An auto salvage yard is a great way to save money by getting used parts. Minnesota has some really great junkyards for you to visit. While the state is really big and you may not want to travel cross state, there are a few exceptional places that may be worth the drive. Below I will share how Minnesota junkyards work, address some common questions, and share tips for visiting junk yards in MN. I will also share my experience with the junkyards in Minnesota.

Map of Junkyards in Minnesota

For  “junkyards in Minnesota” or “Salvage Yards in Minnesota”, see the map below…

How do Auto Junkyards in Minnesota Operate

Every Junk yard in MN is like any other local business. Some are small businesses, while others are big junk yard chains like Pick N Pull. Even though you are buying used auto parts, your transaction is still subject to the states sales tax.

All junkyards and similar recycling businesses must be licensed and adhere to specific environmental regulations for the state. Minnesota also has state specific rules under the “Sate Junkyard Control Program” which provides special regulations for those located along highways. There are other rules and regulation regarding selling salvage vehicles and qualifying as a dealer, if the yard sells vehicles.

For day to day operations of salvage yards in MN, they are much like other junkyards in the US. These business buy junked vehicles from various sources like private sellers, insurance companies, auctions, and tow companies. Then they sell the functioning parts of the vehicle in order to make a profit. Some yards may fix a car and sell it with a salvage title, others may sell a salvage car without any work, and some only sell used auto parts all the yards contribute to the vehicle recycling in Minnesota.

How a Minnesota Junk yard Processes Vehicles

When a junkyard gets a vehicle on the lot it must be processed. Processing of a vehicle serves two purposes: Meeting environmental regulations for handling hazardous material and helping the business maximize their profit.

To meet the environmental regulations of Minnesota, the vehicle has to be drained of all fluids and hazardous waste. For example the oil and gas need to be taken out and recycled. Fluids like anti-freeze and windshield wiper fluid, will get rebottled and resold.

For the yard to maximize their profits, they will strip certain parts first. This may include parts like the battery, alternator, and starter. These are parts that are easy to sell and when left in the elements tend to deteriorate fast. Some yards may even pull the motor and/or the transmission. If those parts are pulled they may be sent to be rebuilt and resold with a warranty.

Once a vehicle is processed it is ready for parts salvage. A well managed yard will tag the vehicle and log it into an electronic database. This makes find vehicles and specific parts easier for both the business and the customer.

Types of Junkyards in MN

There are many different types of salvages in MN. For example there are yards that are specific for cars, yards for airplanes, yards for tractors, etc. Any type of used vehicles parts you need you can find. By my last count Minnesota was home to over 200+ different junkyards. Some of these yards get even more fine grained like yards dedicated to only one kind of car manufacturer or specific to foreign autos only.

There is also a mix of specialties such as scrap yards for metal, auto junkyards, and cash for junk car buyers. This creates a great market for you to sell a junked vehicle because you can shop around for the best offer.

In Minnesota There are Different Business Models of Junkyards

When most people think of an auto salvage, they think of a self service junkyard that you pull your own parts. Not all junkyards in Minnesota operate like that. There are self service yards, yards that pull parts for you, and even used part warehouses. Then there are businesses that are a hybrid of those structures.

Here is a general description of these salvage yard business models:

Self Service Yards: This type of yard you bring your own tools and pull your own parts. Some of these yards will charge a small fee up front to walk the yard. Each place will have different layout and level of organization. Some may even provide a map of how the grounds are laid out. In my experience the self service yards tend to have older vehicles, less quality, but less expensive parts.

Full Service: A full service yard is a place that they pull the parts off for you. At a minimum they provide help. They do this to help keep people from braking car parts and it helps them maintain a higher standard for used auto parts. Vehicles on these lots tend to be in better condition, but parts tend to cost a bit more due to the extra labor. This type of yard is good if you don’t own the right tools or have the skills to remove a particular part.

Used Part Warehouses: These are places that pull all the parts, tag them, log them in a database, and then sell them from a warehouses and/or online. These tend to be the most organized and are easier for customers to find what they need. The trade off of course is they have to charge a bit more because of the upfront labor and service they provide.

Popular Auto Junkyards in Minnesota

Every junkyard is a different adventure. Finding used parts you need is important, but also low prices, customer service, and a good warranty are also great. Other things that make a yard a great experience are location and inventory management.

Here are a few popular junkyards with 4.5+ star ratings in Minnesota:

  • Brook Park Auto Recycling in Brook Park
  • Auto Disposal Services in Chanhassen
  • Dillon’s Auto Salvage in Byron
  • Auto truck and Van Salvage in North Branch
  • Misgen Auto Parts in Ellendale
  • Shipman Auto Parts in Brainerd
  • St Paul Park Auto Parts in St. Paul Park

Junkyards in Minnesota

Selling a Junked Vehicle in MN

If you have a car to junk for cash in Minnesota, you have a lot of buyer options. There are reasons though you should consider selling it first on your own, before trying to junk it. To learn about how to junk a vehicle, you should read this article first. Most salvage yards are going to over you the going rate for the scrap steel weight of your vehicle. It is up to you to negotiate up from that offer. To learn how to negotiate a higher price on a junk vehicle, read this.

To junk a vehicle in the state of Minnesota, you will need to have the title. When the junkyard buys your vehicle you have to transfer the title to them.

Minnesota: Transferring Vehicle Ownership

To sell a junked auto in Minnesota follow these steps:

  • Complete the title assignment on the title certificate, and provide bill of sale and odometer disclosure (if applicable).
  • Complete vehicle title application form.
  • Visit any DVS office near you.

Learn more about transferring a title on the MN DVS website,

Buying a Salvage Vehicle in MN

For buying a salvage vehicle in MN. There are also steps you must take. Here is what you should know…

    1. When you purchase it, you will pay Minnesota state sales tax.
    2. You will need a way to transport the vehicle from the salvage yard (and you will have to pay for it).
    3. The junkyard will sign over the salvage title to you (which you will need to register the vehicle).
    4. You must have a certified inspector, perform an inspection to certify the vehicle is safe to register.
    5. Take your salvaged title, photo ID and inspection report to any Minnesota DVS to register your salvage title.
    6. Provide your Vin, fill out the forms, and pay the fee.

For more information and facts on Minnesota salvage title rules, click here.

What to Know About Salvage Yards in Minnesota Before You Go

Going to a salvage in Minnesota in the dead of winter is difficult. Try wrenching a part when it is snow covered and frozen! For a yard in MN you really need to come prepared based on the time of year you are going. You not only need the right tools, but you need the right clothes.

My recommendations for any MN automobile salvage:

  • Clothing choices based on the time of year
  • Water and even have extra in your car
  • Sunglasses and a hat
  • Sun screen
  • Mechanic style gloves for pulling parts
  • Hand warmers and winter gloves for winter
  • Boots, preferably steel toe (maybe even put on your wool socks)
  • Deicer for winter (good for pulling parts, but also so you don’t get stuck there)
  • Battery operated fan for the summer
  • Tools and someone to help you if you are pulling and engine or transmission.

Checking Junkyards in the Neighboring States

If you live near a state border, take advantage of the many junkyards in nearby states.

Junkyards in Minnesota Conclusion

Salvage yards are the absolute best way to save money on auto parts. There are a lot of advantages of buying used parts if you know how to work a yard. Minnesota is home to some really great junkyards with a wide variety of automobiles. The key to success at these yards is to dress for the weather though. Now go out and find some junkyards in Minnesota and start pulling some cheap parts.


James is an avid junkyarder and mechanic. He has visited Junkyards in every US state and has restored over 30 makes and models of vehicles. He has several automotive and recycling related blogs that generate over 150K views a month.