Global shortage of auto parts means long delays and higher repair prices

A consumer alert for car owners, as a global shortage of spare parts means you could face long delays and higher prices the next time you need your vehicle repaired.

When your car needs fixing, consumers have grown accustomed to a quick turnaround. Bring it in that morning, take it out that night. Or if you need more extensive work like collision repair at a body shop, it could take a few days or a week.

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But FOX 5’s Melanie Alnwick says the whole dynamic has changed.

Dealerships, repair shops, and even auto parts retailers are struggling to get replacement parts.

At the start of COVID-19, plant closures hit parts manufacturing hard. This is dragging on even longer than it should for a number of reasons, says Paul McCarthy, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

“We have the biggest supply chain disruption since World War II, a pandemic that happens once in a century, we have inflation that is the highest in at least 40 years, the biggest labor shortage -work since the 1950s,” McCarthy said. “And if that wasn’t enough, we now have a major European ground war. So you add up all of these things that go into every single thing that has affected our parts.”

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McCarthy says parts makers have had trouble getting raw materials, like steel, plastic, foam, silicon — even the additives that go into motor oil — which means product shortages and higher prices.

“Whoever has the parts is winning right now. And everyone is desperately trying to get the parts to our customers and the end consumer,” McCarthy said.

Dealerships and repair shops have to be resourceful in a very competitive space. Some consumers are also turning to used parts as an alternative.

Jonathan Morrow, president of M&M Auto Parts, says it’s a safe and reliable option.

“There are times when some customers have been looking for a specific piece for sometimes as long as a week to two weeks,” Morrow explains. “And when they realize we’re a viable option, they call us and say thank you for solving my problem. So it’s been happening, it’s kind of been happening more consistently since 2020.”

Morrow says to make sure the replacement part comes with a warranty.

Until something changes, car owners will need to be patient, flexible and persistent.

Aftermarket suppliers and recyclers want consumers to know they have the right to choose how they want their car repaired.

Industry experts say there aren’t many good solutions here. One is to maintain your car, so that you don’t need a major repair. The other is to plan ahead, work with your repair shop, so they can try to get parts and supplies ahead of time.

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