How To Cheaply Repair Auto Window Glass With Used Junkyard Parts
Published 3/28/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
A few years ago I had the misfortune of living in the ghetto inner city of Baltimore. I had no choice - that was where the geniuses at the state of Maryland chose to locate their state run graduate schools. Why they chose to place the school building in a dangerous area surrounded by homeless people and drug hangouts still baffles me. The city is saturated with a population comprised of drug addicts, violent thugs, and opportunistic car thieves.
Along with two other roommates, I lived in a quaint row house near the law school in an area primarily occupied by students. Here, I thought my roommates and I would be safely shielded from the neighboring slums and criminal activity. I was wrong. Within the span of two years, a classmate friend of mine was robbed in person and a neighbor who lived across from our row house had her home burglarized (canned food was stolen, of all things). Furthermore, both of my roommates' street parked cars were broken into. My old red Toyota Corolla survived the criminal onslaught valiantly for while, but it too finally succumbed to the inevitable break in.
I usually parked my car along the street where our row house was located. One day I came home from class only to discover that the small rear side window panel on the passenger end had been smashed to pieces. Auto glass shards were strewn across the back seat, but nothing was taken. Everyone in Baltimore City knows that you must never leave any personal property visibly sitting in your parked car that may attract thieves. Even a pack of coke or a few pencils become priority targets for the passing drug addict. I thought I had been abiding by the rule pretty well until then. I had even adopted the practice of emptying out my glove compartment and leaving it wide open to advertise the fact that it was empty. Of course this didn't deter Baltimore City's finest. As an older Toyota model, my car wasn't equipped with an audible car alarm, making it an attractive break in-target - and now my car had just become another city statistic. After grumbling and sighing out loud at my misfortune, I filed a pointless police report and then set out to get the auto window glass pane fixed. Since my Geico auto insurance didn't cover glass breakage, I'd have to find my own way to fix it cheaply.
Save Money By Repairing Your Car With Pried-Off Used Car Parts Found At Your Local Auto Junkyard
Since my car was an old hand-me-down from my parents, I had little incentive to spend a lot of money on parts or labor to get the window fixed. I tried patching it up temporarily with clear packaging tape, but that just made it look even worse. It certainly didn't impress the girl I was dating at the time. Finally I decided the busted window had to be replaced. But rather than going to an auto parts or auto glass store and paying $200 to get the small glass pane repaired, I decided to pursue the frugal route - by visiting a local auto junkyard to locate the parts myself.
A friend recommended a local junkyard in the Baltimore, Maryland region so I decided to give it a try. Interestingly enough, the name of the auto landfill was called "Crazy Ray's". Calling itself an auto parts garden rather than a junkyard didn't make the place any prettier. The place was a huge outdoor dirt and gravel lot filled with stacks and rows of beat up vehicles. I guess this is where old and abandoned cars came to die. Many of the cars and trucks were old and rusted, while others were relatively new but dented and wrecked due to obvious involvement in traffic accidents and fender benders. It was kind of eerie to see some brand new vehicles in the stockpile all mangled up, and knowing that someone used to drive that car.
If you drive an old vehicle and want to be cheap or frugal like me, an auto junkyard is the perfect place to get your used auto parts because you can usually find what you need for much less. These auto junkyards are essentially do-it-yourself lots where you salvage whatever components you want from the wreckages and later pay for whatever items you take. The cars are only lightly categorized and sorted by model into basic domestic or foreign piles. Because wrecked vehicles are not always efficiently logged as they are towed in, they usually can't really tell you where to find your vehicle model - only a general direction of where they may be. They don't have a steady stock of inventory as it is constantly rotating depending on what vehicle selections they haul in. Returns and refunds for used parts are usually not allowed.
So after I paid my $1 entrance fee, I walked into the huge outdoor scrap yard to begin my auto part hunting adventure. A large sign at the front entrance humorously reminded me that all removed nuts and bolts must be paid for upon exit - "No jacking allowed!"
For those of you thinking of taking the junkyard approach, I recommend that you wear clothing and shoes you wouldn't mind getting dirty in. You are likely to get some mud and grease on your hands and clothing. You should also bring along hand tools like a hammer, screwdriver, and crowbar, since you'll need them to pry your desired part off your target vehicle. Walking around, I noticed I wasn't alone as there were plenty of other people walking around, pulling old engines and metal plates from vehicles. After walking and searching, I finally came upon a Toyota Corolla that matched my model series. I examined the window glass. While a few glass panes were cracked, the one I wanted was still in excellent condition. I immediately went to work - using my crowbar and screwdriver to pry the glass plate and rubber frame from the car window. I'm not sure how I managed to do that without breaking or scratching the glass, but I managed to get it off in one piece. After much sweat and manual effort, I trekked back to the front entrance and paid the fee for the used auto part.
Examining How Much I Saved By Using Junkyard Parts
A brand new glass pane component for my car window would have cost me $100-$150. At the junkyard I only paid $18 for the used car window pane. Some car enthusiasts know how to install the glass pane themselves. Since I'm no car expert, I chose to pay another car repair shop $30 for installation labor. All in all I spent $48 to fix the window. If I had gone to an auto glass repair shop, parts and labor would have cost me $200 or more. Of course, the cost savings adds up even more if you're talking about replacing multiple components such as a light covers or hubcaps. At the end of the day, I went home quite pleased at my cost savings. Not a bad frugal solution to patch up an old beat-up wreck.