Personal-Finance

Vehicle repair industry overhaul will benefit motorists and offer cheaper prices

2018-10-25 00:16

The Competition Commission has long frowned on the monopolistic motor service and parts industry. But, with its new set of proposals, that’s all set to change, finds Angelique Ruzicka

Motorists are set to save money when proposals drafted by the Competition Commission are ironed out and become binding.

The commission has long been concerned about anti-competitive conduct in the car repair and parts industry which, thanks to tight controls, has excluded historically disadvantaged individuals in the process.

The proposals are set to shake up the market and will allow motorists to get their cars repaired and serviced by any repair company or individual, even if the car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty.

But how will this work in practice? What does it mean for those looking to buy cars in the future and how will it affect insurance policies?

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES?

Manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and BMW call the shots. When it comes to repairing new cars, all equipment and accessories have to be approved by them.

If you don’t have the car repaired by one of their approved dealers/service repair agents then you’ll be going against the rules of the warranty and make it void.

It means that no future repairs will be conducted under the warranty and you’ll have to foot the bills yourself.

“In short, the proposed code will give car owners the right to repair or service their vehicles at a provider of their own choice, without voiding their warranties.

"At present, car owners have to use a vehicle manufacturer’s service centres and parts departments for their embedded service plans, and generally have to use pre-approved panel beaters for repairs to their vehicles,” explains Wynand van Vuuren, spokesperson for King Price.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

For the consumer it will mean more choice and cheaper prices when it comes to repairs, parts and even insurance premiums. “I believe it will have a positive effect.

"Cheaper prices and better service. There will be more repairers competing for price and the insurer can pass the savings on to the industry and the customer.

"Work will be done more quickly too as there’ll be more choice,” said van Vuuren.

He adds that these changes should also have a positive effect on the economy. “There will be thousands of jobs created and a big difference to the economy.”

WILL IT MEAN A DROP IN STANDARDS?

With the market opening up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it could mean that any “Joe Soap” mechanic or panel beater would be able to repair and service your vehicle.

But, if your car is insured, your insurance provider would still come up with its own set of recommendations.

“Of course, quality standards will still need to be maintained, so the client isn’t left with the short end of the stick after repairs are completed.

"While insurers will no longer be able to compel clients to use specific providers, they will still be able to recommend repairers who have been audited and adhere to certain standards,” said Van Vuuren.

There are also proposals for equal-matching parts approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

These would need to be used so it won’t mean that the service repair specialists can use just any spare or grey parts that they wish.

Under the proposals, the SABS-approved parts will not result in invalidating the warranty.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Don’t tear up your motor warranty contract just yet as these changes are still at the proposal stage.

There is a long way to go because the motor industry, which is resistant to the changes, still needs to have a say.

But that’s not to say that you can’t weigh in. Comments have to be submitted by November 3 2018.

Email MziwodumoR@compcom.co.za or write to the Office of the Commissioner, Private Bag X23, Lynnwood Ridge, Pretoria, 0040.

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November 18 2018