Nobody wants to find out that their car requires a new part – it’s a lot of hassle to sort out, and as we rely so much on our cars, it’s the last thing we need to have them off the road for any amount of time. When you do need a new part, it may seem as though you have to choose between paying for expensive brand-new parts, or buying cheap parts that might not be safe or suitable for your vehicle. But it doesn’t have to be like that – car breakers yards offer a third alternative. If you have never visited one before, you may be imagining standing knee-deep in rusty scrap metal, or staring up at cars piled high like a dangerous game of Jenga. But this isn’t the case at all, and if you’re a dab hand with a toolbox, breakers yards can offer a cheaper alternative to manufacturers, and an easier alternative to scrap yards.
Here are ten tips for your first time visiting a car breakers yard:
1. Why should you buy used parts instead of going to the dealer?
While buying a brand new part from the manufacturer may provide you with peace of mind in knowing your parts will be reliable and genuine, it can be very expensive, depending on your vehicle and the part you need. Used car parts are cheaper, and many of them are still in great working order, so you can still benefit from that peace of mind.
2. What’s the difference between a breakers yard and a scrap yard?
Scrap yards are full of parts that have already been pulled from cars, not to mention a variety of household appliances, pipes, and other assorted scrap metal. It’s a pick ’n’ mix of items, and it can be difficult to find what you are looking for, much less find it in a good condition.
Breakers yards, on the other hand, lay out cars in a more organised and logical way, making it easier for you to find the parts you need. The parts are likely to be of a higher quality than those piled high in scrap yards or junkyards. You will need to pull most of the parts from the car yourself, but if you are able to do this, it’s well worth it to get the parts you need. If you don’t know how to remove a part but have a friend who is good with cars, ask them to help you.
3. Are all the cars damaged?
The cars at the breakers yards are likely to be damaged, however that doesn’t mean that the parts inside them are no good. For example, a car may have been involved in an accident that caused damage to the left hand side, but if you need a right-side wing mirror, the car will still be fit for your needs. And a car that looks like it’s been in the wars on the outside may have many salvageable parts on the inside.
4. How do you find exactly the right part?
To find the right part for your car, you first need to know exactly what you are looking for. It can be helpful to know the specific part number so that you can make sure you have pulled the right part for your vehicle. Do your research before you get to the yard so that you are clear on what parts are going to fit your car.
5. How do you find a good quality car part?
Once you have found the part you need, examine it by sight to determine its quality. There may be some visible signs of wear, such as rust or leaks, which may suggest that you should try to find a different part instead. How you assess the part for damage depends on what the part is. If you know of a common problem that affects your particular car model, you could look out for this. Again, do your research before you arrive so that you are as informed as possible about any potential problems that are specific to your car or the part in question. The type of damage the car has suffered may also be an indicator of whether the part in question may be damaged.
6. Are the parts genuine?
One benefit of buying parts at a breakers yard is that because you are pulling the parts from the car yourself. This means that you know where they have come from and that they are designed to work with that model.
7. What tools do you need?
You’ll need to bring your own tools to the breakers yard, so read up on the rules as there may be some tools that you are not permitted to bring onto the site. Hand tools are usually fine, but power tools might not be permitted.
8. What car parts can you remove at a breakers yard?
Some car parts are not safe for you to remove yourself. If you need parts such as the battery or engine, you may need to buy these separately or ask a member of staff at the yard to pull it for you.
9. How much time do you need?
Make sure you’re aware of the opening times for the yard. If you arrive too late in the day, you might not have long enough to find and remove all of the parts you need before closing time.
10. Is it safe?
Breakers yards are generally safe, but it’s important to read the safety rules and be sensible during your visit. Use any safety equipment provided for you, such as high-vis vests, and don’t try to remove anything you’re not feeling confident with.
Breakers yards offer good value, quality car parts so that you can save money on car repairs and get back on the road as quickly as possible. Cars are laid out so that you can easily find the vehicle you need, assess the parts for damage, and remove them safely. After your first visit you may even find that the breakers yard is your first port of call for all your future car part needs. Happy hunting!