With the economy in the dumps, the spirit of DIY is stronger than ever. People are finding ways to live just as comfortably without breaking the bank. The recent Cash for Clunkers popularity is certainly evidence. I was almost tempted to take the bait, as my car certainly qualified, but having no car payments rather than lower car payments was a little more appealing. In the “good old days” of a booming economy, I usually paid for automotive repair. But when my '97 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor recently broke yet again, this time I thought I'd do something I haven't done since high school: visit a salvage yard.
If you've been to an auto recycler, you may know their stereotype. Often they're on the edge of town, away from subdivisions, run by grumpy old men, and dirtier than sin. Tucson junk yards are no different. I've visited a couple so far, and have had the nicest experience at Arizona U-Pull & Save.
I talked to a couple of different junkyards on the phone, and everyone was helpful, but most of them directed me here. This seemed to be the place for 97 police interceptor parts. With a spare afternoon, I gave them a ring to make sure, and after a brief but polite phone call, grabbed a few tools to check it out. You need a buck just to get in, and cash is preferred for the entrance fee. After this small formality, they'll point you to the right place.
Junkyards like U-Pull are becoming rare in the United States. Most places will not let anyone off the street enter the yard for fear of liability. Many places I visited in high school changed their policies and now mandate they have their employees bring the part to you. Some places in Tucson have done this recently. To be fair, these places are not for the faint of heart. In the photo above, you can see rows of cars each perched precariously on old car rims. Many of these cars have been picked through. Who knows how the last person left it for you. But with a little experience, some courage and luck, you can save a lot of money, and Gary at U-Pull will help you.
Photos and text by contributor Andrew Haberbosch exclusively for Tucson Querido.