What is a Self-Service Junkyard?

By definition, a self-service junkyard is a facility where customers can remove car parts from scrapped vehicles.

Difference from full-service junkyard and self-service junkyards include:

  • Car and truck parts are not removed from vehicles in self-service junkyards. Customers need to bring the necessary tools and have the skills required to remove the vehicle parts.
  • Full-service junkyards clean the vehicle parts up and guarantee them. Self-service junkyards do not clean or inspect the car parts.
  • Self-service junkyards are often a lot cheaper because there is less overhead.
  • People that know how to evaluate car parts and want to save money will consider self service facilities “tops auto salvage” because of the enhanced capacity to find good bargains.
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    How does a Self-service Junkyard Operate?

    Self-service junkyards share several phases of operation with full-service junkyards.

    To begin, both types of junkyards take in scrapped vehicles from wrecks and other situations.

    The next phase is where the two differ most.

    In a full-service junkyard, the vehicle is stripped of fluids and parts. These items are cleaned, inventoried, and priced for resale.

    A self-service junkyard may remove some parts and fluids. Most parts will be left in the vehicle until a customer comes along and removes them using their own or junkyard tools.

    After this stage, both types of junkyards operate in much the same way. Once the vehicle is stripped of valuable parts, the frame will be crushed and hauled off for recycling.

    Necessities in a Self-Service Junkyard

    Insofar as business aspects, a self-service junkyard differs from a full-service junkyard mainly in the area of having fewer employees.

    While the business may pay less for training and employment, they will pay higher insurance in case a customer gets hurt on the lot.

    Conditions in a Self-Service Junkyard

    Usually, a self-service junkyard will have cars arranged so that each vehicle can be accessed by customers.

    These junkyards may also have piles of tires and other car parts that customers can dig through.

    How does Self-service Junkyards Near You Operate?

    Self-service junkyards operate in much the same way no matter where they are located. Here are the basics that will occur when customers visit:

    • Each individual will have to be admitted to the junkyard.
    • Depending on the facility, maps and other resources may be available to help narrow down the location of vehicles of interest.
    • Once the parts are removed from the vehicle, the customer has to pay for them.

    There are three main ways to figure out if a facility is a self-service junkyard or a full-service one.

    • First, Upon visiting a full-service junkyard, there are usually lines of people waiting for someone to retrieve clean and tested parts from inventory.

    Usually, there aren’t any waiting lines at the entrance of a self-service junkyard.

    • The second way to determine the junkyard type is to see if they offer rental equipment.

    In a self-serve junkyard, this may include A-frames for pulling engines and other tools that are not readily accessible to the average consumer.

    Most full-service junkyards don’t rent out tools because there is no need for the customer to enter the junkyard to remove parts.

    • Finally, full-service junkyards usually charge more for parts than self-service facilities.

    When people search for a “self-service junkyards near me”, the very term “near me” can be relative to the individual.

    During the process of doing a search such as “find self-service junkyards near me”, it is important to consider personal needs and ability to get to the junkyard.

    • Someone that has reliable transportation may think nothing of going 10 – 15 miles.
    • Another person that has to take a bus or rely on someone else may consider 5 miles as “near me”.
    • A sports car enthusiast or other hobbyist may consider 100 or more miles as “near me”.

    Do Self-service Junkyards have different yards for every car brand or type?

    The kinds of vehicles found in a self-service junkyard depend on the unique characteristics of the business.

    Some may dedicate themselves to a specific brand, while others may take in everything available in the local area.

    The number of cars and self-serve junkyards depends on the number of vehicles registered in the area.  A locality that has thousands of vehicles will have more that wind up in the junkyard than areas that may only have a few hundred vehicles.

    How do Self-service Junkyards get Their Vehicles?

    There are four main ways self-service junkyards obtain vehicles:

    • Car wrecks - These vehicles usually come in after an insurance carrier determines it will cost more to fix the car than replace it. Just about any vehicle of any age can come in this way.
    • Private Owners - Usually privately owned vehicles are surrendered when it is too expensive to repair them. Since the vehicle hasn’t been in a wreck, the frame is usually in better condition.
    • Car Dealers – Sometimes a relatively new vehicle has significant mechanical problems. Depending on the state, if too many repairs occur in a short period of time, the vehicle must be scrapped as a “lemon”. These cars are usually in good shape and have fairly clean, low mileage parts.
    • Other Organizations – Groups dedicated to taking in and repairing vehicles for charity may also have vehicles that can’t be repaired. If the organization can’t use the vehicle, they may sell it to a self-serve junkyard for scrap value.

    What kinds of vehicle parts can you get from Self-service Junkyard?

    Any car part can be found in a self-service junkyard. Here is a brief review of systems that these car parts may come from:

    • electrical – everything from the wire harness to batteries, fuses, alternators, distributor, sound system, and spark plugs.
    • computer and security – computer modules for controlling the engine and transmission. These modules may also include keyless entry and anti-theft devices.
    • safety devices – seat belts, airbags, and anything else that might mitigate control from inside the cabin.
    • engine and transmission – transmission, engine blocks, heads, oil pan, and gaskets plus additional parts like the starter, water pump, belts, timing chain, and valves. Fuel pumps and fuel tanks may also be available.
    • Cooling - radiator, thermostat, hoses, belts, and fans.
    • climate control – air conditioners and heaters.
    • shocks and suspension – shocks, bearings, axles, drivetrain parts.
    • brakes and steering – tires, brake master cylinder, brake pads, drums, lines, rotors, rack and pinion for steering, power assist pumps.
    • lights and signaling – headlights, tail lights, singal control mechanisms.
    • glass, furnishings, frame, doors – mirrors, interior panels, seats, floor mats.

    What are the advantages of Self-service Junkyard?

    There are three main advantages to visiting a self-service junkyard:

    • the car parts are cheaper.
    • There is a chance to pick up extra vehicle parts for resale elsewhere or to keep on hand.
    • Excellent opportunity to learn how cars work without spending a fortune on courses or risking damage to a vehicle for personal use.

    What are the disadvantages of Self-service Junkyard?

    There are also three main disadvantages to visiting a self-service junkyard:

    • Customers need to have at least some understanding of how to work safely around a vehicle.
    • The car parts may be rusted in place, covered in oil, or difficult to remove for other reasons.
    • It will take time to locate a vehicle with the needed car or truck parts.

    What kinds of vehicles are wrecked in Self-service Junkyard?

    The same kinds of vehicles found in full-service junkyards can be found in a self-service junkyard. Here are the most common types:

    • car and truck junkyard – these are dedicated to consumer vehicles.
      In this category, some facilities might set aside a special area for a “jacks junkyard”. There may also be a “carpet junkyard” for fabric items that would otherwise be ruined as the car is disassembled by customers.
    • Construction vehicle junkyards – forklifts, cranes and other heavy construction equipment may be found in these junkyards
    • boat salvage yards – specialize in boats or other watercraft
    • airplane salvage yards – there are also self-serve junkyards for different kinds of aircraft.

    What are the best tools for Self-service Junkyards?

    Most cars and trucks only require a handful of tools for removing vehicle  parts. The “perfect salvage kit” will depend on personal interest and the kinds of parts that need to be retrieved.

    1. Hand Tools for Junkyards

    There are several types hand tools that will cover removing most small parts from vehicles in a self-service junkyard:

    • SAE and metric ratcheting wrenches
    • SAE and metric socket driver kits, including extenders
    • torque wrench
    • phillips, flat screwdrivers, and allen wrenches in various sizes and shank lengths.
    • Pliers, monkey wrench, and wire cutters
    • hand drill and metal drill bits
    • hammer, liquid wrench, and other lubricants
    • flashlight, rags, tape measure
    • container for screws and other small parts
    • logic probes, multi-purpose meter for testing electrical parts.

    2. Power Tools for Junkyards

    The best power tool to take to a self-service junkyard is a battery powered impact wrench.

    Be sure to be well acquainted with the device since it is very easy to strip fasteners in such a way it becomes difficult or impossible to remove the part.

    A battery powered screwdriver may also be useful, especially if it has an adapter to accommodate drills.

    When screws or other fasteners break in certain ways, a drill set may come in handy for freeing the car part from the fastener.

    What should you wear in Self-service Junkyards?

    Always consider safety and comfort when choosing clothes to wear in a self-serve junkyard. Here are the basic guidelines:

    • Make sure hair longer than ear-length is confined so it can’t reach the work area or power tools operation zone.
    • Remove all rings, necklaces, or other jewelry that may get caught up.
    • Gloves are useful for some things in a self-serve junkyard.  Never use gloves when operating power tools. Gloves are best for picking through piles of car parts or other activities where shards of metal or glass may be present.
    • Wear sensible shoes that have good traction and support.
    • Short sleeves carry less risk of getting caught up in power tools than long sleeves.
    • Aprons are useful for avoiding fluid splatters
    • Always wear goggles and ear protection, especially when using power tools.
    • Avoid loose clothing that may get caught up in moving parts or something heavy that falls on the fabric.
    • Clothes should always be clean for the sake of comfort and safety.
    • It doesn’t take expensive coveralls or other garments to visit a self-service junkyard.

    Do self-service Junkyards offer clothes or tools?

    Self-service junkyards may offer larger or more expensive tools for rent such as engine puller frames. Most don’t offer hand tools or power tools or clothes.

    Depending on the facility, it may also be possible to rent a vehicle to transport larger sized or heavier parts.

    Despite this, most self-serve junkyards won’t let customers remove engine puller frames or other expensive tools.  This can be a problem since these tools will also be needed for installing into the vehicle being repaired.

    Which one is better self-service or full-service Junkyards?

    Determining whether self-service junkyards are better than full-service junkyards is a matter of personal perspective.

    • On a tight budget, self-service junkyards will always come out better because the parts are a lot cheaper.
    • When time efficiency is important, a full-service junkyard will be better because the inventory is highly organized. It may take less than an hour to retrieve the parts.
      By contrast, it may take the better part of a day just to find the right make and model vehicle in a self-serve junkyard, and then remove the part.
    • Full-service junk yards also come out on top when considering the amount of work required to obtain the part.
      When purchasing from a full-service junkyard, there is no need to remove the part or try to clean up all the grease and grime.

    Read more about junkyards.

    Is there any self-service Scrap Yard?

    There are also self-service scrap yards that cater to items other than vehicles.

    Self-service scrap yards work the same way as junkyards.  Upon being admitted to the inventory area, customers can look around and buy items of interest.

    A good tool kit may also be of use in a self-serve scrap yard, especially if the customer is only looking for one part instead of a complete machine.

    Self-service junkyards are a good place to save money on car and truck parts. Knowing how to navigate one and what to expect when visiting makes it easier to bring the right tools and obtain good quality, functional car parts.

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