Could I sue my mechanic for potentially installing an aftermarket catalytic converter?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by pri4u, Nov 21, 2022.

  1. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    Hello,

    My Toyota Prius 2008's Catalytic Converter was recently stolen for second time in the last couple of years.
    I have full coverage insurance that includes comprehensive so it's fully covered other than my comprehensive deductible.

    I've been working with my mechanic (not a toyota dealer) for many years, and he also did the work for the first time it got stolen. Given that the insurance pays 3k+ for the catalytic converter replacement that is Toyota original oem part which costs around 2k+, I insisted to my mechanic, the first time, that he puts the original part, and so he did. Also he gave me an invoice for the first time. Car was driving good, no issues whatsoever, I was very happy. I also passed a SMOG tested recently before my cat got stolen for the second time - so I think this proves that it's the original part, otherwise it probably wouldn't pass the smog test or be stolen a second time.

    In the second time, he was acting a little weird. It took almost a month to complete, there was some delay such as he had some health issues that he was absent for a week from work, and later he had an issue to cash out the check from the insurance - they offered a digital payment which he refused, they sent him a check under both my name and his name, which he said the bank couldn't cash out (although that was the same method used for the first time, which he claims the bank changed their policy), and then we had to wait for another check under his name only. While talking to him on the phone all this time, I did mention to him multiple times I want it to be the original oem part again.

    One month later, on the day when I came to pick up the car, he tried to get me out from his shop as soon as possible without even trying to give me an invoice. I insisted that he gives me an invoice, and after some time, he did eventually issue an invoice, but he was very pissed off about it, and said that it's a big waste of time for him, that all customers in his shop trust him, and I'm the only one who have trust issues with him. He said if my catalytic gets stolen again in the future, he won't be giving me an invoice (I might need to look for a new mechanic, as this is a deal breaker for me).

    The same day, after leaving his shop and driving around, I tried to turn on the air conditioner, and the check engine yellow light came on. I drove back to his shop, he said that the computer code shows that it's related to the catalytic electricity system (possibly because the oxygen sensor was damaged when they stole the catalytic converter). He said the car had to stay another day at his shop.

    Meanwhile, it made me a little worried/suspicious, as I remember a friend of mine told me that he installed an aftermarket catalytic converter so it doesn't get stolen again, but he told me the downside to it is that the check engine light comes on often, and it doesn't pass a SMOG test. I called the Toyota dealer and asked them if there is a way to tell if the part that is installed is original or not, because I received a check engine light. The Toyota dealer told me that usually if the code associated with the check engine is "catalytic efficiency code - that means it could be an aftermarket catalytic indication, otherwise if it's a code related to the oxygen sensor, then it's probably not an aftermarket indication related code". That together with the mechanic reluctance to give an invoice really made me want to get to the bottom of this.

    I picked up the car two days later. I drove the car that day running some errands - he told me to test the air conditioner and so I did, and didn't have any issues. Also, that same day, I went to another muffler/catalytic shop and asked them to check if the cat appears to be original oem. They lifted the car, looked briefly a little from below, and said it looks like the original part. At that moment I felt relieved and thought that I could continue with my life.

    Fast forward to today, I haven't drove the car since then, and had to run some errands today, and after some driving around, the check engine yellow light came on again. I have a device that check codes, so I connected it, and it says: "catalyst system efficiency below threshold bank 1" - P0420 - $07e8
    so that's exactly what the Toyota dealer agent told me above, and also my friend who installed aftermarket catalytic also confirmed he's familiar with this code because of his aftermarket catalytic.

    But given that I "verified" the authenticity at another shop, and they were able to briefly look at it for free and say that it looks original - how likely they made a mistake? Could the catalytic converter look like the original oem but maybe it's an old used part from the junkyard?

    In the insurance adjuster estimate report, it mentions that:
    *** PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 10, CHAPTER 5, SUBCHAPTER 7.5, SECTION 2695.8 THE INSURER WARRANTS THAT ANY NON-ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER PARTS SPECIFIED IN THIS ESTIMATE ARE AT LEAST EQUALTO THE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER PARTS IN TERMS OF KIND, QUALITY, SAFETY, FIT AND PERFORMANCE***

    Does that mean that I have a case here in case this is indeed not the original part or the same condition of that part as new?

    I'm planning to go the mechanic tomorrow to get this check light engine inspected and fixed, but at this point, I don't know if I can really trust if he put an actual original part or good quality if this light keeps coming up (never had such issue the first time around).

    I would appreciate if anyone has experience with this and could advise how should I conduct myself going forward with the mechanic, and whatever there is a definite way to check it's the original part without spending too much? And whatever I have any legal case here against him or what kind of lawyer deals with these kind of issues.

    Thanks in advance!
     
    #1 pri4u, Nov 21, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  2. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    In the USA you have a lawyer and an office where you can go file The 17 to $50 worth of paperwork you can sue anybody you want anytime you like this is America now eventually that suit involving who you're suing is going to wind up in front of somebody that you're going to have to answer to so make sure all your ducks are in a row and you don't wind up looking like one of these court TV people you know the ones that's the thing but yes apparently looks like you could I have this light on with my factory cat in place so good on the Toyota dealer for thinking that this only happens to aftermarket cats It happens apparently when the cat fails the test that chap is always talking about here in the business and it seems that test was made because it'll be failing after about 150,000 mi forever forward I guess I mean. My Corolla had its light on for a similar code for over 10 years and I don't think it has that fancy catalytic converter testing capability It was just a cheap AC Delco car computer for the 2002 model year Corolla and the Chevrolet equal I can't remember its name.
     
  3. TinyTim

    TinyTim Active Member

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    I do not understand if you have full insurance for catalytic converter theft. Why would you not take it to a Toyota dealership? For a hybrid car, a 2008/2009 Prius is quite old. I am surprised insurance didn't total it out.
     
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  4. alftoy

    alftoy Active Member

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    How much was the invoice for the second one?????
     
  5. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    I know you can get an aftermarket at Napa for less than a thousand that won't throw codes.
     
  6. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    3k+ he basically copied it from the insurance estimate report total in front of me
     
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  7. Tombukt2

    Tombukt2 Senior Member

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    You would think like the old days huh but now for a certain groups of vehicles and folks and what have you they'll try and keep your mess on the road for a good minute they're milking these Priuses out pretty well everybody's back side gets scratched The only parts you
    If that's happening. Then the big cat maker supplier on Ebay their cats work on all cars. . Except the prii? Sounds really fishy. Itust be only because of the test chap is talking about none the other vehicles do that I don't think. Hence the code. Get rid of the test code gone. That text only need be done by some other entity or never like most vehicles . Or else the other vehicle manufacturers have the test right where it doesn't ever affect anything in Toyota doesn't whichever it is that's it. So some computer person needs to come up with the right code insert in the firmware to banish that test. Or something
     
  8. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    ok but is there a way to tell if current one I have is the real deal or not?
     
  9. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    You’re making a good point and it might be a lesson learned for me. The question what can I do now...
     
  10. alftoy

    alftoy Active Member

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    Take it to a Toyota dealer, they can tell if it has the Toyota imprint or a smog inspection will tell you if it is genuine.

    So the mechanic gets $3K from insurance and installed a cheaper knock off cat?

    Wonder if that is fraud, especially being California, is the mechanic compelled to install a cat that is Carb compliant?

    how to tell if catalytic converter is legit or not? | PriusChat
     
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  11. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    Well I was thinking it is a fraud based on what my insurance estimate report says here:
    "*** PURSUANT TO CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 10, CHAPTER 5, SUBCHAPTER 7.5, SECTION 2695.8 THE INSURER WARRANTS THAT ANY NON-ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER PARTS SPECIFIED IN THIS ESTIMATE ARE AT LEAST EQUALTO THE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER PARTS IN TERMS OF KIND, QUALITY, SAFETY, FIT AND PERFORMANCE***"

    Does this phrase means he's compelled to install a cat that is the same quality but it doesn't have to be the original?

    With regards to taking it to a Toyota dealer, you can't just walk there, and ask them to check that for you, they will say they charge $195 per hour for labor of taking it off and testing it.
    I could probably take it to some places that said they could check if it's orginal for $20-$40 and have them check these labels you referenced in your reply.
    The question is what's for me doing this? Unless I know there is a valid law suit case that I could use this as evidence.

    Thanks!
     
    #11 pri4u, Nov 21, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Underfoot

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    I find it hard to believe they'd need to take it off and test it, to figure out what it is. I might believe $195 USD per hour, though last few experiences I've had were more like $70~80 CDN, for quick stuff. They're sometimes nice guys, help you out with a trivial thing, for free. I know, eerie...
     
  13. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    I believe a dealer could verify labeling. In the end it does not matter if it passes your smog inspection. Get one of those.
     
  14. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    I called the dealer, they said it's $195 but because I have a cat shield, it might cost more if it's hard to remove and put back. Some places told me they can do it for $20-40.
     
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  15. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    Well it matters to me, I don't like being played for a sucker. Insurance was paying enough for him to put a new original part, and I'm losing my trust to the mechanic now.
     
  16. alftoy

    alftoy Active Member

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    In the end it does matter if it doesn’t pass inspection.
     
  17. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    My point was skip the dealer, lawsuits and general rants and just try to get the smog inspection. If it passes you are done; if it does not you have evidence. Did not think I would have to spell it out but happy to do so.
     
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  18. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    well how do I know if it passes the smog test? the next test is due in two years
     
  19. rjparker

    rjparker Tu Humilde Sirviente

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    Do it now.
     
  20. pri4u

    pri4u Junior Member

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    The question is what do with the evidence if it doesn’t pass a smog test? Do I have a legal case here?
    I don’t think currently with the check engine light on that it will... I’ll need to go back to the mechanic, get it fixed, and then maybe do the smog test, but again, the question is what am I doing with that evidence?

    Also even if it does pass the test now, is there a guarantee that it will pass the test in 2 years?
     
    #20 pri4u, Nov 22, 2022 at 12:27 AM
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2022 at 12:43 AM
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