Scrapyard Treasure Hunting

Where to Find Precious Metals in Your Local Junkyard

Where can you find platinum scrap, gold, and other precious metals in your local automotive scrapyard? Here’s a guide.


Car catalytic converters are the pieces to grab. Each of them contains a few ounces of platinum and if you can collect 500 of them or more and send them to us for recycling, you will receive prompt payment. It takes a bit of work to crawl under cars and use a rechargeable cutoff tool to remove them. But if you’re lucky, you might find a junkyard that already has a pile of them waiting to be recycled. If you strike a deal and buy them cheap, you could make some money recycling them.

Jumbo catalytic converters, bigger than those used on cars, are another item to look for. You’ll find them on school buses, other buses, and trucks that include semis. They typically contain about twice the amount of platinum that you’ll find in a typical catalytic converter that you pull out of a car.

Air conditioners and kitchen stoves. You can find platinum in the thermocouple wires that are inside these units. Thermocouples are long wires that are used to remotely monitor and measure temperatures. Not all thermocouples contain platinum, but some do. If you can extract them and send them to us for testing, you could be looking at a nice profit. One hint? Use a pair of pliers or a small crescent wrench to extract thermocouples by unscrewing and keeping the nuts that secure them at either end; if you snip out only the wire portion, you could be leaving behind a small amount of platinum.


You won’t find an awful lot of gold in scrapped cars. But you can find enough to recycle profitably if you concentrate on extracting electronic components from cars - the printed circuit boards that are found in onboard computers, antilock braking control units, and even radios and audio components. They contain gold in their contact points. The more you collect, the more money you could stand to make. Start collecting them and then call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to talk to one of our precious metals consultants.

Unusual Windfalls in Scrapyards

We recently heard a story about a scrapped car that contained an usually large amount of gold and silver. It was a big Oldsmobile that must have belonged to a drug dealer or another individual who really liked to travel in style. Pieces of trim - the grille, nerf bars and interior and exterior door handles - had been thinly plated in gold. Plus, various knobs inside the car were made of sterling silver.

The man who made this discovery reported that by the time he got to the junkyard, the gold-plated pieces had already been removed. But that Oldsmobile makes you think that if you keep your eyes open, you could discover some treasures hiding in scrapyards.

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