A global problem has domestic consequences.
We all know how the global semiconductor chip shortage has affected new vehicle production and sales. Used vehicle prices have increased significantly as a consequence. But there are additional repercussions to the auto industry in general, specifically to America's auto garages. The global supply chain's disruption has made normally easy-to-obtain spare parts like oil filters and interior carpeting increasingly difficult to come by, Bloomberg reports.
This is resulting in garages hoarding inventory, attempting to find creative solutions, and, at times, literally begging customers to be patient. Pre-chip crisis parts delays of typically one or two days have now, in some cases, expanded into weeks, and there's very little that garage owners can do.
With new and used vehicles harder to come by, people are holding on to their existing cars for longer. Those cars require regular maintenance and, at times, new parts. There's greater demand than supply. For example, one garage owner from the Seattle area waited for 60 to 90 days for basic parts like a crankshaft position sensor for a customer's Ram 1500. Normally, it'd take only 30 minutes to get that part from a local distribution center. These are anything but normal times.
That customer is now considering that he should "give up" on his truck completely and have it towed away. In an unrelated case, a Nissan Sentra owner whose car was a flooding victim of Hurricane Ida last month needed replacement carpets but none were available.
Local mechanics came up with the best solution they could: remove the carpets, have them professionally cleaned, and reinstall them. It's not only privately-owned garages that are suffering but also franchised dealers who receive their parts from automakers. Garages and stores of all sizes are equally being hit.
"This is the most difficult supply-chain environment that I have ever seen," said AutoZone CEO William Rhodes. The chain is currently experiencing "the lowest level of in-stock" merchandise Rhodes can remember. For the foreseeable future, garages will continue to hoard the most basic parts and ask customers for their patience. There's simply no other alternative.