Pull Your Own Car Parts to Save Money

by Don Elliott on August 11, 2011

You have been putting off fixing that broken tail light or outside rear view mirror for a long time. You know it is not a complicated replacement, but the cost your new car dealership quoted was just too much to fit into the budget right now. Without the proper car parts, your car will lose its used car value. What do you do?

Try out your local Pick-A-Part, Pull-A-Part, Pick-N-Pull, U-Pull-It, or whatever your local do-it-yourself used auto and truck parts operation calls itself. Yes, it is like going to the junkyard. However, you will be surprised at how customer friendly these new self-service used parts facilities have become. Self-service used car part locations get their cars from insurance companies, tow companies, auto auctions and from private parties. It is a great place to sell your used car when you give up trying to fix-it-yourself.

All of the yards are well organized and stock hundreds of vehicles. They are sorted by make and model to make your search easier. There is a small admission charge of two or three dollars. You must bring your own tools, so it pays to do a little work at home to see what you will need. Each used car is up on blocks. This makes it possible to get under the car if necessary. Wagons and wheelbarrows are available to help cart heavier parts.

Unlike trips to the junkyard, self-service used auto parts businesses have turned the model around. Lot workers are trained to be helpful, but they won’t do the work for you. Parts are priced assuming that you are doing the removal yourself. The lot workers can be a helpful resource to find the right car or to suggest other models with the same part that you need.

Inventory changes every day. Parts are continually being pulled, so the part you need may have already been taken. There are usually several of the most popular car models.

Prices for most parts are posted as you enter the yard. Parts are priced at a flat rate. Car hoods and tail light assemblies are all one price. Regardless of the car make and model, most parts are priced the same. On a recent trip to my local Pic-A-Part, an outside rear view mirror for my Chevy Suburban cost $28. It cost me only $3 to enter the yard. I needed several tools to take the remote controlled mirror off, but I had already taken the broken mirror off at home. This helped me know which tools to take to the Pic-A-Part yard. The same rear view mirror part at my Chevrolet dealership would have cost me about $400 plus labor to have it installed. I also would have had to have it painted to match my SUV.

Don’t get dressed up to go to the Pull-Your-Own used car parts facility. Even though the lots are neatly arranged and litter free, the used cars are outside in the weather. Pulling parts can be dirty work, but well worth the reward if you don’t mind getting a little dirt under your fingernails!

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