SAN ANTONIO – If you’ve had to take your car in for repairs lately, you likely had to dole out more money than usual.
Car repairs are not a luxury; they’re a necessity, which is why spiking auto shop prices are hitting customers hard.
“The cost of doing business and the costs of parts and the cost of labor, it’s all increasing in today’s market,” said Miracle Body and Paint CEO Manuel Rubio.
Rubio first pointed out the general vehicle inventory issue that has been a problem for a while.
“You can go back to inventory of January 2020. There were 4 million cars in America available for sale. Today, there’s 1.9 million. That’s half,” he said. “Vehicles in general, have increased in the past four years, from 2020 to today, 20%. So what was running $35,000 back in 2020 is now costing $44,000 or $45,000.”
Rubio says supply chain issues lingering from the pandemic and current inflation have forced a spike in the price of parts, up an average of 15%.
“Parts have also increased anywhere from 10 to 20%. Headlamps are going up, tail lamps are going up, sheet metal is going up, doors and hoods. Really in general, but more of the drive train equipment is going up,” he explained.
He took KSAT on a shop tour, showing the storage area for parts, which he hopes will stay stocked.
As if the auto industry needed another hit, the current auto worker strike is also beginning to have a deep effect as plants producing necessary parts closed down two weeks ago.
“If we don’t resolve this by the end of October, we are going to have some serious of issues concerning parts,” Rubio said. “If you’re missing one part, you can’t put the car completely back together.”
He said the delay in repair time will increase exponentially.
The problem with price increases and repair time is not just about the parts. There’s also a national shortage of auto technicians.
“We’ve got educational groups, we’ve got high school groups, we’ve got vocational groups, we’ve got colleges, and they’re all stepping up and encouraging and promoting the ongoing education of automotive repair,” Rubio said.
He said Holmes High School is an example of this big push.
“They really pushed hard into the collision repair and mechanical repair. Recently, they’ve devoted thousands for equipment, and they’ve devoted hiring some excellent associates and teachers in the field,” Rubio explained.
Then, there are several local colleges investing in auto trade education.
“Saint Philips and Palo Alto also have divisions of automotive repair, collision, and mechanical. They too have invested in excellent latest equipment and technology. They too are training and providing associate degrees in the fields,” Rubio said.
Rubio said many cars are now ‘computers on wheels’, and he does see young people taking an interest in the technology.
To those interested in the field, Rubio said, “You can really make a full, fulfilling life with a lot of intrinsic value and develop this professionalism in the automotive industry. It pays well too.”
Rubio has hope for the industry’s future, but his immediate hope is that customers will remain understanding and patient with repair shops as they dodge many hurdles.