People who keep their cars longer drive business at BN auto repair shops
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There is at least part of the auto industry that is thriving in an industry that has been grappling with the economic pitfalls of COVID and supply chain delays.
Auto repair shop owners say they are busier than usual because drivers keep their cars longer.
Darrell Gentry is the owner of Baird’s Auto Care in Normal. Gentry said his shop sees several hundred vehicles a month, more than he has seen in years.
âIt seems like lately they’ve definitely fixed some big things that they weren’t used to fixing,â he said.
Gentry said there can be several reasons why people wait longer to replace their vehicle: shortage of computer chips; slower production of new vehicles; and higher prices for new and used automobiles.
âI think people just don’t want to go into debt right now for car payments and prefer to fix their cars,â he said, adding that about half of the cars customers bring to his store now have at least 150,000 miles on them. .
These parts delays have also plagued auto repair shops.
Jerry Adams, owner of Mid-State Transmission Service at Normal, said some transmission repairs had to wait weeks until they could find parts, whether through the dealership or a other supplier.
âAt some point everyone is going to run out of parts and so the finished units in stock right now are going to run out pretty quickly,â Adams said. “It is a problem for the future.”
Adams said automakers had not indicated how long the supply delays would last. “No one has been willing to set a timeline on this,” he said. âHonestly, they don’t give us all the details of the issues. They just say we can’t get it.
Adams said business was strong despite the delays, noting that he was grateful customers were willing to be patient.
Gentry said the increased demand helped offset the financial losses his store suffered last year when far fewer people were driving.
He would like to hire two more technicians to help him increase his activity, but he cannot find the workers. “I am looking to hire more, but no one is applying,” he said, adding that he believed that the increase in unemployment benefits had prevented more people from looking for work.