Scrounger’s Guide: Junkyard Staples


In case you need an excuse to rummage through the local boneyard, we’ve found these items are often in short supply in the garage.

    • Norma Torro worm-drive hose clamps, found on ’90s Mercedes, have a turned up, non-perforated band to prevent hose damage and an off-center drive that more evenly distributes clamping pressure while also preventing the clamp from tilting over when tightening. BMWs and Saabs of the same vintage will have similar-quality clamps. They are conveniently labeled for the proper diameter, even if the dimensions are metric. We hit five cars in one yard and got about 20 clamps of varying size. Our yard didn’t even have a way in their register to charge us for hose clamps, so the counter guy charged us for $5 worth of metal trim. They retail for about $2 each, so we consider them a steal.
    • Round out your spare fuse collection with hard-to-find fuses used in your car. The giant Maxi fuses can be found under the hoods of ’90s GM cars and work for high-current jobs and are especially useful when wiring remote-mounted batteries. In the same vein as fuses, relays and their sockets can be a good score, but it depends on the yard. You might be charged the same price as a bulb and socket (next to nothing) or nearly as much as it costs to buy a complete new part, which run from $12–$20.
    • Junction box, busbar, gang terminal, or distribution block—whatever you call it—it will help keep underhood wiring organized and allow for removal of individual wiring components. Just run a heavy gauge power wire to the battery, and you’ll have a spot for constant 12-volt power without cluttering up the battery posts. This one is from the firewall of an ’88–’98 GM fullsize truck or SUV.
    • Door strikers, air-cleaner wingnuts, and interior trim screws—it pays to have a backup for any bit of hardware that wears out or goes missing, right? Our yard charges 20 cents apiece for small hardware and 50 cents for larger stuff.
    • Our wrecking yard didn’t care whether it was a radiator, fuel, or oil cap, the price was $3. New radiator and fuel caps typically go for $12–$20
  • A lot of ’80s and ’90s cars in wrecking yards use Weather Pack terminals. If your car has some, a few pigtails could help make a diagnosis or repair. New they cost about $6 for both ends of a two-pin connection, so don’t spend much.
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