The Virtues of the Pick-Your-Part

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One of the biggest expenses that comes along for the ride when you own a car is replacing pieces of the car – especially small stuff like outside mirrors, grilles, headlight assemblies, tail lights (and tailgates, if you own a truck) and trim bits. No matter what make or model vehicle you’ve got, eventually – inevitably – something’s going to fall off or break off or get dented or broken or otherwise need to be replaced.

That’s when what I call Secondary Sticker Shock comes into play. With late-model cars especially, some of these parts – seemingly (and often actually) just “cheap plastic” – but cheap plastic you’ve got to have, such as an outside mirror – are anything but cheap.

Especially if you do the wrong thing – and go to the dealership looking for a new replacement part.

Now, new is fine – if you feel you’ve got to have new. This may be an issue if the car is new, or nearly new. But if the car is a few years old, then considering a part that’s also a few years old could be the way to go – because the used part will typically cost much less than the new part – and do the job just as well as a new part.

Here’s a true story:

A few weeks ago, my wife went out shopping in our Nissan Frontier pick-up. When she got back to the parked truck, she discovered the driver’s side door mirror was cracked badly. Someone had clipped it in the lot – and left.

Now, I don’t know how much the Nissan dealer would have demanded for a new door mirror. But I’d bet you an oil change and a set of plugs the bill would have been a lot more than the $20 I paid at the local pick-your-part for a used – and perfectly functional and cosmetically identical to the broken original – replacement.

And I do know that I saved about $80 on the tailgate pull handle – which the Nissan dealer wanted more than $100 for new but which I got for $30 at the same pick-your-part place a few months prior.

What is a pick-your-part place? It’s a junkyard where you do the labor. There are hundreds, even thousands of wrecked cars out back. You tell them what you’re looking for – they check their computerized inventory – and if they have a donor vehicle on the lot that’s got the part you need, you agree on a price and then you go pick it. Some pick-your-parts will also pick the part for you – but then you pay a higher price. Probably, it’ll still be a lot less than what the dealer would charge though – and so, well worth doing if you prefer not to get your hands too dirty.

Parts such as door mirrors, grilles and so on don’t really wear out. They’re not moving parts – so the only wear issues are (typically) cosmetic. In the case of my Nissan’s door mirror, which is made of black plastic, the replacement used part’s plastic wasn’t as shiny as the plastic of a brand-new part. But then, neither was the also-used part it replaced.  In fact, had I bought a new part, the new part would have stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. One side of the truck would have an obviously new mirror – the other, obviously older. With the “seasoned” used part installed, you can’t tell the difference. Both mirrors look about the same.

Other parts you can save a small fortune buying used include the complex (and car-specific) “headlight assembles” that have replaced the old generic headlights cars used to have. These fancy-shaped pieces of cheap-looking plastic can stun you speechless when you find out how much they cost – new. Two years ago, I hit a deer in the same Nissan truck mentioned above. The deer took out the passenger side headlight assembly – which cost more (new) to replace than the entire passenger side fender, which also had to be replaced. It was close to $200 – for a “headlight assembly”! I found the part used at the pick-your-part for a lot less. And the used headlight assembly also matched the other one still on the truck. If I’d bought a new one, the truck would have looked cockeyed – one obviously new (no small scratches, no light fading) headlight – one obviously older.

You can also usually find used replacement factory aluminum wheels (which are easily damaged, as many of you probably know from experience) for a third or less what one would cost you new. Ditto body panels – sometimes, even “pre-painted” in the right color! And with the trim bits/badges on them, too.

In fact, pretty much any part of your car could be replaced with a used part from a pick-your-part for much less than you’d have to pay for the same part new from the stealership.

How to find the pick-your-part? Just Google “used auto parts” in your area and several places ought to pop up. I’ve got two within 20 miles of me. Probably, you do, too.

Some of the simple stuff needs no tools – or very basic tools – to get off the donor car. Bring a few common screwdrivers (standard and Phillips), a socket set, some pliers and wrenches. Sometimes, the pick-your-part will allow you to use their tools. If you’ve already removed the part that needs to be replaced, you already know what tools you need – in which case, just bring those.

It may be a little more work than just going to the dealer. But when you discover how much you can save this way, you’ll probably agree it’s time (and effort) well-spent!

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  59 comments for “The Virtues of the Pick-Your-Part

  1. to5
    December 24, 2013 at 4:19 am

    EricP, a friend of mine in Indy had a 78 Firebird back in the early 80s. The brake light switch died, it was mounted on the brake pedal arm. I spent 3 hours on my back trying to remove this switch that was surrounded by 3 welded metal brackets. Is your switch the same setup? I never go the switch off.

    • eric
      December 24, 2013 at 6:21 am

      Hi To5,

      I’d guess yes (since the ’70-81) Firebird was basically the same during those years. However – having owned several – I can also tell you that there are a number of small differences, year to year. As an example, the early (1970-1974) Firebird’s speedometer read to 160, but from 1975-1979 it read to 100. Then in 1980-81, it read to 85! The tachometer facings (and redline) also changed subtly over the years. But the gauge pod itself stayed the same and you can interchange the individual gauges.

      There were also a surprisingly large number of changes to the exterior sheetmetal. For instance, the 1970-76 hood is different from the hood used beginning in ’77. There were at least three different “shaker” scoops. My ’76 has a number of one-year-only front end parts.

      Etc.

      • Eightsouthman
        December 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

        eric, I keep coming back to your description of the TA’s bumper. Didn’t all GM cars that year have the “shock absorber” hootus between the frame and bumper? Maybe just the ones with exposed bumpers?

        • eric
          December 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm

          Hi Eight,

          Pontiac was the first (IIRC) to use body-colored bumpers – on the GTO. The trade name was “Endura” (or close to that; I’m foggy right now). The Firebird got the treatment in 1970, but there were variations over the model years. Some of the covers were rigid fiberglass; some were flexible urethane (or similar). Some years – like mine – used both (upper section is fiberglass; lower bumper is covered in the flexible urethane).

          The bumpers themselves had an “energy absorbing” feature; they were designed to “give” in low-speed impacts and then return to their original position.

  2. Brad Smith
    August 5, 2012 at 6:19 am

    It’s kind of a bummer around here. Finding parts is a bitch. We have a few good places, but it’s a two hour drive. Evil bay helps, but they have fucked so many sellers over I’m surprised anyone still deals with them.

    If anyone has sold on Evil bay and dealt with Pay scam for years you know what I am talking about.

    How about this. You buy my guitar, play it for 28 days smash it on stage and send it back? My insurance won’t cover it because you smashed it. Pay scam takes the cash out of my account and closes me down because I am now around $1,000 bucks in the red. I can no longer see my other sales or what is going on with them. They cancel orders or file claims. Now I’m $5,000 in the hole, but I cover it because I don’t want to fuck anyone over. Then evil bay allows dickwads to give me negative feedback and nothing I sell again goes for a decent price. Over 3,500 positive feebacks and then fucked over.

    • Brad Smith
      August 5, 2012 at 6:34 am

      Just in case anyone wonders. I was the guy who sold dirt cheap, stamped “seconds” or “used” guitars. If you bought one you probably got it from me. I sold thousands of them. “Rogers city guitars” “Sunken lake guitars” etc. I sold one entire stock of Yamaha guitars that closed out. Epiphones, Fenders, Ibenez, etc.

  3. Douglas
    August 5, 2012 at 5:22 am

    If time is of the essence, a more “professional” DIY yard (like Pick-N-Pull) is worth the higher prices for parts and entry fee. Or sometimes at least get to know the local “OTC” yard. Again, their prices can be at times outrageous, but time is also money…

  4. Rod
    July 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    I have made great use of junk yards in my life. Recently I needed parts for my ’96 Ford Probe. It’s a 6 cylinder GT and there aren’t a lot around. Combing small poorly organized junk yards was time consuming and frustrating. So I did a Google search and found about 20 yards within 30-40 miles. I then used Google Maps satellite view to check out all the locations I found. By zooming in I could eliminate very small yards and those that clearly didn’t care if anyone came in or not because the cars were piled helter-skelter everywhere and would be hard to search. I then mapped out an efficient route among all the more promising locations. In two days I visited about 15 yards, found what I was looking for and a few other goodies as well.

  5. Dutch
    July 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Just a side note on used-car parts. WTF is with FLOOR MATS. I defy any of you to purchase a used car from a dealer that has floor mats in it. Being one of those guys who never buys new, I have bought used cars from Florida to California, and one thing is always the same. They are missing the floormats.

    I have numerous theories on this, the primary being that dealers are selling them on e-bay to make a few extra bucks out of trades, or that they are professionally cleaning them then selling them as new at new prices which are typically absurd. Whatever the reason though it pisses me off.

    I mention this because replacing broken parts is one thing. But to go to a dealer and expect that you are buying a whole car, only to drive away and realize you are on the hook for another $100+ for floormats is a bunch of bullshit. I ask that you all join me in putting an end to this practice. Keep and eye out for missing floormats when you test drive any used car. Then stand firm and refuse to buy any used vehicle, regardless of the alleged “deal” you are getting, unless they supply you with them. Even if they claim they never had them and whine about the cost of giving you new ones. I’ve seen enough to tell you these claims are lies. Its a racket. And obviously a huge pet peeve of mine;)

    As for the article above. Having owned several BMWs, I can’t begin to tell you how much money I’ve saved by adopting this same practice over a decade ago. But of course you all wouldn’t be here if you didn’t already know how spot on Eric is about just about everything. Cheers!

    • BrentP
      August 1, 2012 at 4:53 am

      My guess is the mats don’t look good and are too far gone to be cleaned. Floor mats have to be thoroughly cleaned regularly to keep them nice and get long use out of them and most people won’t do that. The easiest way to make the car look nice is to throw away the tattered and worn mats.

      • Brad Smith
        August 1, 2012 at 5:20 am

        The first thing I do when I buy a used car is to toss out the floor mats. Especially the drivers one. I don’t like a driver side mat because more than once I have had them pull up and stick on the gas pedal. Generally speaking I just make my own. (cut out a spot around the gas pedal) Then again I live in Northern Mi. and with snow, ice, mud etc, they get trashed fast.

      • August 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

        Here’s an option: Turn the carpeted mats over. Use the rubber side to plant your feets on! Easier to clean – easier to keep clean. Or, buy a set of rubber mats for everyday (or winter) use. Keep the nice, factory carpeted mats cleaner longer!

        • BrentP
          August 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

          I kept the factory mats of my ’97 clean and nice looking but eventually the carpeting wore out under my right heel.Other than that the mat is still perfect. Passenger side is still perfect. Best constructed mats I’ve had for any car.

          For the new one I bought aftermarket mats and put the super lightweight and well crappy factory mats in a box. Thanks CAFE and other federal regulation for these feather weight mats.

          • libertyx
            August 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm

            Factory floor mats are just false secruity. Being flat, they let water or snow get into the car carpeting leading to rusted floor boards. I always replace factory mats with Nifty Catch-All. They are truck mats so the only difficulty is matching them to a car model. http://shop.autoanything.com/floor-mats/64A1455A0A0.aspx?w4n=1

          • libertyx
            August 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

            Flat factory mats don’t protect against water or snow getting to the carpeting. I always replace factory mats with Nifty Catch-All mats that have raised edges. Only downside is the mats are made for trucks so it can be tricky to size them for your car.
            http://shop.autoanything.com/floor-mats/64A1455A0A0.aspx?w4n=1

        • Douglas
          August 5, 2012 at 5:20 am

          Eric, you shoulda been in charge when NASA was devising a two hundred dollar pen that could write in zero gravity. The “Commie” (then-Soviet, now Russian Space Agency?) solution…use a pencil and pack a few sharpeners. The difference? About 199 dollars per astronaut-flight.

          • Gil
            August 5, 2012 at 5:31 am

            And Bill Gates was supposed to have said “640kb is all the RAm anyone will need”. If there’s any truth to that story it’s because they were worried about graphite dust getting into and damaging the electronics.

          • Douglas
            August 5, 2012 at 5:43 am

            And 64 Gb is cheaper (certainly in purchasing power) than the ‘extra’ 512K RAM board that you had to add on to a IBM PC XT back in the day. And software and OS capabilities are still lagging at least ten years behind the latest and greatest hardware. All thanks to FREE and unbridled competition, including “outsourcing”!!! Else, we’d still be cranking out Apple III “business” computers in the Forth Worth, TX plant!
            Gates is probably chagrined at that ‘boner’ of a prophecy re: RAM requirements for PCs, but the very fact that MicroSoft is alive and well and going forward (at time stumbling) is proof that he’s still done very well. If nothing else, he knows when to make way for new blood…think of Henry Ford (not Edsel the son, or Henry Ford “Deux” the grandson)…the old man damn near drove FoMoCO into bankruptcy both with continuing the Model T well past its prime, but also retaining the helm well into his dotage. What worked in 1907 wasn’t answering the mail in 1947. Shareholders may thank “Gawd” for the grim reaper in that case. Kind of like what’s happened with the Oakland Raiders and the late Al Davis.

          • to5
            December 24, 2013 at 4:16 am

            Pencil shavings floating in a space capsule in zero gravity can cause immense problems, like getting into switches and shorting them out. Or getting into the air circulation system. That’s why nasa went with the pen. Also the same for taking crumbly food into space, that is a no- no.

  6. The Bobster
    July 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Then there are companies like 1A Auto, where you can order new replacement parts on the internet for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a dealer.

  7. July 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Eric, your Nissan Frontier, judging from the pictures you posted, looks to be the same model year as mine (’04). Is yours a five-speed manual or an automatic? Just asking, as I’ve never owned anything that I’ve enjoyed driving more (mine is a 5-speed 4-cylinder XE King cab, my wife drives an ’04 V6 XESV Crew cab). Also, both have been extremely low maintenance, although we don’t put more than about 8K in mileage on either one of them per year.

    What I really dread, above all else, is the idea of Nissan either discontinuing the model, or otherwise “dumbing it down” IAW federal environmandates just at the point that I’ll need to replace one or both vehicles.

    • July 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Mine’s a 5-speed XE, too!

      • August 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm

        I thought so. I DREAD the day when I have to replace this truck. Something tells me that it will difficult or impossible to find a newer model that’s even half as robust!

  8. Douglas
    July 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I dabble in used Mopar parts and sell them to enthusiasts that I know or on EBay. We have an outfit called “Pick-n-Pull” which is quite professional. Their prices are a tad high for self-serve.
    What gets me is that they can’t sell used catalytic converters. Someone explain what could possibly go wrong in transplanting a cat. It will either pass smog or not. This very issue caused my son and his wife to junk an otherwise perfectly serviceable 2004 Kia when there were probably a bazillion potential donors. The cost of a NEW cat, installed was about 800 dollars. Ridiculous. This stupid law “protects” a struggling young couple from wringing a few more years out of their car.
    Be assured that SOMEONE at the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair, likely at the behest of car makers, is already cooking up legislation and further regulations to effectively outlaw the used parts market.

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      July 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Methinks folks ought to study Bastiat’s THE LAW and the UNANIMOUS DECLARATION and get real serious about eliminating Plundering by Law. In my not the least bit humble opinion, bad laws are intrinsically criminal.

      The so-called People are going to have to do considerably more than just vote to fix America.

      tgsam

    • Tinsley Grey Sammons
      July 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      “I dabble in used Mopar parts and sell them to enthusiasts that I know or on EBay. We have an outfit called “Pick-n-Pull” which is quite professional. Their prices are a tad high for self-serve.”

      I salute you. That’s good ol’ American entrepreneurship at its very best.

      tgsam

      • Douglas
        August 5, 2012 at 5:17 am

        Part of my transition out of Government employ. Looking at “retirement” (which won’t be cushy, but life’s too short to diddle around…). On the “Art of Manliness web site (linked to and a regular contributor to Lewrockwell.com), there’s an article on the subject of starting a side gig.
        Anyone who thinks that a 40-hour per week gig OUGHT to be the road to “Easy Street” ought to get brained with a Louisville Slugger by the “Bear Jew” (“Inglorious Basterds” is playing as I write). Welcome to the real world. There’s a lot of rewards STILL out there even in this “f’ed-up” economy, but you gotta be creative and hustle. It was ALWAYS the “rule”, but it’s landing on the American psyche with a vengenance. However, it’ll ultimately be the “savior” of this nation, if we choose “salvation”.

  9. Ethan S.
    July 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I’ve utilized Ebay significantly as well. The junkyards in my rural area are low on selection and rarely have the part I need. Eric, as an aside, I’ve seen you rant on several things that have gone by the wayside but never on one thing I miss from the (not really so) old days: Large brand lettering on pickup tailgates. I know this is purely cosmetic, but I miss seeing FORD, CHEVROLET, or DODGE proudly plastered across the rear of a truck. Now we get a wimpy badge (though they have grown in size) or small lettering stuffed in a corner. What gives?

    • methylamine
      July 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Would YOU advertise your name, if it lived in infamy like bailout-babies GM and Chrysler?

      I’d hide it too.

      Ford can stand proud–though I’m not 100% certain they didn’t get a bailout. Anyone?

      • BrentP
        July 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

        Ford did not get a bailout. Just the usual corporate welfare. And there isn’t a single automaker of any significance that hasn’t had corporate welfare from one government institution or another.

      • Ethan S.
        July 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm

        Notice I listed FORD first :) I’m a huge Ford fan, more so now that they didn’t get a bailout. I commute 80+ miles per day, so I make do with a Fiesta at the moment (which regularly gets me 1-4 MPGs ABOVE the rated 38 highway). If I am ever able to afford a truck, you can bet your rear I’ll be retro-fitting it with huge FORD lettering on the tailgate if it’s not one of the older ones that has it to begin with.

    • John Illinois
      August 1, 2012 at 12:21 am

      It is really simple–not even the manufacturer is proud of what they put out there.

  10. July 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Not to ruin the spirit of the column but I’ve saved considerable money on parts using Ebay. A local parts store wanted over $120.00 for a 95 Geo Metro side view mirror. Got it on Ebay for about $30.00 delivered. I probably could have gotten it at the junk yard for five bucks.

    • July 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      eBay’s a great resource – I make use of it myself frequently.

      The main disadvantage, of course, is you have to go by the description rather than by actually seeing/handling the part – and, of course, if you need it today….

    • July 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      And where do you think the guy on Ebay got the part? Maybe he had an example of the right make and model on blocks behind his garage. Maybe he’s a small yard owner expanding his customer base by opening an Ebay store. Then there’s the guys like me who list that they’re, “parting out”, a bunch of different cars then head for the Pick-Your-Part as the orders come in. Career opportunity: free lance salvage yard parts puller. :-)

      • BrentP
        July 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

        I’ve thought about much the same thing. Selling used auto parts on ebay and elsewhere. Go on half price day every week and then sell the haul online at the going upull rate plus a premium for my service. I wouldn’t have to worry about all the laws and problems of running a salvage yard but would still get the business. The only problem would be the yard operators catching on to it and refusing my business. Then again they may appreciate the steady business. I could never undercut them, only provide a service for people that don’t want to get their hands dirty.

        I figure I could make enough to live and pay tribute to the state that way. Not much more than that.

      • Rob
        July 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        either way its a great service to those of us needing parts for our cars. I appreciated it. I don’t have a good junk yard nearby. I’ve gotten some great deals and great used parts on eBay. I prefer to get original/used parts to the remanufactured new parts. Particularly for the interior of my car. And so far I have never gotten burned by buying on there.

  11. DIYer
    July 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    You’ve also got to watch out for some aftermarket replacement parts. Things like power-window motors have a wide range of quality and lately I wonder if it would be better to just pull that part from a junkyard too, even though that is a part that wears out quickly on just about every GM model from the 90s and 00s. Same with power-lock actuators. I give much credit to companies like LKQ that have streamlined and modernized the breaker business. They are so good at the breaker business that buyers in other countries source parts for US export from them directly, especially diesel truck engines and transmissions.

  12. Tom
    July 31, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I went to a local junkyard in my rural area to buy a door mirror. The wife busted it off exiting the garage – for the second time. Everything is on a computerized inventory. The price was 1/2 retail. He had to order it from another dealer. It was in excellent shape. I’ve also ordered a seat belt for my 95 Tacoma. It came covered in junk yard dust but it was the right color and cleaned up nice. Huge savings. Last year she went into the garage with the hatchback up on our 2010 Prius. Smashed the black hatchback deck. New car so I paid up from the dealer. $500. I need a barn door with this woman.

  13. Al Sledge
    July 31, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I can’t knock moving parts either and have bought engines and transmissions from junkyards. The reputable one will give a guarantee from defect for 90 days usually. Many do a compression and oil pressure check before the engine is pulled so you usually get a pretty good engine for a fraction of the cost to rebuild them yourself. When I rebuilt my Y2K Mustang GT convertible I bought after markets head and tail light lenses as they don’t haze over like the OEM ones. By the time I put on a new top and paint job, plus the lenses, I had about $4K in the car, a far cry from the $30k+ they want for a new one. I get lots of compliments on my “new” ride that I bought 12 years ago.

  14. Ben K
    July 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Doing your own car work is often the best solution… A few years ago, the blower motor on my car went out. The local Ford dealership here wanted 1,100 (!!!) dollars to replace it. I went online and bought a new one for 50 bucks (inclusive of shipping) and had it replaced in 30 minutes.

  15. Rob
    July 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    oh and I forgot to mention I have bought about 15 used parts off of ebay in the past 2 months for my Tran Am. Just got in License Plate light lens today

  16. Rob
    July 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    A few years ago my wife busted up the driver side mirror on her 15-passenger Dodge Van. Dealer wanted $150 for new one plus install $$$. She went to a local junk yard and got one that looked damn near new for $60. And the guy working was bored/nice/hot for my wife….whatever….and installed it for her for free.

  17. July 30, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Dear Eric,

    “the complex (and car-specific) “headlight assembles” that have replaced the old generic headlights cars used to have.”

    This got me thinking again about the idea of a deliberately primitive vehicle along the lines of a dune buggy that some of us batted around earlier.

    With a vehicle like that, one could use “the old generic headlights cars used to have.”

    Hell, one could use all sorts of old generic parts cars used to have! Not just lights, but nearly everything. One could keep such a car going indefinitely.

    Such a car would be like “George Washington’s Axe.” It would be the same axe that Washington used to cut down the cherry tree, even though its head was replaced twice and its handle three times.

    The problem of course is that the clovers will simply make any outside the box solution illegal, one by one, just like they make anything one can use to defend oneself illegal, one by one, Including even two wooden sticks connected by a short piece of rope.

    It was never about reasonable solutions to problems. It was always about CONTROL of other people, rooted in pathological compulsion.

    • Alex ++
      July 30, 2012 at 8:03 am

      I’ve thought of going the street legal dune buggy myself for several reasons, but I’ll disagree with you here – there are so few people going that route, that will ever go that route, that it simply will not register on the screens of either clovers or bureaucrats. I’ve only seen a couple of dozen on the streets myself, and that’s in California, Arizona and New Mexico combined and even being generous and saying there are 10,000 being used full time in the entire South-West, at those numbers clovers & bureaucrats will always see them as secondary/recreational vehicles and move on to regulating and harassing Ruckus scooter owners who pimp their rides to get an extra 20cc.

      • July 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

        Dear Alex,

        “there are so few people going that route, that will ever go that route, that it simply will not register on the screens of either clovers or bureaucrats.”

        I don’t have any strong feelings about WHETHER the clovers will target this vehicle form factor. I only have strong feelings about the fact that they have no right to do so.

        If it turns out they leave it alone, that is good news.

        I really don’t need a car where I live now, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future. Maybe after the SHTF.

        Who knows, after that happens, it could be Mad Max Road Warrior time, and everyone will be driving a dune buggy, armed with crossbows, and scrounging for “gazzoline.”

    • July 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Morning, Bevin!

      You could do that with almost any car built before the late 1980s!

      Something like a ’70s Nova with a small block V-8, for instance. Other than the body panels and trim, most of the functional components are generic GM and shared with millions of other GM products for which there is a comprehensive aftermarket supply chain. GM itself still makes many of the parts. The old Beetle is another one.

      These cars and cars like them can be kept going indefinitely – and affordably. The only threat to them is … government. I am expecting the boom to be lowered on older cars without computers and the latest “safety” equipment within 10 years or so. 20 at the outside.

      • July 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

        Dear Eric,

        “The only threat to them is … government.”

        Isn’t that always the case? It does get monotonous doesn’t it?

        An architect coworker of mine in LA had a late 60s Mustang that he intended to drive forever because it was exempt from the stricter smog regulations.

        Another architect coworker at the same firm was a black powder muzzle loading rifle enthusiast. He knew I liked semi-automatic military and tactical oriented rifles, shotguns, and pistols. He was glad the clovers weren’t coming after his guns because they were not threatening.

        I told the latter that sooner or later, they would come after him.

        I reminded him of German pastor Martin Niemoller’s experience with the Nazis.

        “First they came for the communists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

        Then they came for the trade unionists,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

        Then they came for the Jews,
        and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

        Then they came for me
        and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

        • Tinsley Grey Sammons
          July 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm

          Power equals money and money equals power. To discover the WHOLE truth one must follow the money.

          And of course Freedom is severely affected by population density. But not only does that issue go unaddressed, government actually encourages irresponsible conception. Now fifty years old, The Pill seems only to have had an effect on responsible self-sufficient specimens.

        • Gil
          August 5, 2012 at 5:34 am

          The point of that saying is that he and co. didn’t do a thing when others were rounded. Hence quoting that makes you sound as though you’ll do nothing when you see others rounded up.

    • John Illinois
      August 1, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Back in the 40s and 50s, we used to call cars we put together from scrounged parts “hotrods”. They are very expensive now, but we used to build them for next to nothing.

  18. BrentP
    July 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Around here a car generally has to be ten years old to be in self-serve. Otherwise it’s in full serve. If it is a mustang or something like that they keep there a little longer. Alloy wheels are always removed and go to full serve or in some cases a side wheel only business owned by the yard’s owners.

    On mirrors. One my parents’ cars. My mother clipped a mirror on a construction cone and a driver hit the car while it was parked on the street and ran and got the other one. Sadly they were color-keyed mirrors. I couldn’t find the right color at the u-pull so I got the best pair I could find. My dad couldn’t find the paint color at the auto parts store so I ended up painting them black.

  19. L.K. Meanoss
    July 30, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I have found that, lately, many junk yards (as we call ‘em) won’t let you go out in the “yard” by yourself or at all, presumably for fear of liability lawsuits. Luckily, there is at least one nearby that lets me go in alone, but at one I’ve been to, I had to ride with an employee in the picker truck to look at the potential visors I needed, to see if they passed muster. (They didn’t.)

    I have sole custody of my daughter, so I don’t get to go do alot of things on my own, but recently she was spending the night away and I took the opportunity to browse the local junkyard for small things I needed, and to “sight-see” things for future project inspiration. It may sound funny, but I felt like I was in a theme park and enjoyed the whole day there. The only thing was, I wasn’t expecting to spend the day there and I got a mild sunburn. Next time, I’ll take precautions (and bring a canteen).

    The Pick-Your-Part is Dead!
    Long Live the Pick-Your-Part!

    • July 30, 2012 at 3:45 am

      Dear LK,

      And MREs!

    • July 30, 2012 at 9:48 am

      I also love spending an afternoon at the junkyard – you never know what you’re gonna find!

      • Tinsley Grey Sammons
        July 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm

        Jever find a wasp nest? I did and the wasps found me.

  20. andy
    July 30, 2012 at 1:18 am

    An added benefit of scavenging a used part from a junk yard vehicle is that you learn the process of installing the used part by the fact that you went through the process of uninstalling it from the donor vehicle. Also, while you’re at the junk yard, you can see what other parts are usable from the vehicle you scavenged the replacement part from, if you need parts in the future.

  21. Tinsley Grey Sammons
    July 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Not liking the flimsy aftermarket part, I recently went to a Toyota Dealer to purchase a positive pole battery connector for my 2002 Corolla. Amazingly, my pacemaker didn’t fry when I was told it was *gulp* $20 so I bought the damned thing anyhow and silently vowed to use the blue insulating spray and check for corrosion more often to avoid ever having to replace it again.

    Anybody care to take a guess at what it cost to manufacture and distribute a simple two or three ounce part that you could hide in one of those little M&M bags that cheap assholes give the excited little kids who trick or Treat on Halloween?

    • ED_IN_NY
      July 31, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      1st paragraph good. 2nd paragraph less so. How did the irrelevant ad-hominem against people who give out little M&M bags help your point?

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