QC auto repair shops wait months for some parts

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Everywhere, auto repair shop owners and mechanics continue to face an ongoing supply crunch. Many of the parts they need to do their jobs and repair vehicles don’t arrive in their garages quickly enough.

Workers at Shawn’s Auto Service in Bettendorf, including shop owner Brian Gramenz, are feeling the effects of the supply crunch. Gramenz says that even though he has 13 dealerships and eight auto parts stores he buys parts from, he still struggles to find the supplies he needs to fix his customers’ cars on time. He says it’s a problem unlike any he’s faced in his nearly 30-year career, and one he says is only getting worse.

“It’s not going to get better, I can tell you that,” Gramenz said of the supply chain issues. “We had oil filter shortages, air filter shortages. The other day, I couldn’t even find a light bulb.

“We had a customer’s Jeep with a failed engine, and we buy rebuilt engines. And I waited 90 days for an engine because they couldn’t even find a mid-engine to build,” Gramenz said.

Now, if you have an accident or a part of your car breaks, Gramenz says it could take months before a mechanic is able to fix it, depending on how quickly the parts get to the shop.

“I currently have a few vehicles that we had to wait a week or more on,” Gramenz said. “I still have a Jeep from a customer who’s been here about a month, and the dealer keeps pushing back on parts.”

As if the supply shortages themselves weren’t bad enough, Gramenz says the cost of obtaining parts also continues to rise. He says it forced him to raise his prices just to stay afloat.

“Our prices have gone up, and it’s not because I’m trying to make more money in the store,” Gramenz said. “It’s because I’m hit with fuel surcharges, I’m hit with delivery charges. A standard car, you could do (brake) pads and rotors, with labor, to about $350, $380,” Gramenz continued. “Same car, same products, same job, it’s now over $500.

Although he says he doesn’t want to keep raising his prices, Gramenz hopes his customers can understand why he’s doing it and why there might be waits to get their vehicles fixed.

“What I want people to understand is that I don’t choose coin prices,” Gramenz said. “I just want to deliver a quality product.”

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