The guidelines issued by the Competition Commission for the automotive aftermarket give consumers certain rights when having work done on their cars, but it could be quite difficult for consumers to make sense of it all.
The Competition Commission clarified the rights of consumers regarding service and maintenance on their cars at a virtual consumer workshop on Friday.
This is before the Automotive Aftermarket Guidelines come into operation on 1 July. However, it is important to remember that every vehicle service choice you make from now on will have certain repercussions if something goes wrong.
- If you use an independent service provider (ISP) during the warranty period there is a risk the car manufacturer’s warranty (or parts of it) may become invalid.
- The manufacturer or dealer can void the warranty (or parts of it) if they can prove the damage is due to the work of the ISP.
- If the car manufacturer or dealer claims there is a fault in the car due to the work done by the ISP, it must assess the car at its own cost to determine the cause.
- If the fault or damage is not caused by the independent service provider, the car manufacturer or dealer should honour the terms of the warranty.
- You will be able to choose a service provider, but if you choose an independent service provider (ISP) while the car is under warranty, the car manufacturer or dealer is not responsible to cover the cost of the service or repairs. You will have to pay.
- If you have insurance cover, you have to use the repairer allocated by your insurer and approved by the car manufacturer.
- Most independent service providers have insurance cover for liability events.
- You can choose between original or non-original spare parts at a service provider of your choice.
- You can buy non-original parts for your car under warranty from independent service providers.
- You can also buy original car manufacturer parts from independent service providers sourced from dealers.
- ISPs will also be able to access the coding systems of car manufacturers, except for security-related features, if they register with the relevant original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and meet its requirements.
- However, you must remember that if you have spare parts fitted by an ISP during the warranty period there is a risk that the car manufacturer’s warranty (or parts of it) may become invalid.
- The manufacturer or dealer can void the warranty (or parts of it) if they can prove the damage is due to the fitment of spare parts by the ISP.
- If the car manufacturer or dealer claims there is a fault in the car due to the ISP, it must assess the car at its own cost to determine the cause.
- If the ISP did not cause the fault or damage, the manufacturer or dealer must honour the terms of the warranty.
- Most independent service providers have insurance cover for these types of liability events.
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Maintenance and service plans
- You can buy a maintenance and service plan with the car or separately from a licensed provider, including independent/third party providers.
- You can choose not to buy plans or value added products when buying a car.
- Dealers must give you the actual price of the car and the price of the maintenance or service plan separately.
- You can choose to buy maintenance and service plans from any service provider, including third party providers or the dealer.
- If your car is written off due to an accident you can receive a refund or transfer the balance of the plans you bought for a new car.
How to choose an ISP
- You have to ensure you choose an ISP that has the necessary skills and information to work on your car.
- Choose an ISP with trained staff.
- ISPs can choose to register with a particular OEM to get access to its technical information, such as car service books, technical manuals, components and diagnosis information, wiring diagrams and operational software, as well as security-related information to access the motor vehicle security systems, including coding, programming, software and safety systems.
- ISPs must tell you how much the work will cost on cars under warranty.
- You must check if the ISP has adequate commercial insurance cover to perform the work.
- You must ask the ISP about the risk of fitting spare parts which could void the warranty.
- Also ask the ISP to record in-warranty repairs and services in your service book.
Where to complain
You must first follow the internal complaints procedures of the service provider. If there is no resolution you can complain to the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa and the National Consumer Commission.