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A number of different factors came together to create a shortage of chassis this summer, including trade issues that were implemented as retaliation against China as far back as early 2020. Alongside the pandemic, record levels of imports and shortages of warehouse space kept chassis at local warehouses under the containers as they were used for storage, often staying longer than expected as late fees were cheaper than warehouse rates at that point. Combined with the trucker issues that hit the transportation sector, the rest of summer could be a problem for shippers. 


According to the, at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, chassis are out of service at local warehouses and railheads for an average of 7.1 days for 20ft, and 9.2 days for 40ft boxes. Problems with containers and chassis are building on each other when the lack of space for empty returns forces the containers to remain with importers long after they’re unloaded, racking up charges that the FMC is now investigating. 


Unfortunately, the congestion at the rail and ports can often cause container stacking, trapping chassis under two or three containers that must be moved before the chassis can be loaded and moved back into rotation. The sheer quantity of imported containers has outpaced the chassis available for months, partly because the lead time on newly manufactured chassis is between 9-12 months. As more orders for 53’ chassis come in, the 20’ and 40’ availability shrinks. 


In 2022, the retaliatory tariffs placed against China by the previous administration ended around 90% of available chassis from coming to the United States. Domestic and preferred nations couldn’t manufacture enough chassis to balance the trade policy. 


The summer peak season and coming holiday shopping will continue to plague chassis availability through the rest of the year. Considering the lead time for new chassis, the start of 2023 could also have challenges but proper preparation is the single most important way to mitigate these issues. With advanced notice, knowledge of possible changes and a little flexibility, your logistics team and Edward J. Zarach & Associates will be able to keep sailing smooth through the seasons. If you have any questions about how to secure equipment, contact your Zarach representative today.