9 Tips On How To Select A Junkyard Build

When you head out to the junkyard, you never know what you’re going to find. What’s hiding in the tall grass as you venture through the maze of what seems like endless cars is the most appealing part of this process. You know if you spot something unique, you’re going to have instant value for your future build.

You might ask yourself, which factors are worth considering before purchasing a car at the junkyard? For starters, if you can buy right for cheap, it’s going to help you exponentially down the road.

Before you head over, having a plan or a road map is vital for the completion of the vehicle. The guys at Carcass knew this when they ventured to the junkyard and found an old rusted squarebody project. Although they’ll have their work cut out for them, they used the following nine tips to save some time and money for the perfect build.

Rust: How Much is Too Much?

It’s important to remember that rust isn’t always a deal-breaker. However, if you’re on a tight squeeze for time, the amount of rust will determine how long before you see the project through to completion. 

For example, if there are no floors or rust exists above the wheel opening, you should consider moving on to a different vehicle. Rust on a cab corner or center of a door? That’s easily replaceable, just make sure it’s on a flat surface and not on curves you’ll have to mimic – not so easy.

Ask yourself these two questions – how much time am I willing to put into the project? Do I have the right tools? Remember, be patient. Rust can be an issue, but it can also be overcome.

Can It Roll?

You should always look for wheels and tires. Do the tires hold air? This could be the difference between towing the vehicle or driving it a short distance, if it runs, of course.

You should also check to see if the brakes are locked up or if it has any issues with the axles or drivetrain. Also, make sure the transmission isn’t stuck in gear and that the clutch releases. Unless you have access to heavy machinery or a winch, it may be an issue that isn’t easily overcome. You need to make sure you can get it into your garage or shop.

Why Is Car Glass So Important?

A car without glass is exposed to the elements outside. Depending on how long it’s been sitting , there could be significant interior damage, meaning you’ll be on the hook for additional work.

A car missing glass is certainly going to add to the costs, even more so if the vehicle is older because you may need curved glass, which is harder to find. Car glass is expensive, especially compared to standard window glass, and finding a project with glass intact will save you a headache.

How Complete is the Salvage?

A completed car has value, to begin with, and searching for subtle details, such as window cranks & interior nobs or chrome trim may save you time later on. Could you find those parts?

What are your goals for this project? Have you considered the hidden costs you may experience along the way? With this in mind, also pay attention to the foundational pieces of the vehicle. Does it have an engine? Does the engine turn over? If you’re not looking to replace it and it turns one full revolution, it’ll start.

Lastly, look to see if it has a transmission, axle or axles, and interior glass. Knowing this will be useful when deciding.

Was it Wrecked?

Always look for signs of a wreck around the front end or rear. It could be mismatched paint, paint overspray, paint missing from the heads of the fender bolts, or uneven tire wear on the front tires, indicating alignment issues from a wreck. A car with signs of damage may lead to more extensive body repair, and depending on your tools, could end up an unfeasible project.

Another thing to look for is the radiator support – if it appears new, it was likely wrecked at some point. If this is the case, it opens up so many more questions that you’ll need to resolve down the line.

Is There Aftermarket Support For the Build?

One part of the fun when heading to a junkyard is not knowing what you’re going to find. That is the beauty of building cars, right? However, it’s helpful to look for something that might be more common. Why? The more popular a project, the higher your chances of finding the parts you need to replace. If you find a car in the lot, look around to see if there are others. Less popular projects typically indicate your chances of finding parts will be difficult.

How to Make It Unique?

As we discussed above, if you’re on a crunch for time and have a specific budget in mind, you should seek something more common. However, we understand that this provides unique challenges when you don’t know what to expect at the junkyard. Trucks are unique because of the variation of body styles, but this is wholly dependent on your preferences.

You should always try to do something that’s you. How can you be different and stand out with your project? Although this may be a tall task given the circumstances, look for what appeals to you and validates the reason you build in the first place.

What Is the Scrap Value?

Junkyard vehicles are often priced based on their potential value, so it’s ok to pay a little more than the scrap value when you’re ready to purchase. The scrap value is based on the aluminum, copper, steel, and other metals in the car. The junkyard must determine if they’ll make more money selling the car as automobile parts or selling it as a hunk of metal to a recycling company.

If you want to get an idea for an overall budget, look at vehicles in the area that you saw at the junkyard to determine how much they cost when finished. It’ll offer some guidance for what to expect.

Lastly, gather a list of parts and tally up the costs. If your objective is to keep the car and not sell it, don’t worry about it! Build something that fits your needs, and something you’ll be proud to say “built not bought,” no matter how much you put into it.

Does It Have a Title or VIN?

So you found your perfect junk yard vehicle, but there’s only one more hurdle you’ll need to overcome. Make sure it has a title and VIN because, in many states, you won’t be able to register the vehicle or legally drive it on the road. It could be a significant disappointment to spend the money, do the project, and not move further with it. When searching, make sure to always look and ask questions.

Read More from PowerNation

You Might Also Like