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Right to Repair – is it up in the air?


As of the 01 July 2021, the automotive sector in South Africa will enjoy significant changes to the Right to Repair bill, which will certainly cause a ripple effect felt from manufacturer level, right down to dealer level and beyond.

Pre Right to Repair changes
Typically, when you purchase a vehicle, either new or used, you are tied into the service plan and warranty restrictions of the particular brand of purchase. In other words, for warranties and service plans to be validated, the vehicle owner needs to go back to the manufacturer of purchase for servicing and warranty claims. Using an independent service or repair contractor will result in the nullification of warranties and service plans.
How do amendments to the Right to Repair laws change things?
Right to Repair changes is designed to ensure fair competition in the automotive service and repair supply chain. The decision is now left up to the customer who can now use independent companies of their choice to do servicing and repairs on their particular vehicle.

Industry requirements might pose a problem
Information, diagnostic tools and parts will need to be cross-pollinated from manufacturer to independent service contractors, though this might become a stumbling block with manufacturers not wanting their diagnostic and tooling equipment getting into the “wrong hands”. Vehicle owners will have the right to decide where to have their vehicle serviced and repaired. The aim of the changes to the Right to Repair laws will allow for less manufacturer control and greater freedom of choice for customers wo require parts, repairs and servicing. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) cannot interfere with a customer’s choice to choose service and repair work at a provider of their choice, regardless of whether that service provider is an approved dealer or independent operator. These changes to the laws are designed to make servicing more affordable for South Africans.

Is there chaos looming?
The Right to Repair amendments, in theory, will benefit the man in the street when it comes to the servicing and repairs of his vehicle. But, the true test of these changes to the law will be seen if it ever does become mainstream practice.

I see a whole lot of stumbling blocks and some very irate customers when their warranty and service plans are determined to be null and void by the selling manufacturer due to the intricacies of the Right to Repair bill changes.

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