Buying or servicing a car? Take note as things are about to change

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A car mechanic changes the brake disc of a Range Rover Evoque in a garage.
A car mechanic changes the brake disc of a Range Rover Evoque in a garage.
Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa (Photo by Marijan Murat/p

• New changes will come into effect on 1 July 2021 for the automotive industry.
• These changes will impact OEMs, dealerships, workshops and consumers.
• Motorists no longer need to use "approved motor-body repairers". 
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24.



There are changes in the automotive industry's horizon – and they will affect every single South African seeking to buy, repair or service a car. 

The changes – effective 1 July 2021 – are coming about thanks to guidelines published by the Competition Commission.

According to George Mienie, CEO of AutoTrader, the guidelines are about to introduce substantial changes to the car buying and servicing processes. "These changes will mean that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), dealerships and workshops will have to alter the way that they do business in the future," he points out.

So, what are these changes and how will they impact the OEMs, dealerships, workshops and – most importantly – the consumer? Here are some of the most important guidelines – and their implications.

mechanic, workshop, car parts
Mario Gonzalez, a car mechanic for 23 years, works in his garage after being closed for two months during the restrictions due to the quarantine by Covid-19 on July 01, 2020 in Bogota, Colombia. (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)

1. Freedom of choice

Consumers who do not have insurance coverage may repair their motor vehicles at a service provider of their choice at any point during the motor vehicle's lifespan. They don't have to go to a so-called "approved motor-body repairer" anymore.

2.  More options

For various reasons, consumers' options when it comes to motor-body repairers have been limited. This won't be the case in the future. The OEMs need to promote and support the entry of new motor-body repairers, with a preference for firms owned by Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs). 

The OEMs also cannot enter into exclusive arrangements, either with one or more approved motor-body repairers, for effecting repairs on an OEM's motor vehicles within a designated geographic area. Practically, this should mean that there are more motor-body repairers – and the consumer has more options. In theory, cars should also be repaired faster. 


What do you think of the new rules which will be implemented later in July 2021? Please use the comments section below.

3. More flexibility with maintenance and service plans

Dealers won't be able to include a maintenance or service plan in the purchase price of a vehicle; the plan has to be "unbundled". 

Practically, this means that the consumer can say yea or nay to buying a plan from a dealership. He or she is free to shop for one elsewhere. In addition, if an insurance company writes off a vehicle with a maintenance or service plan, that plan must pass on to the replacement vehicle.

Fazlin Kasker says you need hair on your teeth when answering phone calls in a mechanical workshop.

4. Dealerships will become less grandiose

The Commission says that dealership start-up costs – at an average of R60 million – can be exorbitant and a high entry barrier. 

In future, the OEMs will need to adopt measures to lower financial barriers to entry and promote the participation of HDIs in the dealership market. 

In addition, OEMs should not impose so-called "onerous obligations" on prospective dealers. So, expect a lot more smaller, far less grandiose dealerships to pop up.

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