What It Means to be RMI and MIWA Approved in South Africa

Like most industries, many areas of the motor vehicle sector in South Africa require participants to be accredited and approved. This ensures, as much as possible, that people aren’t cutting corners, risking the industry’s reputation, customer safety and undermining the integrity of the industry at large. SA’s retail motor industry requires retailers and service providers to subscribe to the standards and guidelines of two important industry bodies - The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) and the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA).

This article explores these two entities, looking at why they exist, the role they play in assisting everybody involved in the retail motor industry, and how to check if a company, service provider, car dealership or seller is registered and approved.


Nothing beats the peace of mind of knowing that one of your most important assets is well taken care of. Whether it’s buying your car from someone whose brand depends on not letting you down or getting it serviced at a service centre that employs qualified professionals and uses state-of-the-art equipment, knowing you’re making use of accredited, approved suppliers and entities holding retail motor industry registration is important.

Regulating the motoring game

Imagine if the vehicle safety industry wasn’t regulated. What if tyre manufacturers weren’t controlled, allowing faulty or unsafe tyres to make it to the market? Or if the companies making seatbelts and airbags were allowed to cut corners to save on costs? Many more people would end up badly injured or worse on the roads.

 The same goes for the retail motor industry. By ensuring that businesses and dealerships selling pre-owned vehicles are honest with their customers and don’t sell unroadworthy cars to unsuspecting clients, the public can rest assured that they’re not being taken advantage of.

 The vehicle servicing and vehicle maintenance sector is no different. There has to be a way to ensure that cars in need of a checkup or replacement parts are correctly maintained and fitted properly with the right components by trained professionals at service centres and approved workshops using suitable equipment.

This allows us to ensure that used cars and serviced vehicles are safe and roadworthy, and that the industry isn’t being ruined by untrustworthy sellers.

Why accreditation is important in South Africa

Gaining retail motor industry registration from industry bodies means that a company or business is committed to maintaining a certain standard in its operations. These levels of service are outlined in various associations' guidelines, and, if someone fails to comply with them, they may lose their accreditation. But with so many different bodies, agencies and organisations offering to rubber stamp companies, knowing which approvals are worthy of your time and money can be tough.

How approvals in SA’s retail motor industry work

Think of motor vehicle industry approvals and accreditations as liquor licences for bars, qualifications for real estate agents, or operating licenses for banks. All of these industries require some degree of regulation and control to ensure that the people operating in these important fields are able to demonstrate they can do so honestly and correctly by following good practice guidelines and legal procedures.

Approvals keeping the consumer safe

In the motoring industry, approvals prevent people from selling stolen cars, using fake or unreliable parts in repairs and stealing from their clients. By requiring car dealerships and service centres to be approved and RMI-accredited, the industry can regulate who operates in it while keeping an eye on members, ensuring that they are sticking to the prescribed service standards and rules. This allows customers to know who has been evaluated and approved.

Who decides who gets approved?

While government is usually mandated to oversee and regulate approval activities, in South Africa, many private bodies have been set up to take care of it. These organisations, associations, federations, institutions and groups are allowed to set up membership schemes where related entities can apply to join them. If the body finds that an industry-related business or organisation meets their standards and qualifies for membership based on its criteria, it will allow them to join the body and indicate to the market that they are indeed certified.

What approval means for businesses

Many businesses will struggle to operate in South Africa if they haven’t been MIWA or RMI accredited. This is usually due to them being unable or unwilling to demonstrate that they are legitimately capable of delivering a service or product that meets the minimum standards requirements.

If a business isn’t approved, they’ll struggle to attract customers, and many suppliers or vendors won’t transact with them. And this can make operating in the South African used car and service centre sectors very difficult.

What approval means for consumers

 You wouldn’t approach a lawyer who doesn’t have a law degree. You probably wouldn’t want to save money with a bank that doesn’t have the necessary approval to operate. And most people would avoid eating at a restaurant that hasn’t passed its health inspection. So why would anyone buy a used car from an unapproved car dealership or get it serviced at a mechanic or workshop that can’t lock down accreditation?

Your car is an important asset. Aside from it being an expensive item, your life and safety are also dependent on your car working correctly. So how can you know if the businesses selling you a car or doing the vehicle servicing can be trusted? This is why regulatory bodies exist. They have already investigated and confirmed that your chosen dealer approved workshop is legitimately capable of delivering a service that meets basic retail motor industry standards, so you don't have to.

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI)

 First up, we look at one of SA’s most important approval bodies – the Retail Motor Industry Organisation, or RMI. This body was established to bring different motor vehicle associations together, aligning many areas in their policies, like labour practices and, more importantly, their commitment to their consumers. The RMI requires members to sign a code of conduct before joining and securing retail motor industry registration.

What is the RMI?

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation is an umbrella organisation comprising various associations. The RMI works to approve and provide accreditation to motor vehicle retailers who operate in the South African automotive aftermarket. Its key role focuses on guiding and enabling its members to provide superior service to their customers.

 The RMI comprises eight associations:

  • MIWA (Motor Industry Workshop Association). We discuss MIWA a little later.

  • TEPA (Tyre, Equipment, Parts Association)

  • SAPRA (South African Petroleum Retailers’ Association)

  • NADA (National Automobile Dealers’ Association)

  • VTA (Vehicle Testing Association)

  • SAMBRA (SA Motor Body Repairers Association)

  • ARA (Automotive Remanufacturers’ Association)

  • SAVABA (South African Vehicle and Bodybuilders’ Association)

These associations are all connected through the RMI, collaborating with each other and fostering healthy inter-business trading. Essentially, the RMI allows different players across the South African motoring industry to recognise who is legitimate and RMI-accredited.

 The RMI represents the interests of both the industry and consumers. The organisation oversees the enforcement of various legislative requirements, including labour conditions, consumer protection, industry standards and employment equity. The RMI also provides industrial relations services to members as well as legal assistance and training.

Who must register with RMI?

The RMI currently has about 7,500 members, making it the leading organisation in the South African retail motor industry for promoting improved trading conditions in the marketplace and as the go-to for anyone searching for accredited businesses.

Any car dealership, retailer, workshop, service centre, automotive parts supplier, petrol station, tester, manufacturer, or fitment centre who wishes gain retail motor industry registration and, in turn, be considered as a legitimate, accredited motor industry business must meet the RMI's requirements.

Benefits of RMI Accreditation

Receiving RMI accreditation provides important benefits for both the business and the customer. Businesses holding RMI accreditation stand to benefit by being listed as approved organisations.

This means that anyone searching for a recognised, approved retail motor industry player will be able to find them on RMI listings and can rest assured that any referrals can be trusted. Many insurers will also not include businesses that do not have RMI accreditation on their preferred or authorised supplier lists.

What RMI accreditation means for you

 When you take your car to an RMI-accredited dealer or service centre, you are taking it to a business that has agreed to the RMI Consumer Code of Conduct. This code of conduct confirms that the accredited member has undertaken to sell their products or services at a fair and reasonable price and that they will not sell you faulty parts, deliver substandard service or backtrack on agreed warranties and guarantees. Failing to do so may result in them losing their accreditation.

 Consumers can also lodge complaints directly to the RMI or pursue recourse through the organisation if the believe the provider is being unfair or dishonest.

Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA)


 Next, we look at one of the RMI’s most important associations - the Motor Industry Workshop Association, or ‘MIWA’ for short. MIWA is also the biggest association in the RMI, with nearly one-third of all RMI-accredited members also holding MIWA accreditation.

What is MIWA?

MIWA is an independent association affiliated with the RMI that represents motor workshops in South Africa. These include businesses who do general vehicle servicing and repairs, workshops specialising in vehicle electrical or air-conditioning systems, and service centres. MIWA represents more than 2,500 of these approved workshops, including almost all of the top service centres in South Africa.

The role of MIWA

MIWA provides a platform that allows members to keep up to date with changing technologies, techniques and regulations. By encouraging and enabling members to trade with one another, MIWA actively fosters inter-association collaboration, boosting the broader retail motor industry and strengthening its capacity to cooperate.

Who can register for MIWA?

Any vehicle repair shops, service or fitment-related workshop is entitled to register with MIWA so long as they agree to subscribe to the association’s policies and service standards. These entities include:

  • General repair workshops

  • Auto electrical workshops

  • Vehicle air conditioning workshops and installers

  • Anyone installing vehicle accessories

  • Transmission and driveline workshops

  • Fitment centres

  • Service centres

MIWA and the Right to Repair and what it means for you

In case you haven’t heard about this important concept, the Right to Repair entitles you to choose who and where you can take your car to get repaired. This means that you are permitted to take your car to vehicle repair shops, service centres or fitment centres of your choice, without the risk of losing your manufacturer warranty.

This prevents insurers or retailers from forcing you to pay exorbitant prices or from having to take it to one of their own approved workshops. Of course, this only applies to entities that can be reasonably seen as legitimate service providers. And the best way to determine this is by indicating they hold retail motor industry registration.

 You can read more about Right to Repair here.

How to check if your providers are approved

You can check both the RMI and MIWA websites to see if your local car dealership, workshop or service centre holds either retail motor industry registration or MIWA accreditation – or both. You can use the links below:

  •  RMI-accredited members database – click here.

  •  MIWA-accredited members database – click here.

Look out for the RMI and MIWA logos on websites or on-site at the dealership or workshop.

Approvals and accreditation for peace of mind

The next time you take your car to your local service centre or workshop, ask them if they are MIWA or RMI-accredited. Some providers may be accredited elsewhere. While not holding retail motor industry accreditation doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t legitimate options, you can always ask them why they aren’t approved.

 All thirteen of Auto Pedigree’s nationwide service centres hold RMI and MIWA accreditation. So you can rest assured that when you bring your car into one of our service centres, you’ll be getting accredited service in line with the best industry standards.