Used cars in South Africa: good news for potential buyers

Buying used cars in South Africa
Photo: Supplied/Memeburn

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A new court ruling in South Africa has set a strong precedent in favour of consumer rights, reinforcing the obligation of used car dealerships to fully disclose the condition of previously-owned vehicles. The court ruled against a dealership that failed to inform a buyer of the full extent of damage to a car, ultimately holding the dealer accountable for the costs of repairs.

The case, which took place in Gauteng province, involved a man who purchased a second-hand car from a dealership, only to discover extensive damage to the vehicle shortly after the purchase. Despite assurances from the dealer that the car was in good condition, the buyer found that the vehicle had been previously damaged and poorly repaired, and was unsafe to drive.

The buyer took legal action against the dealer, arguing that the dealership had breached consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the true state of the car. The court agreed with the buyer, stating that the dealer had a responsibility to inform the buyer of any and all damage to the car before the purchase and that the failure to do so was a violation of the consumer’s rights.

The ruling is significant because it reinforces the need for used car dealerships to be transparent and forthcoming about the condition of the vehicles they sell.

This is especially important in a country like South Africa, where the used car market is popular and often the only option for many consumers. With this ruling, consumers can feel more confident in their purchases, knowing that dealerships are held accountable for the accuracy of their disclosures.

The importance of having a database

During the process, the buyer asked the South African Motor Body Repairers Association (Sambra) for an inspection obtaining an assessment from an impartial specialist. According to that report, the car showed twenty defects on it.

The interesting part of the story is that, during that examination, it was established that the car had been involved in a serious accident, before the sale to the buyer. The damage was such that the vehicle was written off, stocked at a salvage company, sold at an auction and “put back in the market”.

Related to this issue, Sambra’s representatives celebrated the ruling explaining that the association has been actively lobbying the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) for several years over similar matters.

More specifically, the institution is asking SAIA to publish a vehicle salvage database (VSD) attempting to provide used cars important information to potential buyers. The good news is that the insurance association already informed us that this database would be published by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

Access to these features will bring several benefits for consumers and buyers. They will be able to know whether a car has been previously deregistered or not and which damages it suffered. At the same time, this tool may even help the car insurance industry. For example, car insurance calculators may consider these variables to offer insurance prices according to the vehicle conditions.

This article is supplied and sponsored by elMejorTrato.



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