What are Catalytic Converters?

Catalytic converters (or cats in laymans terms) are a piece of a vehicles exhaust system designed to reduce pollution. In 1975 the federal government (EPA) made a law that would require auto manufactures to include these devices on all vehicles in the US. They work by getting hot and burning off the unspent fuel in the exhaust gases. This causes a chemical reaction that reduces the pollutants being emitted. Cats are worth money because they contain precious metals called PGM’s (Platinum Group Metals). These rare metals are recycled due to the expensive mining process required to obtain them. There are six platinum-group metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum.

Catalytic Converters
These converters were worth almost $600!

Why can’t I purchase a Catalytic Converter from the salvage yard?

Unfortunately it is against the law for a salvage yard to sell you a used converter. If caught there are some serious fines. The EPA considers it a violation of the policy to install a used converter from a salvage yard or to sell it for reuse. Salvage or junk yards would be considered liable for causing tampering if they sell converters that have not been tested or do not meet the requirements outlined in the Clean Air Act.

How do I sell my Catalytic Converter for money?

Get in touch with a local core buyer. When a core buyer grades a cat they grade it by size, material type, PGM content, origin, and completeness. Depending on the vehicles they came from, core buyers know the approximate average PGM content. If a cat is cracked inside, or its missing part of the “biscuit” its worth less because it has degraded or been damaged and lost some PGM content. This happens over the life of the converter as it heats and cools it becomes fragile.  Over time it will crack up and blow out leaving just a hollow metal shell. If the inside looks hollow with no material anywhere, its spent and not worth anything. In todays market (2017), converters are usually worth anywhere from $30 to $120. Aftermarket converters are usually only worth $5 to $10 because they do not contain very many PGMs.