Owning any type of vehicle isn’t all rainbows and cotton candy. There are real costs to maintaining one, and you have to be prepared for some headaches from time to time when it quits on you. One way to not only save some money on maintenance costs, but also save the planet is by getting used parts from your local salvage yard or junkyard.

Don’t Fear the Junkyard

There’s a myth that junkyards are scary and intimidating places. Although it’s true that these places can be huge (acres on acres), junkyards are not scary places nor are they intimidating. The only reason to be scared of a junkyard is when you’re dressed for a party, instead of dressing to get dirty.

Junkyards, salvage yards, scrap yards and everything else in between should be your first option if you’re looking to find a replacement part for your vehicle at a price that you probably won’t find anywhere else. A quality used part that’s in tip-top shape is a better financial and environmental deal than a brand new one.

Get Schooled

The good thing about sourcing parts through a junkyard is the education you’re bound to get, especially if:

  1. You have a passion for engineering
  2. You love anything auto-related
  3. You want to learn new things

You can’t buy what you’ll learn in a junkyard anywhere on the planet. Where else in the world can you go, pay maybe a dollar as an entrance fee, choose a vehicle that you need to get a part from, and use your tools to pry it from the long forgotten hunk of metal? Maybe in engineering school, but you won’t get as dirty and tuition is expensive.

Two Flavors

There are two kinds of junkyards. The old school version is where you go pay them a visit, ask if they have the part you need, and (maybe) get directions on how to find the vehicle. Some junkyards have maps and are arranged by make of the vehicle or country of origin, while others are just one big maze of rust buckets.

For example, junkyard 1 can have all Japanese made cars on one side, American made cars on the other, and European made cars hiding up the rear. Junkyard 2 can have Toyotas on aisle 1, Fords on aisle 2, Chevys on aisle 3, etc. So it’s up to you and providence to search for the vehicle you need to get the part you want.

The second type of junkyard is more modern. You’ll have to tell a clerk what you need – same deal here – make, model, etc. The clerk then calls out to the staff on the yard and they will do the work for you and deliver the part to the office. You can inspect it, and if you’re OK with it, pay them in cash.

No DIY? BOO!

Obviously, the newer model of junkyards are boring, but you’ll still get your part for cheap. This is because junkyards make money recycling the metal and other components of the vehicles they salvage, so selling the parts is just icing on the cake. The good (and bad) thing about this is they don’t really care if the part is rare or not.

If all their engines sell for $120, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rare HEMI or a Toyota 4-banger. It’s $120 just the same, so you have to really be smart about your purchases and do enough research on the part you’re looking for before heading out to the junkyard and spending money on gas.

If you’re a powersports enthusiast, there are a lot of salvage yards for old snowmobiles, ATV’s and other vehicles. The rules for sourcing parts for powersports is pretty much the same, but the best place to find used and new parts and accessories for your snowmobile is usually on online stores and forums.

Time to Get Dirty

So give your local junkyard a try if you’re looking for used vehicle parts. It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle: if it has wheels, they probably have it somewhere. Just make sure you bring some tools, wear

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