Maintaining Your Car Is Getting Cheaper, but Not Necessarily Easier

a mechanic fixes a car using cheaper spare parts thanks to new car regulations


A seismic shift occurred in the South African car market at the end of 2020, as the Competition Commission released new regulations concerning vehicle servicing and maintenance. Informally known as the Right to Repair, it permits car owners to use any service provider and non-original parts to maintain their vehicles – without losing their manufacturer warranty.


If you've ever bought a new car, you will know that a warranty that prevents you from fitting non-original parts or having it serviced at a non-franchised dealership can become a nightmare. The only alternative was to ignore this requirement and have your manufacturer warranty voided.


On top of that, third-party service centres and non-original parts are generally more affordable compared to franchised dealerships and what is known as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.


Soon that will be a thing of the past. When the Right to Repair guidelines come into effect on 1 July 2021, you will be able to use non-franchise workshops and fit non-original parts without being penalised.


Listing the cost of the service plan separately


When purchasing a vehicle, the warranty or service plan are often bundled with the price of the vehicle. That means that you are given a total price that does not indicate the cost of the plan. To help you to make an informed decision, the Competition Commission's new guidelines will ensure that the price of a plan is listed as a separate line item. This will allow you to compare franchised servicing costs versus independent servicing costs.


Many vehicle manufacturers in South Africa bundle a service plan that will be valid for the same period as the warranty with the purchase price. But there are ones who don't, so that the service plan expires before the warranty. This creates a window period during which you would have been compelled to have your car serviced at a franchise to maintain the warranty. The new Right to Repair guidelines in this regard will undoubtedly liberate consumers in this instance.


Looking to cover just the day-to-day running costs of your vehicle? You can compare service plans on, which will cover scheduled services as well as listed essential parts.


Cheaper, but more headaches?


The reality is, however, that this is a complex issue. For instance, if you were to fit a non-OEM part and it fails, you'd have to claim from the part supplier. This could prove quite challenging, as the supplier would then have to claim from the parts manufacturer. This will make a process that previously had been handled by the franchise without much involvement from you much more complex.


Additionally, if you had opted out of a service plan, you will have to keep track of the service schedule for the car and stick to it. This ensures that the car remains reliable and is kept in optimal condition, which improves its resale value.


You would also have to spend time and energy seeking out service centres which have the right equipment and expertise to look after your vehicle. Given the complexity of modern vehicles, and the specialist equipment required to service them, this may also become a complex endeavour.


Finding the money versus financing the problem


Opting to service your new car independently will also require some financial planning. Most new car buyers finance their vehicles through a bank or another financier, which means that the service plans are financed too. Because of this, you won't get a financial shock when the vehicle needs servicing, or if there is an expensive part which needs replacing. When using a third party, you would have to make sure that you can pay for the service every time one is due.


Nevertheless, the new Right to Repair regulations undoubtedly will give you more freedom. Managing your car's services yourself could lead to a saving, while maintaining the security of a manufacturer warranty. However, those who choose this route would be well advised to do significant research into the various issues which may arise.


While breakdowns and accidents may be inevitable, you shouldn't have to suffer even more inconvenience afterwards. Our car insurance comparison tool can help you to find a comprehensive car insurance package that will suit your needs and your budget.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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