COVID-19 Update: Is There A Shortage of Repair Parts?

By Desiree Homer

More Operational Side Effects of the Pandemic Begin to Emerge

Ford Motor Co. was reporting a backlog, and not just in demand for new vehicle inventory. Blue oval dealers are facing intense shortages of repair parts, saying the wait has gone well into several weeks for much-needed stock. New vehicle inventory and the ever-changing used inventory market are hot topics right now for dealership owners nationwide. But this secondary shortage of parts, at least for many Ford retailers, is proving the effects of the pandemic only continue to surface.

Ford Dealers Share Their Frustrations

Several retailers recently shared their frustrations regarding the backlog of much-needed parts with Automotive News. They cite facing supply shortages of parts needed for technical service bulletins for repairs on older, select model year Ford Fusions and Ford Escapes. Without the parts readily available, and adding in some cases, weeks to the wait timeline, it means customers’ cars are piling up in the service bays. Ford responded officially in a statement, recognizing the delays early on, and said, “upon reopening, parts production and delivery was expedited.” According to Ford, there is no longer a problem. According to some Ford dealers, though, delays are still a real and present concern. In fact, some dealer owners are calling the shortages a downright nightmare.

What Happens When Parts Aren’t Available

One of the biggest challenges presented to dealers who face repair part shortages is satisfying the customers. When vehicles sit idly at service centers for weeks on end, as you can imagine, customers get frustrated. Some dealers are offering rental cars to keep their patrons driving in the meantime. But not getting TSBs and repairs handled in a timely manner can reflect poorly on the dealership, despite the problem being a production one. And that can cost revenue in future sales and service.

Understanding the Inventory Windows Moving Forward

New and used inventory management is key to a dealer’s success. And Randy Kobat, Vice President of Operations with Cox Automotive’s Inventory Management Solutions, which includes vAuto, talks to Dave and Andy about the huge challenges ahead, in episode 61 of the Dealer News Today podcast series. And while dealers need to embrace the ever-changing demand and get creative with inventory solutions, it’s clear that some parts inventory may be included, as well. The effects of the pandemic and subsequent halts in production may continue to be felt well into the weeks ahead.

There won’t be an aspect of your operations that hasn’t been touched by COVID-19. And dealers may be seeing shifts already in pricing, values, and inventory. But the industry leaders suggest being prepared for almost anything through the end of the year. Tackle each challenge as it comes, which for some Ford retailers may be parts related, and pursue with creative solutions moving forward. There may be shortages beyond new and used inventory, and it only reminds dealers that more roadblocks may present ongoing, as additional bi-products of the pandemic.