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Junkyards (Automotive Recyclers)

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On: Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 2:10PM | By: Peter C Sessler

Junkyards (Automotive Recyclers)

Over the years, I’ve bought parts from a number of automotive recyclers (junkyards) with excellent results. You can too! Considering the price of new parts, especially when you consider the cost of a brand new part, it makes good sense to get a used part. Why? Because you can save a lot of money, you’re helping the environment by recycling, and it can be fun, too. Of course, it depends what you’re looking for.

There are differences in junkyards. Some will let you wander through rows and rows of dead cars. Some won’t. Typically, if you’re looking for a specific part, call ahead and ask if they’ve got it. Some of the better organized ones inventory their parts while others will tell you they think they’ve got it in the “back” somewhere. Again, it depends what you’re looking for.

Of course, there is risk involved, depending on the part. You might spend a lot of time installing a part, only to find it doesn’t work. Even though most places guarantee the part (so you can exchange it), you’ve still invested a lot of time. There’s also the risk of injury if the part doesn’t work so it definitely doesn’t pay to buy certain junkyard parts. Let’s take a look at some of the parts and the risk you may be taking:

ENGINE/TRANSMISSIONS: These are obviously high risk components because you don’t know how long they’re going to last. Not only that, they require a lot of time and effort to install. Still, the potential savings can be tremendous. The good recycler will tell you what car the engine or transmission came out of, how many miles are on it, and so forth, and at the very least you should be able to check fluid condition and, by pulling a few spark plugs out, be able to determine, to some degree, if the engine was burning oil. If you’re looking for an engine part, such as a manifold, you can’t go wrong buying one from a junkyard.

ALTERNATORS/STARTERS: Because these are easy to install, you don’t run into much risk if you get a bad one and you can save a lot.

BRAKE PARTS: There are brake parts you should avoid, such as used brake pads or shoes because new ones are pretty inexpensive. Master cylinders, calipers, and wheel cylinders deteriorate from just sitting around so you’re better off getting rebuilt parts. Besides, many places won’t sell you these anyway. On the other hand, brake drums, rotors, and power boosters can be a good deal.

AXLES: Axles for rear wheel drive cars are practically indestructible so you can save a lot here. Front drive axles, if the axle boots aren’t ripped, should be fine, too, although you can’t tell until you’ve installed them.

COMPUTERS: You’ll save more if you’re looking for a foreign car computer, but you should make sure that it’s the computer that’s bad before replacing it. Some junkyards won’t exchange electrical components.

FRONT END PARTS: You can save a lot here on things such as steering boxes, control arms, sway bars, etc., but you have to make sure they’re in good condition because they do relate to your safety.

SHEET METAL: Major savings can be had here. It certainly doesn’t take a college degree to be able to tell if a body part is good or not.

GLASS: The same applies here. You can save a lot.

INTERIOR PARTS: Major savings here over new parts and that includes things as seats, dash pads, etc. You can also save on stereos as well.

TAILLIGHT LENSES, HEADLIGHT ASSEMBLIES, REFLECTORS: This is another area where you can save a lot of money. New parts are often extremely overpriced, especially for some of the foreign cars.

WHEELS AND TIRES: Aluminum wheels are much cheaper at the junkyard, especially when you’re looking to get a full size spare for your car. Steel wheels are cheap too. You can save on used tires but generally, you’ll find that you’re probably better off getting new tires.



AutoHistory | 8:18AM (Sat, Aug 27, 2011)

Neat article! I guess the tricky part is finding the 'right' item for the right vehicle.

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