Auto mechanics

Parts Shortages, Price Hikes Hit Auto Mechanics and Vehicle Repair Shops | Local News

Franklin County mechanics are feeling the sting of auto parts shortages and price hikes.

“Parts are a problem,” said Matt Riechers, owner of Riechers Tire & Auto in Washington. “Everything from engines and transmissions to brake pads.”

The disruptions affected all along the supply chain, including original equipment and aftermarket manufacturers, suppliers and transportation companies, according to Riechers,

“This is the most challenging supply chain environment I have ever seen,” AutoZone Inc. President and CEO William Rhodes said on an earnings call. in September. Rhodes, who has been with the company since the 1990s, said AutoZone runs “the lowest level of inventory I can remember.”

“It’s not tragic yet,” Riechers said, adding that deliveries could take a few extra days.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index for motor vehicle parts and equipment in U.S. cities rose more than 11% from January 2021 to January 2022 after remaining flat until January. 2020.

Riechers said the tire industry in particular has been hit hard.

Tim Huff, owner of Tim’s Service Center in St. Clair, said shortages of passenger and light-truck tires aren’t as severe, but specialty tires for on-road trucks and trailers, ATVs, equipment heavy and other specialty tires are in focus. to supply.

Riechers said his company always has most tire sizes in stock, but some models may be out of stock and customers should expect higher tickets when replacing tires. A new set of pickup truck tires over the past year has gone up from $150 to $200, he said.

Riechers and Dr. Richard Hudanick, dean of vocational and technical education programs at East Central College, said much of the tire shortages and price increases are the result of tariffs imposed on Chinese tire imports. under the Obama and Trump administrations.

The shortage of semiconductor computer chips is also having lasting effects on spare parts. New vehicle production cuts have led to increased demand for used cars, and people are driving their old ones further, requiring more repairs.

San Francisco-based consulting firm Grand View Research has predicted that modern production technologies such as 3D printing of auto parts will be widely used by manufacturers to reduce production costs and emissions, but these improvements are likely to be incremental. as the industry moves away from conventional manufacturing. Grand View valued the global automotive aftermarket at $408.51 billion in 2021 and estimated a compound annual growth rate of 3.8% through 2028.

This prediction came before Russia invaded Ukraine, which experts say will not improve the situation. Bloomberg reported that German automakers and suppliers have around 49 production sites in Russia and Ukraine, and Russia is one of the world’s largest suppliers of aluminum and fossil fuels.

Due to the repeated and continuous blows, experts do not know how long the problems in the tire and auto parts industry will persist. Meanwhile, Hudanick said businesses are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting container shortage that has plagued the shipping industry throughout 2021.

Oil and other fuel prices are expected to continue to rise, driving up the price of plastics, rubbers and energy costs. Companies with low margins will pass those costs on to the consumer, and Hudanick said the Federal Reserve raising interest rates could also help push up prices.

Hudanick said he fears a recession is possible, but said manufacturing in Franklin County remains strong.

“There are so many manufacturing jobs open and backlogs – if you ever speak to these companies they are all on hold and everyone is working overtime. (Franklin County) is like #8 or #9 for highly skilled manufacturing in the state of Missouri. We have education programs, we have great highways, and we have some interesting manufacturing going on.