How to Find the Best Recycled Parts at a Salvage Yard

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Car repairs are a necessary but expensive part of owning an automobile. One way to save money on the cost of repairs is to look for second-hand parts from a salvage yard. 


With all that said, choosing to look for second-hand parts will require a little extra effort if you want to find good quality parts. In this guide, we’ll help you find the best ones.

recycled car parts

Choose the right junkyard

The right junkyard will have a nice selection of inventory to choose from. They will also make it easy for you to find what you are looking for, both online and in-person. 


On their website, the scrap yard should have an easily searchable database where you can look for specific parts. When you visit in person, you should notice neatly-arranged vehicles, along with knowledgeable staff who can help you find what you are looking for.


Customer service and reputation are equally as important as inventory. Workers should be willing to answer questions without making you feel as though you are infringing on their time. They should also offer transparent pricing and warranty information.

Check for environmental best practices

Learning about a junkyard’s environmental policies is another way to determine how reputable it is. Find one that recycles gas, oil, and other fluids whenever possible. Not only is this good for the earth, but it can also make pulling parts a little less messy.

Know your possible options

It isn’t always possible to find the exact part you are looking for at a junkyard. Accordingly, you should also determine what, if any, substitutes are available. For example, if you have an Isuzu Rodeo, parts from a Honda Passport may work just as well.


Your junkyard may have its own database where you can look up comparable auto parts. If not, your mechanic can probably identify a few alternatives for you to consider.

Bring your own tools

When pulling parts from a scrap yard, you’ll need to provide your own tools. Keep in mind that you’ll need to haul your tools from the parking lot to wherever the vehicle you are pulling from is located. This could be quite some distance, depending on the junkyard. Keep in mind that you’ll want to avoid bringing more tools than what you actually need to prevent overworking yourself.

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scrap yard parts


At the same time, you don’t want to get to the salvage yard only to find that you have left something you needed behind. It’s always better to bring a few extra tools and then leave them in your truck in case you do need them. That way, if you need them you will only have to go as far as the parking lot in order to retrieve them.


When bringing tools, remember that not all facilities allow blow torches or power tools. Beforehand, you should find out what a scrap yard’s policy is before heading down to pull parts.

Size up the Vehicle

junk yard parts

Knowing why a vehicle ended up in a scrap yard can help you decide whether or not it’s worth pulling parts from. For example, you may not want to extract an engine from a vehicle that was salvaged because of damaged head gaskets. On the other hand, a motor from one that was totaled in an automobile accident may be just fine.


You can tell a lot about an automobile just by looking at it. Check it out for signs of damage that might indicate it’s been in an accident. If it appears the vehicle has been wrecked, you will want to check any suspension parts you are planning to pull very carefully to ensure they are still safe.


Look for mold or mildew on the carpet and headliner, which could determine if the car was exposed to flooding. In that case, you may not want to pull an engine or transmission for your vehicle but you could possibly get away with removing the wheels and tires.


It may not be possible to tell much about a car that has been substantially picked over. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either as it could mean that lots of other people have salvaged high-quality parts from that particular vehicle. Just use your best judgment and check each part carefully to avoid any problems.

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General Inspection Tips

Look parts over very thoroughly, checking for any possible:


  • Leaks
  • Worn o-rings or other wearable parts
  • Dents or corrosion
  • Cracks or dings
  • Stripped threading
  • Missing or worn electrical connections


Bring a flashlight so that you can check into dark areas like underneath belts and hoses. This will also help you see tiny parts such as the spring mechanism on the throttle body. When pulling an engine or transmission, viewing the fluid underneath with a flashlight will help you better see metal shavings or other irregularities.


Remember that you are dealing with used parts that have likely had a great deal of exposure to the weather. As a result, they are unlikely to be in new or pristine condition. Some rust or corrosion is to be expected, so long as it does not affect the functionality of a part.

Ask to test your salvaged parts

Certain parts such as window regulators, windshield wiper motors, and radios should be tested whenever possible. One way of doing that is to bring a small jump box with you that can easily hook up to a battery terminal. However, this will require a key, which is something the junkyard may or may not be willing or able to give you.


Some auto salvage yards will perform testing for you. If so, you should have this done while you are still on site. Otherwise, be sure you know what, if any, warranty applies as well as the timeframe for returning faulty parts.

Find Your Parts at Your Local Salvage Yard

Choosing high-quality parts from a salvage yard is something of an adventure. The idea may seem scary at first, but after a few trips to the junkyard, you’ll feel like a pro at it. Keep the above things in mind and not only can you save a great deal of money on auto parts, but you can also have a lot of fun doing so.