stolen catalytic converter & aftermarket replacement through insurance- some takeaways

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by rm04, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Had my cat stolen of my 2004 mid February. Made a claim with my comprehensive insurance. WIth a $600.00 deductible I decided to go through a nearby body shop since they are in insurers network and the guarantee looked good..here are some observations (sorry to our friends in CARB states):

    • From everything I gathered, a single universal aftermarket catalytic converter will not suffice for a Prius, no matter the brand. The muffler shop that this body shop partners with initial installed a single universal on my car. I questioned it as soon as I found out as I thought it would be a direct fit model, and the muffler shop claimed they "use them all the time on Priuses". I called both Walker Exhaust and MagnaFlow the next day and tech support from both companies told me that the direct fit models are the proper replacement for the OEM. They both said a single universal is simply not sufficient, will fail emissions and cause performance issues; they only serve to replace individual catalysts (front or rear) or to be welded in as a pair, not to serve as a replacement for both the front and rear cats in the original OEM exhaust pipe. I also got this confirmed by several mechanics I spoke with that said they would not use a single universal on a Prius (as well as other auto repair related message boards). No surprise that a day after this universal was installed I got a check engine light which produced a P0420 code and my gas mileage dropped my almost 9 mpg. I called my insurance company and explained all this to multiple people, and after a lot of hassle I finally got the shop to install a Walker 16337 (I was issued a check by insurer so this ended up being considerably less than $600.00). This muffler shop didn't even know what a SULEV rating is, so it's obvious not everyone is suited to work on hybrids. Very disappointed that the muffler shop chose this route and the insurer carelessly put their stamp of approval on it. I was sure to let both parties know I expected more. Now with the Walker direct fit on for several days I have zero issues and my gas mileage is getting back to normal.

    • If you are going aftermarket and not OEM through your insurance ( I chose aftermarket as not to worry about a shiny OEM resonator inviting a thief to steal it again), make sure you inform all parties involved as soon as you make the claim that you will only accept a direct fit model, period. Tell them the popular aftermarket manufacturers confirm this & they can call these companies themselves if they want. If the shop and/or insurer won't agree to it then don't proceed. this leads me to..

    • You may be better off just buying all the parts yourself and paying a good muffler shop to install it all. You lose whatever guarantee on labor your insurer provides (mine is apparently lifetime) but you have full control of the parts selection (what is a guarantee on labor really worth anyways?). You can use all OEM bolts, springs, gaskets, Denso O2 sensor etc..a shop will almost certainly go cheap-o (unless you go OEM of course). At this point I would have rather gone this route as I would prefer a MagnaFlow 49752 and the Toyota bolts, gaskets and Denso O2. You may pay more going this route but you will have the parts you want.

    • I was offered the option of choosing whatever shop I wanted, in or outside of insurers repair network. Again, could've went OEM but just not worth the worry of it. The upside to going within the network is there is a lifetime warranty on labor (I imagine if I have trouble with the parts within a reasonable amount of time they may still help me out). The downside is your selection is limited to mostly body shops who know squat about catalytic converters and hybrids (& their partnered muffler shops may be as clueless on hybrids as well).

    • Make sure you buy an anti-theft device for your cat, have it in hand and arrange for installation before the repair is completed so you have can it installed the same day. You don't want a brand new shiny catalytic converter only to wake up the next day shaking your fists at the sky when you discover it stolen again. I went with a Miller Cat Shield with upgraded hardware for around $220.00 Of course an alarm with a tilt sensor would be great as well.

    Just thought Id throw these things out there for anyone else who may be dealing with a Gen2 cat theft.

    Anyone have a different experience with the universals? I was going off the assumption that Walker and MagnaFlow were giving me good information..
     
    #1 rm04, Apr 12, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  2. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Without OEM parts, the car can't be registered in California. Did your insurer give you anything to reflect this loss of potential future value, were you to try to sell the car later?
     
  3. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    --What state are you in? How often do you have emissions testing, if at all?

    --What everyone on here who's not in California uses is direct-fit for Prius aftermarket for $130 that work fine and are different than universal fit aftermarket that didn't work for you.

    --Cat shield prices have dropped to a third due to competition so they only cost $100 now

    --Most muffler and auto repair shops don't let customers provide their own parts because the price mark up from their wholesale price when they provide the parts is how they pay their bills.
     
  4. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Note- I asked several people at the body shop initially if they could assure me that they and their affiliated shops had the requisite knowledge and experience in working on hybrids and they said of course. seems there definitely needs to be some kind of certification process
     
  5. peripatetic pri

    peripatetic pri Junior Member

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    Hi! Just got my '01 prius towed; have spent all day trying to figure out what theft prevention device they should install. Tow truck driver said he's had cats stolen anyway from cars w/the aftermarket shields installed. Talked to shop in another state - CA - that said they have their own system w/ rolls of stainless steel rope and tack weld along the exhaust system - $290 parts. They said woven wire baskets not great bc rub against other parts of car and get caught on road debris. i think the painting/engraving option + a loud alarm as indicated on this site
    https://www.catstrap.net/ (it's down on pg) --
    but problem is i can't find any mechanics who really have dealt w this anti-theft stuff.
    Input welcome -- i.e., had a theft like i did, then had anti-theft device installed, hasn't happened again, or know mechanics who have dealt with this.
    Thanks!
     
  6. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Im in the midwest. No CARB standards here but cats are required by sate law and the testing is done every few years.

    The Miller Cat shield came with stainless security screws..they already have come in handy as the repair had to be redone and I imagine removing and redoing rivets is a pain? Also I went to a muffler shop afterwards and had them put the car up on a lift to remove the shield so I could inspect what work was done.

    I can find 50 muffler shops around me that will let people bring their own parts..I guess every area is different . Protip- try finding a shop where you hear spanish music blaring..from my experience they are more flexible and reasonable with prices. I have never had issues with workmanship as some may try to suggest. They were willing to weld up a decent amount of holes on my 04 Corolla cat/ exhaust pipe for around $100 while everyone else was telling me I had no choice but replacement.
     
    #6 rm04, Apr 12, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  7. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Good point, that never came up. Im very disappointed in how Allstate handled this whole thing up until the end when a supervisor came in and helped me get the correct part. If it wasnt for him I would definitely be looking for a different insurance company
     
    #7 rm04, Apr 12, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  8. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    yea..seems like a shield with additional measures is necessary if you are trying to protect an OEM cat
     
    #8 rm04, Apr 12, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
  9. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    I did quite a bit of reading beforehand and came to the conclusion that I'd rather spend a little bit more for the increased chance of having a better quality part. Knowing its the precious metal load that makes the part do what it does led me believe I would get what I pay for..from what I read the Walker 16337 is probably the lowest quality/price you'd want to go. Im sure others have had success with cheaper parts though
     
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  10. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Initially I was going to do at Toyota dealership & my insurance was going to cut me a check for $2,400. I could've easily done the MagnaFlow and had plenty of leftover cash. Although many may have went that route I wasn't sure if that big payout would be a good thing on my insurance record if I do have the misfortune of having to make more claims in the future
     
  11. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    Insurance shouldn't be a problem, since it's comprehensive. Only issue is that you cannot and should not make the same claim on the same car over again.
     
  12. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    what about those who have had their cats stolen 2-3 times?
     
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  13. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    Thieves go after OEM cats and avoid the aftermarket ones. The Prius is an "ultra low emission" vehicle and the OEM cat is loaded with a lot of precious metals. The cheap replacement cats have very little of these metals and will pass EPA 49 state inspection with much less of the precious metals. They can be had for about $125 delivered from Canada.

    A 2004 is close to of its service life, especially if it's high mileage and with it original battery.

    So, you can buy one from Canada and install it yourself for next to nothing or pay about $100 for someone to do it. A replacement downstream oxygen sensor can be had for $40.

    So, it would be more likely that the replacement OEM cat would be stolen but not the cheap $125 replacement.

    In the case of using a cheap aftermarket cat, I wouldn't even put a cat shield on it.

    I would, however, paint it with orange or red high temperature header paint and place "catalytic converter engraved" stickers on the windows as an absolutely cheap theft deterrent.

    Save the rest of the insurance money for your next car.
     
    #13 Georgina Rudkus, Apr 14, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  14. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    Im familiar with most of that but I don't doubt a stupid thief in my area wouldn't steal my cheap aftermarket (hence the cat shield). What brand are those $125 cats from Canada? Everything I read recommended the Walker 16337 as the baseline and the MagnaFlow 49752 as a better (but more expensive) choice

    my 04 is in excellent condition and I know for a fact it was well maintained when I bought it 3 years ago with only 98k miles on it. Ive put on about 35K mostly highway miles..may still have some good years left in it..
     
  15. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    #15 Georgina Rudkus, Apr 14, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
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  16. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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  17. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    Walker is not Made in USA. I believe that it is Made in Canada at the same factory.
     
  18. rm04

    rm04 Junior Member

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    their website says they have a manufacturing plant in Harrisonburg, VA but it looks like its only one of multiple plants
     
  19. Georgina Rudkus

    Georgina Rudkus Senior Member

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    Been to Harrisonburg many years, ago,

    The parts could be made in Ontario, Canada and assembled in Harrisonburg.
     
  20. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Just because a more known manufacture charges double or triple than normal for an aftermarket direct-fit Prius cat doesn't mean it's higher quality. Neither the $130 cat or the $400 cat will meet the emissions requirements that Toyota designed into the $2400 OEM cat, which is why California and other states won't allow them. Odds are both aftermarket cats' internal components are manufactured in the same factory and the only difference is the piping and casing was welded together by either the $130 seller or the $400 seller. If we knew someone in this line of work we could learn more. Of course until we buy both version and cut them open and inspect them, there's no way to know.
     
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