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Finding Used Parts for a Retro or Classic Ride

Finding Used Parts for a Retro or Classic Ride

In big cities like Chicago, salvage yards like LKQ Pick Your Part are well-known among car mechanics, engineers, and life-long car buffs. Many competitors live with the same mission but without the name recognition of LKQ Pick Your Part. Going local or big is a personal choice.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Driving an old car can be a lot of fun. The investment, up front, is often minimal, too. For only a few thousand bucks, you can have that title in your name in record time.

The car owner begins by perusing ads in the paper, trade magazines, Craigslist, and Facebook to get the process started. There are plenty of options available, and fantasizing about cruising around the expressway an old ride can really get those creative juices going.

How does an old jeep sound? Maybe a 1991 Toyota Celica – that’s cool, with the flip-up lights.

For other, this isn’t so much a funny hobby but a lifestyle decision. Driving an older car is often the only way some people can afford to commute. For them, the situation is a little more dire. A sudden repair can cause havoc when it comes to the monthly (or yearly) budget, and that’s stressful.

For both camps, salvage yards like LKQ Pick Your Part have risen to such popularity. 

Car fans who love what they do are in salvage yards all the time. It could be that they’re looking for a new (used) water pump or they’re doing a little body work on that 70s Mustang they’ve kept all these years.

In fact, even mechanics head to junkyards from time to time. They might be servicing a car for which new parts cannot be purchased from the manufacturer. This can be especially helpful for interior pieces like knobs, dials, gear shifters, and rearview mirrors. 

Other engine parts often make their way into the mix.

Some people even head to the junkyard to find these items to resell as a collector’s piece at shows and flea markets. The options are endless for those willing to do a little digging to find what they need.

Where can I Buy Used Auto Parts?

Many people buy used auto parts to save money or out of necessity, when they do, they might stop by their local LKQ Pick A Part to find what they need. From speedometers to axels, if the part can be found, it’s for sale.

In general, there are different places to buy auto parts.

If somebody wants something new, they could try these locations:

  • A dealership for the make of the car.
    Newer cars often still have their parts sitting around in a warehouse somewhere. If the dealership can get you the part, it’s a good idea to get it. However, they are known for higher prices.
  • Auto stores like Auto Zone.
    These vendors sell new parts. If you drive a popular and recent model, then the parts might be at this store on the back shelf. For older cars, classic cars, and specialty pieces, it’s not so easy. The staff can, however, often order the part.
  • Online
    You can buy the parts you need with a quick Internet inquiry. Type in the part you need for the make, model, and year of the car. You’ll see vendors in your area, across the country, and even around the globe. The price is fair, usually. You do pay for shipping, though. And you wait!

Salvage yards are old school, but they’re not new school too. For example, LKQ Pick Your Part has websites dedicated to its Chicagoland locations.

Find the Auto Parts You Need at the Salvage Yard

Finding car parts at a junkyard makes a lot of sense if you want to save money, choose your part, and work on an older vehicle.

The scene is just like in the movies. There are tons of cars on a lot. Sometimes they’re even stacked on top of each other. In general, the mechanic brings his own tools to take out the part. He brings the part to the counter, pays the bill, and is on his way.

If the name contains “pick your part” in it, you’re going to be expected to grab the piece yourself. This is good because it helps you keep control of what you want and you don’t pay someone to help you get the piece. The downside? You have to carry your own tools! Be prepared to get those hands dirty.

Some pieces can get be used in other cars. It isn’t uncommon for the manufacturers to use similar or the same parts in a few different makes and models across years. 

Ask about warranties when you are on the lot. Some places do not offer any guarantees. Companies like LKQ Pick Your Part offer at least a 30-day guarantee for exchange or return.

Fun fact: Some salvage yards charge admission to poke around. They do this for a few reasons:

  • To recover the costs of running a junkyard (lights, lease, marketing, management, etc.)
  • To ensure customers are serious about making a purchase; junkyards aren’t the safest places on the planet, and they don’t want people aimlessly wondering around with a wrench in their hand

Sending the Whole Car to a Junkyard

If you’re sick and tired of driving your car because of its constant need for attention and money, then you can dump it once and for all by calling a junkyard to tow your off to the lot. They’ll even pay you cash money when they take it off your hands.

Companies like LKQ Pick Your Part are commonly mentioned when talking about junking an old car. We see the commercials and the advertisements all the time – sell your old car! 

There are some good reasons to pursue this route:

  • Better for the environment. Bad cars, broken cars, and old cars pollute our cities and our planet. We need to get these high emissions cars off the road and replace them with something that doesn’t do harm.
  • Less frustrating lifestyle. Driving an old car can be very stressful and frustrating. Some people don’t like driving old cars that have scratches, dents, and dings. Other people can’t afford the constant flow of repair bills to keep the old car moving from point A to point B.
  • The payout can be pretty decent. Many people laugh about the times they called a junkyard to take their car and only got paid twenty bucks. An economist might call this a win, as it technically isn’t a loss in the transaction. All jokes aside, the payout is a benefit!
  • Peace. Letting this old car go once and for all can make you feel like a whole new person. Sometimes there are big problems in our lives, and we find ourselves holding on with little to no logical reason as to why. When the old headache-inducing car is gone, you will feel free.

These benefits might not apply to everybody. Mechanics like the challenge of keeping their old cars up and running, for example. Some people love the classics, and the cost and investment are worth it for them. In the end, if you have a new car, the parts could be covered by warranty or guarantee.

Make a decision you can live with, and it will turn out alright in the end.

Play Your Part; Pick Your Part

Picking your own auto parts is not a solution for everybody; not all drivers and car owners feel comfortable heading down to the local LKQ Pick Your Part to snatch an old radio out of some old Chevy. 

If the adventure sounds like a fun challenge, or you’re a trained professional, then it’s old hat. However, for the rest of us, this has been an interesting ride none the less.

At the end of the day, there are choices to be made about driving older vehicles. Do you junk the car? It depends on your relationship with the vehicle. If it’s causing you a lot of financial and emotional heartache, toss it. If you have to stay with it for safety, then do so. Just make an exit plan.

If you’re not going to send the car to the junkyard, the junkyard is still a pillar of support as you navigate life with an older vehicle. If you need parts, or you want to spruce up your ride, you can head to the junkyard to find exactly what you’re after.

This is an industry with which not every driver is familiar. Many drivers stick to new cars and dealership repair and services. Nevertheless, the next time you drive by your local junkyard, pay a moment of respect for the community they serve. They work hard to help keep thousands of drivers on the road.