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Costly fleet vehicle repairs? It's worth a second opinion

2017-02-01 08:05

WHEN IN DOUBT... If you're a fleet vehicle owner, its advisable to get a second opinion on costly repairs. Image: iStock

Colin Windell / Fleet Magazine

Cape Town - At a time when cost containment is a primal driver for fleet managers, cars and bakkies are being run well beyond warranty terms – making cost effective repair an equally high priority.

"If you have a medical condition and need a diagnosis, the chances are you will get a second or event third opinion before making any decisions. The same should apply to our vehicles,” says Les Mc Master, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA).

READ: 5 questions you should be asking your mechanic

MacMaster says: "In the event of a major repair – as correctly diagnosed or, in some cases, incorrectly – consumers often feel backed into a corner where their only options are to trade-in, upgrade or downgrade the vehicle through starting a new finance agreement. But this is not always the best decision."  

While trading-in or writing-off the vehicle may be sold to you as the only option, this may not always be the case. 

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“Some buyers get duped into believing loading the outstanding finance of the trade-in onto the new debt is the best option, but this makes poor commercial sense – especially in a tough economic climate. The only beneficiaries here are the finance houses and the dealership. The consumer ends up with a lesser-value car and a vehicle finance burden over a longer period.”

Moreover, while writing-off the vehicle may make financial sense for an insurer, it may not be the best option for the vehicle owner. 


“Especially when it comes to older vehicles the pay-out may amount to so little that it is impossible to buy another vehicle. This may be because the value of the replacement part is disproportionate to the value of the car at the time of the accident.”

He strongly advises fleet managers to take the time to get a second or even third opinion on the diagnosed repair. 

READ: Do you trust your mechanic in SA? More than 5000 say 'NO'

“Go to an independent workshop. Get another quote, or even two. In doing so, it may come as a surprise the initial diagnosis was incorrect or, if it was correct, the initial repair quote is exorbitant,” he adds. 

There is no longer a massive divide between what a dealership can offer and what an independent workshop can. The scales are balancing and consumers are finding that independents are versatile in repairs to all kinds of makes and models of cars, their technicians have a wealth of experience and knowledge and the repairs cost less. 

“There is also merit in finding out about reconditioned parts and whether this is an option for the type of repair needed,” he says. 

He notes often vehicle owners that are out of warranty keep returning to a dealership for vehicle servicing and repairs out of habit. 

“The reality is that more often than not an independent workshop can service your car at a much more affordable rate than a dealer can. The key is to use an accredited workshop.” 

McMaster reminds consumers it is their right to get a second opinion and not to be bullied or scared into making a quick decision. 

“Take your time, do the maths and call on experts to assist you. Vehicles are a big expense so it’s important that you get the best service, at the most affordable rate from a trustworthy service provider.” 

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