Don’t let your vehicle damage put a dent in your pocket
Charles Canning, Chairman of the South African Motor Body Repairers Association (SAMBRA)

The latest fourth quarter 2022 DebtBusters index survey shows that South Africans can buy 33% less with the money in their wallets than six years ago when cumulative inflation is factored in. In fact many South Africans have been forced to supplement their income with unsecured borrowing.

The last thing one needs in these uncertain times, is a vehicle accident which can leave both your car (and pocket) wrecked. 

Charles Canning, Chairman of the South African Motor Body Repairers Association (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says to avoid any unhappy surprises later on, it is important to get assistance from a reputable motor body repairer and ask the right questions upfront.

“Who is going to repair the damage, will be the last thing on your mind if you’re involved in an accident. Priorities on the scene are things like checking for injuries, getting the other driver’s details, finding out if anyone witnessed the accident and speaking to your insurance company,” he says.

“In truth, the scene of an accident is often chaotic. Before you know it your car is towed away – to who knows where really – without you having a clue what the actual damage is.” Tow truck companies will often refer a motorist to certain workshops for repairs. Canning says this is not always due to the high quality of service provided by these workshops, but because tow truck companies receive commission for jobs referred. ”SA motorists involved in accidents should not be forced into making ill-considered decisions. The motorist has the right to choose who should assist in the recovery of the vehicle,” he says,

Canning warns there can be many hidden costs in car repairs, even if you are insured, but you can soften the blow significantly by ensuring you get quality workmanship.

“One way of doing this is to only use an accredited motor body repairer,” he said.

A good motor body repairer will fix any external and internal damage to the body and structure of a car, like repairing a bumper, a door, a bonnet, a fender, aligning the structure or respraying. If there is any mechanical work to be done, most reputable repairers have a specialist mechanic on site that can tend to any accident-related mechanical repairs.

Any worthy motor body repairer will expect customers to ask questions and be able to put their minds at ease with comprehensive answers.

Six important questions to ask your motor body repairer

  1. Which automotive trade associations does your business belong to, and is your business an accredited member of that association?
  2. Does the company have a good reputation and do you use authentic, high-quality parts and materials?  Do your research and check the social channels for satisfied or disgruntled customer comments.
  3. Will you supply me with a detailed description of repairs and what methods will be used to repair my car?
  4. How experienced is the team who will be working on my car?
  5. Do you offer a guarantee on workmanship, paint and parts?
  6. How long will it take to repair my car and will you keep me posted when delays occur?
  7. Does your company provide a courtesy vehicle, and if so, what are the terms ?

“Ultimately, the owner wants their car repaired professionally and without it losing any value – as, unfortunately, any accident repair is deemed to cause depreciation. This is why issues of good workmanship, new and factory approved repair parts and fair pricing, as well as quick turnaround on repairs is what consumers should request and expect. By using a repairer accredited with SAMBRA, you know they can be held accountable for the quality of workmanship and that you have recourse from RMI or the Ombudsman if things go wrong,” concludes Canning.