Auto repair shop owners across the island say they are staying busy fixing older vehicles this summer.
Mechanics say more people are having to repair vehicles to pass inspection because they can’t replace them as easily due to the sting of inflation and a lack of cars to sell.
Like the rest of the country, Prince Edward Island faces a shortage of new cars since last year. This was largely attributed to a delay in the microchip supply chain.
Matt Thomson, owner of Midtown Auto Repair & Tire in Charlottetown, said car owners don’t have many options right now: “The shortage of new vehicles…and the shortage of used vehicles is huge.
Thomson said once people change their winter tires in the spring, there’s normally a lull in business.
But this year, business has never slowed down in PEI.
“We just put our heads down and kept working and doing the work that is here, and if we can accommodate other people, we will do that work too. But that’s all we can do at this point. “
Thomson said he tries to keep some appointments open each day, but those fill up very quickly. Right now, his shop books out at least a week in advance, which is twice as long as he would like.
We don’t want to see people spending too much money on a vehicle that isn’t worth it. We’re very honest when we tell people it’s time to get out of a vehicle.—Matt Thomson
“There’s just huge demand and people are giving up [vehicles] walk out and walk away,” he said. “We’re not short of things to do, that’s for sure.
He said it’s been difficult for some of his customers to pay for necessary work on their vehicles, and he wishes there were options.
“We don’t want to see people spending too much money on a vehicle that isn’t worth it. We’re very honest when we tell people it’s time to get out of a vehicle,” Thomson said.
Other equally busy stores
CBC News called eight other auto repair shops in the province who said they also noticed an increase in business, in part due to repairs on older vehicles. The mechanics at these shops were too busy to give an interview.
Joe Sawler, co-owner of JustJoes Automotive, attributes his shop’s business to high demand for repairs and a shortage of staff.
“Everything is changing – new cars are harder to buy, people are keeping their cars on the road longer and there are only a limited number of shops to work in,” he said.
As a business owner, he is happy to see the influx of customers, but knows how difficult it is for car owners.
“I’ve been to a few tricky places recently where a customer has an older vehicle and our service [staff] said, “It’s probably not worth investing the money at this point,” Sawler said.
They’ve been on a long enough waiting list for a new vehicle, so they don’t really have an option – either put money into a vehicle that isn’t worth investing at this point, or go to work on foot.—Joe Sawler
“However, they’ve been on a waiting list for quite a long time for a new vehicle, so they don’t really have an option – either putting money into a vehicle that isn’t worth investing in this stage, or walk to work.”
Sawler said they’re trying to get customers in as quickly as possible and he’s looking to hire more staff to keep up with demand.
Both Sawler and Thomson said the best thing car owners can do right now is maintain a good relationship with their auto repair shop.
“Just make friends with your mechanic and go there regularly for your oil changes. Most shops are more than happy to keep you on the road,” Sawler said.