NewsTeam 10 Investigates


Catalytic converter shortage turns into headache for drivers impacted by emissions recall

DMV requires problem to be fixed before a vehicle can be registered
Catalytic converter shortage turns into headache for drivers impacted by emissions recall
Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 29, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A nationwide vehicle emissions recall is turning into a headache for some drivers who own a Jeep Renegade, Jeep Cherokee, Dodge Dart, and other vehicles made from 2014-2016.

“This is an emissions problem. This is not a safety issue, it is not unsafe for me to drive my car,” said San Diego resident Gabi Jacobs.

His 2015 Jeep Renegade is part of the recall that is impacting an estimated 368,000 drivers, according to the California Air Resources Board.

Drivers must have their vehicle’s catalytic converter replaced and powertrain control module reprogrammed with new software.

The recall is impacting vehicles with 2.4L engines that may release air pollutants exceeding tailpipe emission standards.

Jacobs called Team 10 out of frustration. He’s been on a waiting list for a replacement part.

“The catch is, the dealerships are saying, they’re only getting one catalytic converter a week at all of the dealerships, so they can help one customer a week, that’s it. I’m 46 (on the list), that’s 46 weeks, that’s almost a year.

The DMV confirmed customers driving a vehicle with an unaddressed emissions recall have a hold put on their account “until proof of correction is submitted to the DMV.”

It means drivers can’t register their cars until the recalled part is replaced.

There is an exception for customers who experience delays getting replacements. In those situations, the DMV says drivers can request a temporary operating permit.

“This allows customers additional time to operate their vehicle until registration requirements are met,” a DMV spokesperson told Team 10.

The permits are good for 30-90 days and can be picked up at DMV offices or AAA.

Jacobs thinks the DMV should make the permits available online. He said he doesn’t think it’s fair drivers impacted by the recall are forced to go to the DMV every month to get a permit so they can keep driving.

“I have a job. I've got work to do, I can't, it's a pain in the butt. DMV, I mean, everybody knows what that's like, the DMV is a pain in the butt.”

Jacobs said he’s frustrated with Jeep’s manufacturer because the California Air Resources Board told him the problem was discovered around 2017 but corrective action by the manufacturer wasn’t finished until 2022.

“They've had a lot of time to help us, which they haven't done.”

Jeep’s parent company Stellantis told Team 10 it’s incorrect to suggest it waited years before fixing the problem.

“We have been in constant communication with regulators as we developed a remedy, validated its effectiveness and accumulated inventory in an extremely challenging supply-chain environment,” a company spokesperson told Team 10.

The Air Resources Board told Jacobs the manufacturer has increased the number of parts being sent to California.

But Jacobs is still waiting.

Stellantis told Team 10 it’s working to get the catalytic converter to Jacobs’ dealership in Kearny Mesa.

The company contacted Jacobs after Team 10 got involved.

A spokesperson told us a labor disruption last year was to blame saying it adversely affected part inventories.

With his registration due in May, Jacobs feared not getting a new catalytic converter part in time.

“I've got parents that I, you know, see multiple times a week. I wanna be able, if my parents need me, I wanna be able to jump in my car and head over there.”

But Jacobs won’t have to worry anymore and can stay on the road thanks to some help from Team 10.

Stellantis told us this week that it had a new catalytic converter for Jacobs and scheduled the installation for April 1st.

Jacobs is grateful for the part but sympathizes with other drivers still stuck on a waiting list.

“Catalytic converters are needed to drive your car. They should be able to create more than one a week... It just makes no sense,” he said.