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How to recycle a scrap catalytic converter

Updated July 20, 2017

Catalytic converters are used on automobiles to control exhaust emissions. Inside each converter are catalysts such as platinum, rhodium and palladium, which are used because of their ability to resist heat. These precious metals make converters valuable for recycling.

Converters come in various sizes and shapes and contain different amounts of platinum, rhodium or palladium.

Remove the converter from the automobile using a reciprocating saw, with a metal cutting blade, or a wrench. A wrench can be used if the exhaust system isn't rusted. Generally a few sprays of lubricant such as WD-40 will allow for easy removal of the bolts. If you are using a saw, be sure to wear protective glasses to protect your eyes from metal shards. Position the saw approximately 3 inches from the converter and cut. Repeat this on the other side.

Remove as much of the still-attached exhaust pipe from the converter as you can once you have cut it from the car. The use of a vice grip will assist with holding it steady, allowing for an even cut. Although most scrap yards will accept converters with the extra pipe, some will not. The heat shield doesn't have to be removed.

Don't remove the honeycomb or the beads inside the catalytic converter. This is where the precious metals are located and what makes the converter so valuable.

Locate a scrap or salvage yard that is local to you. Look in your local phone book or use the Internet yellow pages to find a metal recycling business. Recycling centres can be listed several different ways. Search for metal recycling, metal scrap yard and salvage companies.

As of 2010, prices can range from £6 to £130 per converter. The amount you will receive depends on the type and size of the catalytic converter, with exotic cars bringing in the most cash.

Tip

If you have a converter that contains platinum pellets, be careful not to damage it when handling, as it could compromise the pellets coated with precious metal inside.

Warning

If you are not mechanically inclined, have a repair shop remove your converter. Most repair shops will not just remove the converter unless they are replacing it. Tampering with emissions controls is a federal felony offence. It is a federal crime punishable by hefty fines and jail time to remove your converter and not replace it. It is also illegal to install converter replacement pipes.

Things You'll Need

  • Reciprocating saw
  • Socket set
  • Wrench
  • Protective goggles
  • Vice
  • Phone book or Internet access
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About the Author

Robin Cochran has been writing since 1995. Her articles have appeared on national websites and in equine magazines such as "Horsing Around." Cochran has over 30 years of equine experience training hunters/jumpers and dressage horses. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in psychology and will attend law school for her Juris Doctor degree.