The short answer: Yes, you can buy a car from a junkyard.
But that isn’t the end of the story.
While the idea of buying a car from a junkyard may sound fascinating to many, it is always advisable to be clear about why you are doing this in the first place. There are those of us who like to tinker with cars and other who like to scavenge for classics.
Is a junkyard the best place to start looking for car parts or to buy a car? Are you saving money in the end? Whichever category you fall in there are a few important things that you should know about buying a car from a junkyard.
Considerations before you buy a car from a junkyard
1. You can buy more than a “junkie” from a junkyard
Yes, you can lose money in a junkyard by buying a “junkie” that will be towed for the rest of its life.
On the other hand, you can find a good car from a salvage yard that will give you many years of faithful service.
Set your expectations from the beginning: do not expect anything close to a new vehicle, but know that you can find an old car that has been gently used plus.
2. Junkyards use a fair market value estimate
Junkyards follow industry guidelines based on fair market value.
This means that they do not quote arbitrary prices but have to justify the selling price of each car or vehicle part. This is unlike most automotive dealerships that do not adhere to any industry standards.
3. Junkyards do not sell cars without a clean title
Junkyards do not sell cars that have been written off or totaled out. Such cars do not have a valid title but have a “salvage title” instead. However, they can sell the usable parts of vehicles that have a salvage title.
How To Buy A Car From a Junkyard
The first thing you should do is check the exact damage on the car that you have your eyes on.
You want to avoid cars that have been involved in fire and flood accidents or those that have been involved in severe crashes. Severely bent frames are a tell-tale sign of cars that have been involved in fatal crashes.
1. Avoid cars with a salvage title
A salvage title attached to a car means that the cost of repairing the car exceeds that of purchasing a new one.
Use your common sense here and steer clear from salvage titles. This only works when you are looking for a classic to showcase for decorative reasons. Otherwise, go for a car title that is valid.
2. Find the best price
The buying price of a fully reconstructed junkyard motor should not be over 60% of the cost of a new car. The lower the price the better for you for as long as the quality is maintained. You should ask to have a pre-purchase inspection by an expert mechanic.
3. Will you carry out the repair on your own?
Doing your own repairs can save you a significant sum of money. However this means towing the car from the scrap yard before it is fully operational. This definitely comes with increased risk and more hassle.
Also, doing your own repairs gives you control over the process ensuring that all parts used are of high quality and the process is completed to your standards.
Can You Buy Car Parts From A Junkyard?
Yes, you can buy auto parts that are still in good working condition. A car that has been totaled out can have some new parts that are as good as new. Say for example a new car got involved in a severe road accident that caused it to be totaled out. While some used parts may be unsalvageable others may still be in mint condition.
Parts such as safety belts, brake pads, hoses, and filters should not be purchased from salvaged cars. However, other parts such as engine parts, interior material, scrap metal, and electrical wiring can be salvaged if they are in good condition or can be repaired.
Before parting with your money for any vehicle part, look at the wear and tear. If the part has extensive wear and tear you are better off paying more for a new part. Some parts will only need cleaning before they can be used again in another car.