With thefts still high, California Prius drivers wait months for new catalytic converters
Published in Automotive News
When the catalytic converter was stolen from Vanessa Reimer's Toyota Prius in Long Beach, California, she thought the repair would be a simple one, taking a few weeks at most.
Then her local dealership delivered the bad news: The replacement part could take six months to arrive. Reimer, who is pregnant, may have a baby before her Prius has a new catalytic converter.
"At first, I thought there must be something I could do," said Reimer, 32, a speech language pathologist at an elementary school, before she learned that there were 100 other drivers waiting on the same part. "But there are just too many people in the same situation."
For several years, older Priuses have held the dubious distinction of being the No. 1 target of catalytic converter theft in California. Drivers whose converters have been swiped are now experiencing a second indignity: Thousands of Prius owners are ahead of them in line for the same part, and the delays could stretch on for months.
Thieves target hybrids because their catalytic converters have a higher concentration of precious metals compared to cars that run solely on gas. The Prius, which was the best-selling car in California a decade ago, is an easy and lucrative target, with tens of thousands still on the road.
The Times called the parts departments of a dozen Toyota dealerships in Southern California and asked the wait time for a catalytic converter for a 2011 Prius. Every service center said the part was back ordered and wasn't immediately available. Most said the wait would be more than three months, and in some cases, as long as eight or nine.
"There's just way too many of them getting stolen, and there are thousands on back order," said one employee in an apologetic tone. Another said: "If you come in right now, you're looking at the end of August."
Corporate representatives for Toyota did not respond to questions from The Times.
Even getting a projected repair date is no guarantee, as Anwar Glasgow, 25, discovered when his catalytic converter was stolen in January. A Toyota service center in Van Nuys said the repair to his 2012 Prius would take six months, maybe less. Now they think his car won't be ready until October.
Glasgow's insurance will pay to have the new part installed, but won't subsidize a rental car for longer than a month or total the inoperable Prius so he can buy something else.
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