We’ve talked before about lack of controls and transparency around collision repairs and general car body work – usually referred to in NZ as panelbeating, or panel & paint. There are mechanisms to capture and record used imported vehicles where previous damage repairs are documented, but this leaves two gaping wholes for consumers:
- Lack of information on used imported vehicles where damage repairs have NOT previous been recorded in the country of origin (easy to do in an unregulated repair market). Although all used imports are subject to full inspection and compliance regulations when entering NZ, any structural body defects found are NOT currently recorded on the documentation a registered car dealer is required to provide to a potential buyer, the Consumer Identification Notice. This is a dangerous loophole that most buyers will be unaware of.
- Lack of any documentation attached to a vehicle that has been accident damaged and repaired in NZ.
The two scenarios above represent by far the majority of damage repaired vehicles in NZ and these cases are not recorded in the car’s service history. Service histories provide significant assistance to potential car buyers, they can see for instance that a vehicle’s had its replacement cam belt when due, or regular servicing by a reputable garage. Buyers will have no idea though that the car’s been involved in a serious structural crash, or had rusty chassis rails replaced, or even been repainted due to vandalism damage etc. There are no controls and no transparency around body repairs of any type in NZ. It’s ironic, given that structural collision repairs and other general panel & paint more directly impact on the integrity, safety and value of a vehicle than its service maintenance history.
Fortunately, problem #1 is about to change and the Consumer Identification Notice will soon be required to include any inspection compliance findings, including evidence of good quality compliant body repairs. This will be a much improved control and provide full transparency for consumers.
Unfortunately, there is still no appetite in the market to resolve problem #2 above. In the unregulated NZ panelbeating industry, this has the potential for disaster for unwary buyers. There is a lucrative market sector offering full pre-purchase body inspections but, they cost buyers money, inspections can be subjective, and the differential in expertise and the level of care provided by inspection companies and operators varies significantly.
WHERE DOES ALL THIS LEAVE CAR BUYERS? Soon it will potentially be safer to buy a used imported car than a NZ model because the controls and transparency on the import will be comprehensive and guaranteed.
WHAT CAN VEHICLE OWNERS IN NZ DO TO PROTECT THEIR ASSETS? Always ensure structural damage repairs and even general panel & paint are undertaken by a company that has the technical training, and investment in machinery and facilities to rebuild your car to manufacturer’s specifications.
WHAT’S THE SIMPLEST, MOST DEPENDABLE, GUARANTEED WAY TO ACHIEVE THIS? Some insurance companies have lists of repairers they like to work with, but not all are certified for structural repairs, and service levels and benefits vary. In Europe, USA and increasingly in Australia, most damage repairs are arranged via professional accident management companies. The sector has the expertise and leverage to guarantee technical standards, and improved customer service levels including additional benefits that most insurers cannot match. They’re also completely independent, so act and advocate on behalf of the customer. Accident Management is now available in NZ, some firms charge customers a high premium for their services, one is FREE. If your company vehicle or your own car requires collision repairs, call 0800 2CRASH for an obligation-free discussion about the best service solution in the market.