December 3, 2022

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Shortages plague busy auto repair shops

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — With limited supply and skyrocketing prices for new and used vehicles, some drivers are choosing to have their cars repaired instead of replaced.

“We’re definitely fixing cars that we would’ve never fixed before and it’s not a safety issue or that, it’s completely a dollar amount,” Steve Sawicki, the owner of CARSTAR Impact of Cascade, said.

After a crash, a vehicle is considered totaled, or a total loss, if the insurance company believes it’s not worth repairing. But given the limited supply of new and used vehicles, Sawicki said the average market value of a car has skyrocketed.

“You’re usually going to go 70% of the value of the vehicle, so now you’ve raised that value and so now you can keep putting repairs to that,” Sawicki said.

To put it simply, body technician Andy Ondrajka said it takes a lot more to total a car today than it did two years ago.

“I just got done doing a Subaru that probably should’ve totaled, but we ended up putting in two quarter panels … and part of the floor in it,” Ondrajka said.

Given the option, Sawicki said some drivers are choosing to repair instead of replace their vehicle after a crash.

“Trying to find something to replace it, that’s the issue,” Sawicki said. “So they’re getting more for their total loss, but then they’re trying to track down another one that’s in the same condition and they’re struggling.”

He said some clients have even bought their vehicle back from the insurance company after it was considered a total loss.

Anyone bringing their car in for major repairs should expect longer than usual wait times.

“My biggest issue right now is (getting) parts in,” Sawicki said.

The supply chain issues are impacting virtually every automotive manufacturer. Sawicki said he’s had countless parts backordered for months on end.

In some cases, the repair shop will get creative and temporarily fix a vehicle with old parts or miscellaneous materials.

“We’re kind of stitching up cars to get them back on the road until we have parts,” Ondrajka said. “We have to zip tie things back together until we can get them.”

Sawicki said as long the car is safe to drive, they’ll get it back on the road as soon as possible.