Vehicle Salvage Database to protect prospective used-car buyers

The National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA) has welcomed and strongly supports the publication of a vehicle salvage database (VSD), which lists vehicles that have been written off by insurance companies.

Jakkie Olivier 2

This follows the SA Motor Body Repairers Association (Sambra) national chairman, Charles Canning, confirming that the SA Insurance Association (SAIA) has agreed that a vehicle salvage database will be published towards the end of the first quarter of 2023.

NADA said the publication of a VSD would aid accredited motor vehicle dealers by ensuring that they trade in vehicles of good quality that are not only safe for operation, but also capable of retaining value.

Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), said they supported the publication of the VSD list so that there would finally be transparency, and owners and drivers of vehicles would be able to establish the roadworthiness of their newly acquired vehicles and take the necessary precautionary steps in ensuring that the vehicle they operate is safe.

However, Olivier cautioned that the publication of the VSD would only be covering about 30% of the insured car parc because the remaining vehicles on the roads were uninsured.

“So consumers are still urged to exercise caution and get an independent assessment wherever possible,” he said.

The comments by NADA, the RMI and Sambra follow a Johannesburg Regional Court judgment, which ordered the Johannesburg-based used vehicle dealership, Rasar (Pty) Ltd, trading as Jambo Motors, to pay Tumelo Kent Matia R226 944.07 plus interest at 7.75% per annum from 16 August 2020 to date of payment with costs, while Matia was ordered to return the 2018 White Golf VII 1.0 TSI Comfortline Blue Motion acquired from the dealership on 14 September 2019.

The car in this ruling was sold online but was not subjected to any detailed inspection by any of the parties to the sale.

Matia relied upon the disclosures made on behalf of Jambo Motors and accepted the “Multi Point Check” report provided at face value.

The court heard that Dekra AA evaluated the overall condition of the vehicle for Jambo Motors and its report showed the only defects to the Golf were of a minor nature.

Sambra was approached by Matia after the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa was unable to resolve the dispute with Jambo Motors.

It sent the vehicle for an assessment, which found the Golf had 20 defects and, prior to its sale to Matia, was involved in a major accident and was written off by King Price Insurance, stocked at salvage company SMD, sold at an auction and then “put back on the market”.

Canning said the publication of a VSD would ensure that the buyers of used vehicles had access to and would be fully aware of the condition and status of the vehicle and prevent situations such as the one that had to be ruled on by the Johannesburg Regional Court.

He explained that an accident-damaged vehicle was “written-off” by an insurer if the vehicle was deemed “uneconomical to repair”.

This means the costs associated with the restoration of the vehicle to its original, safe condition, exceeded a certain percentage of the value of the vehicle.

Canning said that when a vehicle is written off, it should be re-coded on the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) as a Code 3 vehicle, which will inform any future or prospective buyers of the damaged or salvaged vehicle, that it would require extensive expenses to restore.

He said insurers typically disposed of these vehicles at auctions where they were then bought and repaired, often to sub-standard specifications, by unscrupulous repairers and subsequently sold on to unsuspecting consumers.

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