Lack of parts and mechanics adds weeks to car repairs in Michigan – Bridge Michigan
Redline had 42 cars lined up for repairs one day last week, and service times that once took days now may take as long as three weeks.
Hiring more mechanics could be a solution, but the applications received so far aren’t filling the open positions. So increasing work hours may be the only way to meet the demand, Randall said.
“It would last until we finally find another qualified employee that can pick up the slack,” he said. “Our guys do not want to be here any extra hours.
“I value a weekend more than anybody, but I also value my customers and I know their car has to get done.”
The national outlook is grim for shops that need to hire mechanics amid a surge of consumers seeking car repairs. The number of technician jobs dropped 6.1 percent nationwide from 2016 to 2020, according to a 2021 report from the TechForce Foundation.
The report predicts that by 2025 nearly 5,000 new technician jobs will need to be created and 173,000 existing technician jobs will need to be filled to meet demands for car repairs.
The struggle to hire certified mechanics coincides with the high demand for used car repair after the global microchip shortage. The semiconductor — or microchips that serve as the “brain” of a car’s technology — shortage bogged down new car production in 2020 and 2021, resulting in more drivers on the road with older cars, which led to an increase in repair demands.
“With the shortage right now of new cars and chips, people really need to maintain their older car,” Randall said. “It’s a two-to-three week waiting process right now to get your car in, get parts ordered, delivered and get your car done. And it used to be, at most, two to three days.”
Vehicles are also getting more complex in terms of parts and technology, which has increased service costs. At the same time, the parts are moving slowly around the world because of supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are supply chain issues throughout the industry, and it varies from part-to-part, vehicle-to-vehicle, brand-to-brand,” said Terry Burns, executive vice president of the Michigan Automobile Dealership Association. “And it may be difficult to get a particular part this month and next month it may be plentiful.”
According to Forbes, auto manufacturers are expecting the supply chain issues and chip shortages to decline by the second half of 2022, which in turn is expected to boost new car production.
In the meantime, for Michigan drivers, these issues have resulted in substantially increased waiting times and growing costs to get their car fixed.
And repair shop owners say the pressure doesn’t end there: Wages have increased to pay their staff overtime to meet the demand, and they’ve also had to raise prices to cover parts shipping costs.
“It goes to the end of the consumer,” Adam Keusch, manager of Keusch Super Service in Grand Ledge, said. “Let’s say we’re at $89 an hour then I’ve got to go to $95 an hour just to pay for the extra costs. “
The number of auto service technicians in the state increased by 4.06 percent (760 in total) from 2019 to 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that time, the hourly wage for auto service technicians in Michigan increased by 6.43 percent (from $21.15 to $22.51).
Over the same time period, the average weekly wage in Michigan across all industries increased …….