With the media reporting almost daily on the unacceptably high levels of road accidents, the importance of having a reliable, well-running vehicle has never been more important and directly linked to road safety and the vehicle’s value.
Julian Pillay, national director of the Vehicle Testing Association (VTA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says that in South Africa, vehicle defects or un-roadworthiness is certainly a contributor to the fatal road crashes that occur each year.
Research shows the major factors of vehicle defects causing fatal crashes in South Africa are the following: Tyres bursting prior to the crash; faulty brakes; un-roadworthy vehicles; headlights (faulty, blinding or not switched on) and tyre failure as a result of tread separation from wheel / smooth tyres.
Pillay says the problem we face in South Africa is that there is no periodic compulsory testing.
The only official safety stats we have in SA come from the National Traffic Information System (NATIS). The live and registered vehicle population of South Africa is 13.154 million vehicles as at 31 July 2022. Of these vehicles, only approximately 21% are required to be tested on a regular basis. These include trucks, buses and taxis as well as vehicles which change ownership. This means that 79% of the vehicle population in South Africa has no requirement to be tested, no matter the age of the vehicle.
He says this is unacceptable as it means that the majority of vehicles on our roads are constantly ageing and while it would seem they are technically and legally compliant (licensed), they are not necessarily roadworthy and safe for our roads.
Pillay says it is important to distinguish between a roadworthy test and a multi-point inspection. “Essentially a roadworthy inspection reviews the safety items of the vehicles as specified in the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) and relevant standards, whereas a Multi-Point Inspection, while it includes safety items, also includes quality items. For example, during a roadworthy test, the air-con of a vehicle will not be assessed, but during a Multi-Point inspection, this will be commented on.”
He says with so many complex moving parts in modern cars, trucks and SUVs, it’s not uncommon to have underlying problems you may be unaware of. To catch any issues before they turn into a safety hazard it would be advisable to conduct a Multi-Point Inspection (MPI) on a vehicle either at purchase, or if you have had your car longer for 5 years. “This inspection, as outlined above, provides a comprehensive evaluation of nearly every component of your vehicle. Knowing the condition of a vehicle can help you catch and address potential issues before they lead to dangerous failures or costly repairs and ultimately devalue the asset,” he explains.
Several Vehicle Testing Stations do this nationally and Pillay says the VTA itself has just launched a VTA Multi-Point Inspection (MPI), which will assist consumers and financial institutions to assess the condition of a particular vehicle.
“All services from our members are conducted with specialist equipment, expert knowledge, and experienced examiners to test your vehicles,” he says.
A Multi-Point Inspection report will indicate the condition of the asset and its components, specifically at the time of purchase, to prevent owners from being saddled with a bad asset that may lead to costly repairs in the future.
For motorists there are a number of very clear benefits to following this route:
It provides transparency on the current state of a vehicle at the point of sale, reducing risk factors to the purchaser and added peace of mind knowing that your vehicle obtained a legitimate inspection and now meets essential road safety standards. It also is able to reveal any latent defects which may result in enormous expenses for repairs which allows the buyer to mitigate these costs before purchase.
Pillay recommends ongoing yearly multipoint inspections to ensure safer vehicles coupled with a vehicle which will potentially see the client through the finance term.
“This really is one of the only truly unbiased reflections of the vehicle at the time of inspection and would serve as an influential and game changing tool for both sellers and buyers as it removes any uncertainties about the vehicle’s condition,” he concludes.