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Catalytic converter theft has become a significant problem in America. With the high value of the precious metal in the “core” of the catalytic converter, they have become a hot item to steal. Unfortunately, hybrid vehicles have rather large cats, making them the most common car to vandalize. As you can imagine, the Toyota Prius tops the list for catalytic converter thieves. The 2023 Toyota Prius aims to break that cycle. But what is a catalytic converter, and what can you do to prevent it from being stolen?

What is a catalytic converter?

2023 Toyota Prius Blue
2023 Toyota Prius | Toyota

A catalytic converter is an integral part of a car’s exhaust system. It converts the pollutant gases that a combustion engine produces. Turning these gases into less harmful versions at the end of the exhaust is necessary for emissions standards. Metals such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium are used in the catalytic “core” to help convert the gasses. 

These metals are what make the part so valuable, with hybrid car versions containing a large amount of the metals. While some cats are only worth about $50, others, like the ones off newer 2023 Toyota Prius models, can be worth up to $500. The effort required to steal them, and the potential profit, is what has made thefts increase by 325% in a single year, according to NICB.

Can you still drive without a catalytic converter?

Catalytic Converters
Catalytic Converter | Getty Images

If you come out to your car, start it up, and notice the exhaust is incredibly loud, you may have been a victim of a stolen catalytic converter. It is still safe to drive the car to the nearest shop to get a replacement. Depending on the vehicle, you may experience an increase in exhaust smell, sputtering acceleration, a check engine light, and possibly a limp mode on newer vehicles.

What year Toyota Prius is vulnerable to catalytic converter theft?

With every generation of Prius having a catalytic converter attached to the exhaust, all of them are susceptible to theft. The most common, however, is the second-generation Prius. Being sold from 2004-2009, the second-gen Prius has a shoebox-sized cat. Thieves recognize that the bigger the cat, the more metal could be sold. Unfortunately, newer generations are still being vandalized. With the rise in these thefts, Toyota has partnered with Cat Shield. Cat Shield is a third-party company that makes aluminum guards for the exhaust system.

How much does a Cat Shield cost for the 2023 Toyota Prius?

Many companies have jumped on developing shields for the cars most commonly stolen from. Toyota has recognized that Cat Shield makes one of the best products and has now begun offering it as part of Toyota’s new Associated Accessories Products program. You can buy the catalytic converter shield from the dealer for $140 plus the installation cost, according to Car&Driver. Although it is new for the 2023 Toyota Prius, Toyota is taking steps to help this epidemic of thefts.

The dealer can fit the guard, but no drilling is required, meaning customers can install it themselves if they feel comfortable. Cat Shield also offers several solutions for other popular Toyota models. The manufacturer confirmed that they would offer the Cat Shield for the Tundra, Sequoia, Tacoma, 4Runner, Corolla, and RAV4 to start.