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Must-haves for your junkyard tool kit

Whether you call it a junkyard, wrecking yard, or salvage yard, your local purveyor of you-pull-it used parts can be a great resource for much-needed bits to keep your car on the road. I’ve scored parts for my daily driver at a fraction of the dealer cost and picked parts from later-model cars that have improved my classic. A trip to the yard can often be rewarding, but without the right tools it can be a knuckle-busting experience that leaves you more frustrated than victorious.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/22/junkyard-tool-kit-necessities

I like to bring a magnet on a stick too. If I am removing parts, I often want to take the hardware with me too. Sometimes that means fishing it out of the place I dropped it.

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Good one, Kyle. It beats dismantling the rest of the car just to get one bolt. But it is a junkyard, so that’s an option too.

I use the bucket and organizer too. And it weighs up fast…especially with the cordless tools we have nowadays.
*But I always seem to keep finding things to use one of those cheap 4 lb. dead-blow hammers on. A sticky aluminum cover, intake or any hollow cast piece that’s secured by a gasket older than me. Great to knock some bent sheet metal out of the way of the part I’m going after or anything you don’t want to pry on.
*Small MAP gas torch can come in handy when nothing else works to free a fastener…obviously with the appropriate level of care.

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@Jim-R - I always want to take heat (MAPP gas torch) with me, but I haven’t found a yard yet that will let me use one. I guess there is the forgiveness not permission, but I dont want to be the guy that accidentally set fire to the junkyard.

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After one blow to the back of the head years ago, I always bring a telescopic hood prop with me. One good gust of wind will drop that hood latch down on your skull when you least expect it. Don’t trust rusty old hood hinges and shocks.

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I got so tired of holding small (or large) flash lights at odd angles or propping them up (and have them fall over at the most inopportune moment) that I bought a proper rechargeable headlamp. Mine is the kind with 3 lights - central spot + two side floods. It has been a godsend on projects large and small.

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Hornet or bug and roach spray. Sometimes what you need is protected by an insect army. Great list.

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I don’t carry ANY TOOLS, no screwdrivers, no wrenches, no flashlights, no gloves, no hand cleaner; what I do is call my son-in-law, tell him what I need and make him go get it…works for me.

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Good call. I have one and use it for camping, but I’ll give it a try the next time I head to the yard.

Bring a can of common sense to the boneyard, particularly in the southwest. That hidden corner is a great place for black widow spider. Also rattle snakes love junkyards.

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Cordless sawzall is the only thing I would add. As a junk yard veteran, this is a decent list of tools.

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I am lucky that our local Pick a Part have small wagons which they lend to their customers so you don’t need to bring a dolly.

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@dcarlson - Sounds like an awesome yard!

You mentioned that torque is your friend, and it is, but maybe not in the way you think. I worked in a junk yard for one summer years ago removing parts. The way we removed most parts was with a breaker bar but instead of loosening the bolts, which is sometimes hard, we continued to tighten them to snap them off. The part then came right off. Others use the flaming hack saw. I bought a rear end housing recently, the guy who owned the junkyard had taken the pumpkin out by blowing the nuts off. Crude but effective.

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Avation snips, rip bar and chisels. As a veteran of many, many trips to a slew of junkyards I would add that you need to wear LONG pants. Don’t wear cargo shorts. Too many sharp bits of metal and too many nasty sticker bushes. Boots also over sneakers. Also, during summer months, pound your fist on the roof of what you’re going to work on FIRST. If anything buzzes then you know you have company… Open doors and lids carefully because .you may find snakes or other forms of wildlife.

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I have a old dip stick that l Cut down maybe 8 inches to use on trunk access when l want to pop open a trunk to see if there are any goodies in there such as jack set ups space saver spares for old mustang’s etc

I worked in aviation for 35years and was always pointed out to not strip a corroded nut or bolt try to tighten the nut first. That way you either ring it off or it’ll break free. First use lots of penerant.

Mosquito repellant, too.

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Cordless sawsall too. None of the wrecking yards here allow “hot wrenches” or any kind of flame emitting devices. When using penetrating fluid, once you spray it on then hit the bolt or nut with a hammer and that speeds up the process. Also rusted torx or Phillips screws can be removed by placing the driver in the head and smacking it with a hammer. My experience with Packards taught me that.

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