How Automakers Should Handle Out-of-Stock Parts

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  • A sheath extension
  • Front skid plate
  • Radiator support cover
  • Engine wiring harness


I submitted an online request to the manufacturer and provided the necessary information. In response, I was told that the manufacturer is not responsible for delays because I was involved in an accident—like really? I didn’t have an accident on my own, it was “an accident” and it’s not my fault or that of the insurance company that the parts will be unavailable for four to five months.

I’m facing a $4,000 expense for a lease while my vehicle is at the store. The manufacturer should provide me with a rental car or cancel my payments until those parts arrive. If they are selling a vehicle, they must ensure that parts are available when needed or provide a loaner vehicle, or simply not sell it.

—HP

Dealing with delays for auto parts

Automakers can certainly step in to cover the cost and inconvenience of long lead times for spare parts. The appropriate compensation is usually a courtesy vehicle, but some car manufacturers sometimes credit a rental customer with payments to cover the period in which they lost use of the vehicle. In 2019, after the CBC reported that Toyota was leaving customers stranded, the automaker stepped up its efforts to compensate owners affected by a problem with parts delays attributed to a failed conversion to a new inventory management system. And Mazda automatically provided courtesy vehicles while customers waited for new front crossmembers to arrive for a Mazda 6 safety recall. amounted to nearly the value of the recalled cars that were about 10 years old.

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Consumers sometimes report long parts delays to the Automobile Protection Association (APA). Among the major brands, Tesla (collision repair parts), Toyota, Kia, Ford, Ram, Jeep and Fiat have accounted for a higher proportion of complaints in recent years. This is usually the result of cost cutting or poor internal management. Complaints about unavailable spare parts increased significantly in 2021/2022, due to supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent bottlenecks.

The automaker’s obligation for overdue auto parts

Michael Turk, a consulting attorney to APA members, provided the following advice regarding the automaker’s obligation to supply spare parts:

“Nothing in Ontario statutory law specifically addresses the issue of availability of spare parts, but there is an implied warranty that parts will be reasonably available. The obvious starting point is compensation for loss of use. I don’t know how the courts are going to deal with COVID – there may be an argument for force majeure under circumstances likely beyond the manufacturer’s control. Even then, a judge could determine that ‘We agree with you but what did you do to compensate your client?...’ (In situations like the one with your Seltos, the automaker is able to ship the same components to their factory to assemble new vehicles so the parts clearly exist – and those vehicles ship to Canada, so the shortage of parts for a collision repair seems to be surmountable.)”

From a mitigation perspective, Turk suggests you do what you can to get your vehicle back on the road. “I wouldn’t hang up my hat on the origin of parts coming exclusively from the automaker; I would also look into the salvage market as a source of parts. My concern is to resolve a parts shortage that disables the vehicle.

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