So over the past few months, we have seen ads in various car selling as well as general buying and selling groups. The ads are made by people who say they are buying catalytic converters from ex-Japanese vehicles. There have also been stories about motorists who respond to these ads only to discover that the last mechanic who they had entrusted with fixing their car might have stolen their catalytic convertors.

Here is one such advert

What are catalytic converters

Catalytic converters are devices installed in cars in order to reduce carbon emmissions. In coutries where there are a lot of cars fumes can be a problem and to prevent that there are strict emission rules. That usually results in car makers installing these converters in order to comply with the law.

The Zimbabwean government does not really enforce car emission laws leaving many motorists to feel like they can make a quick buck. EMA has made some noises in the past but no one is really paying attention enough to inspect your car to make sure that you have not sold your catalytic converter. Which is a real shame if you ask me.

Losing your converter does not really impact your car’s performance or fuel consumption so what’s the downside? Well pollution and emissions. The world is reeling from the effects of global warming right now and Zimbabwe has not been spared. Even though you probably not having a converter won’t hurt you personally as a responsible citizen you should have one anyway. US$50 is not worth destroying the planet on which your offspring will live in torrid conditions due to emissions.

Why are these people buying catalytic converters?

So a lot of people have peddled various theories as to why dealers are busy buying catalytic converters with some even equating it to the old charcoal iron hoax that used to do rounds during the last decade. One online blog even claimed there was a link with drugs.

All of this is nonsense. The simple truth is that in order to work these converters make use of rare precious metals that are valuable in their own right. Typically petrol cars have catalytic converters that contain platinum, rhodium and palladium also known as platinum group metals or PGMs. Diesel powered vehicles have converters that usually contain platinum and rhodium. Note that the exact metals contained in there differ depending on the exact model of your car.

So how much is the converter in your car worth? Well it depends on the age of your car. Older cars tended to use more minerals in their converters which makes them worth more. The value of the converter ranges from US$100 to up to US$1 000 or even more. Ex-Jap vehicles are considered old in that regard as they are usually from prior to 2010. So when that guy calls and comes to you and sees your ex-Jap they are actually salivating at all that profit they are going to make at your expense and the expense of the environment.

This being Zimbabwe where businesses like to make 200%+ profit this should not suprise anyone. If a Zimbabwean business person is paying well then they are making a killing. Paying fair is not their thing. You shouldn’t be swindled. In my book those converters are priceless and you shouldn’t sell them for the sake of our environment but if you are being evil at least be smart about it and get a fair price.