to the U-Pull…
One thing that
I often recommend is to go to the U-pull yard for parts. But I have
found people often have an aversion to junkyards. Bad experiences
Ive found to be rare. Ive had far more good ones. There
are many benefits and myths about junkyards and I hope to touch
on most of them. (I will use junk and salvage interchangeably, I
know junk offends some proprietors, but I think it should
One thing Ive
found is that people are afraid to go to a junkyard. Junkyards are
often located in industrial areas or in bad part of town or in some
other place where they can exist. This is just the nature of the
society we live in. It hates junk, but given the number of shows
about junk on TV today the junker undercurrent must
be far stronger than I ever expected it to be. I suppose Fred Sanford
said it right, Its a world full of junk. But I
digress. Because of this people think junkyards are full of unsavory
people. Ive found the opposite to be true. By and large Ive
found salvage yards to be very friendly places. If there are unsavory
people, they are then on their best behavior at the yard. Most people
will help each other (within reason, dont ask someone to spend
an afternoon helping you pull an engine) in self service yard as
well Ive run into them. One yard, the first
I ever visited, had been in business since they were neighbors to
my great grandfathers business back in the 1930s. They were
a full service yard and really had no desire to sell me the part
I needed. I sometimes think they might have become a front for some
other not so legal operations over the years as well. Both because
of their unfriendly counter manner but old family stories. They
have since been bought out by an insurance yard, no longer open
to the public. But in most cases Ive found junkyard staff
to be friendly so long as you, as a customer, know the rules. But
what are the rules
First, no cash
refunds. No yard I know has cash refunds. Only store credit. If
you get the wrong part it doesnt work theyll give you
a credit. Ive had this happen. Got a credit, used it. Never
had a problem that way. Whats in the lot? Self serve yards
do not keep track for the customer. Not even by make and model.
Thats just the way it is. The first yard that innovates here
will probably get some extra business, but part of the self serve
is that its a hunt. Full serve is on-line. Go to car-part.com
and find the part you want anywhere in the US or Canada. The way
to deal with this is to go when you have parts for a variety of
cars on your list. Youre more likely to find one this way.
go to the self serve looking for things for your 5 year old car
(unless you can use the same parts from a 12 year old version of
it). Junk yards keep the most recent model years in their full serve
businesses where they can get maximum profit. If a car is ten years
old or more and a domestic then youll have decent chances
in the self serve. Imports, more like 12-15 years. Popular cars
like Mustangs, expect them to be mostly stripped before they got
to the yard or because someone got to them before you. Know your
interchange. In my most recent trip I took the part I needed for
my Mustang from a Cougar. I came prepared with the Ford part numbers
I was looking for and found a match on the same year cougar.
Yes. Many self serves charge $1-2 admission. I am not sure why.
Its trivial if you find what you are looking for, it stings
if you dont. Its their rules. If you can find one that
doesnt go there instead if you dont want to gamble with
$2. Understanding these things and the price list will prevent problems.
There is also
some junkyard etiquette, but it is simple. First, behave yourself.
Most everyone understands this. The one some people dont understand
Do not destroy parts you dont want. Someone might
be looking for that. Ive found the part I wanted or could
use destroyed too many times because someone busted it to get to
another part. Thats about it.
allowed at some yards some of the time. If its a special day,
forget it. Theyve already reduced pricing. Ive had some
luck by when parts were more than I expected (largely because I
found more than I expected) I asked if they took a credit cards.
He came down in price to make it a cash sale. If its an old
time yard where you had to go back into the weeds and its
been run by the same guy for the last 50 years, haggle. Its
part of the business. Be willing to put the part back where you
Now the benefits
of going to the self serve junkyard.
benefit is price. Self serve yards sell parts by what they are,
not what they came out of. There is no premium for hard to find
parts. An alternator is an alternator. A side window is a side window.
My recent trip yielded me a Ford service intake manifold with the
aluminum cross over for my 97 Mustang, price list for a plastic
manifold, $25. But I went on half price tuesday, more on that later.
This part is now essentially very hard to find new. Dealers want
$500 or more for it, which is why my mustang currently wears an
If you can swing it, you can really save by going on the day of
week business is slow. Self serve yards often have days where prices
are reduced or there are various other specials. Yards in my area
usually have once or twice a year events where it is all-you-can-carry
for a set price. These are fun days just to watch people at the
yard. See someone do a Philo Beddoe and carry an entire engine across
the line to get it for $40. Ok, its usually two people, and
the charge doubles for that. I have occasionally scored well at
all-you can carry days. I have an inventory of spare parts for my
Maverick from all you can carry days. I even got a set of disc brake
spindles off a Monarch on one such day.
parts is what is really great about the self-serve. Ive learned
over the years that the yards have absolutely no concern for small
items like fasteners and such. Things that dont even make
it to their price list. I keep every fastener I remove from parts
I buy. Theyve come in handy many times. Sometimes I put them
in my tool case/box/bag but mostly I just thread them into the holes
they came out of and put them on the counter with the part. Ive
never been charged for them.
a big benefit. In pulling the part from the junkyard car, youve
just learned how to do it on your car. Youve learned the hard
parts and if you accidentally broke something, it didnt cost
find the right thing for your project. Looking to modify or customize
a car? Theres a yard full to look to see what has something
you can use. Measure to your hearts content.
well there arent many. Some yards are disorganized. Others
stack the cars or let them sit in the mud. These are yards of last
resort. All of them I have never been back to a second a time. Just
not worth it. The good yards sort the cars and put them up on jackstands
made of old steel wheels or at least have them sit on their wheels
on solid ground. Ground that has been compacted and covered with
gravel. Working out in the weather
this can be bad if you
have to go in bad weather. There isnt anything else I can
think of here.
Oh, I did forget
one last thing
By going to the junk yard you are now greener
than most self identified environmentalists. The junkyard is a place
where nearly everything gets recycled, much of it for full value.
Not just the material, the entire part goes back into service. The
junk yard, the place attacked from so many directions is and will
continue to be one of the greenest businesses around.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
© 2011 Eric Peters
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