Right to Repair: Follow these tips so you don’t void your warranty

At last, South African motorists can now choose where they take their vehicles for repairs and services, without voiding any guarantees and warranties. This is a major win for consumer choice, fair competition and competitive pricing. However, proceed with caution to make sure you don’t risk your warranty. Read on for more information.

Previously, motor manufacturers would void the warranty if a vehicle was not serviced at the dealership. “The Competition Commission has now declared this practice as incompatible with the Competitions Act. Independent service providers can now service cars under warranty and the practice of voiding warranties are now themselves void,” explains Gunther Schmitz, Chairman of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA).

However, consumers will need to communicate with relevant dealers to understand what is and what is not possible with regard to respective OEMs’ processes and procedures, and terms and conditions. “At R2R we would want to take this a step further and suggest that consumers request their dealers to put this in writing to avoid surprises at a later stage,” says Schmitz.

‘OEM’ stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, and these parts are usually produced by the vehicle’s manufacturer. These parts are usually components build specifically for your car. Previously, a warranty would be void if you didn’t use OEM parts. Now, consumers can choose to fit original or non-original parts by an approved dealer, motor-body repairer, or independent service provider, during the in-warranty period.

Thanks to Right to Repair SA, technical information and special tools related to OEMs will now be accessible to independent workshops, which will help them in diagnosing and keeping costs down for the consumer. Ultimately more competition always leads to better prices, better quality and better service.

If motorists use non-OEM parts and it’s found that a failure is due to inferior quality parts or incorrect service procedures or faulty workmanship, the manufacturer can only decline cover for the effected component while the warranty itself remains. “In this case the service provider that caused the failure will become liable, a basic principle that has always applied,” says Schmitz.

Therefore it’s as important as ever to make use of reputable and independent service providers. With a Service Plan or Maintenance Plan through MotorHappy you have access to qualified technicians, and you can rest assured knowing your vehicle is in good hands. Click here to get a MotorHappy quote.

While the new ruling gives more freedom to consumers, it also means that motorists need to pay more attention to what parts are being fitted on the vehicle.

“We strongly support the Competition Commission’s new Guidelines for the automotive aftermarket sector and the opportunity to open up the motor body repair sector, specifically to allow greater freedom of choice by consumers,” says Richard Green, national director of the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA).

  • If your vehicle is insured and under OEM warranty choose an OEM approved Motor Body Repairer (MBR). If a non-approved MBR replaces a part on your vehicle which he/she purchases from an OEM appointed dealer, the warranty on that vehicle will be suspended until an extensive post repair check has been done by an OEM appointed agent. If they find the repairs to be sub-standard they may permanently suspend the warranty in the repaired area.
  • Whether your car is in or out of warranty, demand that any safety critical parts are replaced with genuine parts. These would include anything related to the suspension and braking systems as well as the steering mechanism. Avoid using unaccredited Repairers that may try and use inferior parts. This leaves you exposed and with a vehicle that may be less safe and reduced in value.
  • Even after July 1, all responsible Insurers will need to ensure that your vehicle is sent to an OEM approved MBR if it is still under warranty. “Be sure to specify this in any policy document you sign with your broker or Insurer and avoid any Insurer that does not agree to these terms,” concludes Green.

Visit the Right to Repair South Africa website for a more in-depth explanation of the new guidelines.

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