What is the first image that pops into your head when you picture a junkyard? Do you picture row after row of half-smashed cars, doomed to suffer a rust induced decomposition? Perhaps you picture a bunch of creepy looking guys in denim overalls mocking you from the shadows? They likely know everything there is to know about cars and don’t respect you unless your clothes are comprised of more grease than fabric.
The Times Have Changed
Believe it or not, the junkyard has evolved a lot in the last few decades. Things are not, for the most part, like that anymore. Modern technology knows no bounds and has even made its away into junkyards across the country. Today’s junkyards often utilize a computer database to keep track of part inventories, which can dramatically limit the amount of time spent searching the lot for that needle in the haystack you’re after. Most of the popular “best seller” parts are often displayed in the front of the store; if you’re looking for a common part you may not even have to trudge through the lot. You don’t have to feel like you’re visiting the funeral parlor anymore, thanks to a few technological innovations.
Of course, it’s not all puppies and ice cream, either. Most junkyards in the U.S are privately owned business, run by professional men and women. They are businesses, not charities, and they know the value of their parts more than anyone else. They are not going to throw you a thousand bucks worth of hard to find engine parts for the change in your pocket, but they will often treat you fairly. Some times, they will even help you track a part down that you can’t completely describe or identify. Like anything else, however, knowing exactly what you’re looking for and the going rate will help you find it quicker and negotiate the fairest price.
What To Avoid:
The bigger junkyards are typically arranged in lots, or separated sections with each section having either a certain brand of cars in it. Sometimes there will be a section for late model cars, sometimes there will be sections devoted to Chevrolet, etc. The organization usually leaves something to be desired, but helps a bit to help you navigate an otherwise unnavigable lot of junk. Keep in mind you may be charged a fee simply to browse the property.
The best way to approach the junkyard is to first visit the office, let them know what you need, and ask what their ground rules consist of. Do not hesitate to ask them what they charge to poke around the lot. Sometimes, you will pay a fee to browse each lot, while others will have one fee that allows you to roam the entire property as you wish.
It is also important to understand exactly how the salvage process works at the establishment you are visiting. Some places will expect you to salvage the parts yourself, and expect you to do so without damaging the rest of the vehicle or rendering any other parts worthless. Others will have someone on staff (or several people) who are responsible for extracting the parts for you. Either way, if you’re looking for anything more substantial than a rear view mirror, it’s best to come prepared. Give the junkyard a call ahead of time to find out what tools you need to bring. Some junkyards will be able to provide you with the tools you need and others will expect you to take care of that yourself. Either way, giving them a call ahead of time can at least give you somewhat of an indication if they have the part you’re looking for in stock.
Trash Vs. Treasure
There is some truly great stuff to be found at a junkyard. Even “recent” muscle cars from the 80s can be a pain to find new parts for, not to mention pricey. The Salvage yard offers one more place to look, and many people end up finding a part that is in close to new shape for a small fraction of the price they would pay for a completely new part. Junkyards are a truly proof that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the secret to being successful is to know what treasure you’re after and how much that treasure is worth to you.
Remember, the junkyard can be a great place to find that hard to find part at the right price. So whether you’re looking for that hard to find set of vintage hubcaps or looking to get a good deal on some used OEM wheels, there’s a good chance you’ll find a bargain. Of course, for everything you can’t find, there’s Blackburn’s.