Chip Crisis Causing Big Problems For People In Need Of Vehicle Repairs

Industry News / 6 Comments

One person waited two years for a chip before giving up and purchasing a new car.

The chip crisis continues to wreak havoc on the automotive industry, crippling production and affecting supply. But it's also affecting people whose vehicles require repairs, according to a report from Crain's Detroit Business (CDB).

Jordan Gray, once the owner of a 2017 Ford Focus, told the publication that his transmission control module chip failed in late 2021, but because of the chip shortage, his local dealer could not fix the car immediately. Detroit-based Tom Holzer Ford gave him one of two options. He could either purchase a new transmission or wait 6 - 10 months for the chip to arrive.

Gray was left in a precarious situation with no loaner vehicle to use in the meantime. "I could not afford the new transmission they were suggesting I get, and in the end, had to have my car voluntarily repossessed because I wouldn't be able to afford two car payments. It wasn't making sense to pay on a non-working vehicle."


Many remain hopeful that the semiconductor chip shortage will soon fade away, but automakers are still struggling to deal with the situation, even as things look up. Manufacturers are more likely to prioritize new vehicles to clear order books and meet demand, leaving used car owners in a tough spot.

The problem is greater than it seems. It stretches beyond delayed components, said Jerry Moore, division director of the multi-franchise dealer, Fox Motor Group. Car companies are struggling to source components, resulting in longer wait times for customers and their broken vehicles.

Another industry insider, service director Jeff Daniel, told the publication that the holdup sometimes stretches further up the supply chain. Sometimes, it's the chip for the machine that builds the car or the truck that delivers them to the dealership.

"That's where the trickle-down happens. It's not just your car. It's the fact that there may be a semi that needs a transmission component, so the trucking industry is affected, as well."

Seasonal Car Checks

Max Muncey of LaFontaine Automotive says Ford is struggling to recover from the chip shortage, with the Focus transmission issue being a particular thorn in its side.

Another former Focus owner, Lisa Kropp, told CDB that she waited two years for a TCM chip before throwing in the towel. Kropp eventually traded the compact car in for a Chrysler Pacifica. "They are probably stuck with it looking for a chip now," she added.

LaFontaine recently purchased a Ford dealership and assumed responsibility for the string of Focus models waiting for TCM chips. Muncey notes that aside from these problem-stricken Fords, luxury vehicles also require plenty of chips for functions like heated seats and power running boards.

Some dealerships, like Glassman Automotive Group, have started selling high-end vehicles without functional luxury features. Owners can then have the necessary chip retrofitted when it arrives at the dealership.

Car Maintenance

So what are dealerships doing to lessen the sting of the chip crisis on their customers? President of the Glassman Automotive Group, George Glassman, said having a large loaner fleet has come in handy during this time.

"People have purchased their car with an expectation that if they have a problem, they'll bring it in, and in the normal course of business, history will tell them that over a reasonable {period}, the cars will get fixed. ... So when we run into some of these supply chain issues, naturally, if we're unable to get people into a car, that's when the anxiety can heighten," remarked Glassman.

He and several other dealers agree, however, that communication and patience are the best tools to have during this crisis. It's clear to see that the chip crisis has done damage that will send ripple effects through the industry for a while longer. With any luck, this will soon be a thing of the past.

Source Credits: Crain's Detroit Business

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