Is There Still a Semi-Truck Shortage? What Equipment Shortages Mean for the Truck Industry

Trucks stand in a row at the rest area on the highway in aerial top view

For the past several years, Americans have faced various shortages across many industries – but one big question on many individuals’ minds is, “Is there still a semi-truck shortage?” 

Semi-trucks are responsible for hauling critical freight all around the country. This means that when there is a shortage of semi-trucks, it can cause a shortage in many other industries as well. While there was a semi-truck shortage for a while, it is a little more complicated now.

Is There Still a Semi-Truck Shortage? And Other Questions Answered

So is there still a semi-truck shortage? Of course, it is much easier to get a truck or truck parts today than it was to get a truck at this time last year, but that does not mean the industry is entirely out of the weeds when it comes to supply shortages for important truck parts. But to understand the shortage today, you must know where it came from and its effects.

How Did The Parts Shortage Begin?

For the past several decades, many car part producers moved away from warehousing parts – meaning keeping a stockpile of them waiting – to only having inventory arrivals when necessary. While in theory, this worked, as it minimized cost and maximized efficiency. However, when the pandemic hit, it caused labor shortages to skyrocket, and the lack of a backlog of parts became a massive issue for the trucking industry.

Usually, semi-trucks are put together with up to ten people working on them. Often, this is simultaneous and usually done in close conditions. This, of course, became difficult when it became necessary for individuals to keep their distance during in-person work. 

There were also naturally occurring issues unrelated to the pandemic – for example, flooding issues that caused problems with rubber tree production.

Putting together the lack of workers, the difficulty getting parts, and the need for more distanced workstations, production slowed down significantly, leading to the semi-truck shortage. In 2020, only 240,000 trucks were produced – a 30% decrease from the previous year.

What Parts Were Affected During the Semi-Truck Shortage?

Like usual personal vehicles, there was also a microchip shortage for commercial vehicles. There was also a need for more steel, electrical components, aluminum, and rubber. These are all necessary components for building parts such as:

  • Bumpers
  • Windshields
  • Tires 
  • Shocks
  • Power steering
  • suspensions
  • Glue
  • Resin
  • Trailer floors
  • Dash clusters
  • O-rings
  • Actuators
  • Screens
  • Bunk Windows 

With so many different parts affected, some trucks were modified to be produced without some of the standard components of a truck, such as a bunk mattress. However, many trucks ended up sitting and waiting in production for just one or two essential parts.

What Can Drivers Expect During a Semi-Truck Shortage?

Fleets are dealing with the shortage in various ways, but for drivers, the changes that happen during a truck shortage depend on a few different factors. For example, if you lease your truck, prices could increase. On the other hand, maintenance costs might rise if you own, and downtime could last longer during a truck shortage. 

With that in mind, it is extra essential for drivers to keep up with preventative maintenance practices that will keep their trucks in good shape. In addition, drivers considering switching companies or joining the industry for the first time should also be aware of who has new trucks and offer the most protection if a truck goes down for some reason.

Is There Still a Semi-Truck Shortage in 2023?

While it has been a slow growth since 2020, there has been some relief in the past year. The policies that caused the slowdown in manufacturing has been loosening, and most believe the worst of the current shortage is finally over.

As the backlog is being filled, the demand for trucks has slowed. Hopefully, this will lead to an overall evening out of the market, and ideally, there will be a full recovery by 2024. 

Is This a Good Time to Be A Truck Driver?

While these numbers and the effects of the parts shortage may sound intimidating, it is a great time to become a driver. The demand is high for new drivers to join the industry, so the pay is higher than usual and is likely only to continue to increase. Many companies are also updating their benefit packages to reflect the current need in the industry.

In 2022, there was a shortage of nearly 80,000 employees, and the demand for drivers is higher than ever. As a result, it is a driver’s market today, making it an ideal time to join the industry.

How Much Can You Make as a Truck Driver Today?

In today’s market, it’s easy to make upwards of $70,000 in the industry after a year or two. Many drivers can make over six figures after a couple of years. Wages have gone up due to the shortage, but a spot market is also happening within the industry.

A spot market is when commodities are traded for immediate delivery. For example, this happens in the trucking industry when a customer needs a shipment and asks carriers for quotes. Because of the driver shortage and explosion of the need for goods to be delivered more than ever before, carriers can give out higher quotes than before.

Is There Still a Semi-Truck Shortage? Learn More with Truck Driver Institute

At the Truck Driver Institute, you can get your CDL in just 15 days. Additionally, over 86% of our graduates have a job lined up upon graduating, allowing them to quickly switch to a lucrative new career. Finally, since our instructors are all former drivers, they can help you navigate the industry through shortages and other difficulties.

To learn more about TDI and how to join this constantly growing industry, contact us today!

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