The chip shortage hasn’t been good for new car sales, but it’s doing wonders for the automotive aftermarket companies tasked with keeping used cars on the road and healthy.

“I apologize for the wait. What can I do for you? ”Said Erik Fagan, sales associate at Ziebart of Utica, one day recently, when greeted by a reporter.

The Troy-based company is still busy in September and October, when rustproofing becomes a major fighter against salty roads, but the commotion has been more than usual lately.

“It’s the job today,” Fagan said, pointing to at least a dozen invoices covering everything from window tinting and rust remover to paint protection.

“Everyone takes care of what they have,” said Fagan, who has been in the business for over 10 years and has never seen it so busy.

“We haven’t even done a full season (wintering vehicles) and it’s already a fantastic year.

It’s just its location in Utica.

According to the 60-year-old company, Ziebart is achieving record sales across its system of 400 sites and 1,200 service centers in 33 countries. This includes a 300% increase in services such as rust remover and truck bed coatings.

Another determining factor in sales is the reduction in car inventory on dealership lots, coupled with a 10-28% increase in car prices.

“New vehicle prices are sky-high right now and a lot of people just can’t afford them,” said Gary Jury, counter salesman for Neuner’s Automotive Recyclers in Warren and his Scholz Auto Salvage location in Capac.

One of the reasons for the high prices is the global shortage of computer chips, which has forced automakers to temporarily shut down factories, including those that build popular pickup trucks, leading to a lack of inventory.

General Motors announced Thursday that it plans to halt production at eight of its 15 North American assembly plants over the next two weeks, including two that make the company’s best-selling Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

Other manufacturers have reported similar cuts, which will worsen an already limited supply of cars, trucks and SUVs on dealer lots nationwide, pushing prices to record highs.

Automakers reported that U.S. dealerships had just under one million new vehicles on their lots in August, down 72% from 3.58 million in August 2019.

“It now appears to be accelerating in the wrong direction,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global vehicle forecasts for LMC Automotive, a consulting firm.

Industry analysts say the delta variant of the novel coronavirus has hit workers at chip factories in Southeast Asia hard, forcing some factories to close. This compounded a flea shortage that was starting to improve in early summer.

“Now the outlook for new sales for the rest of the year continues to darken with the reality that a tight inventory will last until 2022,” said Kevin Roberts, director of industry information for Cargurus. com.

Demand for trucks, SUVs, and other cars is high, but buyers, increasingly frustrated with lack of inventory and high prices, are buying used vehicles or investing in what they already own.

Light-duty vehicle sales in the United States fell nearly 18% in August from a year ago, while the average vehicle selling price reached over $ 41,000, a record, according to JD Power .

“We have seen an exponential increase in the number of people coming to buy used parts,” said the jury.

Just before the pandemic, Glenn Neuner purchased Scholz Auto Salvage from its retired owner and added a 12,000 square foot warehouse and five bay dismantling building to the site. Since then, the Capac installation has taken off like a rocket, the jury said.

Customers range from drivers in Macomb County to those living in the Upper Peninsula.

The parts people need to keep their old cars on the road are a mixed bag – from alternators and steering columns on the front seats to door and hood latches.

“It’s also economical, because they can buy used parts and have the car repaired for a lot less than it would cost for a new vehicle,” the jury said.

Those who were able to buy a new car this year also take care of what they have.

“Remember when they said a new car depreciates as soon as you take it out of the parking lot?” This is no longer the case, ”said Fagan.

One of his customers, who brought in his new GM Yukon for window tinting, said he could sell it for $ 15,000 more than he paid because of demand.

According to the Auto Care Association, the automotive aftermarket is expected to be worth $ 477 billion by 2024.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.