Japanese car parts shortage ahead?
By Claes Bell · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET
The U.S. auto market continues to feel the impact of the Japanese earthquake. Toyota announced this week it would be limiting shipments of some replacement auto parts to U.S. dealerships.
From the Associated Press:
Toyota has told dealers to stop ordering 233 parts for Lexus, Scion and Toyota models unless a customer needs one for a repair. The parts include brake rotors, body panels and shock absorbers.
"We are asking the dealers to refrain from ordering parts in excess of what they need," Toyota spokesman Steve Curtis said Tuesday.
The company won't divulge publicly what those parts are, but the Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal have listed brake rotors, body panels, shock absorbers, radiator supports, fender components, tail gate hinges and oil seals.
The key question for current owners of Japanese autos is whether actions like this one from Toyota are just a temporary blip or the tip of the iceberg. If it's the latter, availability and price of some original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, replacement parts could become a major issue.
The answer depends on the amount of damage sustained by Japanese parts suppliers and the numerous challenges facing the country's massive industrial complex, including shortages of fresh water and electricity. As far as Toyota goes, the affected parts amount to less than 1 percent of the 300,000-part total catalogue of replacement parts Toyota currently provides.
Even if there turns out to be major replacement part supply issues for Japanese autos, owners aren't necessarily out of luck. There may be non-OEM alternatives manufactured by third-party companies not affected by the Japanese disaster.
Still, if you've got a car repair you've been putting off, I would consider getting it done soon. There's no telling right now how this will shake out.
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