As the coronavirus pandemic continues to squeeze dealer inventory and threaten vehicle production, retailers are grappling with another issue: a shortage of repair parts for their service departments.
The backlog has affected a number of Ford Motor Co. dealers who say they're waiting weeks, and in some cases more than a month, for parts needed to fix older-model Escape crossovers and Fusion sedans.
In April, Ford issued a technical service bulletin for coolant leaks into the cylinder head of 1.5-liter EcoBoost engines in 2017-19 Escapes and 2014-19 Fusions. The automaker instructed retailers to replace the short block and cylinder head gasket.
A handful of dealers who spoke to Automotive News said the parts for that repair are taking weeks to arrive as vehicles pile up in their service centers. Ford, in a statement, acknowledged delays this spring but said the situation has since been resolved.
"There were disruptions in parts supply in early May due to supplier closures caused by COVID-19," Ford said. "Upon reopening, parts production and delivery was expedited, resolving shortages by late June. Ford is not aware of any significant parts delays currently impacting dealer ability to repair these engines."
But some dealers say the issue hasn't gone away.
One service manager, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, called the situation a "nightmare" and said the store has a half-dozen Escapes sitting in the shop awaiting repairs. A second dealership official said enough customers had come in with the problem that the person raised it on a 20-group virtual meeting and heard similar responses from peers. An employee at a third dealership said the store cut a five-figure check in June to a rental company so that affected customers could have temporary transportation while waiting for a fix.