Big truck salvage. Used heavy truck parts are a decent option for repairing your big rig. Whether you're doing the work yourself or having a semi truck repair shop do the job, 'used' parts CAN save money.
The biggest challenge when looking for used parts, is to find a big rig salvage yard, with a truck that has the parts you're looking for! If you have an older model of a Peterbilt truck or a Kenworth, for example, there's an endless number of makes and models, so it can be quite a challenge, depending upon what you're looking for.
No matter how you look at it though, you're taking a chance on used big truck parts. There's no warranty...what you see is what you get.
But often times, it's worth the minimal risk, to save some money.
It's especially cost effective, if you're mechanically inclined, too, as you'll recognize the things to look for that can indicate potential future problems.
There's all sorts of unique situations that big rig owners encounter, when repairing their trucks. The used semi parts market often has parts for older models that are no longer manufactured. The custom truck market also relies heavily on this industry.
From our experience, big truck salvage wrecker yards are few and far between, both in Canada and the U.S . They just aren't all that common, for a few reasons.
If you've decided to take the plunge and shop the big truck salvage wrecking yards for parts, here's a few recommendations:
Diesel Engines -- Be careful. A big gamble. The truck could have been lying on it's side in the wreck, with the motor running. This is NOT a good thing cause it really can mess up a motor.
The salvage yard owner doesn't always know the history of the truck, so he wouldn't know if it had rolled or not. The trucker in a wreck isn't worried about shutting off the engine if the rig is on it's side... he's worried about his life, if he's still alive.
If the fuel tanks looks ok, without dents and scratches etc., you could probably have them flushed out and they would work just fine. Axles may look fine, but the least bit of bend can cause big problems with steering, tire wear etc. A bad alternator could leave you stranded. Same goes for rear ends or trannies.
We've grabbed such things as battery boxes, at a 70 % savings from new ones. A heck of a deal, you say.
They looked perfectly fine. They needed an acid wash, but otherwise, they were great.
However, in the repair shop, our savings went out the window. The boxes each had a slight twist, which we didn't notice, and the shop had to make adjustments to mount them properly to the frame. Overall, compared to the price of new battery boxes mounted, there wasn't a great money savings after all.
There are some parts and used accessories that are fantastic deals, as it's pretty much, what you see is what you get!
A good find at a big truck salvage yard can save you a load of money, but don't be tempted to grab the first thing you see.
Chrome parts, light bars, body panels, hoods, interior panels, bunks, big truck tires, battery boxes, etc., are usually pretty safe bets.
Big truck sleepers return. What was once an extravagance for the big strappers in trucking, is now a practical means for a trucker to increase his profit margin and be comfortable living on the road.
A new addition to our gallery of Petes, by Michael Lee, a 1982 Peterbilt 359: a classic big rig truck!
Custom truck show and big rig event schedule for U.S. and Canada. Check out the listings for a big rig show coming up.