How to Buy a Junkyard Treasure

You have a car and need multiple parts for it. Or perhaps you have set your eyes on a jalopy that no longer runs. Fixing it and bringing it back to its former glory is an option. Either way, you might consider purchasing what you need from a junkyard. Yes, an automotive recycling center is one way to go, even if the term itself isn’t familiar to you.

Purchasing an entire vehicle or what’s left of it from a salvage yard is one way to acquire numerous functioning parts to fix your ride. A junkyard may also reveal a hidden treasure, such as a 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne sedan that has all its major components intact even if the body itself needs some work. The latter might make for a fascinating project car, a vehicle you may be able to get for just a few hundred dollars.

So, how should you buy a car at a junkyard? It isn’t that difficult, especially once you identify the one you want. Here’s how to acquire a junkyard treasure.


junked cars
One man’s clunker is another man’s treasure.

Step No. 1: Begin Your Search

Likely, there is a junkyard near you. Quite possibly several of them. Most are hidden away in remote areas, but some are located right within city limits behind the fenced-in property. Some junkyards have full vehicles on hand, while others have crushed them for recycling.

An Internet search can quickly reveal what’s around you. In your Google toolbar, type “nearby junkyards,” then review the results. In some cases, you may need to use specific terms such as “auto salvage parts” and “salvage yard” to find what you want. We recommend identifying three. If websites are available, visit them for more information.

Step No. 2: Find What You Want

Are you looking for specific parts for your vehicle? If so, the junkyard manager will know what he or she has on hand. This is especially true if the yard is small with perhaps just a few dozen junked vehicles available.

But if you cannot find what you want, then turn your eyes to larger yards where hundreds or thousands of scrapped vehicles sit in repose. Most salvage yards know exactly what they have on hand and where the vehicle is located. Moreover, some will tell you what parts remain, whether the vehicle is in running condition, and other details to help you make your decision.

Visiting the scrapyard in person and viewing the vehicles available will help you determine whether you have something you need or not. If you’re searching for specific parts, bring your tools and protective gear to secure what you need.

Step No. 3: Negotiate Your Price

Everything is negotiable, including the price of parts found on a junked car. That said, you may find that purchasing the entire vehicle is cheaper than pulling off certain parts. Keep in mind that the yard may have paid just $100 to $200 to secure the vehicle. While they most certainly won’t let a vehicle go for next to nothing, you have room to settle an equitable price.

If you end up winning the entire vehicle, be prepared to supply a flat-bed truck to deliver it to your location. On the other hand, the salvage yard may offer personal delivery. For an added fee, of course.

Own Your Clunker

If you are purchasing a full vehicle, it likely has a salvage title. Acquire the title from the wrecker’s yard, then follow your state’s DMV to register it in your name. You probably won’t receive plates nor will you have to insure them. In any case, follow your state’s rules to make certain that your junkyard treasure is compliant.


Photo Attribution


Rusty Ford featured image copyright Stumpwater Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Image by Andreas Glöckner from Pixabay

Author: Johnny Orion
Johnny Orion is a weekend mechanic and a Cars & Coffee hound who dabbles in writing, mostly about cars. His goal is to retrace the famous Route 66 highway in a restored 1972 Pontiac Firebird hardtop with a four-barrel carburetor and a 3-speed manual gearbox. But first, he must convince his friend to sell...

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