salvage yard
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So You Want to Own a Salvage Yard… 

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 10/24/2015

If you’d like to own and operate a salvage yard, there is a number of factors that you will need to consider.

Get a Business License

You’ll have to be properly licensed. This is going to be required for any type of business you might own, and a salvage yard is no exception.

Save Your Money

Starting any business costs money, and again, a salvage yard isn’t going to be the exception. In addition to getting licensed, you’re going to have to buy a property from which you’re operating and stock an inventory. You should also advertise. Keep in mind that you’re probably going to need quite a bit of property, and it’s going to have to be in an area that’s commercially zoned. You’ll also want to reserve space for an office building.

Protect Your Property

If you look at other auto salvage yards, you’ll probably notice that they’re well fenced – usually with chain link and barbed wire. This is because salvage yards are highly prone to vandalism. You’ll probably also want to install security cameras just in case of after-hours intruders.

Find Inventory

You need inventory, and there are any number of ways you can find it. First, use the classified ads in your local newspaper or buy-sell-trade papers. Let people know that you’ll pick up junkers. You might opt for the “will haul away at no charge” approach, or you might consider buying derelict vehicles for a small fee, say $100.

A lot of the time, people just want their old cars out of the yard, and if they can get a bit of money for them, they’re more likely to call you. Just as an example, you could get an entire vehicle for less than you’d sell the water pump out of it.

You should also consider buying salvage vehicles at auction. You can buy at “real life” auctions, or online, and  your options here are amazing – you could buy a junker and fix it up, sell it as is to a hobbyist, or again, part it out for a pile more money than what you paid for it. It’s all up to you.

Track Your Inventory

Make sure that you have a way of knowing what you have on your property – what you have, what you’ve sold, and if you’re parting out vehicles, which parts are remaining on any given vehicle.


Put up a sign on your fence that can be read from the road. Make a website so potential buyers know what you have in inventory. Use free websites like Kijiji to promote your business.


Once you get going, you might want to think about expanding your business by offering additional services, like towing. You’re probably going to need a tow truck anyway to pick up junkers, so why not add on a towing service for stranded motorists when you’re not picking up salvage vehicles?

Get Creative

Find ways to maximize your revenue and improve your marketability. Use the Internet, go to auctions, think about adding a tow truck service, and come up with other ideas. Maybe have a customer appreciation day for all those people who fixed up their cars using parts from your salvage lot. Do things that other salvage yards don’t do, and get your name out in the community.

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