If you’re a Toyota Prius owner, hear this sound, and don’t have comprehensive insurance, get ready to shell out up to $2,500 or more.

TikTok user, good grandson, and all around cool guy Julian Espinoza got a call from his Grandma asking why her Toyota Prius sounds like a diesel tractor when she starts it up. Unbeknownst to sweet ol’ Ethel, some miscreant of the criminal classes swiped her catalytic converters. Without a direct path to the mufflers out back, this Toyota Prius’s otherwise quiet exhaust gases shoot straight out sans muffling making quite a racket.

Being “da goot boi” that he is, Julian went to get Me-Ma’s Catalytic Converters replaced and repaired, but not before letting us revel in how loud this little Hybrid is without muffling.

Espinoza’s deleted his videos but we’ve provided a mirror below.

In the videos we see Julian walking up to his Grandma’s Prius, starting it up, and throwing a couple of revs. To the naked eye, there’s nothing wrong with this Prius, but, after ignition, it becomes apparent something is seriously wrong.

Grandma’s got no cats! Well, she might have cats, but no catalytic converter.

In the third (now deleted) video Julian’s driving around town quite amused at how ridiculous this Prius now sounds. Thankfully, police he drove by didn’t bat an eye. They were probably in denial that such a sound could come from that Toyota appliance and had their eyes peeled for the offending Honda Civic.

Here are two more off Youtube for good measure.

How can such a quiet car sound so loud?

Just because it’s a Prius doesn’t mean Toyota hasn’t stuffed some special engine under the hood, far from it. This generation Prius pairs the same engine, a 1.5L 1NZ found in a similar year Toyota Echo, Scion Xa/Xb, and even in some global model Toyota Corollas, to an electric motor subsequently powered by a 1.3 kWh battery (that doesn’t need recharging.) Both work together thanks to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.

While it might sound quiet, that 1.5L four-cylinder under the hood is still firing off, making exhaust gases like any other car. As mentioned, with the exhaust gases not reaching the aptly called mufflers, a cut between the front exhaust manifold and the rear muffler housing means your Prius will sound like a tiny tractor.


That’s admittedly on the higher end if you live in California.

If you don’t live in California, you can easily buy a brand new catalytic converter for a couple hundred bucks.

But, if you DO live in Commiefornia, like Julian, the only recourse is either swapping in a cheaper used one found on eBay, Craigslist, or a re-seller, or you have to go to Toyota. Toyota is the only California-compliant seller of 50-state legal Toyota Prius Catalytic converters.

Check out some screenshots of what used Prius cats are selling for on eBay and what a new one from Toyota will run you.

You might get away with swapping in a pair of CARB approved universal cats, but that requires exhaust work. Also, don’t quote me on that.

If you’ve got comprehensive insurance on your Prius, then not to worry because according to Car Insurance 101,

Because the catalytic converter is part of the vehicle that’s permanently installed, its theft will be covered under the vehicle’s comprehensive coverage. The comprehensive deductible will apply, and the insurance company will inspect the vehicle to assess the full extent of the damages and offer settlement accordingly.

Why do people steal these Prius converters?

Did you see how much they sell for used on eBay above? Within minutes a thief can make close to $2,000 at your inconvenience.

Prius converters are also packed with precious metals in short supply at the moment like palladium, platinum, and rhodium

So, that’s why me-ma’s Prius sounds like a tractor and there’s the motivation behind it.


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