Supply Chain Woes Adversely Affecting Auto Repair Industry

Auto repair businesses of all sizes in the U.S. are experiencing significant delays in completing customer work, including routine maintenance, due to supply-chain issues.

Mechanics are waiting weeks longer than usual for auto parts needed for all repair and maintenance needs. The auto parts situation is more difficult due to the worldwide semiconductor shortage that has drastically reduced the inventory of new vehicles available for delivery to customers. That shortage has boosted demand for used cars and many repair jobs that were otherwise delayed or avoided.

Seattle area shop owner Bryan Kelley reported waiting between 60 and 90 days on multiple occasions for parts needed for pick-up truck repairs. He said that parts that generally take less than one day to get from his distribution center are now taking months to get. 

Kelley said he had had a customer tell him to tow his truck away because he planned to buy another one instead of waiting, only to find out that there were no new trucks available for delivery.

AutoZone’s CEO William Rhodes said that his company has the lowest in-stock inventory of auto parts that he can remember. The current crisis is the “most difficult supply-chain environment” that the company has ever known. The auto parts industry imported more than $130 billion in inventory in 2020.

As the holiday season approaches, President Joe Biden has begun to make public pronouncements about what the federal government might do to help the supply shortage. He has begun pressing the shipping and transportation industries to work longer hours to free supply blockages with more personnel. 

Many national retailers have expressed doubt that political intervention at this late date will do much to change supply problems in 2021. Steve Pasierb, The Toy Association trade group president, said there “may not be a human intervention” that will prevent supply delays from continuing well into 2022.