You know they’re out there waiting for you, waiting to make their own contribution to the cause and give you the donor part you need. There’s probably more of them out there than you realize.
Now sure you can easily go online to E-bay or Rock Auto and the like to find what you need fairly cheaply. Let’s be honest, some things SHOULD only be replaced by a new part, yet some things just can’t be that easily found. A new fender? That little piece of corner trim? That dash clock? You wont find it online, I’d almost guarantee it.
The solution? Your local wrecking yard. I’ll admit not all of us have access to such a place, or maybe you can’t find what you need nearby but a lot of us do. They’re not for everyone, but have you even tried going? I know not all of us are mechanically inclined, but the very fact that you’re reading this means you’re a bit of a “car person”.
If you’ve never worked on a car but you’re still interested I honestly can’t think of a better place to learn. It is a “consequence free” environment to try out your wrenching skills. I could go on about the virtues of your local wrecking yard all day….the access to parts, the price,etc..but to be honest I think there’s a lot more to be gained from the experience than just a few replacement parts.
Let me wax poetic for a moment; There’s a certain zen aspect to the whole experience of a trip to the local yard. I use the word “experience” because it really is one, this is no boring trip to Walmart, it’s an adventure:
It starts by getting ready, first check online to see if the yard will have what you need, a lot of them actually list what cars they currently have. Assuming the yard has what you want you must prepare by bringing whatever tools you may need, whatever you can carry or drag (assuming you have a cart). A basic tool set with a few extras is usually all you’ll need, and if you’ve never done this sort of thing before a cheapo 20-30$ basic set from your local parts store will probably suffice. Be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, you WILL get dirty, I promise.
Once you’re there most yards will charge you for entry, you can usually tell the person at the counter what you need and they will tell you exactly where to find it. Then, wrench away! The best part about being in the yard is not just the parts, but the fact that you can “dissect” an exact replica of your car and do it without suffering any consequences, it’s a veritable automotive sandbox.
Always wanted to see how the dashboard comes out? Want to try disassembling a distributor? Go for it! Ever wanted to see if the seats from a 3rd Gen Accord will fit in your 2nd Gen Prelude? (Yes, they bolt right in but sit a little high). A new door panel, speaker grills, hub caps, a decent trim ring to replace the scuffed one on your right front wheel, they’re all out there waiting to be found.
After you spend your time hopefully finding what you need, chances are you’ll be like me and also come away with a few extra odds and ends you don’t need but couldn’t resist. After all, who wants to see a perfectly good factory stereo or shift knob go to waste?
Even if you don’t use them you can always put them up on E-bay and sell your lucky find to someone else who needs it. At the end of the day I guarantee you’ll go home with a bunch of cheap goodies, a nice tan (Hopefully) and you’ll be a little more knowledgeable as well. It really IS a fun way to spend the afternoon, you’ll get a feeling of pride and satisfaction at taking the hands-on approach and learning more about your car in the process. Ultimately you’re not just helping yourself and saving some money, but you’re also helping the cause…Remember no one is making these parts new, so whatever is out there right now is all that’s left.
Honda used to have a policy of manufacturing new parts for ALL of it’s models, yet sadly after Honda’s founder Soichiro Honda passed away the bean counters at Honda decided to cancel that policy. I understand the logic behind the decision yet it still saddens me. So please, if you haven’t visited one yet don’t let those donor cars and remaining parts rust away in vain. Do your part and visit your local parts/wrecking yard today, I promise you (and your car) wont regret it!
Ethan – Editor