A Honda S2000 that was wrecked at workshop due to shoddy lift maintenance. Picture: YouTube.
A Honda S2000 that was wrecked at workshop due to shoddy lift maintenance. Picture: YouTube.

Why you should think twice about using non-accredited car workshops

By Pritesh Ruthun Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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Johannesburg - As more and more South Africans feel the pressure of economic strain under lockdown, servicing of vehicles in the country is expected to become erratic for the remainder of 2020.

Already cash strapped, it's believed that consumers will either put off their car's next service completely or opt to send it to a "friend" who does "vehicle repairs" from home in a bid to save money.

You might think that it's ok to send your car to a "yard-based" mechanic, but depending on your vehicle and its warranty status, you might be shooting yourself in the foot by trying to avoid servicing at the OEM's outlet.

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) believes that the battered economy has placed immense pressure on all of our pockets and that many consumers will be considering the option of using a home-based workshop, but Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industries Workshop Association (MIWA) says cutting corners doesn’t necessarily save pennies in the long run.

Why deal with an accredited workshop?

“Accreditation is the consumer’s guarantee that the job will be done correctly and according to stringent industry standards,” Ranft says.

This guarantee encompasses such factors as ensuring a workshop is Covid-19 compliant and following the correct protocols to minimise exposure to the virus; to ensuring that staff are properly remunerated according to wage legislation; are registered for UIF, and have a pension, with representation through the motor industry bargaining council (MIBCO).

Accreditation protects not only the employees but the consumer as well. Accredited workshops are required to meet certain requirements that have a real impact on a car’s performance if neglected. For example, says Ranft, all workshops with MIWA accreditation undergo regular audits to ensure that they are fitted with proper diagnostic equipment and that they use reputable branded quality aftermarket parts that carry a warranty.

No shortage of accredited workshops in SA

Ranft explains that, with more than 2400 MIWA accredited workshops throughout the country, consumers should never struggle to find an outlet that is able to meet their needs. What’s more, because all workshops are graded, they are assured that both workmanship and service will meet exacting standards.

“Our three, four and five-star graded workshops have been put through a rigorous grading process to make sure they are able to provide excellent service,” he says, adding that "workshops that have earned the highly sought after five-star grading have been found to deliver flawlessly on factors such as workshop design and equipment, customer satisfaction assessment tools and service options, such as vehicle washing prior to delivery or complimentary shuttle service.”

With audits carried out on an ongoing basis, workshops need to work hard to maintain their star status – yet another assurance that consumers seeking reasonable pricing and quality service won’t be let down.

You have some form of recourse should there be a problem

Also important is the fact that should consumers find that their workshop fails to deliver as promised, they have the option of contacting the RMI.

Home-based, non-accredited, workshops, in contrast, do not have this RMI backup.

“You need to consider what’s going to happen if the workmanship is of sub-standard quality. Typically, these home-based workshops don’t offer any insurance on defective workmanship. Are they able to honour a six month or 100 000km warranty on labour, as an accredited workshop would?” Ranft asks.

This is a real concern since there is no guarantee of compliance with oil removal protocols, nor can you be sure that pressure vessels have been tested, or that vehicle hoists have been serviced or performance tested. “What happens if your vehicle is damaged on-site or, worse still, stolen?” he adds.

These issues aside, Ranft points out that accredited workshops have an onus to train and upskill employees regularly, and are contributors to job creation – claims that a home-based workshop may not be able to uphold.

“Then there are matters of compliance. Is the workshop VAT registered? Is it registered with the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa (MIOSA)? Are they paying the municipal rates required to operate a light industrial business from a residential address? Do they comply with occupational health and safety regulations?”

From this perspective, it’s easier to see how making use of a non-accredited, home-based workshop may be a case of penny wise, pound foolish.

You can find a full list of accredited vehicle workshops on the RMI website

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