and require people to buy them from authorized sellers.

Proposed laws include a bill that would require automakers to etch a car's VIN on the part and another one that would make it illegal to possess the part without proof of ownership.

In the meantime, if you own an older Prius and live in Southern California, be prepared to have a backup plan for getting around in case someone swipes your catalytic converter.

Hat tip to former TTAC boss Ed Niedermayer for tweeting the Times piece out.

[Image: Toyota]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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2 of 33 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Apr 17, 2023

    Because I'm too honest to sell and too nervous to steal. Do you have to jack up one/corner or side get to the cat? Wouldn't a sawzall or cutting wheel make noise while it's being used? Wouldn't the car alarm go off if the car was raised up? Overall it seems like a lot of work for not much money.


    However; CA is CA. The thieves might get fined for not wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) gear while committing acts of larceny.


    Make the fine for not using PPE more than stolen cat is worth and make sure their cellies know that.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Apr 17, 2023

    Gotta love Commiefornia. A liberal septic tank. Punishing people would be a great start but then, California is full of criminal sympathizers (and pedophile sympathizers) who don’t hold people accountable.


    It’s true, the liberal agenda has only one goal, hurt as many people as possible.

    • VoGhost VoGhost on Apr 17, 2023

      Reported. Not even remotely about the topic or cars. Just more anti-American hate the usual source.



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