Make a Plan

When a Roadside Breakdown is More Than an Inconvenience

Many South Africans depend on their cars to get to work and an unexpected breakdown when the vehicle is out of warranty is more than an inconvenience – it can affect their ability to earn an income.

Although there are alternatives to driving to work, public transport is generally unreliable and the taxi industry is notorious for bad driving and poor passenger safety.

Even these aren’t an option for self-employed people who need a vehicle to transport equipment or have to drive to see customers.

Ideally people who are reliant on their vehicles to make a living should keep them properly maintained and put some money aside each month in an emergency fund for unexpected vehicle repairs.

But in the real world it’s always tempting to put off a costly service until next month and the household budget doesn’t always stretch to saving some money ‘just in case’.

If you don’t have any savings and need to get back on the road fast, one option may be to consider financing for the vehicle repairs.

As long as you meet the requirements stipulated in the National Credit Act, the application process is usually straightforward and can be done telephonically or online. Once approved, the money can be in your account within 24 hours.

If you have a good credit record, getting a loan for the vehicle repairs may be easy, but you should still try to manage the costs while making sure the work is done properly.

There’s little point in spending money on a repair if the mechanic cuts corners, fits second-hand or sub-standard parts and the vehicle breaks down again in a few weeks or months.

Authorised dealers will generally provide some sort of warranty on parts and the work. If you decide to take the vehicle to a dealer’s workshop it’s still worth getting quotes from a few different dealers as the prices can vary.

Independent garages are often cheaper, but you may run the risk of having no comeback if the repair isn’t done properly. It’s also important to determine what parts will be used. While the manufacturer’s original parts may be more expensive, they are often higher quality than generic spares and should last longer. You also need to be aware that fitting parts the manufacturer does not specify could invalidate your warranty.

If you do decide to take your vehicle to an independent dealer it’s a good idea to get some references. Ask friends or family who may have had work done there, better still, check if the garage is Automobile Association (AA) Quality Assured.

Before you agree to have the repair done ensure you get a written quote and a copy of the warranty policy in case the problem reoccurs.

If you do rely on your car for your livelihood, when you get back on the road, consider joining an organisation such as the AA, finding out about an extended warranty or taking out some car maintenance insurance. If you don’t, at least commit to starting an emergency fund so the next breakdown doesn’t cost you more than just the repair.

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