Full-Service vs. Self-Service Junkyards: A Roadmap of the Pros and Cons


When shopping for used car parts at junkyards, you have two options: a full-service junkyard or a self-service junkyard. 

Full-service junkyards, also known as salvage yards, often offer white-glove services, like the services provided by companies like All Truck and Car. Self-service junkyards offer parts for less money, but you do all the heavy lifting yourself.

Both types have pros and cons. If you’re ready to look for used auto parts, here’s your roadmap guide to the difference between white-glove and DIY junkyards. 

Pros of full-service junkyards

Knowledgeable customer service is one of the key advantages of working with a full-service junkyard. 

Some full-service junkyards allow you to search for parts on their website to see what they have available on their lot. Some of this software is rather sophisticated, offering you the ability to:

  • Shop for parts or multi-parts
  • Shop for parts by image
  • Shop for parts in different languages, such as Spanish

Once you locate what you need, the staff will pull it for you to pick up.

If you don’t want to search for the parts yourself, the staff will do it for you. Simply call and tell the workers what you need. Salvage yard employees will locate the parts, make sure they are clean, and prepare them for you to pick up. You show up at the desk, receive the part(s), and pay.

Full-service junkyards often offer guarantees on everything they sell. Some offer extended warranty options.

Cons of full-service junkyards

Full-service junkyards are more expensive than self-service junkyards. This price difference is because of the turnkey nature of white-glove services. 

If you have a lot of experience working on cars, you may prefer to walk the junkyard yourself to locate what you need. You may enjoy the process and choose to do the work yourself rather than rely on a customer service rep at a full-service yard.

Pros of self-service junkyards

Self-service junkyards give you the freedom to explore the lot on your own. You show up, check in at the front desk, and begin to walk the lot.

Using a self-service junkyard will save you money. Self-service junkyards don’t have the overhead involved with staffing their operation, cleaning, and guaranteeing the parts they sell.

Self-service junkyards may have more variety of salvaged vehicles from which to choose. It can be fun to explore a lot, and it can also be a learning opportunity.

Cons of self-service junkyards

Car parts are complicated. You have to be knowledgeable about car parts and repairs to remove a part on your own. You also need to bring the right tools with you. Additionally, the parts are dirty, so you have to clean them yourself.

Walking the junkyard on your own to locate the car you need parts from takes a lot of time. The person at the front desk usually doesn’t know where certain vehicles are, although they may if you’re lucky.

Self-service junkyards usually don’t offer guarantees on parts. If a self-service yard does offer a guarantee, these warranties are often more limited than what you would receive at a full-service junkyard.

A final word

When determining whether to use a full-service junkyard or a self-service junkyard, ask yourself how much time you have available and whether you have the knowledge and proper tools to extract the parts.

If shopping at a full-service junkyard will save you enough time and you need their staff’s expertise, the added costs are probably worth it.