86. Brother, Can You Spare a Carburetor?


Daniel needed a new carburetor for his car. Well, not a new one. A new one would cost at least $250. Even a rebuilt one would cost about $110. The cheapest thing to do was to go to a salvage yard.

California has about 50 salvage yards. Most of them are in southern California. The yards range in size from 10 acres to 70 acres, holding anywhere from 300 to 3,000 abandoned, wrecked, or cheaply sold cars. The yards are usually located outside of downtown but near a freeway ramp.

A salvage yard might pay you up to $200 to take your rundown car off your hands. Before they place it in the yard, however, they will remove all its liquids, oil, gas, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer solvent. Vehicles usually sit in the yard for only a month before they are crushed, stacked, and then transported to a recycler.

Vehicle parts are inexpensive, but you have to remove them yourself. The carburetor that Daniel needed was only $20. Nothing in the yard, however, comes with a guarantee. If it doesn't work or fit, you can replace it with a similar item, but you won't get your money back.

Daniel borrowed his brother's car. After paying the $3 entry fee to the man in the little wooden shack, Daniel walked into the yard. He walked about five minutes before he found the foreign car section. It looked like there were at least 200 cars. It was sunny and hot. There was no shade anywhere in the yard. Carrying his toolbox, Daniel went searching for a matching carburetor.

Almost three hours later, Daniel was back at the shack. He bought himself a cold soda from a machine. A few minutes later, he paid the $20 plus tax and walked out of the yard. Driving home, he wondered if all the work was worth the savings. If the carburetor didn't work, he'd have to do this all over again.

When he got home, his brother Monty was standing next to Daniel's car. Monty had a big smile on his face. "Hey, guess what? It was the fuel filter. I changed it, and your car runs great now."

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