CONSUMER WATCH | Used Toyota 86 causes a scene with undisclosed crash damage

01 February 2024 - 12:09
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Van Vuuren's 86 became well known in the community.
Van Vuuren's 86 became well known in the community.
Image: Supplied

An undisclosed crash history of a used car soured one enthusiast's relationship with the Toyota brand.

But after a tiring back-and-forth, a resolution has been achieved that will see the customer stay a part of the Japanese carmaker's ownership circle.

Kiara van Vuuren had been eyeing a Toyota 86 and found a suitable prospect in September 2021.

The vehicle was a 2019 registration, with just more than 23,000km on the clock, for sale at a dealership named Auto Team in Boksburg, which is now listed as permanently closed.

Clicking on the Auto Team website directs one to the page of CFAO Mobility South Africa, a multi-franchise operation with more than 100 dealerships in the country, representing various manufacturer brands.

Van Vuuren noticed spraywork on the 86 and thought it would be prudent to get an inspection from a certified Toyota dealership.

She got in touch with Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg. Fortuitously, she was informed by the salesperson that the Toyota retailer was also part of CFAO Mobility, therefore it would be convenient for the vehicle to be transferred from Auto Team to the Automark division of the Toyota outfit.

The respray the customer noticed was queried. She claimed her observations were verified — and was told the reason for the paintwork was that the previous owner had dogs, who scratched the vehicle, not as a result of accident damage.

After securing pre-approval for finance, van Vuuren opted to pay for a Dekra test. Aside from the noted spraywork, she had accepted the report to be “clean” in outlining the state of the 86.

“I went ahead with the deal of R412,000, trading my paid-off Suzuki Swift RS [R115,000], plus R100,000 additional deposit. This meant the car was already 55% paid for before leaving their floor.”

She enjoyed her new acquisition, and executed a number of modifications, cultivating a unique personality for her vehicle among local 86 communities. The car had also been featured by national publications.

In November last year, she contemplated a change, after the Gazoo Racing (GR) Yaris derivative captured her interest.

After seeing a unit advertised for sale in the used section of a Ford dealership, she decided to reach out for a valuation on her 86, intending to trade in for the Yaris pending the outcome. Surprising feedback followed.

The owner was meticulous about her vehicle.
The owner was meticulous about her vehicle.
Image: Supplied

“They advised that due to 'excessive' accident damage on the vehicle, they could not give me a trade value and requested I bring the car in.

“Surprised at this knowledge, I asked for [their] report and due to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), was unable to obtain it. What [the salesperson] did say was that AutoBid [vehicle valuation service provider] is the industry standard.”

She reached out to AutoBid and while the company could not provide her with specifics, Van Vuuren claimed the accident damage had been confirmed by the provider.

While she had a minor collision with her vehicle, involving a sideswipe by a minibus taxi in 2022, Van Vuuren denied being involved in an accident that would constitute the “excessive” damage described.

Conducting her own investigation, paying third-party service providers, Van Vuuren stated she was able to find two reports evidencing two instances of damage, recorded in May 2019 and August 2020. The reports note a damage history, but the details are not specified.

After some digging, she learnt the former incident, early in the life of her 86, was of greater significance. In November last year she decided to reach out to Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg with her initial findings, approaching the dealer principal.

After not receiving decisive action, she followed the channel to Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), whose customer care team manager referred her to the used car manager at Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg.

The customer said she was met with poor communication and arrogance, so decided to share her grievances on social media, in addition to emailing TSAM CEO Andrew Kirby.

She received correspondence from the TSAM head of customer liaison, who appointed a field technician, to investigate.

Van Vuuren summarised her case: the vehicle was sold at an unethical price given the damage; it was misrepresented; there would be a financial disadvantage to her were she to sell privately and lastly, her deposit had effectively been devalued.

Discussions were under way between the customer at Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg to resolve the issue. She was hopeful the matter would be addressed fairly.

Instead, she received a proposal that seemed unreasonable, being offered the amount of R160,000 for her Toyota 86. “This would settle what I owed, leaving me with no car, no deposit back, no compensation for the instalments already paid over the last two years and so on.”

She had approached other parties for additional valuations. Among the highest was a subject-to-inspection offer of R300,000 from WeBuyCars. Other providers declined to provide her with a value, based on the accident damage history. The Ford dealership from which she intended to purchase the GR Yaris she had viewed offered her R160,000.

The impact caused notable intrusion to the engine bay.
The impact caused notable intrusion to the engine bay.
Image: Supplied

Frustrated, she went back to the TSAM customer liaison and Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg representatives. She was told that “due to depreciation” the offer of R160,000 was an accurate value.

“I disputed this heavily and stated my dissatisfaction. Mathematically — this would mean that the 86 depreciated by R120,000 per year and come 2024, this five-year-old 86 would be worth close to zero.”

At the end of November 2023, Van Vuuren decided to do further digging.

Using the local Toyota 86 community, she was able to track down the previous owner of the vehicle. According to Van Vuuren, the former owner told her she had bought the vehicle marketed as an ex-demonstrator model, described as being accident-free.

“She herself had an accident in 2020 which she did provide documentation for, which amounted to R6,000. Obviously this one was minor and not particularly worth noting,” said Van Vuuren.

But what about the accident that happened in May 2019 which, according to Van Vuuren, had accounted for as much as R217,000 worth of damage?

Through another member of the car community who declined to be named, Van Vuuren came into possession of what looked to be an insurance assessment of the vehicle, dated May 13 2019.

The vehicle appeared to have significant frontal damage, with the left side kinked and crumpled and the front passenger airbag deployed. The licence plate registration numbers matched and in addition, the car had Imperial Toyota Strijdom Park branding, indicating a promotional agreement with a local radio personality.

TimesLIVE Motoring began looking into the case after Van Vuuren reached out to us on December 6.

We were provided with details for the previous owner but could not make contact despite numerous attempts.

On December 11, Wessel Tshabalala, dealer principal at Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg responded to our request for comment. He said he was not at liberty to discuss the matter and was awaiting more information to come to an agreement.

We approached TSAM, who responded on December 15 to our request for comment. Senior manager for marketing and corporate communications Lelo Ndzimela acknowledged the case and said it was receiving attention, but that no comment could be given as an investigation was under way.

“We are also in contact with the customer and may pronounce outcomes once finality has been reached,” said Ndzimela.

Licence plate and deployed airbag are visible.
Licence plate and deployed airbag are visible.
Image: Supplied

During this time, Van Vuuren denied receiving correspondence from the Boksburg dealership or TSAM. With the festive season under way, she decided to put her battle on hold.

On January 11, we reached out to the Motus (formerly Imperial) Strijdom Park Toyota dealership from where the vehicle originated.

“I can confirm that vehicle was indeed one of our demo vehicles and was used as a sponsorship vehicle to an employee at our sponsored radio station,” said dealer principal Morne Petzer.

"[The] vehicle was involved in an accident and was repaired by an insurance nominated approved repairer [and] sent back to us at Motus Toyota Strijdom Park for inspection.”

He said the vehicle was then sold in October 2019, to the first registered owner, who he claimed was “completely informed of all repairs”, adding he has proof on file with communication between the branch and the customer.

Petzer said that the 86 was not a write-off, that new parts were used and panels were resprayed, all communicated transparently with the client.

The vehicle was then sold on in 2021 to a Market Toyota branch in the Western Cape, before ending up at Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg, he said.

In the middle of January the Boksburg dealership reached out to Van Vuuren to further discussions.

She had now been offered a trade-in value of R300,000 and an ex-demonstrator GR Yaris Rally with about 5,000km on the odometer for R675,000.

We approached Pat Hinde Toyota Boksburg dealer principal Wessel Tshabalala for final comment on the matter.

“We had a meeting on January 24 to finalise the matter and an agreement was reached with the assistance of Gordon Ferns, our Toyota divisional chief executive [CFAO], who started in the role from January 1.

“All parties agreed on the proposal and the process is on to resolve the matter, the issue of Auto Team closure happened before myself and Gordon Ferns took over in our respective roles,” Tshabalala said.

Van Vuuren said she was happy with the outcome.

As our Consumer Watch features often prove, buyers need to go the extra mile in doing their own research before pulling the trigger on a pre-owned vehicle. One of the tools you can use is the Vehicle Salvage Databse launched by the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) in 2023. Access for the public is free.

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