Revealed: The Most Valuable Parts You Can Recover From Salvage Cars

Revealed: The Most Valuable Parts You Can Recover From Salvage Cars

It was Aristotle who claimed that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While that is certainly applicable on most things in life, there is one area where it doesn’t hold much water – salvage cars.

When it comes to junked vehicles, the opposite is closer to the truth – the sum of the parts is often much more than the value of the car as a whole! This can play out in different ways for you:

  •  If you own a salvage title, you can remove the parts and sell them and then ship off your car (or what is left of it) to the scrapyard
  • If you are at an Impact Auto Auctions public salvage car auction, you can buy a car cheap and make a DIY project of utilizing parts and make some money (or use them on another car)

Either way, it helps to know what to look for when opening up a salvage car. Depending on the current condition of the vehicle, parts you can recover from salvage cars could net hundreds, if not thousands of dollars!

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1. Car GPS / Stereo

If your salvage car has one of these boards, check it before anything else. If intact and in working condition, you should remove that before selling the car or sending it to the junkyard. Navigation systems are expensive and can easily net you more than a few hundred bucks.

If the package also includes a high-end stereo system, you will most certainly get a lot more value. In many cases of grand theft auto, thieves target GPS/stereo systems over everything else in a car.

That alone should give you a good idea about its value in the auto parts market. But like most electronic gadgets, they are also very vulnerable to liquids & moisture – if you have a flood salvage car, your chances of getting one intact are quite slim indeed.

 On-board GPS navigation systems these days are incredibly sophisticated, and very expensive as well.
Source: Lynda Sanchez at Pixabay

2. Fenders, Bumpers, & Tailgates

The first two parts are critical for the safety of a vehicle in the event of a collision. So unless you plan to send the salvage title to the scrapheap, you may want to leave these parts on the car for better sale value.

But if that car is a goner headed to the hydraulic press, check to see if the bumpers and fenders are intact. These parts are the first to get hit in most collisions and accidents, so there is a huge demand for them in the market at any point in time.

And even more importantly, buying one from a dealer is often insanely expensive. Depending on the condition of your car’s parts, you can easily get at least a couple of hundred bucks each selling the bumper and fender separately.

As they bear the brunt of impact during collisions, bumpers and fenders are always in high demand in the used parts market.
Source: Daniel X O’Neil at Flickr 

A lot also depends on the model and make of the vehicle. If you have a popular ride like the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, or the GMC Sierra, you can easily get close to a thousand bucks or more for bumpers and fenders.

As for tailgates, installing one brand new can cost around $700 or more. A stock tailgate in good condition can bring in at least a couple of hundred dollars minimum. If they sport some sort of customizations, the asking price can only go up.

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3. Exhaust Systems and/or Catalytic Converters

Exhaust systems have a couple of things going for them – they serve an important function in a vehicle, and they are made from precious metals. So you are certain to get some cash whether the system in your car is banged up or in decent condition.

Catalytic converters are the MVPs of the exhaust system, crafted using rare metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium. It is not an accident that they are among the top five most coveted parts for car thieves and chop shops.

Catalytic Converter - This shiny contraption is made from expensive metals and can bring in hundreds of dollars even when not in pristine condition.
Source: Frank Derks at Flickr

The total cost of parts and labor for replacing an exhaust system in a car like the 2015 Toyota Camry in Canada would start at $1000 mark. That makes it one of the more expensive parts you can recover from salvage cars.

4. Air Bags

Airbags are total lifesavers in an auto accident. But if your salvage car has never been involved in a serious collision, the same bags can also bring in thousands of dollars. Replacing airbags is not a simple task – in modern cars like the 2015 Sierra, it can cost you upwards of $1000, per airbag, for labor and parts.

Good quality, intact airbags from a salvage car can easily net you a grand or more in the parts market. It is one the best selling parts you can recover from a salvage car in Canada today.

5. Tires & Rims

Even used tires can cost you quite a lot of money. And if your car has chrome or aluminum alloy rims inside the rubber, you are certainly looking at more than a few hundred dollars in profit.

Alloy Rims are like jewelry for cars - extremely expensive and easy to sell, even when used or from a salvage car.
Source: Adam Webb at Pixabay

There is a huge market for rims among auto enthusiasts. Replacing all four on a Ford F-Series or a Ram could cost around $3000 minimum. A good quality set from your salvage car should be worth at least a thousand bucks on a good day.


These are just some of the most coveted and expensive parts you can recover from a salvage car. The full list is quite long, with batteries, cooling systems, side mirrors, doors, rubber floor mats, hitches, running boards, and other miscellaneous electricals.

If you are inclined to do a full teardown, you can even sell the whole engine block and get a decent amount of cash out of it. Also consider recycling the parts whenever possible, as a favor to the environment.

Everything depends on the condition of the car and the cause of its damage. But there is no doubt that salvage car parts can often bring in more cash than the actual car itself.

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