When Will Ford Run Out of F-150s?

Ford says it has an 84-day supply of its best-selling F-150 pickup. But that doesn’t mean buyers won’t run into shortages well before then.

The automaker said Wednesday that it suspended production the nation’s best-selling vehicle after a fire at a supplier’s facility caused it to run out of parts.

Ford has said it doesn’t know how long it will be before it can resume production of the F-150, as it scrambles to find a supplier who can provide it with the parts it needs. Ford has also cut back production of the larger versions of the truck, like the F-250, 350 and so on. It doesn’t know how long that production problem will last either.

Experts say that if Ford’s two F-150 assembly lines remain shut down for more than a couple of weeks, there could start to be shortages.

Related: Ford suspends production of F-150 pickups

The F-150 can be configured in many different ways, said Michelle Krebs, AutoTrader senior analyst. “There’s a lot of different engines, different cabs, different cargo beds,” she said.

As a result, some buyers might have trouble finding the specific vehicle they want if the shutdown continues for more than a couple of weeks, Krebs said, even if there are plenty of other F-150’s on their local dealer’s lots.

“Dealers want to have a larger inventory on the lot that appeals to all the different truck buyers,” she said. “They won’t be able to do that if this goes on for more than a couple of weeks.”

The F-series pickups have been the best selling vehicle in America for more than 30 years, and account for roughly a third of Ford’s US sales.

There are several other factors that could boost demand for the F-150 right now.

Related: Ford dropping all but two cars from its North American lineup

First, rising gas prices are rising, and the newest F-150, which uses light-weight aluminum, gets about 22 miles per gallon, according to EPA estimates. That compares to only 13 miles per gallon for a 2012 model. Older models typically are even bigger gas guzzlers.

Rising interest rates could also bring people into showrooms sooner rather than later, Krebs said.

And there’s a chance that the headlines about the production shutdown could prompt some buyers who were thinking about buying a truck later to buy one now.

Any F-150 shortage could also mean higher prices, since dealers will be reluctant to price their remaining inventory