Monday, August 13, 2012

Hawaii Safety Check

Every car in Hawaii bears a small Safety Check sticker on the back bumper.  The sticker shows that you have passed the state Safety Check and it must be renewed every year. Our Safety Check expired in June. On Friday, August 10th, I finally got into town with enough time to get my Safety Check done, I thought.

There are not many places on the North Shore that do Safety Checks; only three according to the City and County Site Motor Vehicle Inspection Stations in Honolulu by Zip Code. So I had decided to go into town for my Safety.  I figured I would get some shopping done while waiting for the inspection to be finished. 

I called the Goodyear in Kaneohe.  They stated that they don't make appointments for Safety Checks but that they would put my car in when I got there and it would take 1.5 hours. That sounded good to me. Safeway, Longs and the Mall were all close by, I would make good use of the hour and a half.

When I got there they said it would be a 4-5 hour wait and they were pretty rude to me when I reminded them that they had told me 1.5 hours when I phoned in.  They suggested I go down the street to Honda Windward Auto Spa.

I called the Auto Spa and they let me make an appointment for 1 o'clock and they said I would be in and out in 30 minutes time.  I was overjoyed.  I killed some time at Safeway and made a quick run into Ross while waiting for 1 o'clock to roll around.

At appointment time I checked in and the lady at the front desk said "Oh no! My inspector just left for lunch/doctor appointment." She asked if I wouldn't mind waiting for him to come back.  Well, I had already waited this long.  I agreed. She pointed out that my back over-cab brake light was out and that the back reflector on my tail light was broken.  Both would have to be fixed to pass safety. She offered to find the taillight on island and have it delivered with her next order coming in at 2:30pm.  I knew it was going to be a tough part to find and agreed. She said she'd take care of the bulb too even though I said I could run over to the auto store and get one. While waiting for the inspector to return I walked over to Long's for a few last items on my shopping list.

Inspector got back around 2 but didn't even move my car until after 2:30. I guess he was waiting for the part before doing the inspection? At 3 I get the report on my inspection. They tell me that my serpentine belt has a crack in it and my battery wiggles because it is the wrong size; I need a new, properly fitted, battery.  They tell me that both of those have to be fixed to pass inspection. The belt will cost $150 and the battery . . . 

I cut them off and tell them that I got the battery at Costco and if they installed the wrong size I will take it back to them.  I ask to see the serpentine belt (because I'm pretty sure it was in excellent condition) and tell them my husband knows how to install a serpentine belt and that the part only costs $15.  They show me the belt and I call Dave to tell him that we will not pass inspection.

Dave, fortunately, knows more about safety inspections than I do and tells me the serpentine belt is not on the checklist.  He emails me the Motor Vehicle Inspection Manual.  The manual also says that the battery has to be secure but nothing about proper sizing. Dave says the battery is the right size.  

I told the shop that I had the manual and inform them of my findings. This throws the inspector, the receptionist and the service manager into a little tizzy. The service manager starts looking stuff up online (the manual I assume); the inspector starts throwing out excuses and stuff about "trying to help" and "doing it right" and "it's gotta be safe"; the receptionist begins changing paperwork again, and again, and again. Meanwhile my phone is beeping incessantly as Dave texts me more material for my defense. I stand by the desk in the small front office watching the commotion and fingers flying as I text Dave back.

Finally at 3:45 I get my bill.  It has the inspection charge, the taillight assembly and labor and the cab light bulb and labor. The cab light bulb and labor came to over $25! I was so frustrated already at this point that I blew up at the receptionist who had just handed me the bill. "$25 for a bulb that I said I would go buy for $1.80 at O'Reilly's and could have installed myself in 5 minutes time?!" I was really mad because she was the one that insisted that they could do it really quick and easy to "help me out".

She turned around very flustered, changed the invoice, printed a new one and mumbled something about "making it up to the technician".  I really didn't care.  The bulb is literally 2 screws out, twist the bulb in, 2 screws back in.  That is not worth $25.

I paid my bill and got out at 4pm but still had a failed safety check.  Dave will have to secure the battery and we will have to go back next weekend. He's going with this time. 

Yes, we have to go back to the same inspection station.
No, there are no additional charges for the second inspection as long as it is done within 30 days of the first inspection.
No, there are no late fees for a late inspection . . . unless you get stopped and ticketed by the police.

I shouldn't have taken Goodyear's bad advice to change shops.  I nearly got robbed and it took over 5 hours from the time I made the appointment to the time I left the shop. I still don't know if I would have been better off at Goodyear though.  I wonder if they would have let my battery go?


  1. Grrrrrrrr!!! Just reading this made me so angry! I hate it when people rip people off. I'm so glad you were smart and didn't let it happen! Good for you!

  2. Grrrrrrrr!!! Just reading this made me so angry! I hate it when people rip people off. I'm so glad you were smart and didn't let it happen! Good for you!

  3. Devin and I laughed as we passed a car shop yesterday that had a sign "oil change special for ladies on Wednesdays" because we know they're really only trying to lure in women they think they can upsell & overcharge to begin with. Such a shame.


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