Why Are Catalytic Converter Prices So High?

So many people have asked us over the years about the value of catalytic converter’s and why they are so expensive. When people look at catalytic converters they see a magnetic stainless steel shield on the outside and they always hear about different numbers that are stamped or pictures that catalytic converter buyers look for. But why are catalytic converter is worth so much money? Let’s dive deeper into it and try to get some of the answers to how catalytic converter prices are determined:

Precious Metals Found Inside

Catalytic converters are used to help filter many of the fumes that come out of gas or diesel generating engines. The precious metals that can be recovered through refinement of catalytic inverters are as follows: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. Many people ask how these precious metals can be used to help filter out many fumes and emissions. We would like to be able to dive deeper into that to help you learn and gain more knowledge.

How They Work: How Do Catalytic Converters Work?

Knowing The Value of Cats

It’s more than look and make/model…

It’s nearly impossible to look at the catalytic converter and figure out what the prices are just by the appearance of it. Some people think that size matters, while other people think that what is important is the make or model that it is off of. While all of these things are important, what matters the most is the average refining of catalytic converters which generally is done over time by larger catalytic converter buyers. These buyers will take multiple cats that are the same either by appearance or serial number and sample them individually to be able to refine them and know how much precious metal is in each one.

Less Than An Ounce in Cats…

While many people think that the catalytic converters have multiple ounces of material inside each of them, they generally have a very small percentage of an ounce inside. So in order to make more money on cats, companies refine them or sell them to a buyer that has the ability to refine them directly and obtain proper material recovery from so many different catalytic converters.

Why Size Doesn’t Matter

Many people think that the size of the physical catalytic converter matters the most when it comes to pricing. This is a large myth. Some catalytic converters, such as one that comes off of a Toyota Prius are sometimes worth 10 times the amount of money, compared to a cat that is physically larger. The reason the Toyota Prius cat is more valuable is because of the concentration of precious metals found inside for the purpose of cleaner emissions as a hybrid vehicle.

Another example…

You could take another example of a catalytic converter called a torpedo catalytic converter. These are generally found on Ford vehicles that are larger such as vans. These are large torpedo-shaped catalytic converters and inside they have multiple biscuits (small sections of honeycomb) ranging from one up to four total biscuits per cat. These catalytic converters while they look the same with the shields on them could have a large yield differentiation where we have seen some cats sold for $150 and other cats sold for over $1,000 depending on where the precious market ranges are. Speaking of precious market ranges let’s talk about where some of the prices come from and teach you about the different metals inside. 

The iScrap App Team does update common cat prices on our website regularly, that you can get an idea of movement in the market on our price page.

Precious Metal Prices & Scrap Prices

When it comes to checking general scrap prices online, you probably will turn to the iScrap App or your local scrap yard to learn what those prices are. When it comes to precious metals and tracking their prices online, it’s not as easy because it’s the trading prices. When you see the trading prices for precious metals, it’s good way to have an indicator for where prices are trending but not the actual prices of cats. If you track all 3 precious metals in the market, it will be a good indicator of where the overall catalytic converter prices are going.

Check RRCats.com for Basic Scrap Cat Prices

Types of Grading for Accurate Scrap Catalytic Converter Prices

Serial Number Grading

A majority of catalytic inverters have serial numbers that are stamped on them. The serial numbers will give you the ability to get a much quicker price quote in many times. One thing to keep in mind is that some catalytic converters have the same serial number but often will have different values depending on the car that they came off of and what emission standards were being met during production based on the US State of delivery. An example would be: A catalytic converter delivered to California will have a higher value than other states, due to the higher restrictions on emissions.

Grading cats by serial numbers also give you the ability to get higher prices in many cases. Sometimes when catalytic converter buyers look at the serial codes versus the cat they can give you a price anywhere from 30 to 40% higher. An example would be a catalytic converter that comes off of a Chevrolet and has the word FLOW stamped on it. One catalytic converter can look exactly the same and have a value 3 to 5 times higher just by having the correct serial number available for quoting.

Photo Grading

Sometimes there aren’t any serial numbers stamped on the catalytic converters. In this case, you have to rely on dealing with a reputable company that knows what different catalytic converters look like. Also, those reputable companies usually will have the ability to grade them going off of previous grades and knowing the values from hundreds if not thousands of previous quotes on similar units. 

Finding A Cat Company…

Once you find a company that you like dealing with and trust, give them the opportunity to buy your catalytic converters. The more you work with them, you’ll learn the ways they like to buy your cats and what information they need when pricing and selling them. Building a relationship with a buyer is half of the success when selling catalytic converters.

How Do I Sell My Scrap Catalytic Converter?


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