Platinum prices, catalytic converter thefts on the rise?

Platinum prices, catalytic converter thefts on the rise?

Platinum miners in South Africa went on strike toward the end of January. This situation half a world away could have real impact on the price, sales and safety of catalytic converters. Also, read how some resourceful shops are marketing services to guard against the rise in catalytic converter thefts.

News broke during production of the February issue of UnderHood Service that platinum miners in South Africa went on strike. This stoppage in platinum mining carries a butterfly effect potential for the U.S. aftermarket. 
 
Vehicles cannot meet today’s environmental standards without precious metals. Platinum is one of the key catalyzing, emissions-reducing elements within a catalytic converter. An average catalytic converter contains several hundred dollars worth of platinum, palladium and rhodium.
 
A butterfly effect in chaos theory refers to how a small change in one place can result in large differences down the road in a different time or distant place. A labor issue in another country is no small issue, but that situation half a world away could have real impact on the price, sales and safety of catalytic converters. 
Labor unrest background
According to reports, around 70,000 employees from the world’s three biggest platinum producers — Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin Platinum — are participating in the strike. The mines employing those 70,000 workers are said to contribute 70 to 80 percent of the world’s platinum. A strike of this size will mean a shortage of 9,000 ounces per day.    
 
As of press time, the government was attempting to mediate the labor dispute. For additional reading on the strike itself, head to The Wall Street Journal.
The price of platinum
Stoppages in production occurred at random times starting in November 2013, enough to drop production 5 percent from the previous year. This unrest, prior to the actual strike, already moved the platinum price needle. The metal’s price climbed about 12 percent in the previous month and six percent during a two-month period. 
Again, even without knowing how the strike plays out, estimates already show platinum prices to average $1,632/oz. in 2014 and $1,750/oz. in 2015. The price was sitting near $1,480/oz. at press time. In 2011, the post-financial-crisis price of platinum hit its peak of $1,901/oz. 
 
For additional reading on platinum stock and prices, head here.

The CatStrap

Converter theft deterrents
As the price of platinum goes on the rise, so to will the rate of catalytic converter thefts, especially for trucks and SUVs. 
 
The thefts are already hitting the news in Roseville, Calif. One inventive truck owner successfully thwarted a potential theft by welding a piece of metal rebar across his catalytic converter. Resourceful muffler shops in that area are said to be offering a rebar-welding service for a fee.
 
For the those without rebar or a welder, there are products on the market that offer similar protection:
 
• The CatStrap takes advantage of the built-in heat shields in most catalytic converters by routing the strap beneath the shield. If a thief attempts to saw free a catalytic converter, the CatStrap responds with a 125 decibel alarm and hardened steel pins that will actually melt the teeth of the saw blade.
 
• The CatClamp is installed by placing the split clamp assemblies in place before and after the converter. A cable is then routed through both split clamps and around or through the chassis and back through both split clamps.
 
Another potential converter crime prevention measure is etching a vehicle’s license plate number into the converter. The Sacramento Bee article about the rebar crime stopper noted that four automotive service shops in the Roseville, Calif., area offer free catalytic converter etchings by appointment. 
 
If catalytic converter thefts start to uptick and make the news in your area, you might consider brushing up on your etching skills or consider selling theft deterrent products. 

You May Also Like

MEYLE Expands Electronics, Sensor Product Portfolio

The focus is on assistance systems and engine and transmission management, with more than 300 new part numbers.

Hamburg-based manufacturer MEYLE announced it is expanding its portfolio of electronic and sensor spare parts by more than 300 references "to meet the demand from independent repair shops for high-quality and precisely fitting parts." The focus is on assistance systems and engine and transmission management, with more than 300 new part numbers in the pipeline, as well as the expansion of its product range specifically for electric vehicles, the company said.

Oxygen Sensor Heater Codes

An oxygen sensor code related to the heater circuit can be difficult to cure.

Catalytic Converter Replacement

Converters must be certified and labeled with the correct codes that are stamped into the shell.

Determining Catalytic Converter Efficiency

Tiny details can limit the life of a catalytic converter.

Stainless Steel Did Not Kill The Exhaust Repair

Direct fit parts can be used to make an effective repair quickly.

Other Posts

FCS Introduces 42 New Numbers in May

Complete strut assemblies, shock absorbers, shock absorber assembly kits and suspension struts for popular VIO applications are included.

Philips Ultinon Drive 5000 LED Lightbar Line Expands

Lumileds has expanded the Philips Ultinon Drive 5000 series to include eight models.

DMA Adds New BrakeMaster Coverage

New coverage for Ford and Chevy includes popular pickup trucks and SUVs.

Akebono Expands Severe Duty Disc Brake Pad Kits

Akebono said it expanded its severe-duty ultra-premium disc brake pad line by 14 new part numbers.