How To Locate Hard-To-Find Used OEM Parts

Junkyard

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 fellow wrench-turners, there’s a better way to get hard-to-find used OEM parts from an auto salvage yard or junkyard.

Car-Parts.com is an online site that lets you look for specific parts. You can specify the year, make, model, sub-model, and trim level of the car which you need spare parts for. From there, you can even specify the exact part you’re looking for. The site will look for any auto salvage yard 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.

In this piece, we’ll explain everything you need to know about this topic. We’ll be discussing Car-Parts.com and how it 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 vehicles 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 auto salvage yards to get replacement parts.

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How Automotive Salvage Yards Work

An auto salvage yard will typically have a shop where parts are disassembled from a vehicle and then stored in the warehouse ready for purchase. Oftentimes, the car has yet to be disassembled and is left out somewhere on the lot.

Sometimes they’re also The owners of a salvage yard will buy old cars from people who are looking to scrap their vehicles or they purchase them from salvage auto auctions. The payout is usually really small because the cars are normally really beat up.

The salvage yard 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 salvage yard. 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. Auto salvage yards will sell parts of these scrapped cars to people looking to replace parts from a specific car. You go in and tell them what car you have and what part you’re looking for.

The salvage yard will look through its 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. Auto salvage yards might charge you per pound of material you’re taking, per wheelbarrow, give you a random price on parts, 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 Auto Salvage Yard

The hardest part is finding the right salvage yard for the part you want. You can definitely Google “auto salvage yard near me”, but the search process could take days to find the right replacement part. We suggest using the database at Car-Parts.com to get you started.

Sometimes they might be labeled as an auto-recycler, OEM used parts yard, junkyard, or scrap yard.

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 salvage yard 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 is in, the price, the salvage yard 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 salvage yard across the continent and see what they have? Car-Parts.com gives you access to a database that makes your life so easy. As salvage yards 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 inside a salvage yard 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 pull-a-part to you.

It also gives you the salvage yard’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.

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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 salvage yard 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 salvage yard 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.

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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 salvage yard 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 salvage yard 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.

Live Chat

Have a quick question? You can use the “live chat” function on Car-Parts.com. It allows you to talk directly with the salvage yard 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 Auto Salvage Yard

As great as Car-Parts.com is, you’re still at the mercy of the salvage yard itself. Since they aren’t affiliated with the platform, there’s not much that can be done by car-part the website.

Many used auto parts re-sellers on car-part.com will have strict ‘no refund’ policies due to various reasons. It is your responsibility to ensure that the part looks good before paying for it at the counter.

If there is un-expected damage that wasn’t in the pictures you saw online, they might be able to give you a partial discount but for the most part, many salvage yards are very strict with pricing and will not budge.

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Sometimes Data is Out-of-Date

Along the same vein, sometimes the salvage yard 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 salvage yard 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 salvage yard directly. This means that you have to do a little homework on the dealer before making the trip. Make sure they accept the form of payment you have with you.

Many auto salvage yards don’t accept credit cards, especially American Express. I’ve been to some that even in 2022 only take cash or debit card.

Conclusion

There’s no need to waste your time strolling around salvage yards 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.

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References:

Car-Part

Auto Salvage Yard – OEM Used Parts

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

4 thoughts on “How To Locate Hard-To-Find Used OEM Parts”

    • For something like that where there are no search results on eBay nor car-parts, on car-parts you can enter in a form if no results are found. If someone has that part, they’ll give you a call or email you. Also, check out https://row52.com/. Row52 is a go-to for those extremely hard-to-find parts that no one has. You can create a ‘Parts Wanted’ list and if someone has it, they’ll get in contact with you. I hope this helps.

      Reply
  1. If I owned a salvage yard and used car part. Com I would be pissed by this article. You slammed an entire industry as crooks. Especially calling it a junk yard. Why would anyone go to a junk yard??

    Reply
    • I revised the article. Some auto salvage yards also function as a junkyard. Thanks for checking out the article and bringing up any issues you found with it.

      Reply

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