Drivers wait months for simple car repairs due to parts supply issues
In early December, Ed Kim was involved in a small fender bender. He took her straight to the body shop recommended by her insurance company, and the mechanic told Kim they had such a backlog they couldn’t even look at her car for a month and half. Luckily the damage was minor and the car could still be driven. It turned out that Kim’s car only needed a few trim pieces, which under normal circumstances would have arrived three or four days later. A month later, with Kim’s car sitting idle in the garage, the parts finally made it through.
Kim, who is president and chief analyst of AutoPacific, spends his days immersed in the automotive industry. And yet, nothing like a real encounter to see exactly what is going on in the market; When the body shop manager confirmed that supply chain issues for parts were having a major impact on repairs, Kim understood. This scenario is playing out all over the country because not only new cars, but parts for used cars are hard to come by. Even a little incentive in the form of a greased palm won’t help because the coins just aren’t available.
Clay Homann, a 26-year veteran in the auto parts business, is a manager at Austin’s Automotive Specialists, a family-run auto repair center with 10 stores in Austin, Texas. He says this situation is the worst he has ever seen, and the most troubling aspect is that there is no real ETA for when the parts will be available.
“I literally had a Ford F-150 sitting here for four months waiting for a part,” Homann told me over the phone. “People have to find rental cars, take rides, and beg, borrow, and steal just to get around.”
Homann works with insurance companies as part of his job, and he said most of them are more than willing to work with customers to resolve issues. Not too long ago, Homann had an accident in a brand new 2022 truck that had just over 400 miles on it. After seeing the damage, his insurance company wrote him a check for a conditional amount, which allowed him to buy a replacement truck since the parts he needed took six to nine months at best. . Due to a lot shortage nationwide, Homann was forced to get a 2021 model because his dealership didn’t have 2022 builds. Fortunately, Homann had maximum coverage on his new track and had no concern for disbursements. Still, the whole process was a problem.
“Whether it’s parts for new cars or existing cars for repairs and maintenance, it’s a huge challenge no matter what,” Kim told me. “When I created our initial sales forecast for 2022, I was assuming that we would see some relief from these issues in the second half of the year. But that was before Ukraine and the new outbreak in China. is like with these supply chain issues, we can’t get a break.
At Austin’s Automotive Parts, Homann told me that some customers have resorted to ordering parts from eBay.
“A lot of times we find that the part is bad, which makes our diagnoses even more difficult and creates even more work,” he said. “Then we always end up having to wait for the new component.”
Kim sees significant supply chain issues and believes that it won’t be until 2023 that the country will see significant relief in the supply chain hiccups. Automakers and suppliers plan to diversify the production of components, especially chips, in the domestic market and outside of Asia. That will take time.
Meanwhile, drive carefully and buckle up, as there’s still plenty to do on this dreadful ride.
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