Sep 25

Five Easy Tips for Pulling Parts from a Junkyard

Scrrap Astro VanNot all parts are available at parts stores. Interior parts, clips, fasteners, lights and lenses can all be hard to source items. Maybe you lost a bracket or misplaced some bolts, or maybe you got upset because something wont come loose so you destroyed it in a fit of rage.


One option is to go to the dealer to get these parts new, but if you are in the poverty crew the cost of dealer parts is out of the question. So where then, you may ask, can I source these parts? The local junkyard!


You can find a junkyard or auto salvage in any area. Within 50 miles I can go to 4 different junkyards to find the parts I need, and for CHEAP! You can find a junkyard near you with a simple Google search: just throw in the term “junkyard” with your zip code or town, and you are sure to find some retired husks ready to surrender their parts to you.

There are normally two different types of junkyards. One is the You-Pull (Often titled U-Pull) type where you pay a small fee to enter, and it is up to you to find what you need, remove it from the vehicle, and pay for it at the counter. The seconds type is the salvage yard which will take in vehicles, store the parts in a large facility and have a computer look up service to sell right over the counter. Like a pharmacy for broke grease monkeys.


While being cheap and easy to access, the junkyard does have some drawbacks. First, if it is a You-Pull type of junkyard, you will be outside in the elements, on earth that is soaked with oil, coolant, and differential fluid sprinkled with shards of glass and steel. Second, often times you cannot return parts in the You-Pull scenario. Third, you are dealing with used parts, which potentially may be worn or not work at all once you get them home. With that in mind, there are ways to prepare yourself to traverse the twisted steel and still emerge with quality parts, money in your pocket, and no tetanus.


1. Know Exactly What You Need

I suggest removing the part you need to replace first, so you know what it involves when you find the donor vehicle. Remember, many vehicles have different trim levels so know what trim level your vehicle is! For example, a Honda Accord can come in many trim levels with varying engine choices, such as the LX, EX, EX V6, SE, etc. Parts are not always universal across all platforms.

2. Pack your tool bag: Bring the right tools

If you remove the part you need to replace first, you will know exactly what tools you will need. However, you will also find yourself eyeballing parts you forgot you needed, such as a door handle or heater controls. Use this basic checklist to pack your kit:

    • 3/8 inch drive socket wrench, with a couple extensions
    • Metric socket set: 10mm to 18mm, Standard socket set: 3/8s to 3/4s
    • 2 ton jack and jackstands. Note: Some junkyards will not allow you to jack up cars for safety reasons.
    • Shop towels
    • Prybar/Breaker bar, and potentially some PB Blaster to help loosen things up

I also suggest you bring a tool bag instead of a steel box. You will be carrying this heavy bag for quite some time on your search and you will rip your palms apart with a steel handle. I have seen people put large toolboxes ratchet strapped to a two wheeler in the past, which is quite poverty and may help you ease those hands. Finally, make sure your toolbag/box is BIG, because sometimes smaller parts fall in there and you don’t remember to pay for them until you get home……

3. Bring Cash

Over the counter places will normally take cards, but the you-pull types would prefer cash. Sometimes its cheaper to use cash because the yard owners may “forget” to claim it as income. You can use cash as leverage at times in order to score a better price. Pulling a normally unimportant part that isn’t in high demand and the guy at the desk says 10$ for that rear view mirror? Aw crap, I only have this 5 on me I didn’t think it would be that much.

4. Get to Know the Crew

Jesse over at Linder’s in Worcester MA has been in the auto salvage business for over a decade, and he stresses to be sure to have the money and don’t be a stroker! They are very busy and while it’s great what you have done with your car, tell someone else. Also, Jesse says to know the return policy of the junkyard you are working with, and tipping your over the counter salesman goes a long way!

Get to know the team that works there. Build rapport. Know them on a name basis. If you are a foreveralone then this may prove difficult, but this relationship will help you keep that money in your pocket.

5. Inspect the Bounty

Remember, you probably won’t be able to return it so make sure you test whatever parts you are getting the best you can before you bring it home. There may be 4 or 5 of your vehicle there, get the part that appears to be in the best condition.

There you have it. You can come home, same day, with your parts in hand, for a fraction of the dealer, auto parts, or Amazon price, ready to get that poverty beater back on the road. Soon, you’ll be at the advanced level where you will be pulling parts from the higher trim level vehicles to make your base model automatic four banger into the luxury v6 6 speed version. Happy picking!

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