New car sales have taken a dramatic downturn and all indications are that consumers are choosing to keep their cars longer. Les McMaster, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says that while keeping your car for a longer time is the responsible thing to do, ending up with no warranty and a major problem is a highly likely scenario.
In the event of a major repair – as correctly diagnosed or, in some cases, incorrectly -consumers often feel backed into a corner and see it as the ideal opportunity to upgrade or downgrade the vehicle through starting a new finance agreement. McMaster says this is a foolish decision.
“Some consumers also get duped into believing that cosmetically loading the outstanding finance of the trade-in onto the new debt makes sense, but this makes poor commercial sense – especially in a tough economic climate. The only beneficiaries here are the finance houses and the dealership. The consumer ends up with a lesser-value car and a vehicle finance burden over a longer period.”
MIWA advises that consumers take the time to get a second or even third opinion on the diagnosed repair from an independent workshop. In doing so, it may come as a surprise that the initial diagnosis was incorrect or if it was correct that the repair quote is exorbitant.
“There is no longer a massive divide between what a dealership can offer you and what an independent workshop can. The scales are balancing and consumers are finding that independents are versatile in repairs to all kinds of makes and models of cars, their technicians have a wealth of experience and knowledge and the repairs cost less,” says McMaster.
He recalls how, recently, a car owner was quoted R85 000 at a dealership to repair a turbo and was left feeling he had no alternative but to trade the car in at a fraction of its worth. A friend then recommended he take the car to an independent workshop instead. Not only was the turbo repaired but they also replaced the brakes and carried out a full service – all for R28 000.
“This is a good case in point of the importance of knowing that there is an alternative to dealerships when it comes to repairs. It is also not an isolated case as we receive numerous requests from motorists monthly with similar complaints. It is our opinion that often vehicle owners that are out of warranty keep returning to a dealership for vehicle servicing out of habit. The reality is that more often than not an independent workshop can service your car at a much more affordable rate than a dealer can. MIWA has thousands of independent workshops around the country that are highly capable of repairing all vehicle models using quality parts at affordable rates. The key, we believe, is using an accredited workshop.”
McMaster concludes that it’s important to ensure the workshop you choose is up to speed with the latest technology, methods, equipment and training.
“Because of the rapid changes in automotive technology, consumers must make sure the facility is qualified to repair their specific car. Most good independent workshops regularly upgrade their facilities and equipment and upskill their technicians. It’s a good idea, he adds, to start sampling accredited workshops before the warranty expires.”