With the right tools and a do-it-yourself attitude, an auto parts shopper can cut out the middle man and save money.
That's the allure of self-service auto parts salvage yards like T&T U-Pull-It in East Dubuque, Ill. An offshoot of T&T Iron & Metals, the U-Pull-It salvage yard offers shoppers the chance to find and pull auto parts.
Shoppers scan the yard full of vehicles and if they find the part they're looking for, use their tools to remove the part from the vehicle.
"It's so simple, and I like that simple idea that there it is, you go out there, you find it, you come in, you pay for it, you take it and you're happy about it. And you save money," said Brian Hudspeth, manager of T&T U-Pull-It. "It's a very basic concept.
"It almost seems too simple, but it really is. It's just that easy. As long as you've got the ambition to come over and pull the part off, then there's nothing to it."
Hudspeth, who also runs a full-service auto parts business, Hudspeth Auto Parts, teamed with the T&T crew -- owners Joe, Tyler and Toby Culbertson -- to open U-Pull-It this summer.
"I've known Toby for years. We just decided to put our heads together. They were getting the vehicles in anyway through their existing business," Hudspeth said. "It's a natural pair; the two business work hand-in-hand together."
Hudspeth and Tyler Culbertson said theirs is the only self-service auto parts salvage yard within at least an hour's drive of Dubuque. Because of that, they said they attract customers from just as far.
There are about 300 cars in the yard right now; they hope to eventually get 700.
The allure is simple: to save money. Because shoppers pull the parts, there is no labor cost included in purchasing parts.
"And (for) a lot of people, money is a big thing. If they have to pull it off and they're going to save $15, they're going to do it, even if they've got to drive from an hour away," Tyler Culbertson said. "They'd rather come out here in the rainstorm and pull it off themselves just to save $10 to $20."
With his background -- nearly 20 years -- in auto parts, Hudspeth is intrigued by self-service salvage yards. He saw some in the Chicago area and believes it can work here as well.
"Doing my business saw what (other self-service yards) were doing, and I'm like, 'Man, we should be doing this. We're missing out on some action here,'" Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said U-Pull-It is an environmentally safe operation. When vehicles are brought to the yard, the batteries are removed and all fluids are drained.
"We're breaking these parts down, we're recycling the cars. It cuts down on the use of our natural resources," Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth said all parts cost the same regardless of the vehicle from which they are pulled.
"So it doesn't matter if you've got a Cadillac or a Corsica," he said. "If you want a door mirror, they're all the same price."
All kinds of shoppers come to U-Pull-It, Hudspeth said, including auto parts shops workers and do-it-yourself types.
"And there's general walk-ins, like there might be an 18-year-old kid needs a tire for his car or a 75-year-old guy that needs a tire for his car," Hudspeth said.