Motor Vehicle Repairs

Posted on Apr 1, 2013 in Cars, RICO

1/15/13 [RICO]

Don’t let an unlicensed mechanic or repair dealer steer you wrong.

In Hawaii, motor vehicle repair dealers and mechanics must be licensed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs before they can work on the mechanical parts of your car. Licensing is enforced by RICO, the Regulated Industries Complaints Office. To find out if an individual or company is registered as a mechanic or shop, or to check for prior complaints, call RICO’s Consumer Resource Center at 587-4272. This information is also available on our website at

But how do you choose a mechanic or repair shop? RICO encourages consumers to check around first. Ask friends, family and people at work for recommendations. Check with other agencies such as the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, and trade associations for information on a particular dealer. And, if you need a specific area of repair, for example air conditioning or transmission work, make sure the mechanic or shop is proficient in that area. If a third party, such as an insurance company or a warranty provider, is paying for your repairs, make sure they’ll work with the mechanic or shop you want to use. Then, before you take your car in, verify licensing with us.

Once you’ve found a shop or mechanic, take your car in to have the problem diagnosed. By law, the shop must give you a written estimate of the cost for repairing the vehicle before your car gets fixed. As an alternative, the shop may ask you to sign a document waiving your right to receive a written estimate. Be sure you get one or the other before leaving. And, don’t forget to ask when your car will be ready for pick up and if warranties apply to any of the work that will be done.

And, be sure to tell the shop or mechanic to save any old parts that you want before they get to work. If the used parts have to be returned to a manufacturer, distributor or dealer, the licensee will show you the old parts after the work is done.

Lastly, all work done by a shop or mechanic, including warranty work, must be recorded on an invoice. The invoice must describe all service work that was done and all parts that were supplied. If rebuilt or reconditioned parts were used, the invoice must clearly say so, and, by law, a copy of the invoice must be given to the customer.

For more information on these and other topics, visit the State’s website at or call the Consumer Resource Center at 587-4272.