As I walked up to the aisle I checked my phone again. A few years ago they started keeping an updated inventory on their website, innovative stuff for such an earthy gig. I was in the right row, now just to find the car. The familiar face of the front end of a Honda Civic, the same year as my wife’s car. Summer is rolling in and she needs a new A/C compressor, and we’re on a budget. Not because we have to be, but because we can be.
Growing up I learned to fix my own car, and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. All the hours spent covered in grease in uncomfortable postitions with bloody knuckles and a number of choice words being yelled at whatever I was working on, they were all worth it. These days I can do things without hesitation and it’s not only saved us thousands of dollars, it’s paid back into my soul millions of times over.
Part of this process is knowing something important about car parts: just because it’s used doesn’t mean it’s un-usable.
A key to this is to also be knowledgeable about what is usable and not, but you’d be surprised what you can get used that will do you just as well (if not better than) new. It’s with this in mind that I’ve spent countless hours in a local junkyard. It’s not like the standard “idea” of a junkyard, get that out of your mind. Yes its dirty and occasionally run by “less than sociable” individuals, but this is the place of home mechanics’ dreams.
Rows and rows and rows of cars. Some of them are totaled from accidents, some just have so many issues the owner decided to have it junked. Is every piece perfect? No. Is every piece ruined? Not even close. They drain all the fluids, remove the most valuable parts (aftermarket rims and sound systems) and park the thing up on bricks. Then the hounds come to pick it apart. And it’s never just one type of car, it’s every type. Trucks, vans, coupes, four-door, etc. all of different brands and colors.
So there I was again today, clear skies and my tool box in hand. I recognized the car from the fenders, since the hood and the rest of the front end had already been snatched up.
That means the engine is out in the open, right in front of me like a patient prepped for surgery. I put down my box, take a gander at the front of the engine block and find the exact place where the A/C compressor lives.
“Fuck.” I’m too late. Someone already got to this one. A referrbed one goes for $350, a brand new one goes for a bit more, hence I’m here. We’ve got other things we’d rather do with that kind of money, but we’ll do what we can and what we have too.
So I text the wife, and move on to the Lincolns. Cause I’ve got one at home that needs a few things, and they have 4 here to choose from. A Buffett of mechanical awesomeness and the Junyard Hound within, with black fingers and random scars, smells that familiar smell and feels that familiar feeling. Putting in work, getting dirty, and fulfilling my promise to my family to do the best I can to keep us going.
It satisfies on a spiritual level thats hard to describe.