11 Tips for Using Auto Salvage Yards

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Marc Skirvin

Quick Tip

Prepare by removing parts at home to determine necessary tools and identify issues, then research compatible parts to save time at the junkyard. Inspect for rust, save hardware in labeled bags, and organize tools immediately. Use a portable battery for testing, check odometers for engines, and wear protective gear with a headlamp for safety.

When you do it right, going to auto salvage yards for parts can save you both time and money. However, if you don’t show up prepared, you might feel like your trip to the junkyard was a big waste of time.

Are you looking for a part for your classic car or your daily beater?

Are you really trying to avoid the exorbitant fees at auto shops or dealerships?

We’ve got a lot of tricks up our sleeves when it comes to tips for going to a car junkyard. Stick with us while we explore how you can get in and out of the junkyard with the right parts, quickly.

1. Remove the Parts You Need to Replace at Home First

If you know that you need something from a car junkyard for your ride, it can be tempting to head over to the junkyard right away. However, it’s best to take a few minutes (or hours, depending on the type of work you’re doing) and pull out the parts you’re going to be replacing.

There are a number of benefits to approaching it this way. First of all, it will help you learn which tools you’re going to need when you get to the junkyard. Secondly, it will give you a practice run when it comes to how to remove the part before you get to the auto parts salvage yard.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a possibility that you’ll find that something else is broken when you’re removing the part. Or you might break a part during the removal. Either way, you’ll learn this before you get to the junk yard, which will save you the extra trip and a lot of frustration.

2. Do Some Research Ahead of Time

Maybe you’re a car whiz and you know absolutely everything about every model of car. If not, though, you might want to spend some time and do research online before you head to your local auto salvage yard. You might find out that there are other car models and years that have the exact same part, meaning that you can save yourself a lot of time once you get to the junkyard because there are several different types of cars you can look for.

3. Look for Rust and Corrosion

It’s a really good idea to inspect parts quickly before you remove them because it’s possible they will be rusty and corroded. By doing a simple inspection before you start taking them out, you can save yourself both time and energy. The last thing you want is to spend a while removing a part only to realize that it’s unusable, or, even worse, not realize that it’s unusable until you’ve paid for it and brought it home.

(Curious whether you should repair or replace your car? Check out this article.)

4. Get Your Tools After You Find Your Parts

Depending on your purposes at the junkyard, you might find that you need a heavy load of tools to get the job done. It’s a good idea to find the parts you’re looking for first and leave your tools in your vehicle. Then, when you have found what you’re looking for, you can go grab you tools and head straight to the car that has the parts you need.

This can save you from lugging around your tools while you’re searching for what you’re looking for. Additionally, though, it can help ensure that you don’t set your tools down somewhere and then have to retrace your steps to find them. Expect that it will take a little while to find what you’re looking for, and go grab your tools once you’re ready to begin extracting the parts.

5. Don’t Forget to Save the Hardware

If you remember any of these tips for going to an auto salvage yard, let it be this one! Bring a plastic bag (or a few) with you, preferably one that zippers shut, so you can put nuts and bolts in there for safekeeping. You’ll want to label the bag, too, even if you know for certain that you will remember.

Don’t bank on having what you need at home. Instead, grab the hardware that you know will work with the parts you’re getting. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!

6. Always Put Your Tools Back in Your Toolbox Right Away

Let’s face it: junkyards can be kind of chaotic places. What that means is that it’s all too easy to set a tool down and then it’s lost in the visual field of car parts and junkers. When you’re using a tool to get a part from a junkyard, the best thing you can do is put it back in your toolbox right away.

You’ll be pretty frustrated if you lose your tool at the junkyard and spend an hour trying to retrace your steps. You’ll likely be even more frustrated if you realize that you lost an expensive tool when you get back home. Junk yards can be a great way to save money on car parts, but you won’t feel like it was that great of a deal if you end up having to re-purchase tools you already had.

7. Give the Auto Salvage Yard a Call Ahead of Time

If you’re looking for a super-specific part or something from a specific make and model of vehicle, consider giving the junkyard a call ahead of time. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not they have any vehicles in their lot that could fit the bill. This can save you a ton of time hunting around, and they might even be able to tell you where the vehicle is in the lot.

8. Bring a Portable Drill Battery and Alligator Clips

Here’s a pro-tip: bring a small battery and alligator clips for testing. A portable drill battery can do the trick. This can be a great way to test fans, power windows, and fuel injectors.

If you’re trying to replace broken electronics, the last thing you want to do is buy another part that doesn’t work. When you’re prepared, you can test out the parts ahead of time to avoid the expense and wasted time of buying something broken.

9. Always Check the Odometer If You’re Pulling an Engine

If you follow tip number eight about bringing a portable battery, you can also use this technique to grab the mileage from the odometer. This is essential if you’re planning on pulling the engine, otherwise, you’re just dealing with a giant unknown.

(Wondering how to find a car junkyard near you? You can learn more here.)

10. Dress for Protection

Let’s be real for a second. A salvage auto yard is pretty much just a giant field of rusted cars that you’re going to be climbing around, over, and through. It’s a good idea to dress for the occasion to help avoid getting cut or punctured by rusty stuff.

It’s a good idea to wear mechanics’ gloves, long pants, and long sleeves. You also might want to wear proper eye protection for removing parts. Otherwise, you could be dealing with rusty shrapnel flying up and hitting you in an incredibly unpleasant way.

11. Bring a Head Lamp

Lastly, bring a light of some kind! Sure, your phone flashlight or a regular old flashlight will do, but a headlamp magically frees up both of your hands to get the job done quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the junkyard in the middle of a bright, sunny day.

Trust us, there are still plenty of places where the sun doesn’t shine when you’re digging into the skeleton of an old junker. Rather than straining your eyes and struggling to figure out what’s going on where just do yourself a favor and bring a fully-charged headlamp.

Is It Time for Your Vehicle to Go to a Car Junkyard?

Auto salvage yards can be a great place to get parts, but it’s also important to recognize when a car has simply lived out the end of its life.

Your car has been good to you, or maybe it hasn’t. Maybe it drove for far longer than you expected, or maybe it’s been a pain in the butt the entire time. Either way, you’re ready to move on and sell your junk car for cash.

Are you looking for a simple way to get some cash for your car? You’ve come to the right place. You can get an offer on your junk car instantly, right here.

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About the Author

Picture of Marc

Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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