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The Mann Northway Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac dealership in Prince Albert, Sask., is short of certain parts for repairing vehicles.The Globe and Mail

The strike by 49,000 General Motors Co. workers in the United States is being felt at some Canadian car dealers, who say they are facing a shortage of some replacement parts and bracing for a slowdown in the deliveries of new vehicles.

Todd Williamson, owner of Williamson Uxbridge, a GM dealer in Uxbridge, Ont., said the U.S. situation has not yet affected the daily arrival of new pickups at his dealership east of Toronto. But major repair components – including axles, suspension assemblies – are taking weeks instead of days to arrive for installation in customers’ cars.

“We’re starting to feel some of the impact,” Mr. Williamson said. “The vehicles are still coming because they were built previously. Parts have come to a halt.”

The U.S. employees represented by the United Auto Workers went on strike Sept. 16 after failing to reach a new collective agreement with Detroit-based GM. The strike has shut down more than 50 GM plants and warehouses in the United States, and led to thousands of layoffs at GM suppliers and company-owned plants in Canada, which rely on U.S.-supplied parts.

GM’s Oshawa, Ont., assembly lines that produce pickup trucks and Chevrolet Impalas have halted, as has engine production in St. Catharines, Ont. On Friday, GM continued to make Chevrolet Equinox SUVs in Ingersoll, Ont., and transmissions at the St. Catharines plant.

GM supplies parts to its 450 Canadian dealerships through three main distribution warehouses in Edmonton, Montreal and Woodstock, Ont.

Mr. Williamson said his service department has plenty of the parts most commonly required by customers, but the shortage is among larger components he does keep on hand.

“It’ll be the more one-offs,” Mr. Williamson said. “Something larger that you wouldn’t stock. You would simply order it if you need it. Those are the parts that will dry up and cause us grief going forward. We are seeing that on some of those components.”

Chris Fawcett, the sales manager at MacDonald Buick GMC Cadillac in Moncton, said the dealership has not seen any change in the deliveries of parts or pickups. “If it stretches out it could be an issue in a month from now,” Mr. Fawcett said. “We still have a good supply of inventory here.”

But Ron Bodnarchuk, general manager of GM dealer Mann-Northway in Prince Albert, Sask., said some of his customers are facing delays if they need one of the many electronics modules that are used in vehicles to operate everything from brakes to rear hatches and navigation systems.

These parts “are model and serial-number specific,” Mr. Bodnarchuk said. “So it’s not like the old days” when one, say, water pump would fit several models of car.

“It’s just a sad deal, but what do you do?” Mr. Bodnarchuk said. “People better be prepared that it’s going to take longer to get parts and repairs done, that’s for sure. If the part is not in Canada and it has to be accessed out of the States, it will take definitely a long time, and we’re not sure how long. We’ve had parts on order that they have no idea when they’ll come.”

David Paterson, a GM Canada spokesman, said GM’s distribution centres are well-stocked and “not experiencing any particular delays, that we’re aware of.”

He said – strike or no strike – some less common parts take longer to find and ship to a dealer, but “we’re still filling orders in the same period of time as we normally do.”

As the U.S. strike slows the flow of some repair components, creating headaches for customers and eroding a key source of dealer profit, dealers are trying to prepare for a possible shortage of key vehicles to sell.

Mr. Williamson, the Uxbridge dealer, said the looming shortage of popular GM pickup trucks has changed the way he manages his inventory.

If another dealer “calls today and says I want that black truck, we either say no I need to keep it, or you can have it but I need one in return,” Mr. Williamson said. “We have to look after ourselves. We just have to be very careful that we have the inventory of trucks to get us through the next 60 to 90 days, if this should start to have impact.”

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