How auto companies should deal with parts are backordered

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

I submitted an online request to the manufacturer and provided the information needed. In response I was told that the manufacturer is not responsible for the delays because I was involved in an accident—like really? I didn’t get into an accident willingly, it was “an accident” and it is not my fault nor the insurance company’s that parts will be unavailable for four to five months.

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. 


Dealing with delays for car parts

Automakers certainly can step up to cover the cost and inconvenience of long delays for replacement parts. The appropriate compensation is usually a courtesy vehicle, but some automakers will occasionally credit a lease 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 to compensate owners impacted by a problem with parts delays attributed to a bungled conversion to a new inventory management system. And Mazda provided courtesy vehicles automatically while customers waited for new front crossmembers to arrive for a safety recall on the Mazda 6. In some cases, the coverage was up to six months, and the rental bill amounted to nearly the value of the recalled cars which were about 10 years old. 

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Consumers occasionally 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 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 disruptions 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.)”

From a mitigation standpoint, Mr. Turk suggests you do what you can to get your vehicle back on the road. “I wouldn’t hang my hat on the source of the parts being exclusively from the carmaker; I would also take a look at the salvage market as a source of parts. My concern is resolving a parts shortage that disables the vehicle.” 


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