How to find spare parts at the wreckers

Wrecking yards (or junk yards if you are American) are a great place to get spare parts for your car at massive discounts. There are a few things you need to know before going.

You’re not in a department store

You are not going to find organised shelves of car parts. What you are going to find is row after row of partially dismantled cars, which may be stacked in precarious ways.

rows of cars

1. Ring before you go

A wrecking yard is a big place, and cars have a lot of parts. Some wreckers keep an inventory of parts available. Others will send someone to run around the yard looking for the car part you need. Ring first, or you are going to be wasting a drive.

2. Bring tools

Great, they have a tow bar! Just what you need. The catch is that it is still bolted to the car. Some wreckers will lend tools, some won’t. Bring your own tools. At a minimum, bring:

  • a socket set
  • a shifter spanner (monkey wrench)
  • screw drivers (Phillips and Flat head)

If you have a breaker bar, put that in your boot/trunk too (it will help if you need to remove rusted on bolts).

3. Bring a camera / phone

Take photos of the part you are removing. It helps when you fit it to your car.

4. Bring a snap lock bag to put nuts / screws / bolts in

You’re probably going to have a few once you remove the part.

5. Be sun safe

Here in Brisbane, the sun can burn you in under 20 minutes. You are probably going to be stuck in the sun while you work. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are a must.

6. Prices are negotiable

The wrecker doesn’t want parts sitting on their lot. If something has been there a while, they are going to be keen to offload it. Make an offer. The worst they can say is no.

7. A wrecking yard is dangerous

There are hazards all over the place. Sharp metal littered around, heavy machinery in use, cars balanced at odd angles. If you’re unlucky, you might find venomous snakes sunning themselves in-between rows of cars. Keep your wits about you, don’t wear headphones, and don’t bring your kids (most wrecking yards won’t even let them in).

dont fall on me

And that folks, is how you survive your trip to a wrecking yard. Now I’m off to fit a tow bar.


Different Types of power drills explained

Buying a drill is easy right? Yeah, nah. Do you need to smash through concrete? Drive screws in? hang a picture? Choose the wrong drill for the task, and it is going to take a long time. I’m going to explain the different types of drills and their uses.

Quick Reference

First, here’s a quick reference chart of which drill you should use for each material.

Material Type of Drill
Driver Drill
Hammer Drill Rotary Hammer
Fixing Screws
Sheet Metal
Demolition Chisel
Key: good     great

Driver / Drill

Your most basic drill is the driver/drill. It can drill a hole into wood or metal (the drill part of the name), or drive a screw in (the driver part of the name).

If you’ve ever been using a drill to drive a screw in and found the drill starts vigorously clicking - that is the driver action. The idea is that the clicking action will use a sideways hammer action to drive the screw in. In a regular drill this action is not particularly strong. Don’t rely on it to drive screws into anything more than softwood.


  • A mains powered drill will have a lot more power than a cordless model
  • Most driver/drills have a 2 speed gear box (slow for wood, fast for metal)
  • has a (poor) rotary driver action



A dedicated driver is one of those tools you don’t realise you need until you own one. It has a quick connect socket (rather than a chuck) for swapping attachments. Normal drill bits do not fit. The advantage of a driver is that it has ungodly amounts of torque and can drive a screw into hardwood without ‘camming out’ (slipping). This allows a screw to be driven in to hardwood without being stripped.


  • uses quick release attachments
  • has a rotary driver action

drill driver

Hammer Drill

Now we’re talking. A hammer drill has a hammering action that moves from the front to back of the drill. If you want to drill into masonry or concrete, this is your drill. A cordless version is a good multipurpose, tackle anything drill.


  • hammer action can be turned off so you can use it like a regular drill/Driver

hammer drill

Rotary Hammer Drill

This is like a hammer drill that has been snorting PCP. It is double the size of the other drills here, and makes over 100db of noise. You will need ear protection. It has a much more powerful hammer action than a regular hammer drill.

This drill is not only good at drilling holes in concrete, it can also be used as a small jackhammer. I’ve used one to chisel a trench in a concrete slab.

Ozito hammer drills are great. Cheap Aldi drills are not. I managed to catch two on fire.

These sorts of drills need special drill bits (SDS or SDS+). These bits can take the hammer action without breaking. That said, I have snapped cheap SDS chisel attachments! (from Aldi, surprise!) You also need to do maintenance on these drills. The gearbox needs to be re-greased from time to time (easy enough), and the bits need grease put on them before locking them into the chuck.

Word of advice: cheap Ozito hammer drills are great. Cheap Aldi drills are not. I managed to catch two on fire. I took the first back and swapped it, then the replacement caught fire too. The Ozito handdled the same work like a champ.


  • you need special drill bits
  • you need hearing protection
  • can be used as a jackhammer
  • if you are having trouble getting SDS bits in and out, you have probably forgotten to put a dab of grease on the end of the drill bit (the end that goes in the drill)

rotary hammer