Car repairs pile up as already-busy auto shops see soaring demand after storms

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 5:39 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Autobody shops around Portland are already inundated with calls from drivers who either crashed during the ice storm or had branches or trees fall on their cars during the windstorm that followed days later.

Repair shops and mechanics are warning people to expect long wait times for fixes, as many businesses say they’ve already spent the last year dealing with high demand and a worker shortage.

Lents Body Shop in southeast Portland currently has 74 cars in its lot waiting for repairs, and employees don’t expect to touch cars damaged in the storms for several weeks yet.

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“We have shutdown tows completely,” said General Manager Dylan McCoy, Thursday. “”The reality is we probably won’t be able to get them towed in for another six weeks.”

McCoy said his family’s business has been fortunate to not only retain their staff, but also hire more employees and expand to Vancouver over the last year, thought it hasn’t lessened the pressure and demand for car repairs.

“We’ve been about six weeks out for about a year now and this (storm damage) doesn’t help that all,” McCoy said. “It makes it worse.”

According to McCoy, there isn’t any single factor driving the high demand for repairs that’s putting a squeeze on the industry.

Rather, said McCoy, it’s a combination of a worker shortage across the industry, more drivers seemingly getting in more car wrecks, and the increased value of used cars – which has led insurance companies to make the decision to repair damaged older cars that would have otherwise been deemed a total loss.

With the increased demand for service, comes longer wait times for repairs.

“So you get a lot of people calling around and getting the same answers from every shop they talk to,” McCoy said.

Just a couple miles from Lents Body Shop, truck owner Randy Morris showed Fox 12 the large tree that fell on top of his truck Tuesday morning. Another pair of large trees fell on top of his garage.

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“I’m used to the wind. We get windstorms frequently, but I’m not used to that,” Morris said.

“I’m exhausted,” Morris added. “It’s been trying to clean up, trying to make things work, get the generator hooked up to the house.”

Morris said he expects it will be another week before his truck will be towed to Lents Body Shop for repairs.

“They still have a lot of cars ahead of me,” Morris said.

“If (my truck) is out of commission for two months, well that’s life. I’ll just deal with it,” Morris said.