The Most Valuable Salvage Parts of a Car

by Gregory Robb
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grunge car image by Alexey Klementiev from

Salvaged parts form a powerful constellation of the automotive galaxy. Your dead part's replacement could be one salvage away. Traffic accidents produce a plethora of salvaged parts. In 2009, thieves' top three choices for "salvage" parts came from the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Acura Integra according to the Insurance Information Institute. The more expensive the part, the more inviting is your local salvage yard.

Tunes, Radio and GPS

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According to, one of the most expensive salvaged auto parts is the all-in-one stereo and satellite navigation system---known as GPS, the Global Positioning System. As of 2010, you would pay approximately $1,500 to replace one on the 2010 Toyota Camry. The whole unit for a 2008 Honda Accord can cost up to $650---navigation included. In 2006, Road & Track Magazine reported that thieves had also made a fashion of targeting portable GPS units left inside many vehicles.

Air Conditoning

Air conditioning (A/C) compressors are valuable on the salvage market. As of 2010, the air conditioning compressor for a Toyota Camry cost up to $1,000. The Chevy Malibu's A/C compressor may not be as expensive, but resellers will be happy to ask more than $400 for it. In 2010, even filters and condensers for air conditioning can cost more than $200.

Air Bags

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Air bags for a 2010 Honda Civic fetches about $900 apiece in 2010. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the Accord, Civic and Camry round out the top three of America's most frequently stolen vehicles in 2009. Add air bags recovered from accident write-offs, multiply that number by two air bags per vehicle and you sense the enormity of the U.S. air bag salvaging market.


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According to 2010 data, an overall exhaust system ---including catalytic converter is some vehicles--- can cost between $500 and $1,000. Exhaust "system" is different from a manifold or a header, so check with your parts retailer on which applies best to you. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges consumers to buy only original catalytic converters from the used part market to ensure their manufacturing integrity.

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