Fix your car or buy a new one? In this wild market, many are pouring money into keeping theirs running – The Advocate
When Emily Ham Sanders bought her 2014 Ford Focus in 2019 for $13,000, she expected it to be a daily commuter, an entry-level car that she could upgrade in the future.
Then it started having trouble. When she brought it to the mechanic about a month ago, it turned out to be the transmission. Then she heard the shocking price: $8,000.
“I wanted to cry,” she said. “No kidding. I was scared.”
Before the global shortages of new vehicles and inflated used car prices, a repair that cost 62% of the worth of a vehicle would be a no-brainer: Ditch it and get a new one. But now, Ham and other owners are choosing to repair their vehicles rather than purchase a new one.
“There were just so many factors that I felt I would end up paying way more in the long run,” Ham said, “instead of just biting the bullet and fixing the transmission.”
Ham is not alone. Sales for automotive repair and services are up compared to just a year prior as the prices of new and used cars continues to soar.
Data from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority show that auto part sales are up 15% in Acadiana reaching a total of $39 million so far this year. Service station sales had a 47% increase, and auto repair shops saw a 16% increase from last year with a total of $23 million.
The median price of a three-year-old used car at the end of last year was $34,339, a 48% spike from three years ago. Cars five and 10 years old have had larger spikes. And new cars — if you can find one — have sold on average for $46,526, up over $5,000 from last April.
As a result, mechanics are busier than ever.
At Roland’s Auto Repair in Youngsville, mechanic Joey Hebert said their shop has been packed with cars in need of repair. So packed in fact, people are having to wait longer for car repairs. The biggest hurdle to overcome right now is supply line delays, a lagging disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wish it would slow down a little bit for me, let me get a break,” Hebert said.
On top of waiting, residents are now reaching deeper into their wallets because of inflation and the cost of parts increasing. Inflation has not hurt mechanics, Hebert said, but it does have an economic impact on those paying for their services.
“[Inflation] is not affecting me, it’s affecting the customer we have to charge,” Hebert said. “It’s not our fault that it’s higher. Something you had to pay $20, (now) you pay $40.”
Inflation is affecting prices of everything, including car parts. According to cars.com, the cost of vehicle parts and equipment is up 20% from last year. This coincides with national labor shortages in delivery drivers who bring the parts to shops and disruption to manufacturing.
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At Dronet’s Auto Repair in New Iberia, owner Lance Dronet said he’s seen an increase of at least 30% in his shop.
“This started when school ended around mid-May,” he said. “That’s when we saw a bigger increase. People …….