Efforts to help consumers avoid bad buying decisions on the write-off

The SA Motor Body Repairers Association (Sambra) is intensifying its campaign to give the insurance industry public access to the Vehicle Preservation Database (VSD) to prevent consumers from buying unwritten off-the-shelf vehicles at inflated prices.

Sambra National Director Richard Green said on Thursday that the biggest problem it has faced in the last 10 to 12 years is that information needed to empower consumers not to make a bad purchase decision was available but was not made available to the public.

“If, as a consumer, I am prevented from empowering myself with that information, then there is something wrong with the system,” he told a Sambra Vehicle Right-Off Conference.

The SA Insurance Association (SAIA) board reached a “policy agreement” in March this year to publish a version of the VSD relating to the condition of previously insured motor vehicles involved in serious accidents.

Saya said at the time that the agreement was to allow only a portion of the database to be made available to the public – to give customers an informed decision when purchasing a previously repaired rescue vehicle – but stressed that the system would not provide large volumes by corporate third parties or For bulk search.

Read: Undoubtedly used vehicles are being sold right-off to buyers

Green said although Saya made a policy decision to allow consumers to access this information, it has not yet decided when the public will be able to access the database.

Consumers ‘not wise’

He said insurers consider a vehicle to be virtually unnecessary to be repaired using the process of their choice and they will have a contract with Salvage Yard SMD and Autonomy, which will auction these vehicles online or face-to-face.

“These are vehicles that are severely damaged but in 90% of cases, these vehicles remain Code 2, which is a commonly used vehicle.

“There is no indication that a code 3 was written on the back of it so if anyone buys the car after repairing it, no one is wise.

“This is a very serious security issue and we need to make sure by hook or crook that we allow consumers to protect themselves against these things,” Green said.

He questioned how affordable it was to repair vehicles that were declared unnecessary for repair and why more than 90% of all these vehicles were left as Code 2 vehicles.


He said Sambra has been investigating the written vehicle for the past two years.

“What is happening there is terrible. We can’t trust that part of the system in any way because people are completely and utterly dishonest about the way they are ‘repairing’ these vehicles, “he said.

Read: Buying a pre-owned car?

Auto repair expert Chris Vilzon says he has conducted investigations into 16 previously written off-vehicle vehicles from different parts of the country, revealing gruesome evidence of poor repairs.

Vilzon cites previously written stop examples of vehicles that were “repaired” and returned to the road where:

  • The car’s suspension was repaired with incomplete casting.

  • Their weak chassis was straight.

  • A broken headlight was repaired with plastic molding that would have been replaced at a cost of R24 000 if it was part of an insurance claim, resulting in an immediate R24 000 profit.

  • The airbags that were deployed were patched with masking tape, held together by wires behind the airbags, and were unable to place the airbag in the event of an accident.

“All vehicles express the same thing. If the damaged parts of the vehicle are usable, they will be used in the vehicle again. It is unsafe to drive these cars.

“With all 16 investigations, there are 16 legal cases going on and this is what will happen in the future and there will be accountability ahead,” he said.

Consumer rights

Automobile Association (AA) spokeswoman Layton Beard says an average of 13,000 to 13,500 people die each year on South African roads, at a cost of 200 200 billion a year.

Baird said the AA believes that the public has a right to know whether a vehicle is pre-written, just as the AA believes that the public has a right to know the safety ratings of all vehicles purchased by affixing a sticker on the windscreen. The car with its safety rating.

“We check the safety rating of vehicles on South African roads but if the vehicles are not repaired properly, it beats the point,” he said.

Feroz Otten, chair of the Vehicle Testing Association, said there was a need to engage with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on consumer rights for vehicle information.

Otten has made a number of other recommendations for resolving the issue, including:

  • Synchronize the National Traffic Information System (Natis) with the Salvage Code, which aims to integrate the Salvage Vehicle Database with Natis;

  • Restoring missing communication links to update vehicle records on Natis;

  • Seeking mechanisms for consumer transparency in accident-damaged vehicles;

  • And the introduction of post-repair inspection by an independent and skilled specialist.

Sambra National Chair Charles Canning said motor body repairmen are not trauma counselors but they are expected to do so because they discover these problems and spread the news to poor customers who have made the second largest investment of their lives after their home.

“Consumers have a right to know. Through this conference, Sambra needs to get this message across to the industry – insurers, finance houses and OEMs. [original equipment manufacturers].

“We are industry conscious people. We know about this. But the motorists there are ignorant and we have a moral obligation to allow them to know what happened to the car before they bought it, ”he said.

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