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  • Writer's pictureRandy Lee

Avoiding Rat Bites & Jail Time

The Flipping Genius Way To Buy Used Auto Parts

I remember going to the junk yard with my older brother when I was a kid. He was old enough to drive, so I must have been 11 or 12. It was a big adventure. We literally climbed over wrecked cars looking for parts for his 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire. Between our Mom’s fears of us catching Tetanus from jagged rusty metal or being crushed under the stacked cars crawling under to pull parts; I’m sure she would have preferred we just swiped parts off cars on the street. But even back then, Oldsmobile Starfires were a rare item – and new parts were far too costly – so we were in the junk yard pretty frequently. …Of course I’m kidding about the thievery. My sweet mother would have never condoned that.

These days my junk yard adventures are mostly done from my desk or the seat of my truck. My absolute favorite way to buy used parts is via is an amazing web site that unites just about every salvage yard (aka junk yard) in the country and provides an inventory of their parts. Their search format is incredibly user friendly an my experience over many years has been extremely positive.

I admit I that still get a kick out of roaming around all the cars in a junk yard from time to time, but these days time is money. My experience with local salvage yards has been mostly frustrating. Typically I would make half dozen calls before I would locate the used part I needed for a vehicle. Frequently I would learn that no local yards would even have the part. Other times I would drive to the place and only learn then that the part really wasn’t there. Not surprisingly, some of the local junk dealers aren’t the greatest at inventorying or communication.

Not only does using keep me safe from the potential dangers of junk yards; it saves me a ton of wasted time. I simply go to the web site and locate the part I am searching for using their system. The site asks me to identify the year, make, model and other pertinent details – like engine size, etc. Within a few clicks, I am presented with options from all across the nation. About seventy percent of the sellers will post a price, along with a detailed description of the vehicle it came from and/or pictures of the actual part.

On a recent episode of my Flipping Genius podcast, I walked through my search for two specific parts I was hunting for a 2004 Toyota Camry that is currently in our system. The two parts were a left headlight assembly and an alternator. My search for the headlight assembly uncovered nearly 2,600 available. The search for the alternator turned up more than 5,000 potential units! I was able to purchase the headlight assembly from a salvage yard in Missouri for $25 and have it shipped to my place in Alabama within 3 days for $13 more. I also found the alternator from a vehicle that had nearly 100,000 less miles than ours for less than $45 including shipping from another yard in Pennsylvania.

Naturally there are times when you would prefer to purchase new or rebuilt parts. However when a used part makes the most sense, is where I go. By the way, I am not affiliated with in any way – I am just sharing what I know, because that is what we do on the Flipping Genius podcast. To hear more about this and to hear my input on buying new and rebuilt parts too – including a breakdown of the actual alternatives we found for these two selections, I invite you to listen to Episode 47 of Flipping Genius wherever you listen to podcasts. You can listen to all of the episodes, read our show notes, access our Resources Page and watch our videos at


Randy Lee is the host of the Flipping Genius podcast. Lee is a long time Car Flipper and a licensed Master Dealer in the State of Alabama. In addition to Randy’s involvement selling used vehicles, he also operates numerous other ventures through his company Middle Man Enterprises. The Flipping Genius podcast can be heard on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, iHeartRadio, Anchor and most other podcasting sources. Listeners also can experience direct results by joining one of the Flipping Genius Used Car Facebook Groups in over a dozen metropolitan areas nationwide. To learn more and benefit from Flipping Genius affiliate partner discounts and referrals, visit Ask questions & share your input at

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