Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Junk Yard Review: Parts Galore Detroit

Junk Yard Review brings you honest evaluations of automotive bone yards for when well-used is good enough. For the first installment we visit one of Detroit's largest and best know yards, Parts Galore Detroit.

Located just inside Detroit on 8 Mile rd east of Van Dyke, PG is an impressively large yard that feels more like a business than most. The yard holds roughly 2500 cars at any given time and the selection varies daily. Almost 1000 cars are sacrificed to the crusher each month so the victims have only a few weeks to be picked over before their last ride.

All the car are organized into one of eight groups; trucks, 4x4s, Vans, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Imports, and Old Stuff. In general, the grouping works well, however since its organized by name-plate Mitsubishi Eclipses are separated from their sister Eagle Talons. The vast majority of cars were born between 1986 and '99 (old stuff excluded) with a few cars as new as 2004. Selection is best if your beater is a common mid-90's American car with awful resale value. The Tauruses, Neons, GM J-bodies, and Thunderbirds can be counted by the dozen. European cars are in short supply except for a couple VW's, mostly early 90's Jettas. The BMW's, Mercedes, and Volvo's can be counted on one hand. Given the size of the yard, calling to ask if they have a green fender for your Dodge Omni won't get you very far. Each and every car has had the battery cable cut, a hole punched in the gas tank, and the lower radiator hose cut. This sucks if you need a battery cable, gas tank, or lower radiator hose. The old stuff is interesting if for nothing else than the impressive way a few pounds of rust can resemble an MGB or Pacer. Nearly all of it is picked to the very rusty bone. As an added bonus, a few boats can be picked over near the back fence. Of special note was the large selection of old CJ's currently available in the 4x4 section. Royal Oak Snow Removal must have scrapped their entire fleet. Each one is incredibly, horribly, rusty. I was even able to find a Turbo Caravan wiring harness for an upcoming project.

Parts Galore is a pick-your-own lot, although a paltry tool kit can be purchased for a few dollars. Wheel borough rental is another dollar and an easy choice if you need to haul a bumper from the Chrysler section a quarter mile walk from the office. All of the cars are placed on a pedestal made of old steel wheels and neatly arranged in rows. The ground is covered in course gravel which feels like 100 pins sticking in your back should you need to remove parts from underneath. Find a floor mat from the beater next to you. The gravel does keep weeds away so you never need to remove undergrowth. For the ultimate in Junk Yard amenities, PG has installed several shade huts complete with picnic tables, porta-johns, vending machines, and price lists. Smooth jazz radio is pumped throughout to keep you calm while trying to remove that rusty starter bolt. You can even dine at the hot dog stand near the front. PG is the only junk yard in the area you can consider bringing a date to.

Parts Galore is run like a business, and the pricing structure seems intended to make money. Entry fee is $1 (good for 30 days) and prices are reasonable for small items, but spendy for most parts. The price list is posted several places, but does not show the core charges attached to many parts like radiators and hoods. There's also an environmental charge and using a credit card will ad another 2%. The price list is detailed but still subject to interpretation by the cashier. Is that wiring harness small ($12), medium ($26), or large ($38)? Quarter windows are $20 but vent windows are only $8. The car knowledge of each cashier varies, so identifying your oily piece of scrap with the exact term as shown on the price list can go a long way. Trying to talk a cashier out of their own identification is usually futile. Convincing them a Dodge Rampage bumper isn't worth anywhere near $45 is also out of the question.

Rating: 3 out of 4 clunkers
The selection (of American mid-90's) is unbeatable and bee or raccoon attack are very unlikely. The Detroit location is slightly sketchy but if you're willing to shop a pull-your-own junk yard it shouldn't be a problem. If the prices were better, I'd go once a week.

Hat tip to my German Austrian friend Paul for helping me pull that entire wiring harness and being a good sport even though we didn't find a 2000 Taurus driver's side mirror.

Vital info:
11360 E 8 Mile Rd
Detroit, MI 48205-1073
Open 7 days


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