Why Are Catalytic Converters Worth So Much?

So many people have asked us over the years about the value of catalytic converters and why they are so expensive. When people look at catalytic converters, they see a magnetic stainless steel shield on the outside. They always hear about different stamped numbers or pictures catalytic converters buyers look for. But why are catalytic converters 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 help filter many of the fumes that come from gas or diesel-generating engines. The precious metals that can be recovered by refining catalytic converters are 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 determine the prices by its appearance. Some people think that size matters, while others think that what is important is the make or model. 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 identical by appearance or serial number and sample them individually to refine them and know how much precious metal is in each.

Less Than An Ounce in Cats…

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

Why Size Doesn’t Matter

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

Another example…

You could take another example of a catalytic converter called a torpedo converter. These are generally found on larger Ford vehicles 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. While these catalytic converters look the same with the shields on them, they could have a large yield differentiation where we have seen some cats sold for $150 and others 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 updates common cat prices on our website regularly so that you can get an idea of movement in the market on our price page.

Precious Metal Prices & Scrap Prices

When checking general scrap prices online, you will probably turn to the iScrap App or your local scrap yard to learn what those prices are. Regarding precious metals tracking their prices online, it’s not as easy as trading prices. When you see the trading prices for precious metals, it’s a good indicator of where prices are trending, but not the actual prices of cats. If you track all three 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

Boosted Catalytic Converter Prices at RRCats

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 allow you to get a much quicker price quote. One thing to remember is that some catalytic converters have the same serial number but often will have different values depending on the car 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, which will have a higher value than other states due to the higher restrictions on emissions.

Grading cats by serial numbers also gives you the ability to get higher prices in many cases. 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 from a Chevrolet with the word FLOW stamped. One catalytic converter can look the same and have a value of 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, reputable companies can usually grade them based on previous grades and know the values of previous quotes on similar units from hundreds if not thousands. 

Finding A Cat Company…

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

How Do I Sell My Scrap Catalytic Converter?