Toyota Prius Catalytic Converter Theft – 10 Most Efficient Prevention Tips
One unforeseen side effect of the COVID-19 has been a significant increase in Prius catalytic converter theft. Since the worldwide pandemic began to create hardships across the country, police departments have seen more and more converters being stolen. High unemployment rates have left many folks struggling to make ends meet. That despair, combined with a hike in the cost of precious metals, is one of the key reasons for the catalytic converter (also known as a cat converter) theft. If you own a car and don’t have a secure parking spot, you may find yourself a target for these crimes. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Why Are Catalytic Converters Stolen?
The cat converter is an emissions control device located in your car’s exhaust system. Harmful gases from the engine flow through the catalytic converter, where they’re transformed into carbon dioxide and water vapor. The result is a reduction in pollutants from the vehicle’s exhaust pipe. Perpetrators are drawn to catalytic converters because they contain precious metals, making them worth quite a lot. Toyota Prius cat converter is one of the most stolen catalytic converters since it features a high price since their gasoline engines aren’t in as much use. So, it can take longer for the vehicle to burn out the precious metals.
What Precious Metals Are in a Catalytic Converter?
Catalytic converters contain precious metals platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Together, these elements act as a catalyst—a chemical that starts a reaction without undergoing any change itself. As we said, this catalyst effect transforms pollutants from the car’s engine into harmless carbon dioxide and water.
What Catalytic Converters Are Legal in California?
To be legally installed and sold in California, a catalytic converter must go through extensive testing to prove that it is durable and satisfies emission control requirements. California is currently the only state with Air Resource Board known as the California Air Resource Board or CARB. This is impactful because CARB has precise and strict rules around cat converter replacement. An aftermarket part must be on an approved list before it can be considered a legal alternative to a factory part. Sadly, there are no approved parts for any model year Prius as of now approved by CARB.
The state of California requires businesses to check the ID of anyone attempting to sell a converter, take the seller’s photograph, and retain it for two years.
How Thieves Steal and Sell Catalytic Converters
Crooks only need simple tools to steal your catalytic converter. They’ll use a battery-powered cut-off device, like an angle grinder, to separate the cat from the tailpipe. Some may even utilize a traditional, hand-operated hack saw. Once the robber has the cat in their possession, they can sell it to a scrap dealer and get fast cash.
How Much is a Prius Catalytic Converter?
The cost can run around $500 with insurance. Without insurance, the bill can cost from $2,500 to $5,000 – depending on whether it’s OEM or after-market part. For their part, perpetrators can pocket $300 per cat converter. Since a Toyota Prius cat converter takes longer to burn out the precious metals, higher prices are paid for Prius converters. Each converter contains approximately 3-8 grams of precious metals that a smelter can extract. The metals can then live second lives inside jewelry, electronics, and other commercial products.
What Model Years Are Most Targeted for Prius Cat Converter Theft?
Thieves particularly target 2004-2009 second-generation Prius models, though model years up to 2015 have experienced increased cat converter theft.
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How to Prevent Catalytic Converter Theft
Here are 10 most effective tips to keep your catalytic converter safe.
1. Catalytic Converter Shield
Cat converter shield is a large aluminum plate that, once installed, delivers a powerful barrier against catalytic converter theft. It’s easy to install, requiring no welding. This product utilizes the factory studs and comfortably aligns with the Prius undercarriage. Special fasteners also help as a theft deterrent, keeping unwanted hands out of your vehicle. The guard may help with the aerodynamics of the Prius too. This catalytic converter cover could translate into increased fuel economy, though there is no data to support this possibility currently.
Top Cat Convertor Shields
Protect your Toyota Prius’s catalytic converter from being stolen by installing these 6 best cat convertor shields.
Cat Security Prius Generation 1 Cat Shield ($190.00)
Cat Security Prius Generation 1 Cat Shield is made up of two parts (front and rear shield) exclusively for 2000–2003 Prius models. These shields together block access to the catalytic converter. The front shield, which is a heavy gauge 304 stainless steel, blocks one of the most accessible places a thief can unbolt or cut this unit on the generation one Prius while also being corrosion-resistant like the rear aluminum shield. This protector includes 3 window stickers and installation instructions.
Cat Security Prius Generation 2 Cat Shield ($160.00)
The Cat Security Prius Generation 2 offers the most protection out of any product in the market. The bottom lip deters offenders from cutting the rear pipe. Louver vents deliver efficient cooling, visibility for smog techs to read the converter part number, and protects the car from debris. Plus, it fits all 2004-2009 Prius models. The product comes with instructions and three window stickers.
Cat Security Prius Generation 3 Cat Shield ($160.00)
Cat Security Prius Generation 3 Cat Shield is made up of two parts. A front and a rear plate. These two plates together block access to the catalytic converter and make it difficult to remove the heat extractor behind the catalytic converter, which, if removed, can damage the engine due to loss of engine coolant. It comes with instructions, hardware, and three window stickers. Fits all 2010-2015 Prius models, except Prius C and V models with OEM converters.
Cat Security PriusVCat Shield
Although Cat Security Prius V Cat Shield looks very similar to the generation three product, many changes had to be made to accommodate the different exhaust system style the Prius V has. This product is specifically designed for the 2012-2017 Prius V models. It arrives with instructions and window stickers.
Cat Security 2016-2021 Prius Cat Shield ($135.00)
Prius owners have been experiencing a high volume of theft of their catalytic converters and with no viable protection solution, Cat Security decided to make the best product possible. Cat Security Prius Cat Shield is exclusively made for the 2016-2021 Prius V models. This product also includes three window stickers and security fasteners.
Cat Security Prius C Cat Shield ($170.00)
It’s supplied with a mounting bar that is installed before installing the shield. This mounting bar is installed with Security hardware which we supply as well. The Prius C Cat Shield is held in place with the same style security hardware.
This protector has a viewing window with the numbers that a smog tech needs while conducting a smog inspection. It’s particularly crafted for the 2012-2019 Prius C models.
2. Full Auto Insurance
Most car insurance policies will cover an after-market part. However, our auto experts assure you that any parts other than the Toyota assembly won’t get through a California smog inspection. To get an OEM catalytic converter, you’ll need to have selected OEM coverage on your insurance policy, or you’ll need to pay the difference in costs. There is little practical difference between an OEM and after-market part — it comes down to personal preference and how much you’re willing to spend.
3. Park Close to Curbs
In an attempt to steal the catalytic converter, thieves have to slide under the automobile and use cutting tools to detach the box from the pipes around it. This means parking your car close to walls, curbs or fences will make theft much more difficult.
4. Cat Converter with a Serial Number
Some auto repair services will engrave a unique serial number onto your cat converter so it can be easily identified if it’s stolen. You’ll get a sticker displayed in the window that indicates your catalytic converter is marked – which prevents thieves from targeting your vehicle.
5. Ask Mechanic to Weld the Bolts Shut
In case your catalytic converter is bolted on, you can ask local service to weld the bolts to make it more difficult to remove.
6. Install Security Cameras
Installing security cameras such as CCTV or Ring Doorbell are also a great way to protect your car. Unfortunately, if you don’t park on your driveway, this can be quite difficult to implement. With the cost of CCTV systems falling and becoming a simple job to install (not requiring specialists), it’s never been easier to keep an eye on your vehicle. It’s worth considering for catalytic converter theft.
7. Park in Well Lit Places
Thieves are often opportunistic, and the equipment required to cut out a catalytic converter is pretty heavy-duty, but once a car is targeted – offenders tend to wait for an opportunity to strike as the theft itself takes a matter of minutes. If you park in a well-lit area, which people regularly walk past, you’re less likely to come back to find your converter vanish.
8. Install Alarms
If your Prius doesn’t have a car alarm system and you live in an area where cat converter thefts are on the rise, like California, it’s definitely time to invest in one. The noise of the alarm should be enough to scare off any perpetrators.
The CatClamp clamps to the exhaust pipes, not the converter, enabling different sized and shaped converters to be guarded. This eliminates the risk of damaging the cat converter, oxygen sensors or heat shield. Locked to the car’s chassis up to 7 times, it makes stealing your catalytic converter very difficult for a crock in a hurry.
10. Keep Your Vehicle Stored Off-Road
This catalytic converter protection won’t be adequate for everybody, but if you have a garage, you can use it – it makes sense to keep your auto in there, especially if you live/work in an area where these thefts are common. If you don’t have a garage you can access, try to park alongside other cars or in designated parking areas – lots, multi-stores, etc.
Best Catalytic Converters
Looking for the best catalytic converter for a Toyota Prius? Below are the 3 industry-leading Prius catalytic converters that will keep your vehicle running efficiently and meet your local emissions compliance.
1. MagnaFlow Toyota Prius Catalytic Converter 49752 ($671.00)
MagnaFlow Toyota Prius Catalytic Converter forms the basic building blocks for a comprehensive line of direct-fit applications. Installing requires the use of welding, cutting, and tube bending equipment that is readily available to most professional installers. It also meets EPA requirements. This direct-fit catalytic converter is engineered specifically for the 2004-2009 Prius. This catalytic converter isn’t legal for sale, installation, or use on vehicles registered in the state of California.
2. AUTOSAVER88 Catalytic Converter ($143.99)
AUTOSAVER88 Direct-Fit High Flow Catalytic Converter is made to meet original equipment quality and performance standards. This cat includes bolt-on connection, flange to flange, and direct installation to the existing exhaust system without extra modification. Every catalytic converter Prius body is stamped with an exclusive EPA number. It’s compatible with 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 Toyota Prius 1.5L models. This product isn’t legal for sale, installation, or use on vehicles registered in California.
3. MagnaFlow Toyota Prius OEM Grade 52455 ($350)
This direct-fit cat converter is explicitly designed for the 2010-2015 Toyota Prius and interchanges with original equipment part 17410-37300. With perks including free-flowing mandrel-bent tubing and highly corrosion-resistant, stainless steel construction, easily install MagnaFlow Toyota Prius OEM Grade 52455 yourself using the proper tools, no cutting or welding required. The manufacturer’s state-of-the-art metrology department uses the latest 3D scanning systems during research and development. This item isn’t legal for sale, installation, or use on cars registered in California.