RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The pandemic is causing another shortage and this one involves parts to repair automobiles, especially ones involved in collisions.
Autobody shops all across the country and here in the Triangle are struggling to find parts to fix cars in a timely manner.
Before the shortage, repairs to a vehicle at a shop like Coats Auto Body in Raleigh would take about five days.
Now it’s a lot longer than that.
For example, the owner of the shop showed CBS 17 a Lexus which has been sitting in their back lot since July waiting for parts for an exhaust system that was damaged as part of a collision.
Auto body repair facilities don’t make any money when a car sits in the shop waiting for parts, and these days the parts just aren’t there.
“It’s a culmination of the workforce not back at 100 percent,” said owner Tana Malerba. “Some vendors are telling us manufacturers have lost 40 percent of their workforce which has an impact on productivity.”
Autobody shops are scrambling to get parts. Sometimes they are using after-market parts if the car’s owner approves, and they can find an available part.
Other times, they are looking elsewhere, like in salvage yards but that’s difficult too.
“Unfortunately, everyone is in the same boat because that’s the number one go-to,” said Malerba.
Many auto insurance policies provide for 30 days of rental, but with cars sitting in shops longer than that in many cases, places like Coats Auto Body have tried to get creative to help owners of damaged vehicles.
“If we can make a vehicle drivable with safe temporary repairs, we’ll do it,” said Malerba. “We take it on a case-by-case basis. If there’s something we can do to expedite the repairs, we will do it.”
Sometimes the replacement parts come in damaged and returning them adds even more delays especially if they are coming in from overseas.
Malerba said in her shop, there have been cars waiting two and a half months for parts.
Autobody shops say they see no immediate end to the parts shortage as the pandemic rages worldwide.
The only thing they can do is ask customers to remain patient and flexible.