Stuff breaks on RVs — and when that happens, there is a good chance that buying a replacement part will take a fat, juicy bite out of your wallet. From $700+ for a new water heater to over $1k for a new furnace, the costs of new parts can break the bank fast. This bleak reality begs the question, “Where can I find used RV parts for less?”
Much like used parts for cars, used RV parts are readily available at RV salvage yards. Knowing where to find these camper graveyards and how to unearth the used part you need will help you save on camper repairs.
In this article, we’ll break down:
- What is an RV salvage yard?
- How to shop for used parts
- Pros and cons of using a salvage yard
- Where to find used parts for your RV
Let’s dive in!
What is an RV salvage yard?
An RV salvage yard is a local business that buys totaled RVs from insurance companies. Insurance companies decide to sell wrecked campers for many reasons. Just because an insurance company totals a rig doesn’t mean it’s worthless.
RV wrecking yards dig into these otherwise wasted rigs to unearth a treasure trove of used parts. Campers at these salvage yards come in a variety of shapes and sizes — new, old, vintage, motorhome, trailer, or pop-up — no rig is out of bounds for a camper junkyard.
Used camper parts are generally tested by the salvage yard to make sure they’re working. Wrecking yards also offer many parts in like-new condition because some rigs get wrecked before they get heavily used.
How to shop for parts at an RV salvage yard
Shopping at RV salvage yards isn’t like shopping at your local camping accessories store. Many of them will look like a junkyard on the surface, but the owners will be happy to help you find the treasure beneath the rubble.
You should start your junkyard shopping trip by asking the staff to point you in the direction of the part you need. Once you’ve zeroed in on your used RV part, ask the junkyard if the part has been tested. If it hasn’t been tested, be sure that it’s sold with a guarantee that’ll allow you to bring it back in case it doesn’t work.
Prices for used camper parts are never final. You should always negotiate to get the best deal possible. Cash is king at salvage yards, so it pays to have some green stuff with you.
Pros and cons of using salvage yards
Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind when shopping for your pieces and parts.
Pros of shopping for used parts
- Cost. You can save a bundle buying used accessories because RV salvage yards have purchased wrecked rigs for a fraction of retail.
- Good for the planet. If it weren’t for scrap yards, campers would clutter up landfills and trash the environment. Salvage yards ensure that RV parts and accessories get reused.
- Support local. National RV chains will happily sell new parts and accessories for your camper, but why not support local small businesses instead? RV junkyards are almost always owned by helpful folks in your local community.
- It’s fun. People enjoy going to antique stores because they never know what sort of treasure they’ll find. Salvage yards are the same way. Even if you find the part you need right away, you should still take some time to wander around the yard to see the cool rigs hanging around. You may even find something you didn’t know you needed.
Cons of shopping for used parts
- Haggling. While haggling is fun for some, many people dread the thought of negotiating a price. If that’s you, you may not enjoy shopping at junk yards.
- Guarantees and warranties. Many scrap yards will guarantee the used camper parts they sell, but for a more limited timeframe than new parts. For example, many new parts come with five and 10-year warranties, whereas used parts are typically guaranteed for 90 days.
- Fewer parts for brand new rigs. New RVs get wrecked too, but their parts are less common than the older parts found at salvage yards.
- You might have to do the job yourself. Many RV mechanics won’t work on a rig unless the parts they are using are new or sourced by them. So if you plan on finding your own part, prepare for the job to be a DIY project!
Where to find used RV parts
Salvage yards serve communities all over the U.S. and Canada. Search the internet for RV junkyard near me or used RV parts near me to yield quick results no matter where you are.
Rich the RV Guy provides information for each RV salvage yard by state, and several Facebook groups also offer used RV parts for sale.
You can also shop online for used parts at sites like Arizona RV Salvage or Amazon.
If you’ve never purchased a used RV part or accessory before, it can seem scary to walk onto a salvage yard to buy a part. The truth is that shopping in a camper-wrecking yard can be a fun way to save money, help the planet, and discover a quirky-cool world you probably didn’t know existed. Happy hunting!