Self service junkyards are a great place to save money on auto parts. These are yards that allow you to walk around and remove functioning parts of junked vehicles. You pay for what you take and will save significantly versus retail. In this article I will share where to find a self service yard, how they work and tips for getting the most of your trip. I will also share my experience with the self service junkyards near me.
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Self service junkyards are commonly referred to as pick and pulls, pull a parts, pick your parts, etc. They all translate to the same thing. You go to a junkyard find a vehicle with the replacement parts you need, remove them, and pay for them.
How Does the Self Service Junkyard Near Me Work?…
Self-service junkyards operate like a small business. They have a few employees and pay taxes like any other local business. Some yards charge a small admission fee to help cover overhead administration costs. They also are regulated by recycling laws and need to meet requirements set out by the Environmental Protection Agency. These business are part of the vehicle recycling industry and actually benefit the environment and sustainability.
The business model is straight forward. They purchase junk vehicles and then sell the functioning parts for a profit. In some instances they may actually fix the vehicle and sell it with a salvage title. There are also various types of self service salvage yards like yards for cars, trucks, boats, construction vehicles, etc. There are also yards that really specialize like Mopar only or Corvette only.
Some yards will run specials a few times a year. These are events that are coveted by junkyard enthusiasts and are called All You Can Carry. You pay a flat price for every thing you can literally carry to the cashier in one trip.
How They Get Vehicles in Their Inventory
Self service junkyards get their vehicles from a few different sources. Vehicles come from private owners, junk car buyers, auctions, insurance companies, and businesses. A majority of the vehicles aren’t driveable and on the whole aren’t fixable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great parts that work. For example when a car comes from an insurance company it is the result of a “total loss” claim in an accident. If the car was rear ended, there is a good chance valuable parts like motor and transmission are still usable.
How Self Service Junkyards Process Their Vehicles
At the self service junkyards near me, before a vehicle goes out for pick and pull it must be process. This important first step is to protect the environment and help the junkyard maximize their profits.
First major fluids get drained. This is stuff like gas, oil, Freon, coolant, wiper fluid, etc. Liquids like oil, Freon and gas are recycled. Other fluids like coolant and wiper fluid will get re-bottled and resold.
Next they will pull key parts that have the most value. This often includes the motor and transmission if they are in decent enough shape to rebuild. They will also pull the starter, alternator, and battery.
After that the vehicle get set out for having parts pulled. If you want to know more about how to get the best parts, read this.
How a Junk Yard is Arranged
Every Junkyard is a bit different. For the most part though things will be grouped by manufacturer. This means you will have a section of Fords, Mercedes, Honda, etc. Sometimes inside of each manufacturers section vehicles are grouped by model so a Honda yard might have Civics, CRV’s, and Accords grouped for example.
It all depends on the yard, but there is often a map. If the yard doesn’t have a map you can ask the attendant to point you in the right direction for your needs.
The most sophisticated yards have an online database. They tag the vehicles that come in an log them in a computer system. You can check the database online from home if they make it publicly available. If they don’t you can just call and ask for what you need and they can look it up. You can often call and ask very specific questions like “Do you have a transmission for a 2007 Corolla”? or “Do you have any 2004 Durango’s in your lot and how intact are they with parts”?
What Kind of Used Auto Parts Can You Find and Strip?
There is a world of auto parts at your finger types at a self service salvage. You can find any vehicle part you can dream of. This includes: doors, mirrors, seats, manifolds, catalytic converters, motors, transmissions, etc. I have found after market turbos, carbon fiber spoilers, high end rims, and the works. You may even find almost brand new parts. Sometimes someone will take a junk vehicle and throw parts at it to try and fix it. When they can’t get it to run, they junk it and leave all the new parts on it.
Despite the above, there are certain parts you shouldn’t pull at a junkyard.
What Happens After A Vehicle Gets Stripped?
This is a practice that varies by yard. There are plenty of pull a part yards that just let the vehicles sit and rust after all the functioning parts are removed.
A well maintained yard does inventory turnover. This is a practice of crushing vehicles that are stripped of value and then sending the crushed shell and frame to a scrap metal plant. This practice serves two purposes. First it lets the junkyard sell the last bit of remaining vehicle for scrap. Second it makes room for new junked vehicles to come into the yard.
Buying Used Auto Parts at a Self Service Salvage Yards
Pros of Buying Used Parts at a Salvage Yard
You can save hundreds of dollars with each trip to a self-service junkyard. There are parts you can get for real cheap like a battery for $12, a door door for $60 and a mid-size car engine for $350. The advantage of a self service yard is that you are doing the labor the part removal. That means the savings is passed onto you since you are doing the work.
Another pro is that you will find factory installed and assembled parts. This means way more OEM parts then aftermarket parts. Essentially perfect fitment, the original part (important for a resto project), and if you weren’t sure how it was originally installed you can see it.
Not all yards, but some will allow you to get an add-on warranty. For a few extra bucks you can get a 30-day junkyard credit or part exchange in the event the part you bought doesn’t work out. I tend to do this for more mechanical pieces like motors and transmissions.
For our best tips on pulling parts read: 16 Tip for Pulling Parts at an Auto Salvage.
Cons of Buying Used Parts
The downsides to used parts is quality. The vehicles are in a junkyard for a reason. Some parts may have reached their end of life or have been completely beaten on by the previous owner. For any part you should inspect it before removal and again after removal. Look for corrosion, rust, and other signs of severe damage.
Self Service Junkyards Near Me Conclusion
Self service junkyards are the best place to get replacement parts. In some instances like a restoration, they may be your only option. The thing I like about self-service yards is that you can get parts cheaper since you are the one doing the work. Full service yards have to charge more, because they have more labor overhead.
All in all these junkyards are actually one of the keys to environmental sustainability as they look to put re-usuable parts back into service. So whether you realize it or not, supporting a junkyard is supporting the environment. This is what I have learned from the self-service junkyards near me.