Mechanical issues and broken parts can appear at the most inconvenient times. If you are needing parts for your RV, don’t assume that the manufacturer is your only option. This can get expensive, especially if you need more than one part or if your RV is older or has been discontinued. This is where RV salvage yards come in.
An RV salvage yard is a business that has an assortment of old, used, and broken down machines of all makes and models that have usually been purchased for scrap from insurance companies or owners that just want them off their property. They are a great place to find used or discontinued parts for your RV.
An RV Salvage yard can be the budget-minded traveler's best friend, especially if you are mechanically inclined. Keep reading for more details on salvage yards and what you might find there, as well as the pros and cons of going here instead of buying new.
What Can You Find at an RV Salvage Yard?
They have motorhomes, travel trailers, 5th wheels, pop-up campers and everything in between, from all different manufacturers. Whether they have bought them from insurance companies after fires or accidents, or from owners who let them deteriorate, they can sell the parts and pieces much cheaper than the manufacturers can.
Also known as RV junkyards and even graveyards, this is where you'll find the bodies - and body parts - of dead RV's. Here are just some of the things the dealers salvage from them that people can later buy:
We found this great video showcasing an RV salvage yard -
Pros and Cons of buying RV parts from a Salvage Yard
Like everything in life, there are two sides to every coin. Salvage yards are no different, and learning the ins and outs can be an essential part of traveling. Using them effectively can take a lot of stress out of what should be an enjoyable experience.
The advantages of shopping for RV parts in a salvage yard are -
1. It's a budget-friendly resource
They can be a great resource if you’re on a budget. Sometimes they may be your only resource if the manufacturer is no longer carrying the specific brand or type of whatever you need. They will have parts and pieces from plenty of different makes and models, including older ones.
2. You don't have to wait for a part to arrive
There is also the added benefit of not having to wait for your item to be processed at the factory then shipped out to you. That can take weeks, and if it’s a necessary part, the waiting can put a damper on any immediate travel plans. But salvage yards do come with a few caveats, and you should be aware of them before you dive in headfirst.
On the other hand, if you're looking to rely on salvage yards as the source for your RV parts, here are the cons -
1. They can be hard to find
RV salvage yards are not something that you’re going to find on every street corner, so you may have to do a little (or a lot of) driving depending on where you are or where you’re going. Getting a list together of all of the different lots by state, their addresses and phone numbers can be an extremely helpful resource for when you’re on the road.
Even if you find the lot, finding the exact part you need could be challenging. Expect to spend some time rummaging around.
2. Buyer Beware: Make sure the parts fit
The RV’s are at the salvage yard for a reason, and it is important to make sure that what you’re getting is still functional. It is also important to check if it will fit or is compatible with your RV. Tape measures can be a very useful thing to bring with you when coming to a salvage yard.
A Good Fit if you're a DIY-type RV'er
We mentioned the issue of time and effort when dealing with salvage yards. That's not always a bad thing for everyone. If you’re one of those that prefer to see the product before you buy instead of ordering it online, then the salvage yard can be like the adult version of a candy store. Yes, you should expect to have to do a little digging to find exactly what you’re looking for, which can be both time and energy consuming. However, if you have time on your hands, it could actually be fun!
Be Prepared to Negotiate Prices
When you do find what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to negotiate the price. They’re not set in stone, and dealers are usually willing to come down on their price just to get something off their lot. If it’s something that is almost brand new or in terrific shape, you may not get a huge break on it, but it will still beat paying the manufacturer’s price for it.
Where can you locate an RV Salvage Yard?
These establishments exist in almost every state, but being old-school, they don't all have their own websites. You can try locating a local RV salvage yard in your state by following these resources at RV's Corner and Marx RV.
Are there Online RV Salvage Yards?
There are online salvage yards, but you should do your homework before using them. Check out reviews from other customers to make sure they are reputable and provide good products. It is also a good idea to make sure they have a return policy in case the item you buy doesn’t work or doesn’t fit in your space.
With online salvage yards, you won’t have to do the physical work of digging through a bunch of piles of stuff or spend hours on the road just to get there, but you also won’t get to see the item before you buy it. You’ll have to hope that the item description was correct on the website or that they have and honor a return policy.
A couple of well-known virtual salvage yards are -
Alternatives to RV Salvage Yards
Well, salvage yards usually are the alternative source for RV parts and furniture. If you're looking for a more traditional way to buy, then local RV stores, dealerships and even Walmart supercenters are worth checking out.
If you're looking for something that's more out of the way, going online can help. We've put together this extensive list of 39 online stores for RV parts as well as a separate list for 32 best online stores for RV furniture.
Fix it Fast and Get Back on the Road
RV salvage yards can be an RVer’s best friend, especially when you’re on the road. There are piles and piles of parts, appliances and everything else you could possibly need right at your fingertips. Now that you know how to effectively navigate through the experience, you can be well on your way to safe and happy travels.