They’re starting to steal gen3 prius converters

We’ve been talking people out of anti-theft devices for the Gen3 Prius (2010-2015) for one simple reason: we’d never seen one stolen. Why go to the expense of installing an anti-theft system if theft isn’t an issue? Also, having an anti-theft device on your Prius will add to the costs of some types of future repairs. It’s similar to deciding whether to take a prescription medication; you should make sure the benefits outweigh the risks. Our feeling was that they didn’t.

Now, a bit over a year after Prius converter theft became a serious issue for owners of Gen1 and Gen2 vehicles, we’ve just seen our first Gen3 with a missing converter. The tow driver told us it was one of several he had towed in the last couple days, so it looks like it may become a widespread issue, just like the Gen2. To give you an idea how massive this problem with Gen2 theft is:

  • 2017 – we replaced two Prius catalytic converters
  • 2018 – we replaced six Prius catalytic converters
  • 2019 – we replaced 62 Prius catalytic converters
  • 2020 – we replaced 263 Prius catalytic converters (averaging about one per day at our shop alone)
  • Just two days into 2021, we’ve replaced two and have three more in the shop

If this trend starts to include Gen3, it’s going to be much worse. Gen3 outsold Gen2 by almost 2 to 1, and being a newer car, more of them are still on the road. Periodic parts shortages were a big problem for us and Prius owners so it will likely be much worse if Gen3 theft becomes just as popular.

Install anti-theft on your gen3 Prius

So, for all of our customers and people inquiring on the phone, we hereby retract our previous recommendation. We’re now recommending installing an anti-theft device to make it harder to steal your catalytic converter, and/or maintaining comprehensive insurance coverage with a low deductible.

Don’t drive the car to the shop. Tow it.

If your converter is stolen, don’t drive the car. Have it towed instead. The Gen2 Prius was safe to drive with a missing converter. The Gen3 is not. Coolant is routed through the exhaust on the Gen3 Prius, and depending on how the converter is cut, the cooling system may be empty. Driving for just a few minutes could damage the engine, especially since the Gen3 Prius already has a tendency to blow cylinder head gaskets.

To the guy who left us a positive review on Yelp

We got a 5 star review on Yelp from a guy who had never been here before. Why? Well he called in and asked how much it would be for us to install a device to prevent converter theft on his 2013 Prius. Instead of doing the work, we talked him out of it, as we’ve done hundreds of times before. Well, a month ago I think that was absolutely the right thing to do. However, as of two hours ago I’m not so sure that’s still the case.

So, to all the people we’ve talked out of spending money to prevent converter theft, I hope you see this, or even better, I hope this turns out to be a false alarm.