Car parts backordered, not available — now what?

PHOTO: courtesy of Kia Canada

My 2021 Kia Seltos was involved in an accident. It has been at a repair centre for almost two months waiting for replacement parts and they recently contacted me to say it will take another two months. The parts required appear to be pretty basic for a front-end collision repair …

I am facing an outlay of $4,000 for a rental while my vehicle is in the shop. The manufacturer should provide me a rental car or forgive my payments until those parts arrive. If they sell a vehicle, they have to make sure that parts are available when needed or provide a loaner — or just don’t sell it.


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

The auto manufacturer’s obligation for late car parts

Michael Turk, a lawyer consulting to APA members, provided the following guidance concerning the automaker’s obligation to provide replacement parts:

“Nothing in Ontario’s statutory law specifically addresses the issue of replacement part availability, but there is an implied warranty that parts be reasonably available. The obvious place to start is compensation for loss of use. I’m not sure how the courts are going to deal with COVID — there may be an argument for force majeure in circumstances that are probably beyond a manufacturer’s control. Even then, a judge could determine that ‘We agree with you but what did you do to compensate your customer? … (In situations like the one with your Seltos, the automaker is able to deliver the same components to their plant to assemble new vehicles, so the parts clearly exist—and those vehicles are being shipped to Canada, so the shortage of parts for a collision repair appears to be surmountable.) …

To the APA’s knowledge, Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act is unique in Canada, as it creates an obligation to provide replacement parts to a consumer. Article 39 of the Act states that “Where goods… are of a nature that requires maintenance, replacement parts and repair service must be available for a reasonable time…”

The requirement has been used successfully by consumers appearing before the Small Claims Court Division in Quebec to recover the cost of renting a replacement vehicle while waiting for parts to arrive.

Now let’s take a look at some steps a consumer can take:

Backordered parts for collision repairs

When it comes to insurance repairs, collision parts can be backordered for weeks, until the customer times out their insurance-paid replacement vehicle.

Debbie Arnold, a registered insurance broker with Sound Insurance in Ontario, reports that “Loss of use” insurance endorsements to cover courtesy vehicles vary significantly and are either limited by the number of days or dollar value.

Fifteen days, or $2,000, are on the short end with 30-days or more offering greater security. Arnold suggests that if you’re approaching the end of the loss of use coverage, contact your insurance adjuster. Under current circumstances, with delays more common, there may be some flexibility, or they may be able to assist you or work something out with the body shop while waiting for parts to arrive…

Parts delays for mechanical repairs, car warranty repairs

Mechanical parts backordered at the dealership are frequently available in the aftermarket from independent suppliers, or even as used parts. However, car dealers are unable to obtain a reimbursement from their manufacturers for using non-original components on a warranty repair in a pinch, even if they’re of like kind and quality. Consequently, they may not check to determine if any are available. That’s little comfort to the vehicle owner who may be paying for a rental vehicle or is doing without personal transportation.

If the delay is long or very uncertain, it’s worth checking for a comparable part in the aftermarket and have the vehicle taken to an independent shop for the repair, or paying the dealer to complete the repair with non-original parts …

What to do for your vehicle
For a parts delay of several weeks or months, it’s reasonable to ask the automaker for a no-charge courtesy vehicle. If you have not already written the manufacturer …

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