Wrecking yards (or junk yards if you are American) are a great place to get spare parts for your car at massive discounts. There are a few things you need to know before going.
You’re not in a department store
You are not going to find organised shelves of car parts. What you are going to find is row after row of partially dismantled cars, which may be stacked in precarious ways.
1. Ring before you go
A wrecking yard is a big place, and cars have a lot of parts. Some wreckers keep an inventory of parts available. Others will send someone to run around the yard looking for the car part you need. Ring first, or you are going to be wasting a drive.
2. Bring tools
Great, they have a tow bar! Just what you need. The catch is that it is still bolted to the car. Some wreckers will lend tools, some won’t. Bring your own tools. At a minimum, bring:
- a socket set
- a shifter spanner (monkey wrench)
- screw drivers (Phillips and Flat head)
If you have a breaker bar, put that in your boot/trunk too (it will help if you need to remove rusted on bolts).
3. Bring a camera / phone
Take photos of the part you are removing. It helps when you fit it to your car.
4. Bring a snap lock bag to put nuts / screws / bolts in
You’re probably going to have a few once you remove the part.
5. Be sun safe
Here in Brisbane, the sun can burn you in under 20 minutes. You are probably going to be stuck in the sun while you work. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a must.
6. Prices are negotiable
The wrecker doesn’t want parts sitting on their lot. If something has been there a while, they are going to be keen to offload it. Make an offer. The worst they can say is no.
7. A wrecking yard is dangerous
There are hazards all over the place. Sharp metal littered around, heavy machinery in use, cars balanced at odd angles. If you’re unlucky, you might find venomous snakes sunning themselves in-between rows of cars. Keep your wits about you, don’t wear headphones, and don’t bring your kids (most wrecking yards won’t even let them in).
And that folks, is how you survive your trip to a wrecking yard. Now I’m off to fit a tow bar.