Lew Marchand said he and his colleagues in the auto repair business are finding it increasingly more difficult to find necessary parts as the world’s supply chain woes continue.
“You used to be able to anticipate during an inspection that there might be a need for a simple brake job,” said the owner of Marchand Auto on Statement Street, Washington. “You might have to go to three local parts stores just to get the parts to do a brake job. That changes everything. It used to be so simple. Now, it’s a couple steps longer. Everybody is facing the same problems.’
Customers may have to wait days for the part to come to have the necessary repair made for their car. Typical delays of a day or two have stretched into weeks. Under normal circumstances, tires could be ordered and received in an hour. Not so now – it could take days.
Spikes in the price of steel and other materials and workforce shortages have combined to delays in getting goods unloaded at U.S. seaports.
“We have to wait two or three days just for 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 call and get them; now you have to wait and get them. We use three different suppliers and we have to see who can get the parts the fastest.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a primary reason for the shipping woes. As far as the automotive industry, a global semiconductor shortage has cut the production of new vehicles. That and the effects of the pandemic on people’s finances have resulted in them holding on to their cars longer. And these vehicles need repairs.
“You don’t want to really tear into somebody’s vehicle and then have to call them and explain we can’t get the parts for two days,” Marchand said. “It’s the same with tires. If somebody wants a specific brand and we’re in need of that specific brand and can’t find it, we have to make a call to the owner and ask if they are OK with (another) tire.”
Mike Farabee, an appraiser at Wade’s Body and Frame Shop in Waynesburg, said there is a Honda Civic at the shop that has been waiting for a front bumper.
“I’ve had a car here for three months and can’t get a front bumper,” Farabee said. “It’s not usually this bad. It’s usually about a week or so, but never months. It’s just getting bad all the way around.”
No matter where dealers may get their parts, problems are encountered.
Farabee said initial calls are made to original equipment manufacturers. When that comes up empty, calls are then placed to after-market companies. Those calls have been met with responses such as the part is out of stock or just not available.
“It’s getting crazy,” he said. “There’s no solution. They don’t know what to do.”
Mike Carney, owner of Carney’s 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 have been going,” Carney said. “We’ve been having issues with parts availability and delays in shipping. We’ll order something to be sent overnight and it doesn’t come for a few days.”
Of course, there are issues that result from that, plus customers become irritated.
“Productivity goes down,” Carney said. “We have cars laying around while we’re looking for parts. You can’t get parts. Fortunately, business has been up through COVID. People are holding on to their cars longer.”
Concerning the problems getting the parts, Marchand may have summed it up best.
“It’s a pain in the butt,” he said.