Junkyard parts can easily feel like the answer to all of your questions if you’re looking to find cheap car parts. Whether you’re searching for an item that people stopped making 10 years ago or you just want to save money on a new part, junkyards might seem like they hold the key.
It’s true: buying junkyard parts can be an extremely rewarding endeavor and smart way to save your hard-earned dough.
However, it’s not always a straight-shot down easy street if you’re looking for junkyards near me that sell car parts. You’ll probably have to put in a decent amount of legwork to get there. We’ll look at how you can prepare, so you get the best deals.
How Much Cheaper Are Junkyard Parts?
Salvage yards put the number at up to 80% lower than new parts. Of course, that’s the maximum amount, so we’ll give you a range starting with a more modest number of 60%. Based on average prices, here’s a short breakdown of common parts:
|Part||Price (New)||Price (Junkyard)|
|4-cylinder engine||$4,000||$800 – $1,600|
|Transmission||$2,000||$400 – $800|
|Brake rotors/calipers||$650||$130 – $260|
|Radiator||$300||$60 – $120|
It’s important to keep in mind though that junkyard car parts do vary in price based on everything from make to model to condition to location. Whether you’re looking for a panel or a new engine though, chances are you can score some pretty good deals if the junkyard has it in stock and you know how to install it yourself.
Best Deals on Car Parts at Junkyards
As with all shopping, some deals are better than others. If you’re going to do this, you might as well do it right. Here are our top picks for what to target:
- Body parts: Doors, fenders, mirrors, hoods, bumpers: these tend to be pretty good buys. When they’re in good shape, they can definitely save you some cash.
- Late-model vehicle parts: The later the model is, the less likely it’s been corrupted by time. You’ll end up with nearly new parts for a fraction of what you would have paid otherwise.
- Accessories: Stereos, rims, speakers, and interior parts can be great items to pick up at a junkyard.
Worst Deals on Car Parts at Junkyards
Despite the lower prices, not every part is worth buying at the junkyard. We cannot stress enough that some parts don’t justify the time and effort to procure them from the junkyard.
Despite the averages, many new parts are relatively inexpensive, meaning there’s no point in buying them used. In addition, plenty of parts at junkyards might be more worn down than you anticipate. The junkyard owner will only be able to assess their condition as well as they can inspect it, which isn’t always as detailed as you would like.
In general, we recommend you stay away from belts, brake pads, or any part that’s too difficult to remove. Anything that wears out quickly and doesn’t cost that much to replace in the first place is too much of a gamble with your cash. Plus, you might end up paying more for someone to extract the part than you do for the part itself.
And never buy a part if you’re unsure of its condition. You already know not to buy something covered in rust, but it’s not just the surface-level problems you need to watch out for. There could be something hiding under a perfect exterior, and you probably don’t need any more unpleasant surprises in your life.
Finding Parts at the Junkyard
There are a few steps if you’re ready to find parts at the junkyard. We’ll run you through them.
Check Inventories Online
It might take quite some time to call up all the junkyards in your area to scout them for parts. Instead, many nationwide dealers keep online inventories that you can use to sort through. Granted, these are larger operations, which may mean that you pay for the convenience factor. Still, given the network and resources behind these professionals, it can be worth paying the extra fees just so you don’t have to devote all of your energy to getting the part.
Check Part Interchange Guides
We don’t encourage you to buy parts from a junkyard just because they’re available. Assuming that these are priced fairly is definitely not the way to go here. An interchange guide will show you the price of the part based on comparable models. At the very least, you should be getting at least a few different prices so you can cost-compare on your own.
Set Up Email Alerts from Junkyards
If you’re looking for something extremely specific, it can start to feel like a proverbial needle. Email alerts from junkyards can be a lifesaver because you can get the information right to your phone and have the chance to react before someone else does. Of course, it doesn’t make the waiting game any easier, but at least you know you’re taking all the precautions you can.
No point in trudging all the way down to the junkyard just to learn that someone grabbed the part you needed earlier that afternoon or that a staff member mislabeled the part as from a 2007 model when it was really from a 2008 model. Unless you’re going to the junkyard for fun and general information, we recommend verifying they have the part you need first.
Visit the Yard and Ask for Assistance
Junkyard owners might be happy to help you out, even going the extra mile to give you the best deal. If you’re willing to ask, they might just be willing to give. When you get to the yard, let them know the problem and ask if they have any advice. If they can’t help you out, they may just know someone who can.
Is There a Warranty on Junkyard Parts?
Potentially, though we wouldn’t say that’s the norm. Because junkyards don’t really know these cars before they come in, there’s only so much they can do to guarantee their parts. That being said, there are ways to test something and verify that it’s in rock-solid condition (enough so that they’re willing to risk some of their own resources anyway).
Tips for Buying Junkyard Parts
Here are our best tips for getting the right junkyard parts for you:
Know What You Need
Poking around at a junkyard is likely only going to frustrate you. The chaos might seem exciting at first, but unless junkyard car parts are your favorite thing in life, you’re likely to just waste your time. Plus, owners are still liable for people on the premises, so you might not have that kind of freedom anyway.
Bring the Right Tools
For self-service yards, you’re going to need to bring your tools to remove the part. In fact, you should probably bring extra tools just in case you run into an unanticipated issue. (Just make sure you’re calculating how much your time is worth when you’re trying to dismantle a car.)
Put Safety First
We know, it’s boring to talk about safety, but car parts are no joke. Getting them from a junkyard can put you into all kinds of precarious situations so make sure that you’re taking your well-being and that of others into consideration.
Examine the Parts Before Disassembly
You should be doing both a visual inspection here as well as a full examination (if possible) before you remove the parts. Even light external damage might be enough to turn you off from spending the money. If you’re looking for ignition parts, take along a jump starter and circuit tester so you’re sure everything works!
Is it Worth Buying Car Parts from a Junkyard Near Me?
If you’re Google searching for ‘used auto body parts near me’, a junkyard can definitely be a good way to go. Not only can you find and buy cheap car parts, but it might even be like a fun treasure hunt in the process. Of course, there’s little sugar-coating the fact that it will definitely take you more time and patience to do it. As long as you’re prepared (both mechanically and mentally), we recommend you go for it.