2002 Jeep Liberty

Shopping for Car Parts at a Junk Yard

By Erin Huffstetler | 02/01/2015 | 11 Comments
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High-mileage vehicles – they’re kind of our thing. We buy used cars, and then we do whatever it takes to keep them on the road. A coat of wax twice a year keeps the paint looking nice, and some basic maintenance and upkeep helps us to avoid many expensive repairs.

So, when we bought our weekend homestead, and suddenly found we needed a vehicle with four-wheel drive (our other vehicle couldn’t make the drive in), we didn’t hesitate to buy another high-mileage vehicle – a 2002 Jeep Liberty with 189,00 miles. The body was good. It drove well, and it didn’t seem to have any major mechanical issues.

We paid just $2,900 for it – taxes and all, so we figured there was plenty of room to make repairs, if we needed, too. And you know what? We’ve been driving it for four months now, and in that time we’ve only had to replace one sensor. Can’t complain about that.

Having gained some confidence in our Jeep, we decided it was time to address some of the small issues that it came with. Specifically, the back door locks weren’t working properly, and the front passenger door didn’t stay open on its own.

My husband looked up the dealer list prices for the parts that we needed, and here’s what he came up with:

Right Rear Door Lock Actuator – $117
Left Rear Door Lock Actuator – $117
Right Front Door Check – $63.00

Total: $297

Um, yeah. Good luck getting that much out of us.

To cut costs, my husband tracked down a Jeep Liberty at a junk yard, and headed there for his parts. This was a new experience for us, and it was a fun one.

Pull-A-Part Sign

My husband went to Pull-A-Part. It’s a junk yard chain, and it was incredibly well run. Before he drove over, he looked up our car on their website, to verify that they had one in stock. Then, he checked parts prices, so he knew what to expect.

When he got there, they had a computer that you could use to look up the lot location of vehicles and to sign up for a VIP Club card.

The VIP Club card is free, and it earns you discounts and rewards, so definitely get one, if you go.

Once he had his VIP Club card, he made a quick stop at the counter to pay his admission fee. It’s $2 for non-club members and $1 for club members. Since this was his first visit, his admission was free. Sweet!

Wheel Barrow

With that out of the way, it was time to get down to business. They have wheel barrows that you can use to haul your tools and parts, so he loaded all of his tools into one, and set off.

You have to remove the parts yourself, so make sure you bring everything you’re going to need, and give yourself plenty of time to work.

Junk Yard

Look at how neat the junk yard was. Can you believe it?

Scrapped Jeep

He quickly located the Jeep Liberty on the lot, and got to work pulling parts.

Junked Jeep

Before long, he had everything he needed, and was off to check out.

Here’s what he paid:

Right Rear Door Lock Actuator – $7.95
Left Rear Door Lock Actuator – $7.95
Right Front Door Check – $4.95

Total: $20.85

That’s a total savings of $276.15 over retail, and it was a fun outing to boot. Look like we’ll be adding junk yards to our bag of savings tricks.

Do you buy parts from junk yards? I’d love to hear from you, if you do. Please leave a comment.

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Comments

  1. My late husband used to get car parts from junk yards. I doubt that they were as well organized as the one you used and computers weren’t used then. He was a farmer and knew a lot of frugal tricks to keep machinery going.

  2. We have bought parts at the junkyard for our cars. A tail light assembly for son’s Grand Marquis that he was able to replace on his own, a side mirror and motor when something flew up and broke mine on my Saturn, hubcaps that have replaced damaged ones are just what I can remember in the past year.

    We have also bought tires for all our vehicles from the junkyard. That sometimes requires multiple trips in order to buy 4 that match but it has resulted in terrific savings on almost new tires.

  3. I have a jeep liberty as well, 2003 year and have had a few recalls, nothing major but I would definitely look into those.One i believe pertained to the airbags and the other they had to but the metal piece in the back that you can attach the metal ball to pull trailers with (had something to do with being rear-ended and the gas tank). So i would definitely look into those and make sure yours don’t need them.

    • Hi Kayla, Funny you should mention those recalls. We had both of those taken care of last week 🙂 Getting a free trailer hitch receiver was really great b/c we planned to add one soon. Saved us $150.

  4. I agree..I think that was the only recall I was excited for..lol…planned on getting one as well and seen how expensive it was.

  5. You saved a large amount of money! Junkyards are the best, as there a number of cars that may match yours. I know I need to look for a part for my car that I’ve been putting off. I’ll look for my spare part soon!

  6. Thanks for sharing this advice on getting good car parts used! I am glad that your husband was able to find those parts on the Liberty fairly easily, too. It sounds like I should probably try a salvage yard for some Honda parts I need. Right now, I really need a fan assembly, but it would be nice to not pay full price for it.

  7. I used to. I am looking for parts for 1986 Ford F150.Stepside ‘Flare/Style’, and 1988 Jeep Wrangler Sahara.

  8. I am a single mom to a 16 year old son. I have a 2004 Honda CRV that I bought new in 2005. It has 170k miles on it and I just found out that it needs a new air conditioner compressor, is burning oil and needs a ring job and the repairs are $1700. The car is worth $1500 and will need tires in the next year. Would you fix the car? buy new? buy used…and if so, how much would you spend and where to look? My house is paid for, I have a decent retirement fund and a semi decent cash reserve. I will pay cash whatever I do, just trying to be more mindful with my money? Thank you oh wise woman…ps, using your book selling and dvd selling advice I sold $200.00 worth and my garage sale isn’t even until NEXT weekend…your tips help…thank you SO much

    • Hey Rhonda,

      Glad the yard sale tips helped.

      If it were me, I’d probably fix the car. Here’s my thinking: Since you bought it new, you know the full history of the car, how well it’s been maintained, etc. If you replace it with a used car, all of that will be unknown, and you’ll probably still find yourself buying new tires in the near future. The repairs, plus a set of tires is likely to cost you less than anything you could buy, and Honda’s are known for lasting a really long time. A couple caveats: If the timing belt hasn’t been replaced yet, or there are any transmission issues with the car, it may make more sense to replace it. $1700 sounds like a pretty fair price for the work, since an engine tear down would be involved. That’s just my take on things, and it should be noted that I like to drive cars until the wheels fall off. Not everyone does. We have one car with 150k+ miles and a second with over 210k+.

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