Home » It’s Wrenching Wednesday! Let’s Talk About The Best Junkyard Strategies

It’s Wrenching Wednesday! Let’s Talk About The Best Junkyard Strategies

Auto Salvage Yard Junkyard
ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for reading The Autopian! If you’re seeing this text it means this content is for official members only. If you want to experience this automotive goodness, please consider supporting us by becoming a member. Thank you very much!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
32 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul B
Paul B
1 year ago

I add features to my car from the yards.

No garage door opener? off to the yard and add the feature.

No power seats? just snatch a set and transfer the cushions and covers form your current one.

Also, why do all the cars smell like wet dogs that smoke in junkyards?

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

If it is still there the first thing to do in a new wreck is to pull up the seats, or if nothing else do some exploratory checking under the front seats(careful of animals and wear gloves in case of needles), also check all the cubbies for treasures.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

My main strategy is to save every flat screen TV box. That well inked cardboard makes shimmying that much easier. And good bed liners too.

Bryanintowson
Bryanintowson
1 year ago

After many years of scavenging parts at the local u-pull-its, I would offer the following advice to a newbie:

  1. Only make the trip if you know the wreck is fresh, generally. I’ve had to wait a few days to hit a fresh wreck and will find its already been picked clean.
  2. Pack what you need and only what you need in your backpack because you could be schlepping for a while. Penetrating oil is your friend.
  3. Be prepared to come home pretty filthy. So if that means putting a towel or sheet over your daily’s driver seat then do that.
  4. Have fun – it’s not life or death to find that part you want (hopefully) so enjoy yourself, see the sights.
3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago

I follow my local pick and pull on Facebook. They post interior and exterior photos of each car organized by row as they put them out in the yard. Each row is something like GM Trucks or Ford cars. They also have text alerts that you can set up for specific vehicle models if you are looking for something specific. Not only is it handy, but it’s really interesting to me to look at some of the stuff virtually. Shout-out to US Auto Sterling Heights and their excellent use of social media.

NDPilot
NDPilot
1 year ago

I can’t claim much in the way of strategy. I always walk the new arrivals section if the yard has one, and I always walk the entire section which has the types of vehicles I’m looking for parts on. I will always choose a pull your part yard over one where a technician pulls one for you, although I’ve found that once you get to know some of the latter types they’ll let you pull your parts anyhow. I’ve yet to reestablish those relationships since moving back here last year but I’m going to have to with a new project starting.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago

Strategy? I’ve found that it’s usually a lot less expensive to get parts from salvage yards late at night.
Essential tools? Beyond regular tools? Dark clothing, bolt cutters and a can of aerosol duster to keep any pesky Pinscher’s at bay and from baying.
No, that’s terrible, just kidding.

I don’t have much to add here beyond what y’all have already said. But I did pick up a weird junk yard quirk years ago that I can’t escape.
I pay way too much attention when I am (god forbid) a passenger in a friends car, and so will take a mental note of the make and model should I notice anything broken or that they need interior-wise.
Then I can’t help but think about it when I go to a salvage yard, so I always look for that part they need but are too busy or lazy to deal with.
Just cheap stuff mainly. That crap that people forget is a problem because they have become so used to overlooking or dealing it.
I once gave my sister a plastic sun visor retainer clip for her Focus as a Christmas present. Wrapped up all pretty in a little box. She was very confused until I installed it (replacing the broken one).
I think it cost me less than a dollar, but she was thankful that she could now drive her car without constantly making the motion of ‘raise the roof’ at a hip hop show.
Bonus points if you have clandestine access to their vehicle and can fix a tiny problem that bothers them without them knowing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

A bit of the mark but extremely successful. The Isuzu Vehicross has a fan club. The members work together instead of compete. When a member notices a VX new to a yard due to ebay, fb, craigslist or whatever they post it. The local owners scavenge it. They keep what they want and post the rest at reasonable prices. In the event they cant get everything they post whats left and contact info.

Steve Schriefer
Steve Schriefer
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

We tend to do that in the MINI community as well. However, we cannibalize the car BEFORE we sell it to Pick-n-Pull. The ones we send are easy to identify as they all are missing the engines, but the crappy automatic transmissions are still there.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

There is one strategy that all yardgoers must observe at all times, lest they out themselves as a noob.

Leave no fastener unscavenged.

I don’t care if you have brake caliper bolts at home. YOU POCKET THOSE BOLTS. Any loose fastener is game. You never know when you’re going to need a 10mm M10x1 5cm bolt or a 1/4″ E-clip. (If you’re me, it’s going to be 5 seconds after you used the last one in the batch you bought from Fastenal.)

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Words of wisdom right here^

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

Words of a hoarder, but as a car hoarder, I wholeheartedly agree. Push Pins too if they are not mangled.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Unfortunately, more and more vehicles are equipped with the ‘use once’ fittings for high-torque applications. That caliper-to-steering knuckle bolt you just grabbed opportunistically may fail on you later…

Steve Schriefer
Steve Schriefer
1 year ago

I’ve found all kinds of neat items like meat cleavers, tools, and multitools. I’ve even found a flash drive that had some “personal” photography. I don’t see that anyone else stated the obvious, but I love getting lots of M6 & 8 nuts and bolts and German hose clamps (BMW and MB only). Since plating services charge by the pound, I always just add from my piles of collected junk.

My other big thing is to ransack cars within two rows of whatever car I am looking at because of hidden stashes of parts. My cars are all popular models that get hit hard and fast, but many times stuff is just hidden for a later return.

My best find has been a MINI JCW leather dash panel set for my R53. I got it for $20. It was in the absolutely worst looking MINI I had ever seen on the outside and honestly the inside looked like ass too, but then it had that dash… The last person who wanted it offered me $1,200 and so far I have resisted the urge to part ways with it as it is a unicorn part.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

Having rare cars means everyone I know is on the lookout for 411s (and to a lesser extent, 944s, too). I will drop everything and head to a yard with decent spares.

I swear if anyone I know sees a 411 anywhere, even in like, Outer Mongolia, I get a message telling me about it. (Also, does that Mongolian 411 still have its side trim? I kinda want my chrome back. Can I bribe you to pull it?)

As for pulling the parts, I just kinda neatly disassemble things and bring friends for anything that needs extra leverage. It takes longer, but it’s only fair to the person missing that exact thingie that’s in the way.

I’m still angry about the 944 someone DROVE IN to a yard, with the parts still labeled in baggies, because their trashfire significant other said it was her or the car. Like, that’s not a lasting relationship if she’s that angry over the fact that you have your own hobbies. Pressuring you to dump a RUNNING VEHICLE that you were restoring at a Pick ‘N’ Pull should have made this obvious. The yard didn’t even have the heart to drill the oil pan to drain it. We descended on it like vultures and I walked away with a ton of spares, but what the hell? I hope he grew the confidence to dump her and (if she didn’t learn anything from that) she dies alone.

That car had a “PORSCHE”-text floor mat that I still use in the 411 and a ton of spares I grabbed for the Porschelump.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stef Schrader
ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

When I had my 924 I went to a yard in Omaha that listed one, it turned out to be a 924 Turbo. Most of the Turbo specialty mechanical bits were gone, but the lovely NACA ducted hood had been removed and used as a panel to keep the junk yard jack stands holding up the adjacent car from sinking into the mud. The horrah, the hooroah!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago
Reply to  ProudLuddite

This makes me sad. :'(

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago

If you find something good in a self-serve yard, and don’t have the ability to buy it right away, stash it in another car, ideally something nobody wants parts from, and buy it another day. This tactic also works on yards that have sales days to buy parts cheap. I’ve done this a few times.

Of course you risk someone else finding your stash. I’ve randomly found clearly stashed parts in other vehicles and bought them, probably ruining someone’s day.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Hilariously, this was also Max’s exact advice to Caroline on Two Broke Girls for how to nail the good stuff when shopping at Goodwill.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

True but that show not hillarious. I do like Caroline in The Neighborhood though.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Two of the yards around here got wise to that and now actually look for and pull obvious ‘stash’ parts to sell at the counter. One of them also goes through the whole car and pulls any ‘extras’ like tools and the like to sell up at the counter. (Need a rusty screwdriver? They’ve got a bucket of ’em, $0.50 each.)

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

yep, batteries, phone charger and even cigarette lighters sometimes around here

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

Bring leverage, penetrant, and some method of impact (e.g. ball pein hammer) for persuading recalcitrant fasteners. Bring a friend for an additional pair of hands.

Best thing I ever found? A steering box for a ’72 Super Beetle.

I had swapped the stock wheels and tires for aftermarket aluminum wheels with 195/50s all around. The wider tires apparently put too much stress on the steering box and it broke. I could still steer, oddly enough, but there was one full revolution of play in the steering wheel. Lane changes were interesting.

New Super Beetle boxes were very expensive at the time (much more than for standard Beetles), so off I went with a buddy to the salvage yard. And there it was…

A decent-looking Super sitting crookedly on top of a worse off RX-7. The Mazda’s back glass was gone, so I was able to stand in that part and wrench at my leisure and at a convenient height.

Took the steering box to The Man and nervously asked how much it would be. He thought about it for a few seconds and gruffly said “20 bucks”. Huzzah!! I thanked him profusely and skedaddled before he changed his mind. Also because it was closing time.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Rock Rail front and rear TJ fenders on an about to be picked clean side swiped TJ. the lower door rails were gone on one side so the one remaining also came home. all for 35 bucks since they did not know what to classify them as.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

My best advice is to take the junkyard car apart as carefully as you’d take apart your own. For one, it’s courteous; you might not need that wiring harness or piece of console trim, but someone else might. No need to ruin it. And also, it’s good practice for when you do take yours apart.

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Yes, I hate junkyard hacks who ruin other parts to get to the ones they need.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Oh, and my best find was when I replaced the nasty steering wheel in my old Nissan Pathfinder. I found a perfect leather-wrapped 3-spoke wheel in a wrecked ’87 300ZX turbo, amd snagged it for $30. Fit perfectly, and transformed the interior of that truck.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

This is the key right here.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Excellent advice! I often used junkyards to practice an unfamiliar job on something that was already dead. Really wish I’d done that on a blower motor install: it’s amazing how much stuff they stuffed in there. Never did get one vent correctly connected-and parts of the dash had rather sloppy fit-and-finish.

Of course, it’s much easier now we have digital cameras in our pockets. I think I was paying 50 or 75 cents for each Polaroid back then

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

I try to be a considerate guy, but 95% of what is sitting in the yard is going to the recycle mosh pit. I also don’t have the comforts of home and my full tool kit. If it is expedient to use the “Hulk Smash” method of disassembly I will. Though I try to keep the destruction limited to plastic and others bits that are pretty roached out already.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

If you were writing for a primarily British membership, would you have to call this feature “Spannering Wednesday?”

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

So funny I almost tossed my biscuits!

32
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x