Why are Catalytic Converters Valuable, and What Metals Do They Contain?

Why are Catalytic Converters Valuable, and What Metals Do They Contain?

Catalytic converters are valuable because they contain three precious metals: platinum, palladium, and rhodium. All three belong to platinum group metals (PGMs) and contain similar chemical and physical properties. But how catalytic converter price determined?

Why Do We Use Catalytic Converters?

To help you understand why catalytic converter value changes often, let’s look at how converters work.

Catalytic converters create a chemical reaction that changes harmful emissions into less damaging pollutants. Platinum, palladium, and rhodium are the catalysts in a converter that allow it to transform carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides into less harmful gases. The importance of PGMs to this process is why vehicle and converter manufacturers represent the bulk of PGM buyers.

Why Are PGMs Valuable?

Catalytic converter price is determined by the PGMs extracted from the core. Once the refined metals are ready, they are sold on the metal market.

Platinum group metals are valuable because of their many uses in the automotive, medical, electronic, and manufacturing industries. When buyers acquire platinum, palladium, and rhodium on the metal market, they’re continuing the lifecycle of the precious metals they purchased.

But which metals are the most sought after? Which are more valuable? And which ones are responsible for variations in catalytic converter price?

Platinum & Palladium

Platinum and palladium have many uses, including in medical tools, appliances, electrical manufacturing, and jewelry fabrication. All these uses mean that platinum and palladium are highly sought after by buyers. Because of the demand for these precious metals, their prices fluctuate constantly. But because they make up the bulk of PGM loadings in converters, the supply always remains steady.


Eighty percent of all rhodium in circulation is used in the auto industry, while the remainder is used to reduce harmful fossil fuel emissions in the industrial sector.

Because rhodium is one of Earth’s rarest metals, it isn’t bought and sold on open exchanges. Instead, prices are determined directly between producers and buyers.

Since buyers and sellers of rhodium interact directly, rhodium is the most expensive of the three PGMs in a catalytic converter.

Catalytic Converter Price is Related to the PGM Market

Because catalytic converters contain all three metals, the value of any unit fluctuates constantly with the market. Changes in the market are a reflection of supply, demand, and speculation. That’s why it’s important to always have an eye on the market.

On PMR’s website, we publish platinum, palladium, and rhodium prices with updates every minute. That way, you’re always sure you’re getting the best price.

Did you enjoy this article? Visit PMR’s Resource Center to learn more.

Published: May 9, 2022
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