Warnings about Car Breakdown Recovery

Law enforcement can give the towing operator at the scene a lawful instruction to remove the vehicle off the roadway to the side of the road at no cost. Once moved, it is your choice to decide who tows the vehicle.

Don’t get suckered into paying a new price for an old car “add on”

Did you know that none of the extras you have added to your car when you buy it new will be taken into account by a motor dealership when you trade in or sell the car ?

That’s because the “value guides” which the trade rely on to make you an offer on your car give add-ons — such as towbars, canopies, cool rims, stronger shocks or roof racks — zero value.

But the person who buys that car will find those pre-existing “zero value” items added to their offer to purchase, and if the car is financed, interest will be paid as well, of course.

Investigating a case a few years ago, where a woman was charged $300 for a bin lining on a used bakkie which had been applied several years before by the original owner. The dealer principal told me: “My only explanation is that the sales executive broke the price down to highlight these extras on the car”. With the extras added, she said, the price of the bakkie was still in line with the market value.

Browse said something similar. “There is an argument that all these extras are good to be itemised and not just included in the car price.”

But how can you know if the total amount, with all those second-hand extras added, is indeed “market value”?

Here’s how: the TransUnion Car Value Report. For a nominal one-off fee you can access the trade and retail values of the car you’re interested in buying and you can also check that the price you are being offered on your car as a trade-in is market value. Knowledge is power!

What not to do when approached by a 24 hour breakdown recovery driver

I thought I’d heard it all about unscrupulous 24 hour breakdown recovery drivers but clearly I was wrong. I am not suggesting that all towing services are unscrupulous, but some, sadly, are.

In a case I’m investigating currently, a man who broke down on a freeway was asked by the vehicle recovery driver, who arrived on the scene within five minutes, to hand over his driver’s licence, which he photographed before handing it back.

The driver was not given any form to sign before the car was towed, he says, and by the time he found out where it had been taken, massive storage costs had mounted. And then he was presented with a form as proof of his consent, with his signature on it.

When he protested that the signature wasn’t his, that photo of his signed driver’s licence was produced as “proof” that it was indeed his signature.

Beware !

A spokesman said  “Under no circumstances are you obliged to use a towing service against your will, especially where law enforcement puts pressure on you to get the road cleared.

“Law enforcement can give the towing service at the scene a lawful instruction to remove the vehicle off the roadway to the side of the road at no cost.

“Once moved, you can then use your free will to decide who tows the vehicle.”

Good to know!

“Never sign any document, where the costs are not stipulated on the front of the authorising form to remove the vehicle,” Pel says.

If you have insurance, save the name and number of your insurer’s towing hotline on your cell phone, and call them when you’re in an accident and your car needs towing.

Get all the breakdown recovery company’s details before they disappear with your car — full name of the driver, the company’s physical address and landline number, and the registration number of the truck.

Be very clear about where the vehicle is to be towed, and make sure this is written on the form.

If insured, call your insurer soon after your car has been towed to ensure that all is in order.

If not insured, and your car has been towed to a tow-truck company’s yard, make arrangements to have it collected as soon as possible to avoid sky-high storage fees.