Many of us understand very little about cars says Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), and that’s absolutely fine. Your mechanic doesn’t expect you to know your fan belt from your cambelt – but there are some things they do wish you knew. We asked members of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud Association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), what five things they’d really like their customers to be more aware of.
• Be aware of your vehicle maintenance schedule: For Francois Greeff, one of the biggest issues is that new vehicle owners, especially, don’t understand the need for maintenance – or the costs involved. “Many people don’t grasp that your insurance company will pay for breakages, but not maintenance,” he points out. He adds that mechanics can cause more damage to the vehicle if they’re not sure what they’re doing, which is why it’s important to choose a MIWA-accredited workshop and then trust them entirely. Remember that your mechanic knows not to trust Google blogs! A final word, “Any car owner should know how to check the basic fluid levels in their car, and do so regularly.”
• Take note of lights and instrument cluster messages: Dos-santos Mukuchamano from The Car Experts, says that the habit of disregarding service lights and cluster messages – something many motorists are guilty of – is a big mistake. “There is a very important reason why the manufacturer equipped the vehicle with the reminder,” he insists. He says ignoring the light can lead to exhausted parts doing further damage to other serviceable parts, making for greater expenses later. It’s just as bad to neglect the car when warning lights are showing. Worst case scenario, you’ll end up stuck on the side of the road – but even if things don’t get that bad, you’ll probably pay more than you would have had to because additional problems that may be created. “As a rule of thumb, if the engine or warning lights are flashing, consider it an emergency and stop driving the car immediately,” says Mukuchamano.
• Never skip a service: Just because your vehicle is running doesn’t mean you can skip a service, warns Ravi Komal from Evergreen Motors. “Regular servicing gives us a chance to pick up minor defects before they become major problems. What’s more, services are all different and focus on different parts.” Komal advises against servicing or repairing your own vehicle, as cars come with technical specifications and require special tools that most people don’t have access to.
• Cheapest isn’t best: Neville Frost from Landy Centre points out that the cost of servicing a vehicle can vary greatly, so it’s important to understand why these discrepancies exist. For example, a MIWA accredited workshop is guaranteed to be staffed by trained mechanics who have access to all necessary diagnostic tools and adhere to Covid-19 protocols. All MIWA workshops are VAT registered, comply with PAYE and UIF regulations, submit their tax returns and are registered with MIBCO. They also comply with health and safety regulations and the stipulations of the Labour Relations Act. MIWA accredited workshops are required to deliver to a standard of excellence, and offer recourse if this is not the case. “There is no doubt that accreditation makes all the difference to a consumer.”
• Change your oil: According to Lance Kettles of Automotive Mechanical Services, using the incorrect oil or a cheaper brand can cause massive problems for your car, leading to sluggishness. “It’s worth paying a bit extra to ensure quality oil, which means greater longevity for your engine. If you are unsure of which brand to select, you can always chat to one of the MIWA workshops for advice,” he concludes.