The Association of Body Repair Workers SA (Sambra) is stepping up its campaign to get the insurance industry to open public access to the Emergency Vehicle Database (VSD) to prevent consumers from unintentionally buying decommissioned cars – at inflated prices.

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

“If I, as a consumer, can’t get this information, then there’s something wrong with the system,” he told a Sambra car write-off conference.

In March this year, the board of the Insurance Association SA (Saia) reached a “principled agreement” to publish a version of the VSD, which concerns the condition of previously insured vehicles that have suffered in serious accidents.

At the moment, Saya said the agreement should allow only part of the database to be available to the public – to allow consumers to make informed decisions when buying previously refurbished emergency vehicles – but stressed that the system would not provide for large volumes or massive corporate third-party requests persons.

Read: Depreciated are sold to unsuspecting buyers of used cars

Green said that although Saia has made a fundamental decision to allow consumers to access this information, it has not yet decided on a date from which the public will be able to access the database.

Consumers did not leave “no wiser”

He said insurers practically consider the vehicle uneconomical to repair, using any process they like, and will contract with SMD and AutoNation air strikes, which will auction these cars online or face-to-face.

“These are vehicles that have serious damage, but in 90% of cases these vehicles remain under code 2, which is a normal used car.

“There is no indication that this is code 3 on the reverse side, which was previously written off, so anyone who buys this car after it has been repaired will not become smarter.

“This is a very serious security issue and we need to ensure that we allow consumers to protect themselves from these things,” Green said.

He wondered how vehicles that are deemed uneconomical to repair become economical to repair and why more than 90% of these depreciated vehicles remain as code 2 vehicles.


He said Sambra had been investigating these decommissioned vehicles for the past two years.

“It’s horrible what’s going on there. “People are completely unscrupulous about how they ‘repair’ these vehicles, so we can’t trust this part of the system in any way,” he said.

Read: Are you buying a used car?

Car repair expert Chris Viljoen said he had investigated 16 previously decommissioned cars from different parts of the country that found shocking evidence of poor repair.

Villon cited examples of previously written-off cars that had been “repaired” and returned to the road, where:

  • The car suspension was repaired with imperfect welding.

  • They had a bad chassis upholstery.

  • The broken headlight was repaired with plastic welding, which could be replaced at Rs 24,000 in the event of an insurance claim, resulting in an immediate profit of Rs 24,000.

  • The deployed airbags were sealed with masking tape, with the back of the airbag held together with the cable ties, and the airbag could not operate in the event of an accident.

“All vehicles show the same thing. If damaged vehicle parts can be used, they will use them on the vehicle again. It is dangerous to drive these vehicles.

“With all 16 investigations, 16 legal cases are underway, and this is what will happen in the future, and there will be further responsibility,” he said.

Consumer rights

A spokesman for the Automobile Association (AA) Leighton Byrd said that an average of 13,000 to 13,500 people die on South African roads each year, costing the economy 200 billion rupees a year.

Beard said AA believes the public has a right to know if a car has been written off before, just as AA believes the public has a right to know the safety ratings of all cars they buy by posting a sticker on the windshield of a safety-rated vehicle.

“We are checking the safety ratings of vehicles on the roads of South Africa, but if the vehicles are not repaired properly, it makes no sense,” he said.

Feroz Oaten, chairman of the Vehicle Testing Association, said there was a need to work with the Road Management Corporation (RTMC) on consumers ’right to information about vehicles.

Oaten made a number of other recommendations to address the problem, including:

  • Synchronize the National Road Information System (Natis) with rescue codes in order to integrate the database of emergency vehicles with Natis;

  • Restoration of the missing link when updating vehicle records on Natis;

  • Finding transparency mechanisms for consumers about vehicles damaged in accidents;

  • And introduces post-repair inspections by independent and qualified experts.

Sambra National Chairman Charles Cunning said bodybuilders are not injury counselors, but they are expected to detect these problems and should report the news to poor consumers who have just made the second-largest investment of their lives after their home.

“The consumer has a right to know. This is the message that Sambra through this conference should convey to the industry – insurers, financial companies and OEMs [original equipment manufacturers].

“We are informed people in the industry. We know this. But the motoring public there is uninformed, and we have a moral and ethical duty to let them know what happened to this vehicle before they buy it, ”he said.

Listen to Fifty Peters talk to Right to Repair CEO Kate Elliott:

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