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Booking your car into a workshop: Are you a high maintenance customer?

Any vehicle workshop worth its salt wants customers to leave with a good impression of the service they received – and to return, of course.

Dewald Ranft, Chairperson of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says service expectations can sometimes not be met if customers don’t appreciate workshop limitations however.

“For customers, understanding how to get the best out of their service can really make the whole experience more seamless and avoid any unrealistic expectations and subsequent frustrations,” he says.  

He chats through the most common workshop/customer interactions which can assist customers and ensure all runs smoothly from booking their vehicle in to collecting it:

  • Booking your car in – It should not come as a shock if the workshop is not able to book your vehicle in on the same day; perhaps only three days later. Workshops service many customers and allocating quality time to each vehicle is imperative. Be assured if they could help you immediately, they would, but overloading the workshop does not do anyone a favour.
  • Cancelling a booking – If you decide to take your vehicle elsewhere, be courteous enough to cancel the booking you made with another workshop instead of being a no-show and this will open up space for other customers
  • A service is a service – If you booked a service, the booking is made for the timeframe of a service. It is not a bumper-to-bumper repair. A routine service does not include additional faults. These faults need to be specifically pointed out and an additional booking made to avoid disappointment, or they need to be discussed upfront on the phone to allow the correct amount of time to be allocated.
  • Be organised – It is helpful to have the paperwork on hand when you arrive, like the registration, VIN and kilometre reading. A service book is also a big help to the workshop and important to ensure all warranty and service standards are maintained.
  • Be honest – Be honest about the problem/s. Give the workshop the full background, even if another workshop has worked on the car but it is still not fixed. It makes life much easier to know the history and also saves time looking.
  • Remove valuables and rubbish – Anything of value must be removed before you arrive. Staff also appreciate it if the car is clean (not valeted, just clean) inside. So, no old take-away boxes on the backseat, used tissues in the door panels or an overflowing ashtray please and definitely no valuables!
  • Top up the fuel – If your car has been cutting out, for example, it would be imperative for the workshop to drive the car until it cuts out to make a proper diagnosis. The reason customers freewheel into workshops is they think the staff are going to syphon their petrol. If you don’t trust the workshop, you are at the wrong place. Make sure there is enough fuel to at least get the car around the workshop and maybe do a test drive.
  • Bring a battery – Contrary to popular belief, workshops do not have working batteries lying around. If your car is a non-runner, you need to come in with a working battery. The workshop can’t fit a “loan” battery and it is unethical to use a battery from another customer’s car. 
  • Don’t mark old parts – This is a slap in the face for the workshop. You are allowed to ask for your old parts back but do this when you book the car in, not afterwards.
  • Buying your own parts – It is a major problem when customers insist on bringing their own parts. Most accredited workshops do not allow this practice. It creates two problems. Firstly if the part is fitted by the workshop and a malfunction occurs later causing collateral damage, the question is who is responsible for that damage?  Secondly, if the part is incorrect, the entire service is delayed creating a backlog in the workshop.
  • Claiming from warranty policy – If you intend claiming from your aftermarket warrantee policy you need to be aware of the following: the content of the policy and specifically what is covered; claiming procedures; policy on parts (does not cover wear and tear). Remember if your claim is rejected you will be responsible for the ‘strip and quote’ amount.
  • Testing is not free – Diagnostic testing is not free, unless specified by the workshop. Also cancelling a warning light is not going to fix the problem. You need to find out what is causing the warning light.
  • Anti-theft devices – Remember to tell the staff if the car has an aftermarket alarm system, anti-hijack button or anti-theft wheel nuts.
  • Finding the problem – It is ok to enquire on the status of your vehicle and any good service advisor will ensure you are kept informed. But if the car has a problem that is not easy to find, calling ever 5 minutes won’t help find it any sooner and may even prolong the repair.
  • Workshops are not storage facilities – It really helps if you can fetch your car as soon as the service is complete. Not all aftermarket workshops have the space to store your car overnight.
  • Repairs not open ended – Your mechanic will only repair what you have given him permission to fix. Remember not everything that goes wrong after a repair or service is the workshop’s fault or responsibility. As the owner, you must keep your own car in a roadworthy condition.
  • Give feedback – Like most things in life we are quick to criticise but slow to praise. Your workshop would really appreciate your positive feedback on facebook if you are happy with your service. A good Google review goes a long way!

“As you can see, there are many ways customers can contribute to a good experience. Some of these points may seem trivial but they make a difference. In a busy workshop environment, the more prepared you are for the day your car is booked in the better – for you, for the workshop and for other customers,” Ranft concludes.


Ladies get clued up so your mechanic can’t take you for a ride.

It’s Women’s Month and the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), wants to empower women with the ‘chutzpah’ to deal with their motor mechanic as deftly as they do their hairdresser or the school principal.

MIWA’s Eastern Cape vice – chairperson, Teresa Spenser-Higgs, says MIWA strives for its accredited workshops to be places women are comfortable enough to walk into on their own and feel at ease in – just as they would at their hairdresser or children’s school.

“For example, as mothers and caregivers we have a basic knowledge of first aid. Even though we are not doctors, we still know what to do in an emergency. We want to empower women to feel the same way when it comes to their vehicles.”

Spenser Higgs notes that women are better customers than men because they don’t pre-diagnose vehicle problems. Some men tend to be “Google mechanics”.

“Women mostly give good enough descriptions of the problems in a manner that makes it easy for the technician to make an accurate diagnosis. However, we have found that women ignore vehicle problems a little longer than they should. This, we believe, stems from an uncertainty about car issues and not wanting to be made fun of by their male counterparts.

“I want to tell all women out there that nobody knows your car better than you do and 90% of the time your instincts are correct!”

She adds that delaying having your car checked out when you pick up a problem could result in an even bigger issue by the time you get it to a workshop.

To help women take back control of their vehicle maintenance, Spenser Higgs says the first step is to get schooled on the basics – how to change a tyre in an emergency, how to check the oil and water levels (without the petrol attendant doing it for you), what the dashboard warning lights mean and when you should rather have your vehicle towed than continue driving it.

What is also important is to know what to look for when choosing a workshop (to protect yourself from unscrupulous mechanics).

Here’s her five point checklist:

  • Are the technician’s qualifications displayed? Most professional businesses are proud of their staff and the business’s accreditation and should have these up for all customers to see. It goes a long way in creating peace of mind and, is a buffer for you to fall back on should you receive inferior service.  Always check they are a bona fide MIWA member. You can do this by checking all accredited members on either the RMI website or the MIWA website.
  • Is the business clean and neat? Just because it is a motor workshop doesn’t mean the place should be a shambles or dirty. The same goes for the staff. They should be professionally representing the workshop at all times.
  • Does the workshop source its own spares? If they don’t, you should be hearing extreme warnings bells. A good restaurant would never ask you to bring your own ingredients. If the workshop doesn’t source its own parts this is usually a sign that they don’t guarantee their workmanship. A good workshop needs to supply its own spares to ensure the quality of their workmanship.
  • Does their invoice list all products and quantities used? Is it transparent and informative? Don’t pay before you have scrutinised the invoice and ask if you are unsure of anything on the invoice.
  • What are their working hours? Most workshops only work a five-day week. Technicians also need to recharge their batteries from a full week of physical labour.
  • And finally, always insist on being provided with a quote for repairs before approving the commencement of work. It is always good to know what expense you are in for.

“In conclusion, two more important tips on your journey to being an audacious car owner – firstly, never (ever) trust a workshop willing to backdate your service stamp. If they can be dishonest about small things imagine the big things they can be dishonest about,” Spenser Higgs says.

“Secondly, be willing to walk away if you get a bad feeling about the workshop, the quote or the way you are being treated. Put your foot down and walk out the door.

“Yes, statistically, women are easier targets when it comes to auto repairs but with knowledge about the basics of car maintenance and the confidence to approach a workshop on your own, you can secure the same treatment and service any man expects from his workshop,” she concludes.


Investing in training

The Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), is consistently looking at ways to advance skills development in the sector and attract and equip new entrants with the skills necessary to work on modern constantly evolving vehicles.

“We utilise the services of a number of different providers so all MIWA members can have access to the best repair and maintenance software within South African workshops at a competitive price. “HaynesPro WorkshopData from HaynesPro for example offers a single pathway to OEM-based technical data covering over 70 car manufacturers and today is used extensively throughout many MIWA workshops,” says Pieter Niemand, National Director of MIWA.

Niemand says access to the information enables users to provide a top-quality service, without compromising OEM warranty cover. “Most data is no more than two mouse-clicks away with fast and efficient access to the correct data saving the user precious time,” explains Donovan Hardwick, Technical Sales Manager of Autobooks who hold the licence to HaynesPro in South Africa.

As part of the drive to align TVET vocational training with industry needs HaynesPro has also got involved at entry level to address the needs of the up-and-coming mechanics, so by the time apprentices are ready to enter the job market, they are already au fait with the system

“Four years ago, we introduced HaynesPro WorkshopData into the College of Cape Town, allowing apprentices to help solve complicated electrical faults in the workshop environment.  HaynesPro licenses were donated to the College of Cape Town to give trainees the most up to date technical and electrical information. The software’s maintenance schedules, repair information, wiring diagrams and the VESA Guided Diagnostic System all help trainees to find and replace faulty components,” says Hardwick.

Rasheed Adhikari, a Facilitator at College of Cape Town for Centre of Specialisation Motor Mechanic Programme (3 years) comments, “It is now common to see trainees using the software to diagnose vehicles and find the cause of complex faults where even trained technicians could not.”

There is no doubt as vehicles are becoming more technical and electronically advanced, fault finding is becoming a critical skill for mechanics.

Last month on the 28 June 2022, a second HaynesPro donation was made to BCS Training Academy. Hardwick says this has proved to be equally successful.

Due to a high demand of Automotive Commercial Vehicle Apprentice Training as well as Non-Technical Training Programs, BCS Training Academy has grown into a successful preferred training facility. Kowie Botha, Director of BCS Training Academy say a common problem they face is training Workshop Owners to correctly invoice customers for repairs done on vehicles. HaynesPro buys all their information directly from the manufactures (OEM’s), allowing users to access standard Repair Times. With accurate Repair Times, BCS Training Academy can now teach both trainees and workshop owners alike to accurately invoice customers for repairs while also providing mechanics with Repairs Manuals to do the repairs at an international standard.

Hardwick says as the system is cloud based it allows trainees to use HaynesPro both inside and outside the training facility, often creating a side income to pay for their studies.

It is a win-win situation and a further three more Skills Development Providers, previously known as training centres, will be selected for a similar donation later this year.

“We really commend the work HaynesPro is doing in the sector. It clearly shows their commitment to not only raising standards in our workshops, but also impacting the employees of the future. It is important that we all work together and support each other to reach a common goal for the betterment of the workshop industry,” concludes Niemand.


The right oil makes all the difference

As motorists we may not always be as clued up as we should be on what goes into our cars. But did you realise that using the incorrect oil can lead to engine failure? 

Remember that quality counts. It doesn’t matter what sort of fancy marketing goes into engine oil, or how bright and colourful the packaging is, it’s what’s written on the packaging that counts. Specifications and approvals are everything.

Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says there are two established testing bodies. The API (American Petroleum Institute) being the dominant testing body and the ACEA (Association des Constructeurs Europeens d’Automobiles) which is the European equivalent.

“You’ve probably never heard of either of them, but their stamp of approval will be seen on the side of every reputable can of engine oil. South Africa uses the API specification to depict the quality standard of the oil and the testing standard,” he says.

MIWA spoke to Hein Venter, Senior Lubricants Technical Advisor at Shell, to explain the importance of making the right decision as not all lubricants are created equal.

Check the performance level

Venter says that lubricants in general, and engine oils in particular, should specify their performance level.  Lubricant performance is tested against the industry standard, as well as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specifications. “Generally higher performance lubricants cost more,” he explains.

All OEMs specify a minimum performance level for the lubricants to be used in any given vehicle model (either their own specification or a generic industry specification).  It is important to make sure that the lubricants comply to that minimum performance specification. 

“Using the wrong oil in an application can have costly implications, both in terms of inadequate lubrication in the engine itself, as well as contamination of expensive emission control equipment,” he says.  

As a general rule, any oil recommendation starts with the OEM specifications which are normally found in the operators manual of the vehicle and as a vehicle owner, that is your starting point.

The most used industry specification is the API performance specifications.  There are two main branches of this specification, the diesel and petrol specifications.  The specification for diesel engines are designated with a “C” classification, for example API CI or API CK.  “The letter after the C indicates the performance level, letters later in the alphabet indicate a higher performance.  API CK oils therefore perform better than API CI oils, and both better than API CF oils.  The latest published specification is API CK,” says Venter.

The petrol equivalent is specified with an S classification.  The newest petrol specification (published recently) is API SP.

Viscosity matters

Another very important aspect of engine oils is the viscosity of the oil.  This is a measure of the “thickness” of the oil, or how easily it flows.  Higher figures represent “thicker” oils, or oils with higher resistance to flow.  Viscosity changes (decreases) as the oil gets hot. When the viscosity of a lubricants gets too low (the oil gets too thin) it will fail to protect against metal-to-metal contact, resulting in accelerated wear and possibly catastrophic failure.  The OEM of an engine will again specify the minimum viscosity grade to use in that engine.

Modern passenger car engine oils are normally “multi-grade”, which indicates it has additives to improve the temperature characteristics over mono-grade oils. 

The viscosity grade of a multi-grade oil is expressed as two figures such as 5W-30, 15W-40 etc.  The first figure (before the “W” – for Winter grade) indicates extreme cold viscosity, and the second figure specifies the viscosity at operating temperature of the engine.  It is important not to use an engine oil with a LOWER viscosity than the grade specified by the OEM. 

Engine oils  are generally aimed at either diesel or petrol engines, although there are engine oils with very high petrol AND diesel specifications.  An example of one of these engine oils is Shell Rimula R6 LME Plus 5W-30, which is approved for API SN and API CK

“Oils have various properties which keep your engine clean and well lubricated throughout its entire lifespan and under all possible conditions. The choice that you make when purchasing motor oil will determine the effective use and duration of your engine.

What to ask for at your service station

So when you next drive up to your service station or workshop and your car needs oil, take a moment to check what is the most appropriate oil for your vehicle and always check the label and look out for the words: Meets the requirements of API SH/CD. Alternatively look for the API Service Symbol somewhere on the packaging,” concludes Ranft.  


Pothole damage to cars impacting safety? 

Keeping cars roadworthy on near-undrivable roads, is a very real problem for vehicle owners. Dodging to avoid potholes which have opened up and are not being repaired on roads across the country is one of the biggest obstacles drivers face.

What motorists may not know is that they can claim for pothole damage to their vehicles, directly from the South African National Road Agency (SANRAL) or the responsible municipality. The motorist needs to provide the exact location where the accident or damage occurred, as well as take a picture of the damaged car, the pothole and a wide shot of the road and surrounding area where the incident occurred. It is however not as easy as it sounds, in spite of the recent ruling in the Free State in favour of a claimant for such damages.  The burden of proof rests on the motorist to show the pothole had been there for a time and that the authorities were  aware of it,  and still did nothing.

Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says everyday South African motorists face the risk of tyre and rim damage caused by these potholes, damaged roads and road construction. Apart from posing a serious threat to the safety of motorists, hitting a pothole has the potential to damage crucial vehicle components such as tyres, rims, shocks and mags – which will set you back financially if you choose to get your vehicle repaired.

Driving over hidden or unknown potholes can cause damage to vehicles of all shapes and sizes as many motorists will attest to. And in 80% of the cases when you hit a pothole it is your rim, one of the most safety critical items on your car, that gets damaged and not the tyre. Rim damage can often lead to other problems like vehicle alignment and suspension problems.

Ranft says unfortunately it is not always possible to prevent damage, but it is advisable to know how best to solve the problem. “Rims can be very expensive, particularly with the current exchange rate, and it is not always essential to purchase a completely new rim provided that, if you elect to repair the rim, you use a reputable supplier. He says motorists should consult their local manufacturer or accredited RMI fitment centre first to determine the extent of the damage and then ensure they are referred to a specialist rim repairer.

“It is essential that the repairer is SABS approved and if possible, carries an approved ISO 9001 accreditation,” he says.  “Unfortunately, not many repairers have x-ray technology and can repair according to a certain standard so one needs to choose carefully when selecting such a repairer.”

MIWA provides some useful tips on how to avoid roadside pitfalls and check damage:

  • Be extra cautious when there is water on the road as a pothole may be lurking beneath. If possible, and if not endangering other motorists, rather drive around the puddle.
  • If you do drive over a pothole do not slam on brakes as this could compound the damage to your vehicle or cause an accident.
  • Hold the steering wheel firmly when driving over a pothole to avoid losing control of the vehicle.
  • If driving at night, ensure your headlights are clean as dips and potholes are harder to identify at night.
  • Do not swerve if you hit a hole as this could endanger other motorists and pedestrians.
  • If the tyre has deflated this is an obvious sign the rim is damaged.
  • If one feels a vibration in the steering wheel, the chances are one of the front rims are damaged and if one feels the vibration on the seat, then it’s usually a rear rim.
  • Remember, if you live in Gauteng, the Gauteng provincial government has just launched its new PotholeFixGP App which allows road users to report poor road conditions and other road maintenance issues that require attention. The app, which is currently only available on the Google Play Store, is set to be rolled out on the Huawei and Apple App stores in the coming weeks.

“Should you suspect that you may have sustained damages to your rims but are unsure, feel free to call on an accredited MIWA or TEPA shop for an evaluation. Most importantly, in the event of damage, remember to consider your repair options first, ahead of buying new rims,” he concludes.


Money tight – don’t skimp on your car service

There doesn’t seem to be much good news for South African consumers at the moment. Despite the extension of the temporary R1.50 reduction in the fuel levy, the June fuel increases have had the predicted domino effect on the overall consumer price inflation and for many South African’s who are barely keeping themselves afloat, forking out on a car service may be the last thing on their list.

Car service intervals are however there for a reason and missing just one could end up costing your dearly, says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

“It’s important for motorists to realise that car service intervals are designed by the vehicle manufacturers to ensure that the vehicle runs optimally and lasts the years it is intended to last. It is not a money-making exercise designed by service workshops,” he says.

“It’s also important to understand what a service interval is and to follow the manufacturers guidelines,” adds Ranft. He cites an interesting case where a vehicle was brought into a MIWA workshop that had done 80 000 kms over five years without a single service. The entire engine was enveloped in coagulated oil and grease.”

Teresa Spenser Higgs, Office Manager at ACD Workshop, says when they received the vehicle they were shocked by the state of the engine. “Essentially we had to start by cleaning the valves and camshaft area and then we asked the customer to return the vehicle two weeks later to do the cleaning process again. Fortunately, it looks like the engine can be saved,” she says.

She adds that vehicle owners need to understand that even if the vehicle isn’t driven much it needs to have an oil change every year. “There are additives in the oil that clean all the crevices in the engine parts. If, however, the oil isn’t flushed at least once a year these particles can block the oil pick-up. Oil degrades over time. An easy analogy would be a pan of oil on a stove. Even if no-one cooks in the oil but it is heated up and cooled down several times, the oil loses its viscosity and becomes almost sticky. The same thing happens in a car engine,” she explains.   

Ranft says that during a service interval the mechanics will do a thorough check of the vehicle which may include a road test and an assessment of the lights, suspension, drive lines, brakes, tyres (including spare and tools), fluid levels, wipers and windscreen, V Belts and exhaust.

“If a problem is identified, the mechanic will be able to advise the vehicle owner and provide a quote for repairs needed. No repairs will be done without the consent of the owner,” he explains.

“It is so important that vehicles are roadworthy. This can be ensured through regular servicing. Many accidents are a result of vehicles not being serviced or maintained. If you are unsure about when your next service is, stop in at a MIWA-accredited workshop and ask for assistance. Please, let’s all do our part to reduce the deaths on our roads,” Ranft concludes.


Motor Mech East London showcases the future of work in automotive sector

The highly successful Motor Mech show, hosted by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), was once again back in East London this year. Significantly it was held on Youth Day – a day specifically selected as a symbol of youth empowerment, at Fort Rex Technical High School.

Over the years Moto Mech has grown in popularity in the Eastern Cape serving to highlight the industry’s potential to future young employees.

Teresa Spenser Higgs, MIWA Eastern Cape Vice Regional Chairperson who arranged the show with fellow MIWA Training Representative Cliffie Jacobs, says that this year’s show was no different and was supported by RMI sister associations, TEPA and NADA, who also took part in the event, displaying their parts and accessories and new vehicles respectively.

A wide range of other exhibitors also took part in the one-day show ranging from parts suppliers and manufacturers to tool and garage equipment suppliers and aftermarket warranty specialists. “The presence of other industry stakeholders, like MerSeta, MISA and Motorhealth turned the show into a one-stop shop for everything related to the trade,” says Spenser Higgs. The stalls themselves were highly interactive, and it was exciting to see stallholders try their utmost to add a dash of creativity and entertainment to their exhibit.

The junior Motor Mech competition is always a highlight of the event, and this year was no different. The 12 contestants who entered the competition were eventually whittled down to six participating in the semi-final round, and then three in the finals, where the winner was the entrant who was quickest to find three faults that prevented a vehicle from starting, then finding a way to get it to idle.  Huge congratulations go to Ashley Joel who secured first place, Jaco van der Merwe who came second and Devin Dreyer who came in third.

The competition also incorporated the Electude Training System, with contestants asked several questions around spark plugs. The winner of this section won a prize sponsored by NGK.

Joel, Van der Merwe and Dryer each took home a complete toolbox sponsored by Autocare & Diagnostics, Ronnies and Midas Quay. Not that the other contestants walked away empty handed either. Each received two goodie bags filled with gifts from MISA and MerSeta.  “We hope that next year’s Junior Motor Mech has even more to offer entrants, and to this end are working to secure a bursary as a prize for the top achiever,” says Spenser Higgs.

Higgs says visiting school children got a glimpse of the opportunities offered by the industry, with the Department of Higher Education setting up a stand along with several local TVET Colleges – an exciting chance for them to engage with real stakeholders in the industry and find out what it’s all about.

A very big thank you also went  to Port Rex Technical High School, whose dedication, partnership and hard work made the day possible. “We are proud to say that all proceeds from the event have been donated to the school,” she says.

“Feedback from both visitors and vendors has been overwhelmingly positive. Several vendors have already booked stands for next year, and our sponsors have promised an even greater commitment on the day,” she concludes.


Countdown to Motor Mech 2022 begins

Plans for the next highly successful 2022 Motor Mech show,  to be hosted by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) at Newton Technical High School in Port Elizabeth, are well on track. MIWA is a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).

“Motor Mech is always an exciting event on the MIWA calendar, giving us an effective platform for promoting our industry among the country’s youth. Since the Covid pandemic forced us to put the event on hold for the past two years, we are thrilled to announce that the East London Motor Mech Show will take place on Youth Day, June 16 – an appropriate date indeed,” says Teresa Spencer-Higgs, MIWA Eastern Cape vice chairperson.

The show will be hosted at Port Rex High Technical High School, which is once again playing an instrumental role in planning the event. “We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and support shown by this special partner,” she says.

Three years of careful planning have culminated in a show agenda including highlights such as the Junior Motor Mech Competition, where contestants are invited to answer questions and practical tasks based on the Electude system currently used by apprentices in the sector. Students from Port Rex and Alphendale have been invited to take part in this competition, standing the chance to win fantastic prizes from various suppliers.

The day is always jam packed with excitement. This year visitors will be able to enjoy some exciting new car displays as well as vintage car and bike displays from local clubs. Affiliated role players like Motohealth and MerSETA wll be showcasing their brands, and the organisers are also hosting food stalls and a kiddies’ play area, with a local DJ creating a festive atmosphere and lucky draws taking place throughout the day.

“This show has always been such an important part of the Eastern Cape calendar and we are delighted we are able to finally host it again as a much-awaited annual event,” concludes Spenser-Higgs


Make happy Mother’s Day memories for years to come by always buckling your kids in

We have just celebrated the many roles moms play in our lives with Mother’s Day on May 8. It was a chance to spoil moms and show our appreciation for everything they do for the family. Children may not realise it but one of the most daunting jobs a mom has is to keep her children safe.

Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) chairperson Dewald Ranft says this definitely includes safety while travelling in a car.

He cites an AA study – the 2022 Child Restraint System Study released on April 26 – which reveals that a third of children remain unrestrained in proper child restraint systems (CRS) in vehicles in South Africa.

The study is based on observational research conducted earlier this year, reviewing the CRS usage of 1 000 children at various shopping malls in Gauteng. 

One finding is that women use CRS for children more frequently than men, with a possible explanation by the AA that this “… could be related to men and women having different levels of concern, driving behaviours and risk perceptions”.

The AA also notes that CRS had been shown to reduce injuries in children aged five to nine by 52%, while safety belts reduce injuries by only 19%.

Ranft reiterates that South African legislation currently prescribes that children aged three years or younger must be secured in a proper car seat.

The logic, he says, is simple – it saves small children’s lives.

“Did you know that if you have a collision at 50kph with a baby on your lap, the child will be hurled through the windscreen with an impact similar to that of falling from a three-storey window or being hit by a 3.5 tonne elephant?

“Alternatively the child will be crushed against the dashboard by the force of your body weight which is 30 times heavier at the moment of impact (in other words 45kg becomes 1 360kg).

“It is essential when travelling with young children to ensure that car seats are properly secured. Statistics show that up to 70% of car seats are incorrectly installed. Parents must also ensure that the seat is the age-appropriate size and kids who are big enough to use the normal seat belts are buckled in at all times,” says Ranft.

Another critical factor in CRS usage is law enforcement, according to the AA. The penalty for non-compliance is R250 in South Africa, while in other countries it can be more than R9 000.

MIWA, like the AA, urges that a similar clear message must be sent locally if we are to curb the deaths of children in car accidents.

Although MIWA, which is a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Association (RMI),  would like to see much stiffer penalties meted out in South Africa, Ranft says what could happen to an unrestrained child in the event of an accident, should be deterrent enough for parents.

“We urge moms, dads, family members, transport operators and caregivers to take this issue seriously. New car seats are expensive but there are many good used car seats available for less or free from organisations these have been donated to by parents who no longer need them.

“If you are in doubt about whether a car seat is appropriate for your vehicle speak to an accredited workshop for advice and assistance.

“The seat must be fit the vehicle and be fitted into the vehicle correctly. Don’t let any factors get in the way of putting your child’s safety first,” Ranft concludes.


Know when to hand car repairs over to the experts

DIY projects have never been easier thanks to the internet. Simple tutorials are easily accessible with step-by-step instructions on anything from building a braai to roof repairs and bathroom makeovers.

You can even find “how to repair your own car without experience” on wikiHOW.

But, is DIY the right choice when it comes to your car?

The Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says some maintenance and repairs can be done at home but it’s good to know when to hand things over to the experts.

“It’s good to have basic knowledge of your car and to be able to carry out repairs if necessary. However, there are certain car repairs you should leave to the experts at an accredited workshop,” says MIWA chairperson, Dewald Ranft,

Ranft warns that two of the most important considerations about taking on repairs beyond your ability are that this could jeopardise future insurance claims and your warranty.

“It is generally fine to carry out minor maintenance and repairs if you are mechanically inclined, but you should be careful that your DIY job on more serious repairs isn’t seen as a modification your insurer doesn’t allow.

“Also make sure that you check the repair rules on the original warranty or if you’ve taken out an extended warranty.”

He advises carefully accessing the repair and if in doubt contacting an accredited and experienced workshop.

MIWA’s top 6 repairs a workshop should do:

  1. Bodywork and paint

This is definitely an area that requires the right expertise. Not only is panel beating and spray painting a time-consuming and expensive job, if it isn’t done properly the first time it will have to be redone – more money, more time, more frustration. We recommend you take your car to an accredited motor body repairer like SAMBRA for any bodywork repairs.

  • Computer/electrical repairs

There are dozens of metres of electric wiring in a car, with many connectors, sensors and computers plugged into these wires. This is not territory the unexperienced should be exploring because one small mistake in any of the connected systems can compromise the safety of the car.

  • Windscreen replacement

It is not worth trying to save a few bucks by doing this yourself. Windscreen fitment is a specialised job that needs to be done with the right tools and adhesives. A quality windscreen replacement ensures the safety of you and your passengers and protects your car from damage.

  • The fuel system

It is highly dangerous to tinker with a fuel system on your car if you are not qualified to do so. At the risk of causing fire damage to your car and garage and suffering severe burns, anything to do with replacing a fuel pump, tank, injectors, rails or pressured lines must be left to an experienced motor mechanic.

  • Brakes

Braking systems have become more complex. Special training is needed to replace brake pads and rotors on newer vehicles.

  • Ignition

The risk of failure for this kind of job has increased with the advent of modern electronic ignition systems, because it’s no longer as simple as pulling a spark plug wire and looking for a spark. Electronic ignition repair lies beyond the abilities of most mechanics and if not done correctly, repairs can cause additional damage.

Ranft concludes that if you know your way around an engine it can be frustrating to realise the required repairs are beyond your skills as a mechanic.

“While fixing your car yourself can save you a bit of money it can also end up very costly if you try to do a repair that is beyond your capability. There are easy fixes anyone can do in their garage but you need to know when to hand things over to the experts,” he said.