When you’re working on a car, you can’t get anywhere without the right part in your hand. You can either go to a mechanic and spend a ton of money, or you can source the part yourself and do the replacement on your own. For our fellow wrench-turners, we have good news: there’s a better way to get hard-to-find used OEM parts from junkyards.
In this piece, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this topic. We’ll be discussing Car-Parts.com and how they can help people like us. Let’s get started!
Why Do You Need OEM Parts?
When you’re installing a part in your car, you can go for an OEM part or an aftermarket one. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. If you’re installing a Chevy OEM part, it means that Chevy blessed the part and signed off that the part is correct for your car.
Aftermarket options are usually less expensive but a bit more dangerous. There are no real regulations about who can sell aftermarket parts and there’s no guarantee that they actually work. This might not be a huge deal for something like a rearview mirror, but it’s a huge deal when you’re talking about powertrain parts.
OEM parts come with a guarantee that they’ll work as long as they’re from the right company and for the right vehicle. Collectors typically stick to OEM parts to keep their vehicle true and resalable. The only downside is that OEM parts typically cost more than aftermarket parts. In some cases, the price difference is enormous. This leads people to go to junkyards to get replacement parts.
How Junkyards Work
A junkyard is like a sentient version of a trash landfill. The owners of a junkyard will buy old cars from people who are looking to scrap their vehicles. The payout is usually really small because the cars are normally really beat up.
The junkyard workers will sort all their vehicles and put together some type of inventory. They’ll chronicle what cars they have and the general location of the vehicle within the junkyard. They’ll either be randomly scattered around with a crane, or they’ll be stacked within metal racks. Nicer cars might get the luxury of getting stored within a warehouse to reduce decay and weathering.
The last part of the puzzle is where you come in. Junkyards will sell parts of these scrapped cars to people looking to replace parts from a specific car. You go in, tell them what car you have and what part you’re looking for.
The junkyard will look through their inventory to tell you where the correct vehicles are. It’s your job to find the car, take the parts you want, load them into a bag or wheelbarrow, and take them home.
Alternatively, you can just wander around as much as you’d like and hand-pick parts from different vehicles. Junkyards might charge you per pound of material you’re taking, per wheelbarrow, give you a random price, or have a set price per general part.
Whatever the payment structure is, you’re almost always getting an insanely good deal. As long as you know how to take off a strut, it’s yours to have.
Finding the Right Junkyard
The hardest part is finding the right junkyard for the part you want. You can definitely Google “junkyard near me”, but the searching process could take days to find the right replacement part. We suggest using the database at Car-Parts.com to get you started.
Using Car-Parts.com to Get Hard-to-Find Used OEM Parts
Car-Parts.com is an online site that lets you look for specific parts. You can specify a year, make, model, sub-model, and trim level of the car you need spare parts for. From there, you can even specify the exact part you’re looking for.
The site will look for junkyards across the USA, Canada, or Mexico that have the part you’re looking for. You can also sort by region or state if you want to pare down the results.
Now it’s time to fill in the info. You can input your VIN to get all the info, or you can manually select it. Let’s see if they have a 2012 Audi A6 fuel cap at a junkyard near us. Looks like there’s one in Layton, Utah that’s calling our name.
The search will show you the vehicle, what shape the part’s in, the price, the junkyard info, and how far it is away from you.
For more common cars, you’ll see a huge list of options. Some parts might even require you to choose a version of the part from another list.
All in all, you get access to a massive database. It shows you the used OEM parts that will fit your car. You can get as specific as you want and you’ll probably still get hits.
We like to sort the results by distance. From there, you can start calling the different yards and asking about their pricing structure.
Pros of Car-Parts.com
There is so much to love about this platform. Let’s take a second and highlight some of the best parts of Car-Parts.com.
Access to an Exclusive Database
What other means do you have to look through every junkyard across the continent and see what they have? Car-Parts.com gives you access to a database that makes your life so easy. As junkyards upload more data, the platform gets even stronger.
Saves You a Ton of Time
The best part about the site is how much time it can save you. You don’t need to step foot on a junkyard until you know that it has exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for a yard to wander around in and see what they have, you can search a very general term just to see the nearest junkyards to you.
It also gives you the junkyard’s contact info. You can make a quick call and confirm details and pricing before stopping by. By doing this work ahead of time, you’re saving so much time.
It Lets You Get Specific
Let’s say you’re looking for an airbag for your car. There’s a secondary drop-down box that allows you to select the exact airbag you’re looking for. Is it for the passenger’s seat or the driver’s roof position? By selecting the right option, you can view the specific results.
This is the case for all the parts on their database. You can get incredibly specific and see exactly what’s in stock.
Set Up Email Notifications
If you pick a part that doesn’t get any hits on Car-Part.com, it’s not the end of the world. You can put in your basic contact info and the site will automatically reach out to you when they have the right part.
This is a huge deal for people with rarer cars – there’s no longer a need to stop by the junkyard every week and see if they have the right car or not.
Search By Images
Looking for a “thingamabob” that you don’t know the name of? Rather than trying to gesture the part to a random junkyard worker, you can search by images on the site.
They have a repository of random parts that are commonly sold by recyclers. Just keep scrolling until you find what you’re looking for. Now you know the name of the part and you can quickly check the availability.
Get it Shipped to You
In certain cases, the recycler on Car-Parts.com can ship the part directly to you. No need to make the trip or get your hands dirty.
There are certain parts that simply aren’t shippable. If you see something you really like, it’s a good idea to call the junkyard listed and figure it out with them.
Check Dealers by State
If you want a bunch of parts or you just want to know where your local junkyard is, this site also comes in handy. You don’t have to search for a part or even a car – you can just view their list of dealers by state.
Have a quick question? You can use the “live chat” function on Car-Parts.com. It allows you to talk directly with the junkyard and ask any questions you might have. This is great to quickly ask about availability from a number of places.
Quickly Request Quote
Sometimes there isn’t a price posted on the listing. In these cases, you can get a quick quote by clicking the hyperlink within the listing. It brings you to a form that you can quickly fill out and submit for a quote.
Cons of Car-Parts.com
There are a few cons to consider as well. Let’s discuss them now.
At the Mercy of the Junkyard
As great as Car-Parts.com is, you’re still at the mercy of the junkyard you’re looking at. Since they aren’t affiliated with the platform, there’s nothing really governing what they can and can’t do.
In some cases, the junkyard will try to mess with you and lie about pricing. Alternatively, they might leave out a bunch of info or make mistakes in their listing.
It’s just part of the game when it comes to getting used OEM parts. Make sure your guard is always up and you do some research ahead of time. The last thing you want to do is overpay for a part that doesn’t even work.
Sometimes Data is Out-of-Date
Along the same vein, sometimes the junkyard doesn’t update their listings frequently enough. You might find the perfect part and jump on the opportunity only to find out that the part was taken by another customer. We suggest keeping your hopes low until you step foot in the junkyard and have the part in hand.
Can’t Buy Through Car-Parts.com
You also can’t complete a sale through the platform, it has to be done through the recycler or junkyard. This means that you have to do a little homework on the dealer before making the trip. Make sure they don’t have a history of ripping people off before making your decision.
There’s no need to waste your time strolling around junkyards anymore. You can use the professional platform at Car-Parts.com to quickly locate and secure hard-to-find used OEM parts. Using this service means that your daily driver or project car will be up and running in no time. For more car info and tips, check out the rest of our blog. Make sure you have the right tools and accessories to keep you going.