What’s Inside a Catalytic Converter, and Why is It So Expensive?

Catalytic converters are crucial components in our vehicles, limiting the harmful emissions caused by combustion engines. Although pollution persists, especially in large cities, the proliferation of catalytic converters has helped to keep pollution down since they became mandatory in 1975 due to the Clean Air Act of 1970. In regards to the environment, catalytic converters are extremely valuable. Yet, that’s not why they’re monetarily valuable. Catalytic converters are worth a lot of money because of the precious metals inside. 

If you’ve ever wondered about the amount of precious metals inside a catalytic converter, you’re in the right place. Core Masters is a leading buyer of catalytic converters in the Denver metro area, offering you the best prices in the city. 

What Metals Are Inside a Catalytic Converter

Catalytic converters are packed with precious metals that play vital roles in the conversion process. These precious metals within the catalytic converter belong to the noble metals group within the periodic table of elements. Noble metals have several characteristics that make them unique amongst other metals. 

They are resistant to corrosion, are found in nature in their raw form, and most of them are catalysts, meaning they quicken the rate of a chemical reaction while maintaining their original chemical composition. In a catalytic converter, noble metals act to convert toxic fumes from the engine into other substances that are not harmful to people or the environment. You can think of it as a sort of filter, except that instead of trapping harmful chemicals, it turns them into non-pollutants. The three noble metals used in catalytics are as follows: 


Platinum is one of the primary metals found in catalytic converters. Its high melting point and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for this purpose. It’s used in both diesel and gasoline engines to break down harmful emissions.


Another essential metal in the catalytic converter’s composition is palladium. It is particularly useful in gasoline engines, where it aids in converting harmful gases into harmless steam, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.


Rhodium is the rarest and most valuable of the three metals. Its scarcity and efficiency in reducing nitrogen oxides make it crucial in catalytic converters. Some high-fuel efficiency vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, have more rhodium, making their catalytic converters more valuable. 

How Much of Each Metal Is Inside a Catalytic Converter

One thing to note about noble metals is they’re exceedingly rare in nature. In fact, if all the platinum ever mined were to be collected, it would be able to fit in an average-sized living room, according to Visual Capitalist, a data-centric journalism outlet. Platinum is just one of three metals within a catalytic converter, though. It’s not even the rarest one, and the other two are found in smaller quantities in catalytic converters. 

Actual amounts vary by manufacturer, so you’ll have to look up your vehicle’s catalytic converter to get an exact answer. Also worth noting is not all catalytic converters are the same. Essentially, there are two types of converters: metal (foil) and ceramic. Ceramic converters typically have more precious metals than metal ones, making them more lucrative. Regardless, neither has enough precious metals within to add up to an ounce.

According to Waste Advantage Magazine, a typical catalytic converter might contain:

  • Platinum: 3-7 grams
  • Palladium: 2-7 grams
  • Rhodium: 1-2 grams

Catalytic Converter Sell Prices Are Volatile 

The price of precious metals is always going up and down, so if you’re looking for an exact figure, it’s best to check in with metal pricing sites to get the most up-to-date pricing. As an example, take a look at Rhodium, which has sold for as high as $488 and as low as $128 per gram in the last year. 

The market can be volatile. If one mine somewhere in the world stops producing, it can cause a sudden shortage that leads to prices that spiral out of control. This makes it difficult to find out how much you can get for your catalytic converter, as the buyer will base their offer on the price of precious metals that day. Price ranges can vary wildly from one manufacturer to another, and even from one vehicle to another from the same manufacturer. For example, J.D. Power claims a catalytic converter for a Toyota can sell for anywhere from $75 to $700. 

Get Paid in Cash for Your Catalytic Converter With Core Masters

Catalytic converters are more than mere automotive components; they’re small treasure chests filled with platinum, palladium, and rhodium. These metals not only play an essential role in reducing harmful emissions but also contribute to the converter’s high market value. If you have a catalytic converter that you’d like to sell, you can check its value based on the information provided above. If you’re ready to sell your converter, come down to our shop in Denver or contact us to learn more about pricing for your catalytic converter. For the most accurate pricing over the phone, it helps to have your vehicle’s make and model information ready. We specialize in buying various types of catalytic converters, and we’ll offer you a competitive price tailored to your specific model.