automakers reported a 14.2 percent sales increase in January from a year earlier, with a seasonally adjusted annualised rate of sales reaching 15.29 million vehicles.
The metals are widely used in auto catalysts to clean up exhaust emissions.
Momentum picked up when major producer Amplats revealed a significant full-year loss on Monday. The company has cut its output target to 2.1-2.3 million ounces a year and has slashed capital expenditure by 11 billion rand ($1.2 billion). It plans to cut capex by 25 percent over the next decade to 100 billion rand.
Spot platinum rose as much as 1.5 percent to $1,705.25, its highest in four months, and was last seen at $1,695.24, up 0.9 percent.
Spot palladium gained as much as 0.7 percent to $759.75, its loftiest level since September 2011, before easing back to $751.50 an ounce, down 0.5 percent.
Platinum has outperformed the rest of the complex with a nearly 11 percent gain so far this year, followed by a 9 percent rise in palladium. Gold is down 0.3 percent - the only precious metal in the red after a 12-year winning streak.
The Commitments of Traders data for the week ended Jan. 29 showed platinum net long positions rising by 171,150 ounces to 2.72 million ounces and palladium net long positions up by 357,500 ounces to 2.6 million ounces.
"Palladium net long positions continue to reach new highs, running the risk of a pullback," HSBC said in a note.
Silver fell 0.8 percent to $31.56 an ounce.