Can Anything Good Come from a Junk Yard?

Is it safe to buy and use car parts from junk yards? When you picture salvage yards, maybe your mind flashes to images of snarling guard dogs chasing people. Or maybe you recall the bad dealings and fights that have happened there in shows and movies like Breaking Bad and Superman.

You might even be thinking of The Beast from The Sandlot!You might even be thinking of The Beast from The Sandlot!You might even be thinking of The Beast from The Sandlot!Fortunately, those scenes are fictional and pretty unlikely in your average junk yard. Real-life salvage yards typically have security fences, guards, and surveillance cameras to keep you safe. They often charge a small, nominal fee to let you in as well.

Junked vs. New

If you take your car to a dealership for service, you will always pay for new parts. Dealership auto shops will offer you original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, auto parts and limited aftermarket parts, but they won’t have any used auto parts due to the risks and liability.

While aftermarket parts can save you some cash, OEM ones will be less likely to cause an expensive problem down the line. Scrap yards are a great source of inexpensive used OEM parts.

What Are the Risks?

Besides potentially voiding any warranties that you have on your automobile, used car parts come with the following concerns:

Improper Installation

Most dealerships won’t agree to install parts that you bring in—especially used ones. You will either have to install the used part yourself or visit an independent mechanic. If it’s not installed by a certified professional, the part may fail.

Bad Parts

You may not be able to see any defects that exist in the used auto part that you pick. You also may not know if the scrapped vehicle was in an accident previously that damaged the part.

Wrong Parts

Let’s say that you found the exact make and model matching your vehicle. There’s still no guarantee that the part on that automobile is OEM. The previous owner could have replaced it with an aftermarket part, and depending on the part, it’s not always easy to tell the difference.

Types of Junk Yards

We can split up junk yards into two types: the kind where you’re on your own and the ones with full service to help you find a part. You’ll pay a little more for full service, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

How the cars and parts are organized is a major consideration in deciding which one to go to. If the owners don’t have a good system, you could end up spending all day looking for the parts that you need. So, after googling “junk yards near me,” you will want to visit those websites or make a few phone calls to decide where to start.

How to Pick the Best Used Parts

If you’re planning to search around a self-service junk yard, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Double-check the Part You Need

Make sure that you know exactly what part you need and where it’s located in the car. If you’re not too savvy about car parts, you can ask a mechanic and take careful notes.

Take the Old Part with You

This tip may seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget or overlook. Even if you have to go out of your way to get it from your car, try to get ahold of the part before you head to the scrap yard.

Take Your Time

Don’t pick the first part that matches your needs. There could still be another one that’s in better condition in the junk yard.

In the end, the decision comes down to that delicate balance of reliability vs. affordability. Some used parts, such as sun visors, hubcaps, and body panels, will carry minimal risk, so your trip to the scrap yard can be a great investment. Just steer clear of any electrical components since those parts are often damaged in the salvaging process.