At the moment we have got so many different models in our country that some only get a small piece of the market share, which makes it difficult for the manufacturers to carry a big range of spare parts for every model. Our country is so big that it is not always easy to obtain a spare part for a repair.
I worked for a transport company years ago and we had a fleet of similar trucks. When a vehicle was down with a mechanical breakdown and another one needed a part, it would have been so easy to quickly borrow the part from the stricken truck, but our boss point blank refused to allow it, even if it meant a truck had to stand for a day or two while waiting for the part.
I could not understand his conservative attitude until recently when I saw to what extend the “borrowing’’ of a part could affect a company.
On various occasions, I have seen a tractor on a farm that had a small problem and was standing, waiting for a part, being stripped when a similar vehicle needed a part. It was quicker and easier than driving into town for the part. Six months later when harvest time came, it cost a fortune to get the tractor going again, replacing all the savaged parts.
Recently, I witnessed a more extreme situation. A company in the Eastern Cape had a fleet of similar vehicles working in the forests. One vehicle had an engine problem and while they were fighting with the agents on whether it was a factory claim or not, another one needed a battery.
The battery from the broken bakkie was borrowed and when another vehicle had two punctures on the same day, the spare wheel of the stricken vehicle was borrowed for the other one. Later the rear axle was borrowed for another one.
And so it carried on. Whenever a part was needed for a vehicle, the broken one was savaged. At the end there was very little left of the vehicle and it was completely uneconomical to repair.
The big problem came when the bank enquired about the arrears on the lease on the savaged vehicle.
There was very little left of it. No engine, gearbox, axles, or lights. There was just a shell that was not worth repossessing. The only way out for the company was to carry on paying the instalments for another four years on a vehicle that was just a skeleton. Alternatively they faced a court case for stripping the assets that was security for the bank.
It is heart breaking to pay an instalment and licence for a vehicle that does, in reality, not exist. It also cannot be sold. It is just a liability. If the spares for the other vehicles were bought when needed, they never would have caught themselves in this situation.
It is so dangerous to strip a vehicle for spares. I remember borrowing the spare wheel from one of my trailers for another trailer. I completely forgot about it and six months later when I used the trailer, I did not even remember that there was no spare wheel.
We were lucky not to get a puncture on the trip and it was only when I pumped the tyres for the next trip that I noticed that the spare was short. A trailer with a puncture and no spare is a serious problem. You cannot leave the trailer on the roadside and you cannot tow it. To get a rim and tyre that will fit is also a serious problem, especially in the remote country areas.
This is a lesson to all of us never to savage a vehicle or trailer for emergency spares. It escalates and becomes a serious problem. – Francois Rossouw