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empty store shelf, Where are All the Parts?

Where Have All the Parts Gone?

Eckert & Associates’ attorney Jason Schafer and I hear clients’ frustrations daily about delays in truck repairs because of back ordered parts. COVID has created nightmares in the supply chain for aftermarket truck and trailer parts. Ports are backlogged, manufacturing is at reduced capacity, and parts are delayed.

National trucking publications have been writing extensively about the problem too, so we decided to visit several new and used truck sales offices and see what the locals have to say.

Salespeople for both new and used trucks are fit to be tied. Every sales rep we spoke with is experiencing similar problems – equipment and parts are in short supply and on back order. Factories are on reduced schedules while waiting on essential electronic chips and other vital parts.

Sales lots for new trucks are empty, whether it’s Kenworth, Peterbilt, Freightliner, Western Star or other brands. Used trucks are flying off sales lots as quickly as they’re brought in. Fleets are struggling to find enough equipment to manage their clients’ orders. In this slim market, owner operators must be extra clever in finding a reasonably priced truck that works for their business.

One local truck sales executive said that while few trucks are on their lot for sale, dozens of customers’ trucks are parked on their lot, waiting on chips and other parts. Business has ground to a halt for these expensive pieces of equipment.

News Articles about Delayed Parts:

One of Commercial Carrier Journal’s recent articles had this to say about back ordered parts:

“It’s a nightmare right now. The future does not look bright regarding supply issues. None of the vendors give us any reason to think there’s light at the end of the tunnel. They’re all having issues,” says Randy Benhardt, director of parts, Doggett Freightliner of South Texas and Doggett Freightliner of Arkansas. “I think we’re just getting started.”

Another CCJ article discussed the problems with the supply chain and effects:

Bottlenecks at the nation’s two largest ports are not uncommon, but over the last year, with COVID-19 throwing manufacturing and the global supply chain into peril, delays at California’s ports have gone form occasional to ubiquitous. The Wall Street Journal reported in January that ships are now routinely waiting up to five days just to reach the ports and containers, even after offloading, also are experiencing multi-day delays for trucks or railcars to load and exit the area.

The delays are causing downstream issues for nearly every industry that relies on a global supply chain. In the automotive and heavy truck industries, the delays have been particularly harmful. North American vehicle production was only temporarily halted last spring at the outset of the pandemic, but over the last few months more and more manufacturers are being forced to pause completing specific systems and vehicles due to lack of component availability.

What can you do?

Answers aren’t easy. The pain of short supply is going to be longer term, according to the people we spoke with. How does this play into account for our clients who have downtime/lost income due to an accident? Simply put, our clients must document delays very carefully to convince the adverse party to pay for all the losses.

Naturally, you have to order parts after an accident. However, without payment, most repair shops will not order any parts. When the at-fault party’s insurance company delays the approval process, they create a sizeable loss for our client. Then, if parts are on back order, the loss magnifies.

Insurance companies need to understand they’re exacerbating the delays. They are putting truckers in financial peril, especially the owner operators and small fleets. Truckers are business people who make no money while sitting still. In my experience, these men and women consistently do what they need to do to stay running. Yet, time after time, insurance companies blame the victim for delays in repairs.

If a bad driver negligently damages a truck, that bad driver is typically responsible for the lost income of the equipment while down, as well as other related losses, called consequential losses. These losses may include towing, rental, hotel, and diminished value, along with others.

Our law firm represents truckers who wish to collect their lost income from at-fault drivers and their insurance companies after an accident. If parts are on back order, the number of days equipment is in the shop grow because of the shortages of parts. We fight for our client’s right to reimbursement for their true losses.