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Auto parts recyling yards where you remove the part from the wreck yourself

Nevada writes

"It takes about 20 seconds to find the used parts price list"

Sorry, I can’t think of a single thing I can do in 20 seconds.

Oh, given certain complaints I hear from time to time, there is one thing, but I’d rather not go into that here … lol …

I’m in Orlando this week but they have snakes here. Big black snakes. The last thing I’d do is going crawling around a you pull it around here. Frozen Minnesota is different-just mice and rabbits.

Snakes among the pick-a-part wrecks? That just makes it more challenging!

I understand the comments above ‘why would a person deal with pick-a-part if they could simply purchase an aftermarket item new from the auto parts store?’. The problem is on older vehicles, like both of mine, especially body parts, trim, lighting modules, lenses etc, this isn’t always possible. The only replacement source on some of those items is from a wrecked car.

I miss the days of junkyard surfing. They don’t have any around here that I’ve found. The good old days they just let you out in the yard with your tools. You came back with any parts of interest and negotiated the price. This is where you learn to say- I’m interested in this part instead of I need this part. If you need it, the cost goes up significantly :wink:

Then they started transitioning to the model where you asked at a counter and some yard yokel went out and got the part because some people were reckless and damaged other valuable parts getting to the one they wanted. I waited for >45 minutes once for a lock solenoid and finally the guys shows up back in the “office”. That’s not it. The yard guy insisted it was correct. Nope! So, the owner, yard guy and I went out to the place he got it. Holy cow, he couldn’t figure out how to remove the inner door panel so it looked like an animal destroyed it by chewing it open. “That wouldn’t have happened if you let me take it out” I quipped. Besides, I know enough that I can’t find a Mercury solenoid in a GM car…

I worked on one yard for more than a year to buy a particular steering wheel I wanted for my project car. Nope, you have to buy the whole column. No sale. Finally, he got tired of my pestering him. You take it out and not wreck anything? Got the tools right here!

The last thing I recall buying was a carb. This yard fully disassembled the wrecks and inventoried everything. Need a carb for XYZ…a couple clicks on keyboard and off he went. Came back with a pristine carb with a toe tag identifying the make/model/year it came off of. less than 10 minutes I was out the door. Still missed crawling over the wrecks looking for stuff I didn’t know I needed until I saw it…

These places operate any way they want…just call and ask. Usually you have a price list. Sometimes the guy makes it up as he goes. Back in the day my U-Pull it yard would have a $150 All you can DRAG day… Two lines about 9 ft apart…A car Hood…and whatever you put on it. LOL…those were the days…it was like an Olympic event to some. People cheering guys on to pull the loaded hood… Some made out very very well… Others fell on their faces.

This was 20yrs ago…and I still go to the place but a lot has changed. Prices have risen very high and no more “All you can drag” days. All in all…most U-Pull its are the way to go. If you know anything about cars you can tell the abused ones from the cared for ones…and thus which might provide the best part. You will make out if you have even basic skills. Parts arent cheap these days.


“- I’m interested in this part instead of I need this part.” Yeah. Then why’d you spend an hour or more toiling in the hot sun to remove it? “Well, its an interesting part. Some people collect stamps, this is what I do.” Yeah, I get your point, but I just thought that was funny. :lol:

The back stories to that go like this-

I went with a bunch of buddies and we all wanted to get at least one of those inertial switches from the fords of the day to retrofit into our hot rods electric fuel pump circuits.

I got done first and had nothing else of interest so headed over to the office to settle up. “I’m interested in this switch, how much are you going to ask for it?” He looks at me, mulls it over for a bit and says “$5”. I don’t want this guy to lose respect for me so I HAVE to counter. “It would be worth $3 to me otherwise I’ll pass”. I get it for $3.

Later, in the parking lot, the rest of the crew is gathering and comparing their acquisitions. I ask one buddy, how much did you pay for your switch? $10. What? I paid $3!

Asking further, I ask how did you approach him? He says, I told him I need one of these, how much? Without hesitation the guys says $10 and that’s what I paid…

The second instance was a guy buying parts for his resto. Instead of putting all these related parts in a pile and asking what they guy wants for them, he piece meals them one at a time. I’m interested in these parts, what do you want for them? They were all like $5-$10 parts and priced decently. Then he gets to the last critical part and says “Oh yeah, I also NEED this part, how much?” Of course, the junkyard guy says you need that too? $20…

None of those required significant investment in time to liberate from the wrecks. Perception is everything…these guys make a living at reading their customers and maximizing their profit where possible.

Most of the stuff I could take or leave. That, and there’s no lack of yards to visit if I don’t like the price. Don’t forget, under that model, if I don’t buy it, they have to haul it back out in the yard or just deal with it in general so they are somewhat motivated to make the sale too unless they know I really do NEED it.

Yeah, the self-serve junkyard in my area (several locations- same name) has a pamphlet listing prices for most of the most common parts, you pay $1 and sign a liability waiver as you enter. Yeah, they check toolboxes on the way out. I’m told that a lot of trim pieces, switches, etc that are small enough go out in folks pockets, ‘cause everybody considers the prices to be too high. "What, $25 for the headlight shell and $10 for the side piece?! Well, the side piece is goin’ in my pocket since they’re screwing me on the headlight shell" seems to be the general attitude. I haven’t been there in a while, because, as others have pointed out, for a few bucks more you can get a new or reman part. The junkyard is as is no warranty and you can’t test the part to see if it works either unless you bring your own electricity.

Its a fun place to walk around though. A lot of cars they forklift up and drop on stacks of rims / wheels and guys get underneath to pull parts and the car is rocking back and forth - looks incredibly dangerous - my life is worth more to me than that, so I wouldn’t go there for anything I had to get from underneath the car.

Just curious, another question about salvaged parts. Are there people who frequent the local salvage yards and know who has what - as a sort of business they do – will find the part you need and bring it to you at your request, for an add’l fee beyond the price of the part?

I know the junkyard I referred to often has a feller or two wandering around who will help you or pull the part for you if you don’t have the right tool, you got in over your head, or you just plain don’t want to get your shirt dirty. . . for a fee of course. They don’t work for the junkyard they’re “freelancers” but I think they pay the junkyard a kickback for letting them hang around there all day. Since they pretty much work for cash I’m guessing they’re working “off the books” so to speak.

When I was a kid, there was a section of the town dump where the city would tow abandoned cars, and it was my favorite playground for several years. I would put wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers in the saddlebag of my bike, ride over to that section of the junkyard, and take my pick of whatever hood ornaments, badges, and nameplates interested me. Then I would decorate my little section of our basement with my acquired trophies.

In addition to me and a couple of other kids who trolled that section of the town dump, it wasn’t too unusual for me to encounter guys removing carburetors, manifolds, gauges, and even seats from some of the cars in that junkyard, and–of course–everything was free of charge.

I doubt if anything like this still exists, but if one does exist, it would be a nice source for car parts, gratis.

The junkyard that I go to does both . . . pull your own part for most things, but the yard guys will pull big items, like engines and transmissions. However I pulled a Ford 9-inch (with my friend) myself, no problem. The biggest problem I see in the yard I frequent is theft. They check you out as you exit (and pay) almost to a point of strip-search because scumbags steal almost anything they can hide on their person or in their toolbox. PIA for me because it takes forever to check out and somewhat insulting to have to turn your pockets inside out. Rocketman

Theft has been going on for a long time. A couple of my college friends (no, not me) used to go to local junk yards for auto parts in the early 1970s after midnight for parts at the “right price”. They did it so much that the knew to attract the dogs first to check breed. They had a big wrench to persuade the dogs to get lost. If they hit the Doberman’s over the head with the wrench, they would be momentarily stunned, but continue to attack. German Shepherd’s, on the other hand, would retreat. Of course, they only scaled the fence where Doberman’s were absent.

Seems sort of unusual to jump a barb wire fence and risk getting bit by a mean dog just save $30 on a 15 year old junkyard tail-light. But I guess it happens.

Re my ? above, I was just wondering what pro mechanics do, if they have a customer with an older car come into their shop, the mechanic discovers the car needs a part to effect the repair only available from a junkyard; i.e. no aftermarket version of that part is available. The mechanic can’t put everything else on their shop’s agenda aside and drive down to the junkyard and spend half the day getting the part, right? And even if they drove there, the junkyard might not even have the part. They’ll probably have the car if it appears on their website inventory, but there’s no telling if the car still has that part or not. Someone else may have already removed it. So I was just wondering how that situation is handled among pro mechanics?


The pick a part yard I go to . . .

I see shops sending their guys there, with a laundry list of parts to get

Probably send the lowest paid guy, the guy with the worst bo, the slowest guy, etc.

Can’t justify sending their top-flight mechanic to scrounge for parts

@GeorgeSanJose, don’t apply adult logic to 20 year old males. They just aren’t equipped to behave like adults. Neither were we back in the day.

Got a set of spacers for $10. They bolt together in a big lump. Counter person didn’t know what they were. Sold them on CL in about 2 hrs.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d bet that many small shops who service a lot of old cars have accounts with many boneyards and the parts get delivered to them. I do know for a fact that at least one boneyard in my area has a delivery truck.

Boneyards often deliver “clips” to body shops as well. They’re set up to service their bread & butter market.

Just depends on the part and the customer. Part cost, customer bank account, whether the part wears or not etc. I have been in the shop a number of times though when the service guy was calling yards for a particular part. Pretty sure they delivered.