Is Finding Parts at a Junkyard Even Worth Your Time?

When you think of a junkyard, the image you see probably does not seem so appealing when you are thinking about buying parts to put on your car. However, finding used parts is a fantastic way to save money on car repairs. Furthermore, if you have a rare car or a vintage car you want to restore, a junkyard might be the only place to find the parts. Of course, there are some times when buying junk parts is not the best solution. Luckily, we are here to guide you through the process. 

Why You Should Shop Used Parts

Aside from saving money, buying used car parts is helpful to the environment and you are supporting a local business when you buy from a junkyard. Salvage lots do an excellent service for the community by recycling parts and keeping abandoned vehicles from littering communities. In addition, responsible lots also dispose of dangerous chemicals properly, so they do not contaminate the groundwater. These are just a few of the reasons why you’re doing a good thing when you support your local salvage yard.

Types of Junkyards

Photo courtesy: Dave Herholz @ Flickr

For the most part, there are two types of junkyards – full service or self-service. It is essential to know which one you are using before you visit.

A self-service junkyard requires you to remove the parts yourself. They have a bunch of cars, and you go find the vehicle with the parts you need. The junkyard then charges you for the parts you take. 

A full-service salvage yard removes the parts for you. Some of these yards remove the parts when you request them. Other places process the vehicles when they come in by removing the usable parts and then offering them for sale. 

Keep in mind that some junkyards that offer full service options will also  allow you to pick your components to save some money.  Also, you’re getting parts from a self-service yard you have to bring your tools, know how to get to the part you need, and use elbow grease to remove it from the vehicle.

Lastly, a self-service option can be good for mechanics and people who know a lot about cars. However, if you lack experience or tools, trying to remove portions to get to what you need is dangerous and time-consuming. 

Parts You Should Consider Buying From a Junkyard

Buying certain parts used might save you a lot of money. However, other used parts do not cost much less than new parts. When this is the case, it is often better to buy new ones. 

Some of the parts you might consider buying at the junkyard are body parts like doors, bumpers, hoods, fenders, and mirrors. Additionally, if you are looking for parts for a late model vehicle, you might find near new pieces on a totaled vehicle at a junkyard that are in excellent condition. Other popular parts to buy used are car stereos, speakers, rims, and interior components.

Parts You Should Never Buy at a Junkyard

Although buying from a junkyard is an excellent way to save money, there are times when you should not buy used parts. Some parts are more likely to be worn than others, and some are difficult to inspect for condition. Buying these as used parts can be a huge gamble. 

Belts, brake pads, and other items that wear quickly and are inexpensive to buy new are better to purchase new. Additionally, parts that are difficult to get to might not be worth the effort it takes to remove them. You also want to avoid parts with excessive rust and wear, as these parts are more likely to fail. 

If you are unsure what condition a component you need is in, stay away. It is better not to waste your resources on parts that you are not entirely sure will work. 

How to Find Parts at a Junkyard

Before you go to the junkyard, you need to know how to find parts at a junkyard and you will want to check to make sure they have what you need. To do this, you will need to use a website like car-parts.com or Pull-A-Part. These sites are nationwide databases of junkyards that you can search to find parts.

They also offer parts interchange guides where you can look for compatible parts from other vehicles. You can also call or check websites for local yards in your area to see what they have. Also, many sites allow you to signup for email alerts that notify you when the parts you need might be available. 

When you get a notification that the car parts you need are available, be sure to jump at the opportunity quickly.Other people are receiving the same information, and if you wait too long, the car might be there, but the parts you need might be gone.

Keep in mind, not all junkyards and databases are the same. Some give you better information about what parts they have available, while others inform you that they received a car that matches your search. Whether or not the parts you need are available or in usable condition is another story. 

Lastly, keep in mind that when you get a notification that the car parts you need are available, be sure to jump at the opportunity quickly. Other people are receiving the same information, and if you wait too long, the car might be there, but the parts you need might be gone.  

Saving Time and Money at the Junkyard

The best way to save time and money is to be sure of what you are purchasing. If you are new to the process, buying from a yard that offers more help will probably be your best bet. Some salvage yards even offer tested or warrantied parts. The cost for these parts is usually slightly higher but well worth the money for peace of mind. 

After you locate the parts you need, some mechanics might be willing to retrieve parts for you, especially if they are making the repairs. Having someone that is knowledgeable deal with the junkyard is smart when you are looking for parts that are more expensive or more difficult to source. 

Calling ahead right before you go is also a good idea. The workers are usually pretty knowledgeable about what is on the lot, or at least they know more about what is there than you do. They have seen the vehicles, so they know what condition they are in, and they might be able to give you a better idea of what is salvageable. 

What You Need To Know Before You Go

If you do not know what to look for, how to remove parts properly, or how to check the condition of used parts, bring someone with you who knows what they are doing.

Buying parts at the junkyard takes some preparation if you are going to pick them yourself. Before you go, you should practice by removing the damaged part on your vehicle. Then, you should bring the piece with you to the junkyard so you can compare the pieces. 

You will also need to know what tools you need to bring, so removing the part from your vehicle will help you make sure you have the proper equipment. When you head to the junkyard, organize your tools, so they are easy to find and bring something to keep them in, so you do not lose tools. You will also want to bring a flashlight with you to help you inspect parts and so you can see properly. 

If you are going to purchase interchangeable parts from a similar vehicle, keep in mind, you might need additional tools. So, it is essential to research before you go, so you know what you need. If you do not know what to look for, how to remove parts properly, or how to check the condition of used parts, bring someone with you who knows what they are doing.

What to Expect at the Junkyard

Visiting a junkyard is actually an enjoyable chore for many people. Often, it is like stepping back in time.

When you visit a junkyard for the first time, you might find it challenging to navigate your way around, but do not be afraid to ask for help. The staff will most likely be glad to point you in the correct direction. In addition, keep in mind that while you are there, use caution. Sharp rusty objects, nails, glass, and other hazards fill the lots. So, wearing gloves and sturdy closed-toe shoes is advisable to prevent injuries. 

Lastly, visiting a junkyard is actually an enjoyable chore for many people. Often, it is like stepping back in time. You might find things you have not seen in years and there will likely be cars there you forgot even existed. So, planning a little extra time gives you the opportunity to appreciate the experience. 

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