Blog Car Care Advice How Much Platinum is in a Catalytic Converter? (+What It’s For)
Car Care Advice

How Much Platinum is in a Catalytic Converter? (+What It’s For)

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The number of cars on the road is on the increase. 
Since more cars = more exhaust emissions, what does this mean for our environment? 

Fret not; every vehicle has a functioning catalytic converter that uses PGMs, including platinum, to reduce the emission of harmful pollutants.

But what are these PGMs, and how much platinum is in an average catalytic converter? 

In this article, we’ll discuss how much platinum is in a catalytic converter, how much the platinum is worth, why platinum is used in catalytic converters, and answer some important frequently asked questions

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Let’s get started. 

How Much Platinum Is In A Catalytic Converter?

A standard catalytic converter contains about 3 – 7 grams (0.106 – 0.247 ounces) of platinum. 

The amount usually depends on your vehicle’s make, model, and year, which is why some cars have a relatively low amount of platinum while others may have double the usual amount. 

For example, the Toyota Prius (2016) contains a higher amount of platinum, and has extremely low emissions. Aside from the Toyota Prius, other cars also have a significant amount of platinum, resulting in an expensive catalytic converter. Namely, the Ford F250, Ferrari F430, Lamborghini Aventador, and Ford Mustang.  

Now that we know the amount of platinum in your catalytic converter or ‘cat,’ let’s find out how much it’s worth. 

How Much Is The Platinum In A Catalytic Converter Worth

The average catalytic converter has 3 to 7 grams of platinum worth about $100 – $237. Platinum is more valuable than gold, silver, and even palladium and is a good target for thieves.

As of 2022, the platinum price is $997 per ounce and $32.18 per gram. Keep in mind the platinum price constantly fluctuates. 

Some cars have higher amounts of platinum and precious metals, making them ideal targets for cat converter thieves. Always ensure you protect your vehicle against catalytic converter theft. 

Tip: If you have a scrapped ‘cat,’ you can check its worth with your local scrap metal dealer.

You may wonder why CATs use platinum if it’s so expensive. 
Why not just use a cheaper substitute? 

Well, let’s find out why platinum works so well. 

Why Do Catalytic Converters Use Platinum?

Pure platinum is good at being an oxidation catalyst. A standard catalytic converter has two chambers through which harmful exhaust gas flows. 

The first chamber houses the reduction catalyst for harmful gasses and contains platinum + rhodium. The reduction catalyst splits the harmful gas nitrogen oxide (NO) into harmless nitrogen and oxygen particles. 

In the second chamber, platinum and palladium act as an oxidation catalyst.

The second chamber deals with harmful substances like carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbons. It turns the CO into less harmful gasses like carbon dioxide (CO2), or nitrogen (N), and water vapor (H2O) which then exits your exhaust pipe.

Here’s why platinum has several advantages over the other catalysts:

Now that we know why we use platinum in automotive catalysts, and why we use these expensive catalytic converter materials, let’s address some burning questions. 

3 FAQs On Platinum And Catalytic Converters

Hopefully, your mind will be at ease after reading through the following answers to some of your catalytic converter related questions:

1. What Are Platinum Group Metals (PGMs)? 

PGMs consists of six metal elements that are chemically and structurally similar. Platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, and osmium are all classified as a platinum group metal. 

PGMs are used in various demanding applications because they have high durability, longer life cycles, and can speed up a chemical reaction. They’re used in automotive catalytic converters to eliminate harmful emissions like nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, or hydrocarbons from unburnt fuel.

Platinum, in particular, is a highly unreactive, silverish-white, precious metal that effectively reduces harmful emissions from gasoline and diesel engines.

The platinum group metal—palladium, is also found in modern catalytic converters. However, it’s less active than platinum and costs less. That’s why it’s a popular choice for mass-produced cars. 

On the other hand, rhodium has the highest resistance to poisoning, which is why it’s useful for specific engine applications. Diesel catalytic converters usually only use rhodium and platinum. 

Fun Fact: You’ll find the largest platinum reserves in South African mines. In fact, 95% of the world’s supply supposedly comes from Africa. 

2. Can I Recycle My Catalytic Converter?

You can recover nearly all of the pure platinum in the catalyst pieces of your scrap catalytic converter during recycling. 

Recycling is less expensive than ore production and is a meaningful way to conserve precious metals from spent catalytic converters.

The recycling process for platinum is called “smelting.” During this process, the scrap catalytic converter is heated to a high temperature, separating the valuable metal pieces from the other materials. The derived metals are then reused for new catalytic converters or other items. 

3. How Can I Protect My Catalytic Converter From Theft? 

Catalytic replacement can cost several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the model. Taking extra precautions on your vehicle can help avoid catalytic converter theft. 

Here are some of the precautions you can take: 

4. What Are Diesel Catalytic Converters? 

There are generally three types of automotive catalysts. They all work using the precious metal platinum to prevent harmful pollutants from leaving your car’s exhaust gas. 

The diesel catalytic converter is one of the three, and is situated closer to the engine; whereas gasoline-powered automotive catalytic converters are closer to the end of your exhaust system. 

A diesel catalytic converter usually contains a two-way converter with a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC). The same chemical reaction happens in the honey-combed structure lined with valuable metal, which takes in harmful substances and gives a less harmful gas (carbon dioxide) and water vapor.

Wrapping Up

You now know exactly how much platinum your catalytic converter has and why platinum is the best choice. Since it’s so expensive, you should always protect your car’s ‘cat’ against theft.

That said, modern catalytic converters are costly to replace; therefore, always use professional mechanics like AutoNation Mobile Service for your CAT and other automobile repairs and maintenance. 

AutoNation Mobile Service’s mobile mechanics bring the repairs to you! 
All our repairs come with a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty, and our easy online booking makes it effortless to request our services. Reach out today for quality service, available seven days a week.