Buying auto parts from a salvage yard

So your car is having a few issues. One of your taillights has gone out, or you’ve found out you need to replace you alternator. You don’t have the money to get a brand new one (they can get pretty expensive) and you need the parts ASAP, so ordering online is out of the question. What do you do?

Here’s an option: getting the part you need at a salvage yard. Salvage yards, also called auto recyclers, have almost every model of vehicle dating back years. These vehicles are either totaled or beyond their lifespan. They have a lot of parts inside of them that are still in good shape and can be removed and purchased fro a fraction of the cost of a new part.

When contacting the salvage yard about a part, be sure to not only have year, make, and model of your vehicle, but the engine size (for example, 2.4 liter engine, 3.5 liter engine, etc.). This is important information for the folks at the salvage yard. Many car models have different trim levels, so knowing that information is critical to getting you the correct part for your vehicle. If you’re not sure what size engine you have then the VIN (vehicle identification number) will work just as well. The vehicle identification number is located at the base of the windshield on the driver’s side. When you give them the VIN, this will narrow their search down to include the parts that available for your particular trim level of vehicle only.

Before you head to the salvage yard, take to time to look for the prices of the same part brand new. Doing so will let you know what price a new part goes for and also give you an idea of what a comparable used part goes for. This way, you’ll recognize when you’re being overcharged. Also if you find the correct part it is up to you to visually inspect it before making the final purchase. Don’t rely solely on the salvage associate’s word when buying used parts. If you’re not sure what to look for when visually inspecting an auto part then bring someone along who can verify the part you find is in physically good shape such as an acquaintance.

Don’t forget to ask about the salvage yard’s policy of returns, exchanges, and refunds. These policies can vary from salvage yard to salvage yard. Also ask about any additional fees they may charge, such as entry fees.

Now you’re ready to head over there! Wear old clothes. Many salvage yards require you to bring your own tools and “pick” the part from the car, meaning you’ll have to remove the part from the car yourself. This may sound unappealing to some folks but what you’ll spend in sweat and effort you’ll save in dollars. If you were considering ordering that same part brand new online, you’ll also save time in having to wait for the part to get to your house and shipping fees to express ship the package to your home.

Some of the parts we recommend purchasing used from a salvage yard include alternators, radiators, fans, interior trim pieces such as door panels, headlights, taillights, bumpers, and fenders. Other minor parts such as sunroof motors, window motors, window regulators, side view mirrors, and even sway bars are good parts you can score a deal on from a salvage yard. Some of the parts we wouldn’t recommend purchasing from a salvage yard (simply because these parts are necessary for the safe operation of your vehicle) include brake components such as rotors, pads, timing belts and chains, camshafts, clutches, fuel pumps and water pumps. We’d recommend purchasing these brand new. If you’re not sure what if the part you’re looking for is suitable to be purchased from a salvage yard, feel free to ask!

Buying the part you’re looking for from salvage yard is a great option that a lot of people don’t know about. If you’re short on time and money it can save you both, and you’ll get the part you need for your car to fully function on the highway.  You’ll also learn a few things about your vehicle you didn’t know about before.

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