If you're going to suffer a breakdown this EMCO from 3rd - 16th July please be aware that the current EMCO does not allow for vehicle workshops and parts suppliers to open, as opposed to the MCO 3.0/FMCO that considered them to be an essential service. They are now considered non-essential.
However, the latest version of the EMCO SOPs, with some ambiguity, allows for critical repairs, maintenance and wiring work to be conducted with a prior appointment, which can be deemed to include critical repairs for our cars. The SOPs themselves do not state in detail whether it applies to cars, or our homes – which ultimately would be more ‘critical’ given the circumstances.
But, if our cars don’t work, then how do we go out for essentials or our vaccinations?
The second part of the statement states that it must be done with a prior appointment, presumably by contacting the boss or operator of the workshop.
Of course, the allowance in the case of an emergency seems to be a perfectly sensible measure to have in place, but we believe there are quite a few issues with the guideline, which could leave workshops and car owners in quite a predicament as it also can be seen as a breach of the SOPs.
What are critical repairs?
Well this can be deemed as anything that does not allow for the car to be operated in a safe manner. Therefore, this can entail any of the following:
- The tyres, in case of a puncture or failure
- The engine – in case of the car’s ignition and fuelling system
- Transmission problems
- Engine cooling
- Vehicle charging
- Wiring issues
- Braking system
These are the most critical systems of any car, failure of which, and the car cannot be driven. Yes, we can delay periodical maintenance even if your car’s air-conditioning system fails, it still can take you from A to B, but the SOPs must clearly state the nature of repair that can be performed.
There is also the further point of who does the repairs, while the owner of the workshop can open the premise – it’s most likely that a trained mechanic or technician gets the work done, this then creates the need for these skilled workers to travel, which raises more concern with regard to the SOPs.
Where do you get parts to fix your car?
Regardless if the workshop or service centre is allowed to carry out the repairs, the secondary issue is parts availability. As part suppliers are closed, workshops will not be able to fix your car. At best, and depending on the nature of the issue, they may be able to make a quick fix that will allow your car to soldier on for a while longer.
However, let us say your car’s alternator fails, which means the battery cannot be recharged. Without replacement parts; workshops will not be able to rectify the issue.
What if your workshop isn’t nearby?
Most car owners would have their preferred workshops and in certain cases, it may not be near home or require us to pass one of many roadblocks that are in place (even if it’s within the 10km travelling radius). Without provisions in place, it would be next to impossible to explain the nature of the repairs needed and the purpose of travel.
Arguably, if your car requires critical repairs, it makes perfect sense to visit any workshop that is closest and able to conduct the repairs to keep your car moving.
What if everything becomes an emergency?
We cannot ignore the fact of flouting the regulations as well. It would undoubtedly be just a matter of time before owners and workshop operators use any allowance in the SOPs to operate as usual, which will negate the effects of the EMCO in any case.
What is best for now?
Considering the ambiguity of the regulations, limitations of parts and the repercussion of breaking SOPs, it’s best to assume that we cannot get any repairs done during the EMCO period. Though unfortunate, it is best to not run your vehicle if it critically needs repairs, given we cannot travel much during the EMCO it makes sense to hold out until workshops and spare part suppliers are allowed to operate as normal.
In the meantime, keep your cars as healthy as possible by performing simple checks and DIY upkeep such as maintaining correct tyre pressures, topping up engine oil (if required) and keeping your car clean. On the flipside, if you are not running your car at all, or have more than one car, at least start them once every 3-4 days to warm them up (10-15 minutes) and keep the battery charged to avoid issues cropping up later on.
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