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2002 Prius

I have 135,000 miles on my 2002 Prius & have been told that the catalytic converter is going bad as well as the computer. The toyota service manager told me that the car will stop running at any time & that I should not take it on any long trips. I have continued to drive the Prius since August when I was given this information. Over 2 yrs. ago the check engine light would come on & stay on for a month or so & then would go off & stay off for the same amount of time. The car is running as well as it ever has. The repair quote was $3500 which is a bit less than the blue book value of the car. Could there be a mistake in the diagnosis. The diagnosis was made by the codes they checked for the check engine light being on. It currently has been off for 2 months. I have taken the car on 2 long trips since this diagnosis in August. What do you recommend that I do at this time?

Ignoring the CEL for a month at a time was just plain stupid, especially on a high tech hybrid. It’s quite possible this started out as a simple problem, but the malfunction destroyed the cat converter and who knows what else. My suggestion is to just keep driving it. When it dies take the tags off and start walking.

If your car has to meet an annual emissions check, you may have to fix it, if it turns out there is something wrong. If not, it seems the dealer’s service department and his diagnostic equipemnt are less than perfect! If the car runs well, the gas mileage is OK, then the computer must be doing it’s job!

The converter may still be under federally mandated warranty; you should check that out first.

Dealers often will replace everything (at your expense)that might cause a problem, until the problem goes away. In your case the evidence for the repair is very shaky. I would personally get an independent garage to check it out. The repair estimate will in any case be a lot lower, if, indeed, repairs were necessary.

Personally, I would just keep driving if there was no annual emission check. If the car runs well you have very little to lose!

I did not ignore the CEL. I immediately had it checked at the nearest toyota service when I was visiting Austin, TX. The service manager there told me that it wasn’t a serious issue & that if there was an emissions problem it would be equivalent to the emissions of a toyota camry. I then had it checked out at the toyota service I had been routinely using when I returned from my trip. There they told me that there was no problem. At that time the CEL was not on. This was the initial time that the CEL came on. 2 yrs. later I was given the previously mentioned info in the initial question I had.

If I were you I’d continue to drive the vehicle and not worry about it. If the light is not on there is no problem. Dealers often choose the most expensive (and profitable) solution to a problem, even if there is a less drastic option.

I’d get several opinions before replacing the cat or the computer.