Junkyard Tips

Getting a new part for your auto can be a pricey investment. That’s why some people choose to check out junkyards, or “salvage yards”. By getting your part at a junkyard, you will be saving a ton of cash (probably about half price or more), and you will be helping to recycle parts. So why don’t people do it more often? It’s a tricky business. The part you got might not work, and junkyards usually won’t give you your money back.

A used part is called either Quality Replacement Part (QRP) or Like Kind Quality (LKQ). When listing the part to your insurance company, use QRP. How do you make the most of your junkyard search? Here’s some tips for before you go, while you’re there and after.


How to find a junkyard? For those of you who hate calling, here’s a site to try for part-searching: JunkyardLocator.com. Go to UsedWreckingYards.com for listings by state. If you call ajunkyard asking about a part and they say they don’t have it, ask them to use the “Hot Line”. It connects all salvage yards.

Suit up for the job. Remember junkyards are dirty, rusty places and sometimes you can find wasps or even snakes there. So wear long pants, boots, gloves, and a hat if you need it. Avoid really expensive clothing; this might set you up for a rip-off.

Inspect your needed part. This is probably the most important thing you’ll do, as junkyards are not very helpful when it comes to specific models. Write down part numbers before you leave home. Take pictures, and if you can, bring the old part. If you’re not sure what part you’re looking for, do some research. There are reference books out there.

Get some cash out. Junkyards usually don’t accept other forms of payment.


The word “junkyard” probably makes you think of dirt, rows of cars and an angry dog. But it’s a bit more high-tech today. Junkyards have computer database inventories, and the most popular parts sit on display shelves.

There are certain parts that you should probably avoid getting at a junkyard. It’s fine to get a non-mechanical part, say a grill. You can also find good radios or sensors (just make sure to check it!). But avoid labor-intensive parts and sophisticated mechanisms, such as brakes. It’s just not worth it to be left with a useless part.

Check, check, check. Don’t assume any car or assembly has all its original parts. The owner may have changed something. Look at numbers, look at all the pieces of the part you need.

Pricing is either based on the new part price or is an umbrella price for all of those parts. You will be expected to supply a core part (the part you’re replacing). If you don’t have it, you might be facing a fee. When you pay, ask about a warranty.


If you get home and the part doesn’t fit? Junkyards are almost always exchange only. If it fits but doesn’t work, you can try complaining but it usually won’t work. This is why it’s so important to check the part out at the junkyard. Good luck on your search, and remember that with a little patience you can find the perfect part at a great price.

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