So you've done it. You've gone out and you've picked up your next project vehicle. Whether it's your new project car, or your first car ever, chances are it's in need of some TLC. Maybe you're just missing some critical components, or maybe you’re looking for something a little more. So what are the options when going to look for a part? You could go to your local classifieds like Ebay, Kijiji or Craigslist, browse forums, look through online stores or go to a brick and mortar store near you. But chances are you're looking for a deal.
What if I told you, you could get these parts for free?
Across the world hidden in little inlets are junk yards, but don't take the words literally. These hidden havens house so many parts that sometimes it takes days to go through. Many of these local yards have “FREE PARTS DAY”, days where you pay a flat fee and walk out with all the parts you can carry. From the smallest things like fuses, to the largest like panels and doors an entire new world is at your fingertips.
So what do you need to bring with you? Well that's possibly the hardest question, and the answer really does come down to what you're working on and what you're looking for. Now for my example today, we are doing a budget swap of the extreme variety. The casualty is a Zenki S14, who is going from a dismal 2.4L auto to at 6.0 litre Gen III Vortec with Nissan's very own Z32 manual transmission. So with this much variety one can easily get overwhelmed. So let's break it down.
First, let's start with exactly what we're looking for. We already have our motor plucked from a 2500 Silverado, the motor has the full Grassroots Performance treatment and we already have the car with tranny, so we're done!! No not quite. We were missing some critical components such as the fact that our donor was a 2006, which meant it was fly by wire. Yet the car and 102mm TB we wanted to use was cable. So we needed an earlier donor truck with ECM, harness and throttle cable. But we're also on a mission to find other randomness, so our goal is to grab as much as we can.
Second is tools. Number one thing to keep in mind is that the likelihood of the car you're looking for being the first one you come to, is pretty much zero. Because of this, you have to run a compromise of not having the right tool as well as not bringing every tool from your garage because remember YOU are carrying them. I always start with the basics. So a good set of lineman pliers (which also double as cutters), needle nose pliers, and 1/4" drive sockets. Then a knife, which I can't stress enough to make sure you have a NEW blade. They are designed to be sharp, not last a long time. If you get cut you want it to be with a sharp blade, not a dull chipped shitty one. You want a variety of drivers but you are only one person so why carry more than one handle? So I carry the multi tool type. One for regular, one for Torx. Wrenches, are very helpful but very heavy. I only bring stubby ratchet type and although you are not supposed to, I interlock them for more leverage when needed. All this and a bit more I carry in a backpack so that you still have both your arms free. Attached is a picture of the stuff out of my bag and blown up so you can see the stuff. Do NOT bring SnapOn, Mac or the like to the yard. Tools can grow legs and it's much easier to replace a $20 ratchet than a $100 one. That’s $80 that you can put into mods!
Last thing is people, you can even make it a social event. If you and a couple buddies need bits then that's half the tools that you need to carry in! If you are allowed to leave with a credit or cash if you don't find what you're looking for then you may be able to pile the parts on one guy and split the credit with him after you leave. Our local yard, Standard Auto Wreckers, has monthly free days where they charge $50 to get in.
“On designated “Free Parts Day” Saturdays, customers have access to the entire self-serve part of the yard with their $49.95 admission fee. With up to 2,000 cars and trucks to choose from, up to 2008 models (and also newer models may be available), YOU CAN’T LOSE! If you don’t find the parts you are looking for, or if the value of the parts is less than $49.95, we will give you an in-store credit for the difference towards a future purchase or entrance fee for another “Free Parts Day”.
We typically go with 3-4 guys, and most times we can get 3 credits on our way out. That means that it only costs us $12.50 to get the hard to find bits that we need! Now there is a chance that you may not find your car, but be creative because the manufacturers sure were not! It is very common for companies to save money by using switches, buttons and the like across their whole line so just because your car isn't there doesn't mean that your part isn't. Have a fun time out there, and take your time! You never know what gem you might stumble on!