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'It's getting progressively worse' | Memphis area auto shops dealing with supply strains, delays for customer repairs

The slower arrival times for certain car parts comes as demand for service at Mid-South repair centers is up.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Listen up Mid-South drivers: if you need minor or major repairs on your vehicles, be prepared to wait longer, possibly weeks longer.

The global supply crisis is trickling down to local garages, as everything from brake materials to batteries is strained just as demand for service is up.

That means fewer fixes each day and a smaller bottom line for repair shops in the Memphis area.

The stakes are huge: industry experts said it's the largest supply chain disruption since World War II.

"I hate to turn away business," Mattei's Garage Owner Larry Cervetti said.

But that's the increasing reality these days for Cervetti, as his shop struggles with needed supplies, even the most basic ones.

"If you can't get a filter, if you can't get your oil service completed, that's not good," Cervetti added.

His repair shop isn't alone, as the supply strain for parts forces more cars to wait longer for their turn on the lift.

"It's getting progressively worse at a slow pace," Charles Guidi, a mechanic at Performance Tire and Service, added.

Guidi said not only are supplies smaller for things such as brake rotors, shocks, and tires, it's also more challenging to track them down.

"Much more legwork involved, you know. Instead of making one phone call or doing one search, I'm having to search four, five, six different places to find what I need," Guidi said.

"When you fix one problem, and then we wake up the next morning and here's another problem and then here's another problem," Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association President Paul McCarthy added.

McCarthy - a national auto parts supply expert - said right now, no product is immune from major challenges.

"You look at steel, resins and plastics, foam, precious metals, sub components, everything, you go down the line and everything has had some kind of disruption," McCarthy said.

That's why Cervetti asked the public for patience and understanding.

"If you tell a customer, one that's new or one that's not new, that, hey, it's going to take a long time for them to get their car fixed, it just creates problems for them. You try to explain it, but they don't understand," Cervetti said.

There's also one major contributing factor to the supply strain for auto parts: a lack of manpower.

It's estimated there are almost one million open manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including those driving the trucks or working in factories or distribution centers.

In a September earnings call, the CEO of Memphis-based AutoZone, William Rhodes, said the company is running “the lowest level of in-stock that I can ever remember." 

However, industry experts said the company has done better than many in weathering the current challenges.

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