Lew Marchand said he and his colleagues in the auto repair industry are finding it increasingly difficult to find the necessary parts as supply chain issues around the world continue.
“Previously, you could anticipate during an inspection that a simple brake job might be necessary,” said the owner of Marchand Auto of Statement Street, Wash. “You may have to go to three local parts stores just to get the parts you need for a brake job. It changes everything. It was so simple before. Now that’s a few more steps. Everyone faces the same issues.
Customers may have to wait days for the part to get their car serviced. Typical delays of a day or two stretched into weeks. Under normal circumstances, the tires could be ordered and received within an hour. It is not now – it could take days.
Spikes in prices for steel and other materials and labor shortages have combined with delays in unloading goods at U.S. seaports.
“We have to wait two or three days just for the rotors or other parts,” said Dave Pryor, owner of Pryor’s Auto Service on Oregon Street, Washington. “They say it’s going to get worse. Normally you just need to call them and get them; now you have to wait and get them. We use three different suppliers and we need to see who can get the parts the fastest.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the main reasons for the shipping problems. In the automotive industry, a global semiconductor shortage has reduced the production of new vehicles. That and the effects of the pandemic on people’s finances have caused them to keep their cars longer. And these vehicles need repairs.
“You don’t really want to tear up someone’s vehicle and then call them up and explain that we can’t get the parts for two days,” Marchand said. “It’s the same with the tires. If someone wants a specific brand and we need that specific brand and can’t find it, we have to call the owner and ask if they are okay with (another) tire.
Mike Farabee, appraiser at Wade’s Body and Frame Shop in Waynesburg, said there was a Honda Civic in the store waiting for a front bumper.
“I’ve had a car here for three months and I can’t have a front bumper,” Farabee said. “It’s usually not that bad. It’s usually about a week or two, but never months. It’s just getting worse and worse all around.
No matter where the dealers can get their parts, problems arise.
Farabee said the first calls are made to original equipment manufacturers. When this is empty, calls are then made to aftermarket companies. These calls were met with responses such as the part is out of stock or simply not available.
“It’s getting crazy,” he said. ” There is no solution. They don’t know what to do.
Mike Carney, owner of Carney Auto Repair Services in Uniontown, said he has faced the same issues as not only others in his line of work, but businesses in general.
“It’s just part of the economy, the way things are,” Carney said. “We had issues with parts availability and shipping delays. We’re going to order something to send overnight and it doesn’t come for a few days.
Of course, there are issues that come with it, and customers get irritated.
“Productivity goes down,” Carney said. “We have cars lying around while we search for parts. You cannot get coins. Fortunately, business has grown thanks to COVID. People keep their cars longer.
Regarding the problems in obtaining parts, Marchand perhaps summed it up best.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he said.