How Much Platinum / Palladium / Rhodium in Catalytic Converters – And Approximate Worth

Latest update: January 9, 2021. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Platinum, rhodium and palladium are some of the elements known as platinum-group metals, otherwise known as PGMs.

The PGMs reside in the honeycomb region of the catalytic converter. The much-older catalytic converters originally used pellets, before the more efficient and less expensive honeycomb design came into use.

The amounts and proportions of PGMs depends on the age and type of vehicle.
  • Cars, light-duty trucks, and motorcycles average total is 2-6 grams.
  • Larger-engine SUV's and trucks average total can range anywhere from 6-30 grams.
28.35 grams equals an avoirdupois ounce. 31.1 grams equals a troy ounce.

Gasoline-powered-vehicle catalytic converters use all three of the aforementioned rare-earth metals (update: at current prices, I highly doubt rhodium is still being used). Diesel-powered-vehicle catalytic converters use only platinum and rhodium (update: rhodium usage for new vehicles is questionable). As a side note, PGMs are also in heavy demand in the electronics industries.

How Much Is a Catalytic Converter Worth?


The Shorter Answer...

Depending on the age and type of vehicle, the PGMs in a catalytic converter can be worth anywhere from $100 to a rare $1,000 or more. The newer and/or smaller cars being closer to $100. The larger, older vehicles could have catalytic converters worth $600 and up. As for the $1,000 and the skyrocketing prices of the PGMs, older vehicles with the original converter are becoming more and more valuable; something to consider when selling an older vehicle.

Regarding the catalytic converter, keep in mind that what the PGMs are worth is not what you will be paid. There is the labor, cost of metal extraction, overhead, and the buyer's expected profit margin; not to mention the greed factor. It would also be wise to be able to prove ownership. Otherwise, a phone call might be being made inside while you are talking with the potential buyer outside. Driving in with the actual vehicle or at least the vehicle's paperwork will give you more legitimacy and probably even a higher price. Do extensively ask around and shop around. As a side note, oxygen sensors also use PGMs and have a recycle value.

The Longer Answer...

As a general rule: the older the vehicle, the more platinum present in the catalytic converter. Because of the high cost of platinum, industry continually strives to reduce the amount of platinum necessary by the use of other metals and materials and/or design changes
  • The new trading year has begun. At the end of the first full trading week, platinum prices stand at $1,077.10 a troy ounce. This works out to $34.63 a gram. However and as usual, that troy ounce price could change either way by $50 in a heartbeat.
  • Palladium stands at $2,408.00 a troy ounce or $77.43 a gram.
  • Rhodium prices continue to blast away and are, as of this update, at $16,000+ for a troy ounce; price-per-gram being around $514.47. It's a pretty good bet, catalytic converter manufacturers are currently avoiding rhodium usage at all costs. It sure would be nice to know when rhodium usage for catalytic converters was at its peak; those older model cars I would think are really worth something.
Needless to say, prices fluctuate greatly; not only the value, but also the quantity and usage ratio of the three metals aren't exactly carved in stone either. Depending on the price and efficiency of each metal and/or its alloys, the composition and design the catalytic converter manufacturers use may change frequently. Then again, each change buries the manufacturer in the government bureaucracies of retesting, recertification, and no doubt many other laws and regulations; both federal and for each state. This could very well obstruct the manufactures from being able to quickly respond to PGM price changes. This would be especially applicable to after-market manufacturers.

Current prices for platinum and palladium can be found here, note the historical charts as well. Rhodium prices can be found here. Price information resources come and go. If the links stop working, a Google search will quickly find a new one.

Catalytic converters have really not added much salvage value to a scrapped or totaled car in the last several years, exceptions of course being the older and larger vehicles. And of course, thefts are still happening from those vehicles whose catalytic converters are easily accessible

It turns out the information to write this page was not easy to find. Fortunately, I stumbled across much of it buried in a government-archived article about catalytic converter cerium recovery written by the USGS. The article has more information scattered around about catalytic converters, what recyclers might be willing to pay for them, about platinum and the other PGMs, and other recycling information, etc. The prices stated in the government article are woefully obsolete, but the rest of the information is still valid.

Platinum Nugget. Source: USGS

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29 comments:

  1. Can you explain why Palladium is still being used as a catalyst in cars and trucks when platinum is 40% cheaper? At the time Palladium was first used it was about 1/3 the price of Platinum, so that made sense at that time to use it, but why now? Thanks for this tip.
    C E Carl

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    Replies
    1. Platinum is mainly used for diesel engines, which are being phased out in europe. Petrol engine cats require more palladium. That is why platinum is down and palladium is up.

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  2. Platinum Group Metals and Rare earth metals are not the same. The demand for rare earth metals is due to the Electric and Hybrid vehicle market. Rhodium is mainly used to reduce the formation of NOx palladium is not as efficient as platinum at converting HCs and CO to CO2 and H2o. It is costly however to convert over to another metal in manufacturing of catalyst.

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  3. How much palladium or other PGM is used in the average new hybrid? The electric car? I understand rare earth metals used in electric motors is also essential to production.

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    Replies
    1. I belive most electric motors use electromagnet not rare earth magnets.
      Copper is 2 bucks a pound clean scrap.
      50hp motor might have 100lbs of copper. I might be wrong though there are motors that use earth magnets. I though they were only pretty small ones.

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  4. How much moneys worth of precious metals do u get out of one converter I and going to use a plasma cutter to open them up will that work

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    Replies
    1. Every converter has a different amount of each of the platinum group metals. I am a converter buyer, the amount of each platinum group metal in each converter is what controls the scrap value and they are constantly changing. I have around 7000 different scrap converter prices on my price sheet. With some converters you would be lucky to get $10 worth of PGM's out and other converters have over $1000 worth of PGM's

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    2. Hello Shane! Are you ok sharing your price sheet?

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    3. I am a scrapper and would be interested if you could share that price sheet. I never know what to do with these things, open them and extract or ship whole. Maybe knowing prices would make it an easier decision.

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    4. I can share some info with you about cats

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    5. I will pay you for your price sheet.Where would you go to refine .your converters.ty for your time

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  5. Can someone sell the precious metals without the catalyic converter

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  6. Where can one attain that price sheet

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  7. Hello, if you don’t mind please contact me at ams93@mail.aub.edu
    I am a researcher and I would like to know more about the types of converters and the distribution of metal accordingly.
    Thank you in advance

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  8. What are the possibilities of this business in india

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  9. DO NOT TAKE OUT TJE HONEYCOMB!!!! VERY HARD IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO SELL THAT WAY !!!! KEEP INTACT NUMBERS ON SHELL DETERMINES PRICE!!! PROVES WHAT IT IS INSIDE!!!

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  10. Hello, trying to sell a big volume of cat scrap from El Salvador Central America but kind of confused, some people recommend keeping the cats intact and sell them by part number and other ask us to use a decanner and just ship the honeycomb-dust to them. Our volume is big and we would like to get the best possible value. Your advice will be appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. Abel. Estoy interesado en hablar contigo. Envíame un mensaje aquí. O a Hugo.portlandautos@gmail

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    2. Hablo english!?

      Contacto me @ boleyg88@gmail.com

      Top dollar!$$$$

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  11. Who will buy my converters at the best prices in from Canada and I will ship as long as I'm getting the proper dollar for my converters

    ReplyDelete
  12. im a core buyer in michigan id like to talk with you further about potential buisness contact me at.

    Cardoctor5176269338@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a price sheet to what you pay and what coverters you want the most

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    2. I would love to see it if all possible.ty for your time

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  13. how much does my clk320 2005 catalytic converters have PGA?

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  14. VW converters. Whats the best 1.

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  15. On average how much rhodium is found in a gas catalytic converter?

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  16. I like the rest of you guys are interested, slightly intrigued and even more so have the fever and twinkle in both eyes when it comes to the potential life changing kinda numbers I'm reading and learning about a possible business in the PGM industry I'm a lifelong go getter that trys on a daily to put my own spin on just about anything and everything I come in contact with most the time I strike out sometimes I get lucky and break just below even. And far and few in between I muck up and make a mistake that somehow by no fault of my own I slip up and fall into a puddle oozing in Pgms.
    Long story short we all have a common interest how can we come together and actually build something together over this interweb thingy that is beneficial to all that helps accordingly? If interested in my next grand idea send me email kingmikeconverter@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete