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Council Bluffs mechanics say fewer people buying new cars means bigger workload

Motorists are more likely to make repairs on older cars
Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 05, 2022

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa. (KMTV) — The work keeps coming in for mechanics.

Jason Hughes works for himself as the owner of Authentic Auto Repair and has fixed cars for six years.

When someone used to call him he could work on their car that same day. But since the pandemic started, his situation has changed drastically.

"Sometimes, I don't even answer the phone, to be honest with you. I answer the phone, but when I do I tell them, 'It's going to be a couple of weeks before I can even think about your vehicle,'" Hughes said.

With the prices of new cars increasing over the past couple of years due to chip and inventory shortages, more people are buying used or holding onto their current vehicles. It's created more work for Hughes — and also stress.

"It hurts me when moms that have four kids and their car's broke down, 'Oh I can't get to work today,' and it pains me to say, 'I can't fix your car today,'" Hughes said.

At Mad Hatter, an auto repair shop in Council Bluffs, shop manager Cory Chase estimates their workflow is 60% busier now compared to the last three years.

The challenge is hiring enough mechanics.

"Some mechanics just get old, hands can't take it, bodies can't take it, so they work themselves 'til their wit's end and the supply for new mechanics is just hard to come by," Chase said.

It's putting more work on everyone else.

"We're doing the work of probably five people and there's only three technicians," Chase said.

That's a sentiment shared by Hughes, who stopped advertising to promote his business because the requests just keep pouring in.

"I wish I could do more," Hughes said.

A report by the TechForce Foundation finds 642,000 auto, diesel and collision technicians will be needed by 2024.

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