In the lifetime of your car, you are likely to either get a Technical Service Bulletin or recall notice. Knowing the difference between Technical Service Bulletins and recall notices is important. It is very beneficial to you and your family if you know what each document means and what to do with it.
Have you ever heard of Technical Service Bulletins? What about the initials TSB? As you have guessed by now TSB is the abbreviated way in which to talk about the Technical Service Bulletins. TSBs are advisories issued by a car manufacturer to its dealers detailing fixes for a known problem or concern. The problem is not always mechanical, it could simply be an error or update to a service manual.
Technical Service Bulletins are important for the diagnosis of your car problems. If you do not have a general understanding of what these bulletins, you are missing a vital part of how car issues are identified. TSBs give both the dealership and car owner's information into what issues might arise with certain models. The bulletins are not compulsory repair notices so the dealer and carmaker are not under any obligation to make the repairs or even notify the owners of that vehicle.
What TSBs are intended to do is assist dealers with ongoing repairs. These bulletins are usually the result of a number of complaints by car owners or mechanics regarding the same problem. The carmaker then investigates the issue and puts together a comprehensive course of action to deal with the problem. This investigation ends with a report to the dealers. The report is thus the TSB.
The TSB database is maintained by the U.S. Government. If you are interested in searching for TSBs, you can do so by going to the NHTSA website and searching for Technical Service Bulletins. You should be directed to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), which has a Technical Service Bulletins Search Engine. Here you can input your vehicle's year, make and model and then read any bulletins filed for your specific car.
Car manufacturers release Technical Service Bulletins for informational purposes and they should not to be confused with recalls. Recalls generally are related to safety or emission concerns. Recalls are a mandate by the government that a carmaker provide specific repairs to an exact make and model.
Recall problems are found to be not just a common repair but also usually a design flaw that the government has determined to be clearly unsafe and possibly dangerous. These flaws are then termed to be a defect and the manufacturer is required to issue an official safety recall notice. This notice is to inform the owner that their specific vehicle has been found to have a defect that needs to be corrected.
Either a motorist will generally be notified of a recall by a typed letter mailed directly to them or from the dealer's service department informing the driver when the car is brought in for scheduled maintenance. The government requires that a letter be sent so even if the dealer has informed you of the issue you should receive a letter in the mail.
The notification letter should include a brief description of the defect, the risk posed by the issue, a description of how the issue should be remedied and what the owner can do if they are unable to have the problem corrected in a reasonable amount of time. The letter should not only instruct the owner of the nature of the problem but also inform them of what the remedy will be and how long it should take to make the corrections. Finally, the notification should remind the owner that the repairs should be done at no charge to them.
The NHTSA tries to monitor each recall to make certain that the carmaker provides owners a safe, free and effective way in which to get the problem taken care of. The remedy for the issue must be taken care of without charge to the owner since it is due to a defect. The government requires the correction to be done by repair, replacement, or repurchase of the vehicle or piece of equipment. The car manufacturer will decide what the remedy will be rendered.
In most cases, getting a recall fixed is as easy as setting up an appointment with the local dealership and taking it in. However, sometimes the car owner is unable to get the recall done or completed without charge. In case of problems such as these, the government recommends to first contact a dealership's service manager. If you are unable to get the recall taken care of through the local dealership the next step is to contact the car manufacturer. If the manufacturer is unwilling to help you, you then should contact the NHTSA to have the issue resolved.
Like the Technical Service Bulletins, recalls also are kept in a database by the NHTSA. If you are interested in checking for any recalls regarding your vehicle, go to the NHTSA website and search for Safety Recalls. You should be directed to the ODI and then to the Safety Recalls search engine. You can choose the type of recall you wish to look up. The choices are vehicle, equipment, child safety seat, or tires. Next input your vehicle's year, make, model, and the information should come up.
Automobile manufacturers and the U.S. Government want to keep you and your family safe in whatever vehicle you are driving. When an automobile issue is common enough the carmaker will investigate it and send out a Technical Service Bulletin. If the problem is of a more serious safety nature, the government will also become involved and ask the carmaker to issue a recall. It is beneficial for proper maintenance to use the search engine on the NHTSA site to find out what bulletins and recalls might be out there on your car now that you know what these documents are and what they mean to you.