So you have a vehicle that needs some work done on it. You could take it to the repair shop and pay premium prices for parts and labor. Or, you could visit a special lot and have access to thousands of OEM-quality used auto parts from vehicles of the same or similar models. The latter is the concept behind a pick and pull lot, where consumers can typically save money on used car parts from these specialized wrecking yards. This page is designed to give you a comprehensive overview of these “pick n pull” or “u pull it” lots, including how the specifics of them work, the types of common parts you can find, what you need to bring and more.
Pick and Pulls: The Basics
Like we said in the opening, pick and pull lots are kind of like a do-it-yourself remote auto salvage yard. Pick and pull lots generally consist of hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of used and/or junkyard vehicles. Consumers typically pay a minimal entry fee to access the lots and then are permitted to browse among the vehicles, extracting any parts they want along the way. Upon exiting, consumers then pay for the parts. Pick and pull lots are one of two common junkyard lots that exist today, the other being full-service lots, where useable parts are already extracted and waiting to be purchased.
There are a few key benefits to going the pick and pull route over visiting the conventional mechanic or ordering new parts yourself. For starters, these lots offer consumers a low cost way to get a high-quality used part. This can represent a big cost savings, especially when it comes to more expensive auto parts like engines, transmissions and suspension components. There’s a reason why these lots are often referred to as “pull and save” or “pick n save” lots. Secondly, these junkyard lots rarely get stale. That is, pick and pull lots are always acquiring salvage vehicles (also known as end of life vehicles) and used cars to repopulate the inventory on a regular basis, sometimes as often as daily. This ensures that there are always a lot of parts available. Another big benefit is that shopping at a pick and pull lot is sustainable. Pick and pull lot managers usually recycle, reprocess and remanufacture as much as possible. This helps promote a more circular economy and minimize the amount of waste that goes into landfills. Many pick and pull lots also recycle scrap metals from old vehicles, and work with local governments to improve environmental sustainability when it comes to salvage or wrecked vehicles.
How Do Pick and Pulls Work?
A pick and pull is like a combination of a grocery store and you pick it produce lot. You enter, find the vehicle model and/or parts you want, extract them and then checkout at the exit. To break it down:
- You enter the lot.
- You find the model car you’re looking for.
- You locate and pick a part (or parts) on the model.
- After you pull a part (or parts), you pay as you exit the lot.
Just pick your part, then pull and pay. It’s that simple of a concept.
What Types of Parts Can you Get at a Pick and Pull?
If you can find it, you can pull it. That’s the theme behind pick and pull lots, as consumers are privy to any part that they can find in any model on the lot. This includes things like spark plugs to axle shafts to tires to air bags to fuel injectors. Parts can range from major (engines) to minor (ash trays). All you need is an idea of what you’re looking for, the right tools to remove the parts you want and a method of payment to settle the costs upon your exit.
What’s the Cost to Enter a Pick and Pull?
Though most pick and pull lots charge a small entry fee, the admission rates are largely dictated on a per-lot basis based on the total vehicle inventory. For instance, smaller pick and pull lots might only charge a dollar or two for entry, while more comprehensive lots will charge anywhere from $5 to $10 for admission. The entry fee is typically very affordable, which often makes a visit to an auto salvage pull and play location more than worth the effort, especially if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty to secure the part or parts you’re looking for.
Additionally, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to sign a waiver prior to entering the lot. This ensures that the lot is absolved of any liability were you to injure yourself on the lot premises or while you tear a part from a vehicle on the lot.
What’s the Typical Cost of Parts at a Pick and Pull?
This is a difficult question to answer, as all parts are different. One nice thing when it comes to part prices, however, is that there’s no discrimination based on vehicle model. For instance, if you pull a standard part like a radiator hose from a luxury, executive vehicle, it’s going to cost the same as it would coming from a mid-sized sedan. Generally, however, you can expect to pay about half the price of what it would cost for a brand new part on a component you purchase from a pick and pull lot. Some parts may present a savings of up to 80 percent off a new part. Many pick and pull lots have price boards posted near the entrances, which list generic prices for some of the more popular parts that are sought.
What Tools Should You Take to a Pick and Pull?
Like we’ve said earlier in this piece, pick and pull lots differ from full-service auto junk yards in that it’s up to you to locate the vehicle models you’re interested in and extract the part that you want to purchase. In order to do this, you’ll need to bring some tools with you. Here’s a look at what we recommend bringing with you into the lot (hint: we also recommend carrying all of these tools in a backpack or something that’s easy to manage):
- Hammer and mallet
- Tin snips
- A screwdriver set
- Combo wrenches
- Allen wrenches
- A ratchet set
- A pry bar
- Gloves and eye safety wear
- A flashlight
- A jack
- Cloths or rags
In addition to bringing this into the lot with you, it can pay to leave some bigger tools in your vehicle just in case you need them. Things like a drive socket set, pipe and a bigger pry bar might be necessary. Additionally, you should also have a set of coveralls or work clothes in your vehicle in case any part extraction is going to require you to get dirty. Finally, you may also want to pack a hat and some sunscreen depending on the season you’re visiting. Pick and pull lots tend to be wide open areas without many trees and shade.
Are There Any Rules for Extracting Parts on the Lot?
Not really. Once you get into the lot, it’s pretty much anything goes to get the part that you want to extract. However, it is common courtesy to try not to damage something that may be of value to another shopper when you’re extracting it. That said, electrical wires are frequently cut and brackets are routinely broken – all in the name of getting to a part. Anything goes, but try to be as minimally invasive as possible.
Will Someone be Able to Help me Remove a Part on the Lot?
Generally, you’re on your own when it comes to extracting parts, so it’s helpful to have a pretty good understanding of how to remove a tire, disconnect a battery, etc. However, for some of the bigger automotive components, like an engine block, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the lot staff. It’s highly unlikely that you have an engine pulling tool at your disposal, but the junkyard should. Aside from engines, however, don’t expect to get much assistance from the lot staff when it comes to removing parts, outside of being able to answer basic questions about the process. Here’s a closer look at how to remove some of the more common parts that are sought at pick and pull lots:
- Tires: After removing the hub cap, loosen the lug nuts. Assuming the vehicle is raised, fully unscrew the lug nuts and take the tire off. After removing the tire, replace the lug nuts (unless you want to buy those too.
- Batteries: Locate the negative terminal and remove its bolt head, then use pliers to remove the nut and pull the negative cable out and away from the rest of the battery. Do the same thing with the positive cable, but be careful, as you don’t want the two cables to touch. You might consider covering one cable with a rag to help prevent this. Lastly, you’ll need to remove the securing bracket and lift the battery out.
- Cylinder heads (pushrod engine): Start by undoing the screws that hold the rocker cover in place, then lift it off. Next, remove the hardware keeping the arms and pivot balls in place so you’ll be able to take out the pushrods. After this, you should be able to get to the head by taking off more nuts and bolts. Lift off the cylinder head. It’s a similar process on an overhead-cam engine, except you’ll also have to remove the timing belt.
How Can I Stay Safe on the Lot?
It goes without saying that extracting some parts are more difficult than others, yet regardless of the part in question, safety should always be a priority on these lots. As we mentioned above, you should minimally bring work gloves and eye protection. We’d also recommend wearing worker boots and refraining from wearing any loose fitting clothing or jewelry that may get caught in parts of the vehicle or when you’re working under the hood. If you plan on getting underneath the vehicle, you may even consider wearing a hard hat. In addition to taking the proper precautions yourself, most junkyards will also have safety policies that you’re expected to abide by. These might include things such as no smoking, drinking or banishment of certain tools. And remember, if you do get hurt, you likely won’t be able to hold the lot liable for anything thanks to the waiver you signed upon entering.
Can I Check Inventory Before Going to a Pick and Pull?
Our answer: Maybe. It all depends on the lot owner in terms of how streamlined things are run. Some owners keep up-to-the-minute online parts lists and vehicle lists to reflect the constant change in their inventory, while others won’t. That’s not to say that you won’t be able to find what you’re looking for at either type of lot, but certainly it can save you some time and energy if you know a particular lot has the part that you need. Here’s what we recommend: If you’re interested in visiting a lot that doesn’t have an updated online inventory, simply give the lot a call and ask the manager or owner if their lot has the part you need. An online, updated inventory is nice, but just a quick phone call will likely be able to tell you whether or not a visit to a lot will be worth it.
What are Some Tips for Finding a Good Part at a Pick and Pull Lot?
While shopping for parts at a pick and pull lot can represent a significant cost savings, it’s always important to consider quality when you’re scrounging. After all, these “used” parts are going to be installed in your current vehicle, so it behooves you to shop around a little bit while you’re on the lot. In other words, don’t just jump to extract the part that you’re looking for on the first car there’s a match. Do a little bit of browsing and make sure to inspect the part to ensure it’s still of good quality. Look for any part deterioration, any signs of cracks or structural issues, and look for industry-leading brand names on applicable parts. Additionally, if you’re shopping for a used car battery (or anything electronic), be sure to take advantage of the electric testing stations that the junkyard should have on site.
What’s a Typical Lot Layout Like?
A first-time visit to a pick and pull lot can be a bit overwhelming just due to the size and scope of lot itself. But don’t be intimidated. The good news is that most lots follow a pattern, where the more in-demand models are kept up front, and the higher-quality rare vehicles and parts are more located in the back. This type of lot arrangement is mostly done for the sake of convenience. Additionally, many lot owners organize their lots by vehicle makes, so the Chevy’s will be in a different part of the lot than the Toyota’s. There are a few other tips for navigating the pick and pull lot layout. One, look for a lot map somewhere near the entry. Two, if you don’t really care about browsing and just want to get what you need and leave, ask the worker at the gate where to go to find what you need. We will admit, however, that part of the fun about visiting these lots is browsing.
Is it Possible to Find Rare Vehicles and Parts at Among Pick and Pull Inventory?
Yes, absolutely! That is, if you’re willing to invest the time to thoroughly scope out the lot. Like we said in the previous section, most of the more unique vehicles and rare parts are typically located in or around the back of the lots. Even if you can identify a rare, unique or classic model on the lot grounds based on online inventory, it can still take some time to locate that vehicle on the lot itself. Again, if the lot you’re visiting has a site map located near the entrance, consult it. If the lot hands out maps to each visitor, that’s even better. Speaking with the lot attendant, owner or manager at the front can also help you identify the area you’re most likely to find the vehicle and/or parts you’re looking for.
What Happens if the Part Breaks or Won’t Fit My Vehicle Following Purchase?
Though it all depends on the type of lot you visit, most pick and pull lots these days do work with some sort of exchange policy. In fact, many lots these days will let you return a part within 30 days of purchase and select the same or a similar part should it not fit your vehicle or prematurely break after you leave the lot. Some lots will even offer you the option to purchase a warranty on parts, which can come in handy for more expensive vehicle components like engines and transmissions.
Can I Purchase a Salvage Car at a Pick and Pull Lot?
Again, every lot is different, so whether or not you’d be able to purchase a salvage vehicle at a pick and pull lot would be left to the discretion of the lot. It is worth reinstating again, however, that pick and pull lots regularly purchase salvage vehicles to restock their inventory – so it’s one option when you’re looking to get rid of a wrecked car. We at JunkCarMedics.com are another option, and we’ll literally buy anything. We’re happy to make you a fair, market-value offer for any car make, any car model and any car model year regardless of its condition. Contact us today for more information and to receive a hassle-free, fast offer on your old vehicle.
What Payment Options are Typically Accepted at a Pick and Pull Lot?
As is a common theme in this post on pick and pull lots, everyone operates a different way. At many lots, however, accepted payment types include cash or credit cards. Some may even accept personal checks.
Who is the Ideal Customer at a Pick and Pull Lot?
Pick and pull lots are public places, they can be frequented by anyone. With that being said, there are definitely certain types of individuals who are repeat customers at said locations. Regular customers include the likes of DIY’ers, automotive hobbyists, people or entities that purchase in large quantities, and independent vehicle repair shops. You may even find automotive mechanics in training there, getting a feel for how different types of cars are put together. It’s just as common to find “treasure hunters” perusing a pick and pull lot in an effort to refurbish something with value to sell for profit as it is to see DIY’ers scrounging for spare parts to keep their vehicles running well. Like we said, sometimes browsing the lot is part of the fun, and certainly people watching contributes to this enjoyment.
How Do I Find Pick and Pull Junkyards Near Me?
How do you find lots near you? The same way that you’d find anything near you – there are lots of ways. You can get online and search for pick and pull lots, browse the phone book or even contact a trusted auto mechanic to see if there are any that he or she recommends in the area. One interesting thing about pick and pull lots is that they’re easy to manage and fairly low cost to open and operate, so there’s certainly likely to be several options in your area.
What Else Should I Know About Pick and Pull Lots?
It’s been a common theme in this post, but it’s worth mentioning again – all pick and pull lots are different. Some may have a comprehensive, online inventory available. Some don’t. Some might have all of its vehicles elevated to make pulling a part underneath the vehicle, like an exhaust heat pipe, easy. Others do not. Some lots might provide all of its guests with a personal map to help them navigate the lot or at least have a map posted near the entrance. Others don’t. Some lots might offer wheelbarrows and shopping carts to make it easier to manage the parts you want to purchase. Others will invite you to bring your own.
Pick and pull lots also rely heavily on the honor’s system. That is, when you’re paying for the part or parts you’ve removed from a vehicle, it’s often up to you to tell the clerk what the part is so it can be properly assessed. Here’s a word of warning: Don’t fib and say that it’s a cheap or inexpensive part because you want to save a few bucks. If the clerk is on to you (or just so happens to be pretty well versed in automotive parts knowledge), then you may be blacklisted from ever returning.