Toyota has warned US dealers it faces a shortage of some replacement parts made in Japan but used worldwide for repairs and maintenance work, according to a person briefed by the company.

Production of most replacement parts resumed in Japan on 17 March, and shipments to the US resumed shortly after that, Toyota told dealers in a memo distributed on Monday, this person told the Wall Street Journal.

But the company added that it has identified 183 replacement parts that are made by suppliers that sustained significant damage to plants in Japan from the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, the memo said, according to this person. Production of these parts won't resume for "at least 30 days," the company said in the memo. It added that "both the number of affected parts and length of production stoppage may increase."

The parts include shock absorbers, radiator supports, fender components, tail gate hinges and oil seals.

Toyota has stocks of these parts on hand in the US and has set up a system to deliver them to dealers who need them for urgent customer repairs. But some owners of Toyota and Lexus vehicles may find they have to delay maintenance work or wait to have their cars repaired, this person told the WSJ.

One dealer familiar with the situation, Tammy Darvish, vice president of Dar-Cars Automotive Group, which owns a Toyota store and a Lexus store, said her company has started looking into backup sources for parts in anticipation for a shortage later this spring.

"It's so new for us, we're studying the situation and figuring out what our options would be," Darvish told the Wall Street Journal.

She said the stoppage will likely be felt in dealers' shops within the next 60 days or so.

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