One of the advantages of keeping your older vehicle is that you'll avoid the high cost and monthly payments associated with a newer car (not to mention the depreciation). Having said that, components wear out after tens of thousands of miles and several years of use. Finding replacement parts that will put your vehicle back on the road at a price that doesn't blow your budget can be a challenge. A lot of motorists look toward junkyards as a reliable source of used car parts. But, is it a good idea to buy them there?

It's Not Your Father's Salvage Yard

If the last time you visited a junkyard was more than a decade ago, you may be surprised by the changes. Long ago, the carcasses of automobiles were strewn lazily throughout a plot of dirt. If you needed to find a particular component, you would spend time looking through the wreckage hoping to stumble upon it. Asking an employee for help was a hit-or-miss proposition; they would often be unaware of the items within their inventory.

Today, everything is computerized with each item stored within a database. Every radiator, passenger seat, water pump, and stereo knob can be accounted for with a few clicks of a button. If you need to find a specific item, you won't be forced to spend hours digging through a dirty lot. Just ask an attendant to check the database. What's more, a lot of salvage yards are now connected through a network. If one location cannot find a component in their database, they can check the databases of other locations.

How Much Money Can You Expect To Save?

Every junk yard is a little different with regard to pricing. And the amount you can expect to save will vary based on the type of item you're looking for. For example, car seats may carry higher savings than fuel pumps. As a general rule, you should expect to pay 40% to 50% less than you would for a comparable new unit. A brand new "straight-from-the-box" alternator might cost $200. At a junkyard, you should expect to pay $100 to $120 for the same brand and model.

An important point should be made here. Buying certain components from a salvage yard is risky because you won't know whether there are defects. If you're purchasing a replacement rear bumper for your car, there's little need for concern. However, brake systems, water pumps, alternators, and catalytic converters are more difficult to judge. One small defect can lead to a failure. I always recommend buying auto parts that meet OEM standards. They're far less likely to fail. Whether they're new or remanufactured, the peace of mind they offer is well worth the higher price.

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Should You Buy Auto Parts From a Salvage Yard?
By Lawrence Reaves 
This article will explore some of the advantages and drawbacks of purchasing used components at salvage yards. I'll explain how these vendors have changed over the years and offer a few tips for chasing down the auto parts you need. We'll also take a realistic look at the potential cost savings.
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