If you have been in an auto accident recently or have damages from this year’s hailstorm, you have probably wondered, “Why is it taking so long to get into a shop for a repair?” It is a legitimate question and one that many others are asking, too. It is for this reason we wanted to address the current problems plaguing all (or at least most) auto body and automotive repair shops. These problems each on their own could slow down the repair process of a vehicle, however; these problems combined make getting a vehicle repaired within the customary amount of turnaround time next to impossible.
National Glass Shortage
All one really must do to discover that we have a glass issue in the United States currently is to google “national glass backorder”. Every auto-related forum and many news stories will pop up, all talking about the national glass shortage. During the early days of the pandemic, many glass companies went out of business, while glass manufacturing came limped along under new covid guidelines and restrictions. While their staff size was operating at a less-than-normal capacity, the demand in the glass industry was increasing as people were installing glass partitions and shields. With fewer employees to run production, the output simply could not keep up with demand. Even now, as we are nearing the 2nd anniversary of the beginning of the Covid-10 pandemic, restrictions and quarantines still plague the industry to some degree. Even as glass output increases, there are still supply chain, staffing, and transportation issues in other industries to contend with getting the glass where it is most needed. This problem will eventually work itself out, however; it is safe to say the glass shortage may continue to play a part in slowing down the repair process of wrecked and hailed-on vehicles for many more months to come.
National Parts Backorder
Just like with glass, a quick search on google will confirm that the automotive manufacturing industry is also having major supply chain issues. With the price of steel on the heavy incline, along with other material prices, workforce shortages, and supply chain issues with overseas shipments and truck driver deficits, the auto repair industry is finding it difficult to keep up with the demand. Prior to the pandemic, most parts arrived within a day or two of being ordered. Now we are seeing turnaround times on some higher-demand parts to be as long as 3 to 6 months out. No doubt this is frustrating to consumers who simply want their car fixed and back on the road, however; there really is no means of moving this along any faster from the repair shop’s point of view. While in collision repair, sometimes we can opt to repair a panel we might otherwise have replaced or purchase a used part rather than a new one to help keep the process moving forward, in many cases, there is no other remedy besides replacing a part with a new part – and this has created backups as of late, especially. Until the backup at ports is resolved, this will likely remain an issue, too, given that many auto manufacturers have their operations overseas.
Longer & More Destructive Hail Season
Typically hail season is in the Spring, often accompanying the tornado season. We usually see the risk of hail increases starting in March and all but over by June or July. However, this year, Oklahoma saw 1” hail in late January compared to March being the earliest that hail appeared the previous year. Additionally, the last hailstorm of mention for 2020 was on the last day of August here in Oklahoma, compared to November 11. 2021 being the last hailstorm of record for this year at the time this article was written. Currently, 2019 is still listed as the most expensive hail season of record, its quite possible that once this year comes to an end that the hail totals will supersede that of 2019. What this means to consumers, besides the likely increase in auto and home insurance rates, is that shops are backing up with higher than usual PDR and hail repair demands.
Uptick in Wrecks
While we wish we could stop there, that is not all that is making it harder to get into a collision center now, what is adding to the demand is an uptick of auto accidents, as well. Honestly, this should come as no surprise really given the amount of construction happening in and around the OKC Metro area these days. Seriously, is there a single highway in the Oklahoma City area that is not under construction? We know statistically construction increases one’s risk of being in an auto accident significantly. According to Work Zone Barriers, “In 2019, an estimated 115,000 crashes and 38,900 injuries were estimated to have occurred in work zones.” Additionally, we know that in 2020, despite traffic being less, there was still a considerable uptick of accidents in construction work zone areas.
Sadly, it looks like 2020 did not do any favors for the success of 2021. In fact, it really set up the perfect storm scenario that we are seeing playing out now. Let’s hope as we round into 2022 that we see many of these supply chain issues and manufacturing output issues resolved so that businesses can move forward in a usual and fastidious fashion. As always, the folks here at OKC Auto Works will do their very best to get you in and out, back on the road, as soon as possible. Give us a call at (405) 634-8200.