People from all over bring their cars, and you are likely to find nearly any auto part you need at your local junkyard. In addition to this, people also bring other machines, and if you are in the market for obscure machine parts at a cheap price, junkyards are a good bet.
If your machine is missing a part, it is highly likely that someone else sold their machine for scrap with the part yours need still intact. It is now up to you to offer a good enough deal to the junkyard to convince them to sell to you.
Below are the ways to pick the right spare parts when at your local junkyard—or any junkyard for that matter.
Pick the Right Type of Junkyard
These days, there are junkyards that inventory and keep good records of valuable parts to sell to customers. Some of them even sell online, and are actually good at it. This is an option. If, however, you prefer the human touch i.e. you’d rather go to the junkyard in person and look through, there are provisions for that too.
If, as mentioned above, you prefer the personal touch, look for a full-service junkyard. At one of these, you tell the attendant what you want, and he goes searching around for you. If they have one available on ground, he pulls it for you, and if they don’t, he goes searching in cars or machines that have not been dismantled.
The other type of junkyard you can go to for an even more personal touch are u-pull-its. At one of these, you are given permission to go looking for the parts you need by yourself. Yes, you come with your tools, and you go scavenging for the parts you need.
Your choice of junkyard depends on how hands-on you are, and how knowledgeable you are about machine parts. If you know your stuff, “u-pull-its” are your best bet. Be very careful though, at “u-pull-its”, you are responsible for your own safety. Take a look at this post if you need an idea on which safety items you need to take along to an Auto Wrecker. 
Parts You Should Never Buy from a Junkyard
A great way of knowing the right parts to buy is knowing the parts you should never buy from a junkyard. Parts that deteriorate rapidly should never be bought at junkyards. The same goes for parts that are prone to wear and tear. A car may have been junked because a part other than the one you need is bad, but that doesn’t mean all the parts left intact are in optimal condition.
Never buy belts, filters, hoses, and brake pads from junkyards. Apart from the fact that these parts are susceptible to wear and tear, it is likely that they have been sitting in a garage for long before they were sold as scrap. This increases the chances of them failing on you.
Finding What You Need
Be prepared, junkyards can be as confusing as the most complex mazes if you don’t know how they work. All junkyards have different ways they organise their materials, but generally, the most sought-after parts are placed close to the entrance. If you need something rare, you may have to go deeper. If you don’t know the organisational layout, talk to someone that works there.
Apart from the parts mentioned above, and other parts not mentioned that tend to suffer from wear and tear, nearly every other part in a car can be salvaged. These include body parts, engine parts, gauges, weather stripping, interiors, and so on.
If you are pulling parts by yourself, inspect thoroughly. An engine block may look like all it needs is cleaning, but on further inspection, you may end finding a crack or some other fatal flaw.
For Old Car Enthusiasts
If you love to restore old cars, the junkyard is your best resource. Where else will you find a whole car waiting to be bought for cheap? You may need to buy new parts to restore it, but you knew that already. You have to be careful, however, not to buy one that has too many parts that need replacement.
Some people whose cars have been wrecked extensively in an accident, owner-retain it from the insurance company and sell it to a junkyard. Some of these cars are relatively new, and if you have a similar model and space in your garage, you may buy one and keep it as your personal spare part shop.