How To Save Money On Auto Parts


How To Get Dirt cheap Auto Parts Locally and Online

Save Big on Auto Parts

Gene Smith

A lot of people have decided to fix their own car in today’s economy, but have found that to replace that broken widget blows the budget.

Well, there is good news and it’s nothing new. In fact, the answer is as old as cars themselves! 

Auto recyclers build their business on saving you lots of green while helping keep the environment green.

Auto recyclers, known in the past (and still are according to Google) as junkyards, have become professional and environmentally friendly all while saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

Even though you probably have one around the corner, most people are too intimidated to deal with them and won’t even call. they mostly don’t bite, I promise!

Here is a guide to help you deal with your local salvager and keep a few of those hard earned bucks in your pocket.

How To Start

Once you have decided which widget you need, (Radiator, fuel pump, alternator, window, wheel, transmission, etc.) get your Vehicle Identification Number or VIN as its called, it is located on your title, your insurance card, the left lower windshield area on the dash and in most cases, on a sticker in the drivers door jamb. While you are looking at that door jamb sticker also get that production date.

Many parts are redesigned or replaced midway through the production run of a vehicle and its important to know the month and even sometimes the day your vehicle was built. You will also want the year, make and model of your vehicle.

The next step will be a Google search for “Auto Parts/Used and Rebuilt” or “Used auto parts near me”. There are several  websites dedicated to helping you find the parts you need such as or or even better, our parts search at

The term “parts hotlines”,  refers to the  old timers version of the internet. The ‘hotline” was a telephone networking system in which salvage yards used to find parts that they didn’t have at other yards. If you walked into the office of a salvage yard prior to the nineties you probably heard squawking  in the background asking for a particular part. Really, it was a cutting edge system in its day and solved the problem of not being able to stock every part for every car ever made.

The Supply problem

That problem remains and now yards use the internet to solve it. That is good because you can access the internet systems to find your part. Using the internet you can not only find what you need but you can sort by distance or price. If it is a large part you will probably want to sort by distance as shipping can get pretty pricey, For smaller parts you could sort by price as most salvage yards ship daily.

Some forward thinking yards offer the option of buying through their website  and paying with paypal or credit card. One thing though, if there is any question as to exactly what you need, call first. It can cost  a lot of time and money for you and the seller if you accidentally order the wrong part.

You can also look for specialty websites such as if you have a Lexus or many more for the different makes of cars.

Just call

If you are not internet savvy you can still access the system with a call to your local yard. The salesperson should walk you through the questions you’ll need to answer for them to get you the right part. Just like with any business, if the person on the phone is not knowledgeable and helpful, try another recycler. 

Certain parts will require more info off of the car and might require some research on your part. Sometimes it’s just plain easier to take the old part in and let the sales staff match it for you. But there again, call first and they will tell you if they need the old one to match or as an exchange.

Now that you and the salesperson have decided exactly which part you need they will check availability. Likely they will have what you are looking for on hand, if not, most will locate the part for you and offer to ship it in. This is usually a better deal as now you are dealing with a local business and not one in another town or state. This way if you have a problem you have someone local to deal with.

Is that the best you can do?

Now that you have established the availability of your part, it’s time to establish the price. Usually, you will get a price much cheaper than the dealer right off of the bat, but sometimes you can still bargain. Remember that most salvage yards are private companies vying for your dollars. The prices may not be set in stone. Just ask, “Is that the best you can do?”, many times this phrase will save you a few bucks.

You can also call around. Many yards have different pricing structures and you might get a better deal on one part at “Yard A” and a better deal on the next part at “Yard B”. It can also help to know online pricing but be careful, sometimes damage or mileage may not be reflected in online pricing so make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Don’t let a cheap price fool you into buying from the wrong supplier.

What is the warranty?  

Most yards give you a thirty-day to a one-year warranty with all purchases, but in getting current with the era many salvagers also offer extended warranties covering the part and sometimes even labor. Make sure and ask about the warranty after the best price is established and consider the warranty when comparing prices between yards.

How long will I wait?

Most auto recyclers work on a first-come, first-served basis, but more and more yards are offering the option of ordering your part on the phone, usually with a credit card, and calling you when the part is ready. Many also offer delivery to local shops so if your car is in the shop you can have your parts sent to the car. Check with your mechanic first though as some frown on customer-supplied parts.

So you want to pull it yourself?

My opinion is that time is money. While you can get cheap prices at the “u pull it” yard, you are giving up customer service, warranty options, and a lot of your time. If you tinker a lot and know what you are looking for this could be ok for you, otherwise, work with a full-service recycler.

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