Where & How To Sell Old Catalytic Converter | Complete Guide

Internal combustion engines generate exhaust gases that cause environmental and health hazards if released unfiltered and unprocessed into the atmosphere. This is where the catalytic converter comes in. These harmful gases are converted into less toxic pollutants before they exit using precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium as catalysts.

These metals are expensive. A catalytic converter that has outlived its usefulness, whether by malfunctioning or being part of a car prepared to be sold off, is often disposed of as scrap for a price far below its actual worth. Not only does the owner incur a monetary loss, but the buyer can sell these expensive car parts for a later profit.

Thus, it is imperative to understand how and where you can properly sell a catalytic converter. Operations such as junk yards, scrap yards, and online buyers will buy catalytic converters for varying prices. Scrap yards and online buyers are the recommended place for selling a converter, as they understand the value of the precious metals in the component and will pay more for it.

Using the Serial Number to Determine Model

Source: ebayimg

You need to know the brand, model, and year of the vehicle for which the catalytic converter was designed before you can sell it. This puts the seller in a stronger position to negotiate and choose when to accept a reasonable offer.

Serial numbers are engraved or embossed on catalytic converters before they’re placed on a vehicle as it’s being manufactured. These numbers provide information that helps determine the vehicle’s make, model, and year.

The number on the catalytic converter can be the determining factor for how much it’s worth. The converter will have this number, albeit it may be difficult to read due to corrosion or grime. Wipe off with a damp paper towel in case of grime and steel wook for corrosion.

In the absence of a serial number, an expert often tell by the converter’s honeycomb screen from what car it came. Most precious metals of the converter are located in this very honeycomb. Do not remove it, even when looking for the serial number. Without the honeycomb, the converter is barely worth anything, and many buyers will not even entertain the idea of buying it.

Note: The catalytic converter isn’t usually a top concern for junkyards, so they may not always ask for the number. Salvage yards focus on getting junk vehicles for the lowest possible cost. They lose out if the vendor is aware of the value of their catalytic converter. A less informed seller in this situation is better for their business.

Variation In Prices

The price of a catalytic converter can vary depending on the make and model of the car from which it was removed. When the price of rhodium and palladium climbs, so does the cost of a catalytic converter, which is why these components are so expensive.

Larger catalytic converters are more expensive because they are required for larger engines. There is a big difference between the converter value of a Ford F-250 and a tiny four-door sedan. Catalytic converters on compact hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius are particularly important since their low-emissions design necessitates a higher concentration of palladium, rhodium, and platinum.

Catalytic converters typically have a scrap value between $300 and $1500. Thieves can earn a fast hundred dollars off the converter, but the owner has the potential to make several hundred dollars if they put in the time and effort.

Theft and the Law

The fact that thieves are willing to make fast money from stolen catalytic converters (worth only $150–250) has led to a 325% increase in such thefts between 2019 and 2020. This has led to stricter regulations on the purchase and sale of catalytic converters in some areas, which has reduced criminality but has not eliminated it.

Some municipalities have enacted legislation in response to the increasing frequency with which catalytic converters are stolen. Even when the rightful owner of the part is seeking to sell it in an honest transaction, this can complicate the buying and selling process.

Source: ktsm | Las Cruces Police Department

Several cities have a multi-step process for selling a catalytic converter. Driver’s license copy, numerous signatures, fingerprints, proof of ownership, and a detailed description of the vehicle from which the catalytic converter was removed are all necessary. The idea is that criminals won’t be able to sell a stolen catalytic converter for a profit because they won’t have access to the necessary documentation.

The metal recycler must also photograph the serial number and all other visible areas of the converter. If the converter goes missing, the respective police departments will need these images uploaded to their online investigative database as soon as possible.

Used catalytic converters cannot be sold from a salvage or junk yard and put back into vehicles without being tested and labeled per EPA regulations. It is illegal for the yard to sell and install a used unit that has not been tested. If the catalytic converter does not adhere to the standards outlined by the Clean Air Act’s policy, the car junkyard would be held accountable for any tampering.

Simple Steps to Selling an Old Catalytic Converter

  • Prepare it: Remove excessive pipes for easier shipping.
  • Get a Quote: Contact the buyer for an accurate price you can expect to be paid based on serial numbers or pictures. Bring it to a local scrapyard for a quote if that is where you are selling.
  • Ship It Out: This is optional. Package with enough material so it does not shift during shipping.
  • Get Paid For It: This happens once your buyer has received the package and confirms the value.

Who can you sell to?


A junkyard is a common dumping ground for unwanted or broken objects such as cars, appliances, furniture, and building materials. Items can be recycled on a case-by-case basis. The primary goal of junkyards is to buy cars for a low price to salvage usable components, such as engines, transmissions, and other parts that other people may need to repair or upgrade their own vehicles.

Source: scrapmetalremovalpittsburgh

Yet, a catalytic converter is often undervalued in a junkyard. They are not experts in precious metals found in converters. They often lack the equipment necessary to test and label a catalytic converter for resale, so the only way they can earn money off of one is to scrap it for metal.

The steps for selling a used catalytic converter to a junkyard are simple, but finding a buyer who offers the right price may take time.

  • Locate local junkyards using an online search.
  • Call the top options and request a quote.
  • Choose the top contender and take the catalytic converter to them.
  • Receive cash for the converter.

Auto Salvage Yard

Auto salvage yards invest in used cars so that every usable part can be reused or recycled. They are convenient if you want to sell your used automobile for cash but not the ideal solution if you have a catalytic converter. They have enormous operating costs and can profit only by offering very little in the way of cash.

Source: southernmetalscompany


The sale of metal to the general public isn’t always the goal of scrap yards. They purchase scrap metal, such as car frames, and then sell it to recycling facilities, where it will be melted down and used again. Metal is shredded by industrial machinery and then separated into ferrous and non-ferrous categories.

Source: recyclingspecialties

Scrap yards are preferable to junk yards for selling a scrap catalytic converter. Workers here are more likely to appreciate the worth of the rare metals in the scrap catalytic converter since they know the latest trends in the metal market. Similar to a car junkyard, scrap yards rely on cheap parts and scrap metal to turn a profit.

Scrap yards must factor the cost of metal extraction into their converter pricing. This increases their operating costs and is incorporated into their final offer to the seller. A scrap yard may be a metal expert, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing with the precious metals in the converter. When this happens, it’s to the seller’s advantage to get price quotes from different yards.

Selling a scrap catalytic converter to a scrap yard may take time and patience. Negotiations may be needed to get the best price. Nevertheless, you can always keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Research the current market value of rhodium and palladium.
  • Locate scrapyards in the local area.
  • Give the serial number to the scrapyard.
  • Accept the quote if the value offered is fair; negotiate higher if not.
  • Bring the catalytic converter to the yard and receive the payment.

Note: Many junkyards, salvage yards, and scrap yards may be within easy driving distance of your current location. Those who live in more remote areas may need to drive to the yard. To avoid a wasted journey and to be sure they will pay you a reasonable cash price for your catalytic converter, it is always advisable to phone ahead.

Sell Online

To get the most money for your used catalytic converter, you should sell it online. They have lower operating costs than a typical scrap or junkyard. Catalytic converters require a sophisticated understanding of rare metals like rhodium, palladium, and platinum, and sellers can find such purchasers on the Internet.

These buyers have a refined extraction process and have a wide range of buyers. They will ask for the serial number and photos of the converter, though they can work around a missing serial number if needed.

Not all catalytic converters, such as those on an expensive Ferrari or a diesel-guzzling truck, are worth thousands. Online buyers can pay a fair price for converters of various makes and models, from sedans to hybrids and SUVs.

This may be the most convenient choice for people who don’t have easy access to a scrap yard and would want to do their business entirely online. Selling online is a more involved process than a local scrap yard or auto salvage yard, but it will also draw the most cash value for the catalytic converter.

Keep the following in mind when opting to sell online:

  • Find the serial number.
  • Complete an online search.
  • Take clear photographs and request quotes from several buyers.
  • Choose the buyer who offers the best price.
  • Receive a payout and follow the shipping instructions.

Which Option Pays More?

  • If you’re scrapping your entire car, a junkyard will offer the best price. They can profit by taking apart the engine and reselling the individual parts for a high price.
  • If you sell a catalytic converter removed from a vehicle, a scrapyard is the best local option.
  • For those who have the patience and want the best price for their converter, online buyers can pay the most in most scenarios. Due to online operations, they have less operating costs. Some may operate yards in more than one state; the Internet gives them access to buyers and dealers of catalytic converters and other parts in all 50 states.
  • If selling online seems like a hassle and shipping costs are not something you want to deal with, scrap yards are the next best option. Often multiple scrap yards are within a locality, especially around metropolitan areas.


How do I find buyers?

Finding a reliable buyer for a catalytic converter may take some time. If you choose the first offer you get, you might be passing up more lucrative alternatives. Setting aside time to read reviews, make calls, and compare prices can be beneficial.

When selling a catalytic converter, there are many options available. It can depend on whether the converter is attached to a trash car, has been taken out, or has been badly damaged and is no longer functional.

Do they buy bad converters?

Because of the high value of the metals in broken catalytic converters, many scrap yards and junkyards will purchase them. Not all junkyards or scrap yards will accept defective catalytic converters. Your best bet when selling a damaged catalytic converter is to find a reliable vendor.

Is it ok to sell it online?

Although it’s a novel idea, selling catalytic converters online has quickly gained popularity nationwide. The sellers believe that this provides them with more options. You may get rid of junk and get the converter out the door faster by using old cardboard boxes from deliveries or old moving boxes.

How do I know I can trust the party I’m selling to?

Verifying the validity of the company is an essential part of this process. To avoid being scammed, research the company’s reputation online and make sure they operate legally. Inquire about the company’s policies, particularly those about payment. Take pictures and videos of the entire procedure.

Should owners recycle their own catalytic converters?

No one should try to salvage metal from a catalytic converter’s honeycomb structure to recycle it on their own. This is a risky endeavor that calls for special equipment and protective clothing. Sell converters to recycling centers that have perfected the extraction process.

Around 3-7 grams of platinum and 2-7 grams of palladium are typically found in a catalytic converter. Only one or two grams of the rarest and most expensive metal, rhodium, are present. Experts should be entrusted with the task because recycling these few grams of precious metal from a single converter would take too long.

What if I want to buy a catalytic converter?

New catalytic converters can be found at any auto shop. They can order a replacement and have it in a timely manner if they don’t have one in stock that fits a particular vehicle. In most cases, a mechanic will be needed to install the converter. Dealerships can also place an order, though they will be more expensive.

Reuse of used catalytic converters has been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Those who have had a converter stolen will likely have to follow the new procedure to obtain a legitimate replacement. The labor and parts cost can be high, typically between $1000 and $2500.


Selling a catalytic converter is a vital decision that needs to be well thought out and done after all options of possible vendors have been considered. Remember never to take any deal at face value. Negotiate your terms and be clear about what you are looking for so as not to get scammed.

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