KATY, Texas - A computer-chip shortage is still slowing the production of new vehicles, which is also driving up the price of used cars. With limited inventory on car lots, used car prices jumped more than 10%, in June, according to the Commerce Department.
This 'perfect storm' is leaving the car repair business very busy as more consumers have got to keep and fix what they've already got.
On a hot Summer day, Kar Hospital owner, Derek Lang, works to diagnose a sick air conditioner, with no shortage of work to keep him busy.
"We are a whole lot busier than we were last year," says Lang, "That's a fact."
Lang and other car-repair facilities say business has been brisk. As more people take to the road, tight supplies and rising prices mean a new ride just isn't possible for a lot of people.
"I would like a new vehicle," says Linda Clark, as she waits for service on her vehicle, "(They're) too darn expensive, (so we'll) keep what we have."
That's where the garages get busy. First, finding parts to make repairs can be a challenge. While not as tight as the computer chip shortage, supply chains are still stretched thin.
"We've been having the issue of getting the parts, and getting the part in town, and getting the parts to the shop, so we can repair the cars," says Derek Lang.
The volume of work is also an issue. Mission Car Care, in Katy, has had a full garage for most of the pandemic. Beyond regular maintenance, older vehicles need more repairs. Even for easy jobs, customers need to expect there could be a line that could add hours or days to the job.
"People need to remember that, 'Oh, it's not a 10-minute oil change, anymore'," says Mission Car Care owner Jim Noblitt, "There are three more cars ahead too, so the time preparation definitely takes longer."
To avoid the long lines, car experts suggest regular maintenance, checking the fluids regularly, and rotating tires as needed.
When service is unavoidable, they recommend making an appointment to avoid spending any more time at the garage than is necessary.