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What a workshop needs to repair out-of-warranty cars in South Africa

The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has released a minimum standard guidelines checklist for motor body repairers (MBRs), stating what they need to meet an insurer’s requirements to work on out-of-warranty vehicles.

The extent to which the guidelines have been followed will allow an insurer to assess the MBR’s capacity to carry out repair work on these vehicles.

MBRs deemed competent will have their details uploaded onto a central database and have their “competent status” recognised for a period of two years, it said.

These guidelines aim to ensure the fair treatment of MBRs with regards to the processes followed in determining their capabilities, as well as to support the objectives of the new competition guidelines for the automotive aftermarket that came into effect in July 2021.

There are six categories in which an MBR is evaluated to be deemed competent – detailed below.

Compliance and legal

MBRs must be registered with their district municipality and be able to provide the correct licences and permits upon request. A health and safety compliance (OHS) certificate is one of these requirements.

“The licensing department requires reports from the health and fire department and town planning, who will check that the business meets health and fire regulations and that the proposed premises are in an area zoned for business,” said the SAIA.

Company documentation such as company registration, intellectual property, and VAT clearance certificates must also be available upon request from an insurer.


An MBR must have the “absolute minimum” business liability insurance policy for a motor body shop.

Liability insurance provides protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to other people or property.

Examples of this include motor trader’s insurance policies and product liability insurance policies.

Physical compliance

The layout and design of an MBR’s premises must be in accordance with municipality bylaws and be clearly demarcated.

If a property is being leased, the MBR needs a letter of consent from the owner giving it permission to trade on the property.

If the property is owned by the MBR, it must have a zoning certificate.

Furthermore, an MBR must have a reception room or similar area that is “convenient for receiving and attending to customers.”

In terms of signage, a visible name, contact details, business hours, and indemnity sign must be displayed – which are subject to municipal bylaws, depending on the MBR’s location.

Safety and security

An MBR must have “reasonable security” during and after business hours for safekeeping of customer vehicles.

MBRs are also required to give assurance that clients’ vehicles and belongings will be safe on their premises, said the SAIA.

Examples of security precautions include an alarm system, security personnel, a high fence with locked gates, or an electric fence.

Physical workshop inspection

A physical inspection by an insurer will determine whether an MBR has the “required setup to perform the required work” – as well as the “necessary and absolute minimum equipment” for the work they are applying for.

Examples of work for which specific tools are needed include major structural repairs. The list of tools and equipment can be found at the bottom of this article.

In addition, the MBR must have access to qualified technical staff to carry out repair work, whether it be part-time or full-time. The employees’ documentation must be available upon request from an insurer.


An MBR must have “basic office equipment” to carry out administrative duties, such as formal invoicing and quotation, issuing job cards, handing over vehicles, and digitally assessing equipment.

Bodyshop tools

Whether an MBR is a structural or non-structural body or paint shop, it will need certain tools to do the job correctly.

The tools fall into “critical”, “required”, and “optional” categories, and an MBR must ensure that it stocks the relevant equipment.

According to the SAIA, the tools needed for body shops are as follows:

  • Shop press
  • Compressor
  • Engine hoist
  • Angle grinder
  • Bench grinder
  • Torque wrench
  • Battery charger
  • Bearing pullers
  • MIG/CO2 welder
  • Diagnostic machine
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • MIG brazing machine
  • Radiator pressure tester
  • McPherson strut clamps
  • Headlight aiming facility
  • X stands to repair panels
  • Electric/pneumatic body saw
  • Two or four-post vehicle hoists
  • One lead light per workstations
  • Air-conditioner re-gas machine
  • Flame resistant welding aprons
  • Tool cupboards per workstation
  • Shrinkable electronic dent puller
  • Electric/pneumatic orbital sander
  • Oxy/Acetylene flashback arrestors
  • Spot welder (minimum 9,000 amp)
  • Air operated sealing gun with adaptor kit
  • Trolley jack, trestles, and service creepers
  • 10-ton portable power set with accessories
  • Vehicle electronics system protector (VAP/ZAP)
  • Valid up-to-date vehicle specification data sheets
  • Equipment for cutting sheet metal (Laser/plasma arc)
  • Protective seating, steering, and carpet covers for all vehicles
  • Facilities to remove spot welds using specialised drill/drill bit
  • Three-dimensional mechanical or electronic measuring system
  • Electronic dent puller or spot-welder with dent pulling capacity (minimum 3,000 amp)

It must be noted that not all these tools are seen as critical, and a body shop will not need every piece of equipment on this list to be deemed competent.

Paint shop tools

According to the SAIA, the tools needed for paint shops are as follows:

  • Dust masks
  • Portable infrared heater
  • Paint management system
  • Designated compressor room
  • Air-fed respirators for spray areas
  • Bench with 10-ton pulling capacity
  • Paint thickness measuring equipment
  • Paint mixing room outside of building
  • Computerised mixing bench with scale
  • Adequate preparation and paint stands
  • Short/medium-wave infrared dry lamps
  • 10-ton portable power set with accessories
  • Centralised/mobile extracted dry sanding system
  • Portable orbital dry flatting unit with dust extraction
  • Centralised drying flatting system without extraction
  • Antistatic and safety attire for spray painting personnel
  • Waterborne paint mixing bench with computerised scale
  • Filtered compressed air supply with water trap and air dryer
  • Three-dimensional mechanical or electronic measuring system
  • Separate spray guns for primer, colour, polyester, and rubberise
  • Underfloor and side extraction in paint preparation and primer bays
  • Designated paint mixing room with extraction fans and outside-air filtration
  • Pressurised, downdraught spray booth/oven combination with temperature control, air filters, and 24,000m³/hour airflow volume

It must be noted that not all these tools are seen as critical, and a paint shop will not need every piece of equipment on this list to be deemed competent.

“If an MBR does not have separate panel beating, polishing, and inspection bays, this should not preclude them from receiving work if the MBR can nevertheless produce quality workmanship within the floor space that it has,” said the SAIA.

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