Old Gray SedanA wrecking yard is a business operation that specializes in storing and selling older model vehicles and their parts. The business is usually centered on cars and trucks, but they may also hold some boats, motorcycles and other mechanical equipment. Depending upon where it is located, a wrecking yard is can also be called a junkyard, salvage yard or scrap yard.

When a car is too old to run and no longer economical to repair or has been severely damaged in an accident, it may be sold for scrap to a wrecking yard. A wrecking yard may also purchase derelict vehicles at a police or insurance company auction. The yard operator takes vehicles regardless of condition, because it may still be possible to make a profit. The wrecking yard may come and tow the vehicle away either free or for a charge.

To conserve space and keep track of inventory, the yard operator will then organize these decommissioned vehicles in a way that may include using vertical stacks or placing one vehicle one on top of another, which makes accessing the lower vehicle more difficult. The yard operator is not concerned about damaging the lower vehicles because they are already in non-serviceable condition. An inventory of usable parts on each vehicle and its location in the yard will be kept on file in the office. Wrecking yards are now computerizing their inventories, and several yards may be linked by Internet part finding services so customers can search available inventories at more than one wrecking yard.

To turn a profit, the wrecking yard strips and sells parts from the vehicles in its inventory. Customers often come to the yard in search of parts that may be unavailable through other means because of the age of the vehicle or as way to save money. These parts can be windows, used air cleaners, engine components, body panels or interior amenities. Larger components such as engines and transmission are typically sold to auto parts companies who will rebuild them for resale. The yard owner may also sell entire vehicles for their parts or to someone looking to restore, or rebuild, an older model vehicle. In some yards, known as a “You Pull It,” customers remove the parts themselves. In other operations, yard employees perform the task.

If the vehicle is so severely damaged that there are few if any salvageable parts, the wrecking yard operator will dismantle the vehicle and sell components made of glass and various metal for recycling. Some wrecking yards are also recycling centers. Once all the parts and recyclable material has been removed, the shell, or what is known in the business as a hulk, is sold to a mill to be crushed and smashed for further recycling.