How to Inspect Parts at Scrap Car Yards before Buying Them

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Many people decide to buy replacement parts from a salvage yard or auto wrecking company. And when they do this as opposed to buying them brand new, they are saving a lot of money. But there is always some risk that is associated with purchasing used vehicle components. This is why it is a good idea to find a way to somehow ensure that the parts you are buying are in working order. But how does one achieve this? What methods are out there for discerning which parts work and which ones don’t? Let’s find out!

Make Sure the Spare Part Fits Your Car

Perhaps your vehicle requires a replacement engine. Before buying it, you need to know what motor your automobile is in possession of. It is not uncommon to get a 1.8 Turbo Volkswagen motor is a Volkswagen that is a different model. This happens over a variety of different makes and models. This is very similar to seeing a Mercedes Benz Sprinter with a Turbo Diesel motor in it.

You will also do well to take note of the type of chassis your car has if you are planning on performing any part replacement missions. You can locate the part number for verifying purposes in this case.

Some Fast Tips to Remember Before Installing Parts

Perhaps you have just purchased some second-hand car parts from the Wrecking yard, and are amped to get to work installing them. Before doing so, you may like to take note of these tips that may help you to avoid making mistakes or making a mess of the whole task.

  • If there is a chance that you will need to produce a voltage test, bring along a battery.
  • Electrical connectors will be less difficult to take off and clean if they are sprayed with alcohol first.
  • Use dielectric grease if you need to clean up any electrical connection.
  • Have you accidentally stripped a thread on a bolt? There is always the option of re-threading it.
  • Faulty voltage supplies, relays, and fuses should be tested on electrical parts.
  • The task of repairing parts can be made easier through the use of the vehicle’s service manual.
  • Finding out whether a component is in working order can be achieved by installing it first.
  • Some parts are best-bought brands new, such as air filters, fluids, gaskets, drive belts, fuel, and cabin.

From here, let us explore certain parts individually.

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Engine Parts

Fuel Pump

If you have ever tried to diagnose issues within the fuel system, you can definitely attest to how hard this task can be. However, there are some fundamentals associated with is that go toward simplifying everything somehow. Find out what kind of pump is in the car. Look at the simple things before anything else. This includes regulators and fuses. Don’t even buy it if there is any corrosion. After installation, locate the fuel pressure testing port and connect to it a fuel pressure gauge. You can then run a fuel pressure test. You should also use a multimeter to test the voltage.

Intake and Exhaust Manifolds

You should look for cracks in the manifolds. When reinstalling, don’t forget to put the gaskets back. If you see that the exhaust or the intake looks like it is dirty, make a parts bath and bath the manifolds within it. This will improve the quality of airflow as well as make them look good. If unsure, check the manual.

Power Steering Pump

There may be leaks within the pump’s body, so be sure to do an inspection of it. Look at the power steering lines as there also may be leaking in them. If you find any, you have the option of simply re-sealing any leaks. Does the pump’s wheel rotate in a smooth fashion? Find out by spinning it. Is it noisy and loose? It is not a good pump if this is the case. Install that pump and see if it emitting sounds that are loud and noisy. If it does this, or you can’t even steer, you could just have a malfunctioning pump, the worst kind of pump.

Power Steering Lines

Look at all the threads, as this will alert you as to whether any of them have been stripped or are on their way towards being stripped. The line will have portions that are made of metal. You need to see if there are any crimps there. Also, look at the parts of the line that are made of rubber. They may have taken on damage from too much heat or ozone. Look at the O-rings to ensure that they aren’t worn. Before you install any used lines, don’t forget to replace any seal rings that need replacing.

Mass Air Flow Sensor

This is something that, if you want to check what condition it is in, you need to run the engine. The electrical connector requires a complete lack of corrosion or damage of any kind. There is a cleaner that is used specifically to clean it, and it is called mass airflow sensor cleaner. Find where inside the mass airflow sensor the hot wire is located and spray the cleaner there. If you want it to function correctly, this will make sure that it does.

Throttle Body

What is the spring mechanism like? You can find out by locating the part that allows the cables are hooked to it and giving it a twist. The throttle plate will also need to be looked at so that you know whether its opening and closing mechanism is operating correctly. Get some alcohol and use it to clean the electrical connectors.

Steering Rack

You will want to find out if the body of the rack, along with the gaiters, has any leaks. The band clips need to be at a level of tightness that isn’t too much or too little, so check them as well. Before you conduct the installation process, any mortally damaged gaiters should be removed, and replaced with non-damaged gaiters.

If you want to know whether a steering rack is good to use or not, finding out can be very hard to complete tasks if the steering rack hasn’t been taken to pieces. Unless it has been installed on your car, in which case you can then test to see whether it is working properly. How do you do this? When the car is running, take note of whether the steering is wandering. Listen for sounds that are akin to something grinding. Check for leaks as well. These are all signs that the steering rack isn’t any good for you to use.

Air Conditioning Lines

Used air conditioning lines need to be inspected for leaks. They can be located if there are any by seeing if there are any spots that have dried up refrigerant on them. Also, find the high and low-pressure valves, as you will be wanting to take the covers off by unscrewing them. If you have a pocket screwdriver, use it to press down one of the pressure valves. This will allow you to know whether the system is properly pressurized or not. When it comes time to remove the lines, you will need to depressurize the system first.

Radiator

You will be looking for damage to the radiator’s fins. When you have finished installing the radiator, you should ensure that the engine doesn’t overheat by checking how hot it is. Perhaps the coolant isn’t leaking, but the engine is overheating anyway. If this is the case, you could have a faulty thermostat.

Manual Transmission

Take the fill plug off and inspect the fluid level. If you want to make sure that there is fluid in there at all, give your finger a dip in there. You will need to ensure that no chunks of metal are in the fluid, so take a sample and shine a flashlight on it. Make sure that linkages are working correctly by changing gears while the car is parked. The best test of your manual transmission’s level of quality is conducted by driving it.

Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission is another one of those components that usually needs to be disassembled or used in a running vehicle in order to check its functionality. Parts within the transmission that needs inspecting are the linkages along with the electrical connectors. The transmission needs these items if it is to work correctly.

Turbo

Look at the turbo’s body and see if it is sporting any cracks. Another thing to do is give the turbine, located inside the turbo, a spin by reaching inside it while holding it in your hand. You want it to spin with no resistance and in the smoothest fashion possible. It is advised that when re-installing the turbo, you replace all the seals. If you don’t, you run the risk of your check engine lights going off unwanted. If the turbo leaks, the turbo can lose oil and coolant, resulting in a ruined motor.

One Whole Motor

Getting an entire motor from an auto-wrecking salvage yard will require a few things to be inspected before getting it back to your place for installation. Get your trusty ½” socket wrench and give the motor’s crank pulley a clockwise crank. Is the motor rotating in a smooth fashion? How easy or difficult is it to turn the crank pulley? You can tell if a motor has seized by utilizing this method. You should also give the motor an inspection for leakage points as well.

Vacuum Tubing

Take the tubing and blow in it. You are doing this in order to check that the air is flowing through easily. Next, do the same thing, only this time block the other end with a finger so that you can see if there are any leaks in the tubing.

Coolant Hoses

These hoses need to be completely free of holes. Give them a squeeze to see how firm they are. If instead of being firm, they are soft, they will need replacing. Perhaps the hose is metal. If this is the case, you should not forget to replace the seal when re-attaching to your vehicle.

EGR Valve

Look at the electrical connections. You can check whether the valve is working well or not by sucking and blowing through it. You can tell that the valve is working properly if you can either suck and not blow or vice versa. Get a rag and give it a clean before you put the valve back.

EGR Hose

There may be deposits of carbon in the passageway of the hose, blocking it, so check for that. Also, look to see if there are any kinks in the hose. Next, you will want to make sure there is ample airflow by using an air compressor to blow into the hose. Use alcohol to clean electrical connections.

Air Pipes

Inspect the metal-air pipes for anything resembling a ding. You will also need to keep an eye out for blemishes. If there is any oil in it, clean it out. Is the pipe made out of a softer material? It could be more prone to tearing. This could be one of those times when it is better to buy it brand new.

Starter

Have a good look at all the connections of the electrical variety. If any of the electrical connections need a good cleaning, go right ahead and do so. They may need some cleaning. There should be no teeth on the pinion gear that are in a state of disrepair. If you want to test how well the starter functions, this is simple to do.

Use a metal object such as a screwdriver, a battery, and some jumper cables. There will be positive threads located on the starter solenoid. You will want to connect the positive to those threads. Find the ear of the starter and connect the negative to it. Use a vice to keep the starter in place while you connect the positive and spade connection with a screwdriver. Does the starter turn? If it is failing to do so, don’t buy it.

Alternator

Alternators need to be in top condition in order to properly charge. In order to check this, have a look at the drive belt. You will be wanting to properly ascertain whether it is worn out or not, and how to lose it is. One thing you will need is a multimeter. It is a testing device used to test how much power something puts out. Use it to find out how powerful charging the alternator is.

Spark Plugs

Look at the spark plug. Pay special attention to the crush rings in order to rule out there being any deformities or cracks. Make sure there is no oil or corrosion on the rip that is faced down. If there is, the spark plug is no good.

Injectors

The multimeter will come in handy yet again for testing the fuel injector. It will be plugged into a harness of the wiring variety. Unplug it from there. Then you will want to place, onto all the electrical pins, a test lead. You are testing the resistance of each injector. They all need precisely the same level of resistance. Learn what the resistance levels should be for your car. Don’t forget to clean it before putting it back.

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Chassis Parts

Differential

Make sure that there are no leakage points. Make sure that there is fluid in it by putting your finger into it after unscrewing the fluid fill bolt. Use a flashlight to check that there are no bits of metal in the fluid.

Drive Axle

Find out if there is any rust on the axle by inspecting it up close. While inspecting it for rust, look out for other things such as torn axle boots, along with any grease leaks. Once you have installed the drive axle, raise the vehicle from the ground, get someone to push the gas pedal down, and look at the axle spinning.

Hood List Support Shocks

Look at how well the shock works by seeing whether it still supports the hood when it goes up. If it doesn’t, you know that the shock is not functioning and you shouldn’t buy it. If you want to remove support shocks, do so by using a pocket screwdriver to yanking the clips, which are on each end, out.

Control Arms

What you are looking for on control arms are breaks on the ball joint, or in the rubber bushings. There should be none if they are in good condition. Look also for large cracks, which there should also be none. A control arm that is in good condition will have fracture-less metal, and the rubber will be in good condition.

Leaf Springs

You will be looking to see if there is any corrosion, so inspect it for signs of it. There may be minor rust occurring between the spring leaves, or dirt as well. Rust and dirt can be cleaned if you use a wire brush. Be sure to use a damp rag in order to wipe the area clean afterward. Use a lubricant that is silicone-based in order to lubricate the same area.

You can use this opportunity to look at the U-clamps. You will be inspected to see that they are of the correct level of proper tightness, plus whether or not they are positioned correctly. There will be clips holding those leaf springs together, and they need to be in good condition. So check that as well.

Are the dowel and shackle pins in good condition? If they are, they should have no bends, and no corrosion either. Inspect them to make sure of this. Look at the end of the leaf spring and locate the rubber bushings.

Coil Springs

If a coil spring is unworthy of use due to its terrible condition, you can tell if it has too much wear and tear, or rust. But it doesn’t end there. If you install it and can hear weird sounds being emitted from the suspension, this is another sign that it isn’t any good. When you park the car, does it sag?

When you are turning while driving, does the vehicle do a swaying motion? If you have replaced the spring and there is still some bottoming out when encountering bumps, have the shocks replaced.

Window Regulator

If you go to a salvage yard looking for a window regulator, and you actually find one, well done. Check how well it works by taking its cable and putting 12V through it with jumper cables or a different source that can do this.

Window Switches

Give the switch a flick up and a flick down so that you know that it flicks up and down properly. Get some test leads and give the terminals a test so that you know how good the continuity of the switch is. Not at the same time, of course. Don’t forget to press the switch down when testing continuity.

Tyres

The tyre is an important part of every car as far as safety is concerned. You will need to see how much tread it has. The minimum depth of car tyres is 1.5mm. You can test this using a twenty-cent coin. How soft are the tyres?

Check the softness by flexing the tyre. If it is far too soft, compared to how soft a tyre should be, it shouldn’t be considered for use.

Another part of the tyres that need to be checked is the sidewalls and everywhere else inside the tyre. What you are looking for is a puncture or multiple punctures. Perhaps the puncture is small. These smaller punctures can be fixed with relative ease using plugs, or even patches. You will also want to ensure that the tyre you are choosing is the correct tyre for your specific type of car.

Wheels

Of course, you don’t want to buy replacement wheels for your car that are damaged. So before installing replacement wheels be sure that there isn’t any by checking these areas:

The outer rim, which is where the tyre is sealed onto the wheel; The sealing edge, where things can get a bit dirty, and if there is any dirt, clean it with using a drill that has a wire brush attached; the tyre once it has been installed, as there may be leaks, so spray some dishwashing water onto it with a spray bottle. The tyre needs to be inflated first, of course.

Lights and Bulbs

Check whether the plastic that the light housings are made from isn’t broken. Make sure that the electrical connectors are not dirty and fit nicely. There is a seal that is used to prevent condensation inside the lights, so inspect that it is in good condition when the cover is opened. Now it is time to look at the light bulb. If it is a tungsten bulb, look into it, locate the filaments, and ensure that they are intact.

In the case of the bulb being halogen, it can be trickier to inspect it for damage. Do not touch the glass area of the bulb as this will create a spot of heat that will result in a much shorter life span, with unusually early burn-out. Look at the glass. If there is a dark, smoky hue on the glass, or any bubbling, not to mention any cracks at all, these are signs that the bulb is bad. It is also a good idea to do a test on your bulb’s continuity.

Brakes

This is a part that it is much better to purchase new instead of used. This is because the brakes are such an integral part of the car’s safety. It is the one part that you really don’t want to take any risks on. But if you insist on getting them used from a salvage yard, there are ways to check that they are of good quality. Where the pads will touch there should be ample material on the surface.

The rotor shouldn’t have a whole lot of rust on it. Sure, a minute tiny amount is fine, but any more is risky. The part of the pad’s surface that is going to touch the disc needs to have an ample amount of thickness. If you are unsure, you can take it to a professional for resurfacing.

Struts/Shocks

If you want to check whether a shock is in substandard condition, here is what to look for. See if there is any leakage of hydraulic fluid. This is a clue that it is not in good nick. In order to raise the likelihood of choosing one that is good, find a vehicle at the salvage yard that is in the best condition and pull the shocks or struts from there. Finding out how good they are can be determined by driving over bumps on the road and seeing whether your vehicle’s suspension has improved.

Door Lock Actuator/Door Latch

In order to test the latch’s functionality, simply open the door and close it again. In the case of vehicles that are in possession of door lock actuators, you will have a much easier and better time if you replace it. This doesn’t mean that one can’t take an actuator to pieces, locating the broken part, or so forth.

Door Levers

Take the door panel off the car. Look at the pull rod and ensure that it is connected, not only to the latch but the door lever as well. You should also have a good look at the plastic parts, and make sure that none of them are in a state of brokenness.

Blower Motor

If your air conditioning is out of commission, it could be something to do with the blower motor. Buying a second-hand one from the salvage yard is a good idea. Make sure a second-hand motor blower is working by locating the wire connectors and putting 12V through each of them. This will make the rotating fan function. Or it should, and if it doesn’t, the motor is not working. Of course, it may turn out that the air conditioning isn’t working due to a faulty voltage supply or a resistor that isn’t working.

Blower Motor Resistor

When a blower motor malfunctions, a lot of the time, it turns out that the main culprit is a non-working resistor. There are two terminals that need to have the resistance between them tested. There are different resistances for different automobiles, depending on specifications. You will know that the resistor is bad if the Ohmmeter reading gives an infinity reading while the circuit is open.

Lock/Unlock Switches

To test these parts you will again need to look at terminals and the levels of continuity that you get between them when a switch is actuated. Don’t forget to refer to the service manual for help in doing this task properly.

The crew at King Auto is extremely skilled and knowledgeable where you can get the best experience in buying parts. Likewise, if you are keen to sell your car to the wreckers.

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