I’ve had a bit of minor drama in my life recently. It does not relate to the main them of this website, and in fact building models and writing Plane Dave has been a great source of relief for me through it all. But I do want to go a ways off topic to share a personal tale of the state our malfunctioning supply chain is in.
Back in June of this year, 2021, my car went into the shop for a brake job. No big deal right? The car was barely two years old, but a warped rotor meant the rotor and pads needed to be replaced. The rotor was immediately available, but pads for my model of Challenger were a little backed up. So it sat at the dealership for a couple nights. No problem, my wife’s a teacher and has summers off so one car is fine for a while.
After a few days I got the call saying the pads were in and the car would be ready by lunchtime. Cool! Not 15 minutes later I got a text saying to please call the Service Manager. That didn’t sound good!
It wasn’t. When they went to get my car from the service lot they discovered it had been broken in to. Apparently a theft attempt failed and the frustrated thieves took out their frustrations on my car with a crowbar (and the Squad Car parked next to it!). They had entered through the sunroof that they shattered then tore into the electrical system. It also rained that night and there was an inch of water standing in the cup holders (did I mention my car has a suede interior). I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the thieves couldn’t defeat the car’s security system; at a new car dealership they chose to steal from the service lot. Some of those cars were likely towed in! We’re not talking about our best and brightest here.
This is a whole headache. Michigan is a “no fault” insurance State, that just means my insurance pays for my damage regardless. (I have no doubt my insurance company will collect from the dealership’s insurance company, but none of that is my concern). But it means estimates and negotiations between the body shop and insurance company, with me as a frustrated bystander trying to get things moving. It took about a month to finally get work actually done.
Things seemed to move pretty quick in late July/early August (!). I was pushing to get the car fixed before Jodie went back to work. It was satisfying to see the dents removed, the body sanded smooth, a whole new paint job (so maybe this is about modeling! Just 1:1 scale, and not me). The interior was removed and sent off to a detailer for complete cleaning.
But then everything came to a halt. No sunroof. There wasn’t one anywhere in the dealer network. Apparently not a new one anywhere in the States. In early September they reported the sunroof had arrived! But not all the mounting/trim parts. So we waited. They were probably on a ship from China…(maybe that’s a bad theory? The settlement clearly requires OEM parts. But I don’t know where the sunroof comes from) The interior could not be reinstalled without all the sunroof parts.
I got a rental car when Jodie went back to work. The Dealership paid and was quite agreeable to the whole thing. Perhaps they were amazed I hadn’t taken them to court yet? So Wednesday, October 20, I finally got the call that they had all the parts! The car should be back to me Friday. Its been four months. I’ve made four car payments and two insurance payments. I’m driving a Nissan. It could be worse, at least its a Maxima. And it uses less gas.
Friday comes along and I get a phone call. An embarrassed service rep says “I have good news and bad news…” sigh… “The good news is the repairs are finished, everything is detailed and clean and looks great. But when going over the checklist we realized no one had ever fixed the brakes…”
I couldn’t make this up.
After the brakes were finally done (!) a final interior detailing revealed a broken piece of trim where the windshield was replaced. It took a couple days to get the parts and right specialist together to get that fixed.
Finally, October 28, my car is home. I do have a small squawk list, it will be going back (3 non-critical items). But it looks great and is completely drivable in the meantime. Future visits won’t involve any waiting on parts.
The situation really is bad on several levels. I’m sure many readers have heard stories about how a chip shortage is impacting production. But that has a real impact. This dealership I was dealing with normally has close to a hundred cars on the lot, this summer they were down to 16 at one point. Due to parts shortages many cars have been stuck for weeks, at one point the dealership claimed they had 150 (used) cars out as loaners or rentals. It is truly nuts!