South Africans must beware of used cars which are technically “written off” but still sold to the public by dealerships.
This is the warning from the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), which highlighted a recent case where a VW Polo Vivo was purchased by a young woman – only for her to discover that it was previously written off due to an accident.
According to SAMBRA, the Polo Vivo was advertised online and registered as a 2020 model, with around 10,000km on the clock.
It was purchased by the woman as her first car.
“On the face of it, the car looked perfect. The customer was able to finance and insure the car through one of the four big reputable banking institutions,” said SAMBRA.
“But, according to [an] assessor, that is where the fairy tale ended. The car was assessed with the client’s daughter present at her home in Krugersdorp, as family members were concerned about certain paint defects.”
It was discovered that the Polo Vivo had been previously owned by a rental company in Durban and “had been involved in a serious collision, amounting to over 75% of its value in damages”.
“It was declared uneconomical to repair by the insurer and written off, whilst still retaining its code 2 (used car) status.”
SAMBRA director Richard Green said the car should have been used only for scrap parts following the write-off.
“Instead, it turns out that the vehicle was then uplifted to a salvage yard and subsequently sold on auction in 2020,” said Green.
“The vehicle was then very poorly repaired and sold to a used car dealer in Johannesburg, who sold it on to the unsuspecting buyer.”
What is equally concerning is that the car was refinanced and insured for an amount far higher than it is actually worth – and without proper inspection oversight, said Green.
“The fact is, it should have been reclassified as a code 3 and the bank would never have then provided finance.”
“Similarly, it should only have been re-insured after submission of an accredited SAMBRA member report.”
Green went on to lament the fact that for the car to be financed, insured, and sold, 10 key defects were missed by all parties involved.
These defects included the entire dome structure being deformed, a poorly-fitted windscreen, body gaps all around the vehicle, and a roof lining crumpled and torn in places.
“We are also concerned that in the example cited above, the dealer when confronted with the report offered to take the car back to try and resell it so he could reimburse the owner,” said Green.
To ensure written-off cars are not sold to the public, SAMBRA has asked the South African Insurance Association to release more information on the status of written-off vehicles.
“Without a register to refer to, there is no way of stopping these cars from finding themselves back into the system, only to be purchased by an unsuspecting and poorly-advised consumer,” said Green.