Cars are costing Americans more money

You can tell just by driving, body shops are busy. Randy Wareham is the production manager for West Valley Collision Repair in suburban Salt Lake City.

He says, “Most of the people I know in the industry right now have really had an influx in the last year or so.”

With inflation hitting the cost of new and used cars, more people are trying to make their old cars last longer. But in repair shops, like West Valley Collision, there is a supply chain-related shortage of parts that harness brakes to repair cars.

“It just takes a long time,” Wareham said. “We had some cars that took three to four months just to get parts.”

So what are the main problems?

“Airbags and airbag modules — I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be able to put that airbag in there,” Wareham said. “Seat belts – you’d be surprised how little brackets you should be able to get easily, we’ve had issues with that… It’s been anywhere from a door handle to a mirror to a door.”

In Nashville, auto body shop owner Charles Childress says there are shortages throughout the industry.

“There isn’t a manufacturer that hasn’t been affected by this,” he said. “It’s just been across the board. With Honda, I had to wait three months for a couple of things. Jaguar, I waited about six months to finish a part.”

Some repair shops use used parts to repair cars, which can work in some cases, such as auto body repair. But in Las Vegas, store manager Jim Robbins cautions against reusing fancier parts.

“Computers for cars,” he said. “They’re really hard to come by. A lot of them are aftermarket. People are now recalling used equipment, which I wouldn’t recommend using at all.”

Robbins says the delay can be maddening for everyone involved, from car owners to repair shops.

“It’s frustrating for us and for the customer,” he continued. “You bring your car in for a fix and someone says, ‘I can’t fix your car for several months.’ That’s a bit disconcerting.”

Moody’s Analytics says the average monthly car payment is now just over $700. But to keep your current car running, AAA has some tips, including following the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual, keeping your of the tires and park your car in the shade if you can. That will make it easier on your air conditioner.

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