Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) are recommended repair procedures issued by a manufacturer alerting dealers to potential non-safety related defects affecting a vehicle’s performance or life. They help repair technicians diagnose and repair a problem, specifying tools, techniques, and required parts. They can also alert dealers to issues, such as changes in tire pressure or lubricants, repair procedures, and maintenance requirements. TSBs are not recalls and do not entitle customers to free repairs, but some bulletins indicate when the manufacturer is extending warranty coverage for a specific problem. Knowing about TSBs issued for your vehicle can help you save money by alerting you of problems with a car you own or plan to buy. In some cases, they also can expose an early hint of a potential safety problem or the risk of an expensive future problem. Depending on the issue, some bulletins may be difficult to understand for anyone unfamiliar with car repair.

In the above video, Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard warns that not every notice is legitimate and should be looked into thoroughly.

With a record number of recalls released last year, people visiting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to check the VIN number of their vehicle to see if it has been recalled, may experience problems accessing the information they are looking for. The service has been slow after automakers released another round of recalls for defective Takata airbags. About 33.8 million vehicles, manufactured by 11 different automakers, have already been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side and/or passenger’s side, because they could deploy with too much force, injuring and in some instances killing occupants. Six fatalities and over 100 injuries have already been linked to the problem. Continue reading

After trying to have her 2013 Chrysler Town & Country defects repaired, a California resident decided to call the Law Offices of Delsack & Associates, P.C. for advice. She told us she had given her dealership six (6) opportunities to fix electrical problems that would cause the malfunction indicator light to constantly remain on. The dealership was already aware of the problem, as two technical service bulletins (TSB) had been issued by Chrysler informing technicians that software reprogramming and selective erasing could be a fix. (NHTSA ID: 10054201, Service Bulletin No.: SB-18-048-13 and NHTSA ID 10054169, Service Bulletin No.: SB-18-029-13.) Unfortunately, they still could not fix her minivan. Continue reading

The Safety Institute is a non-profit organization who’s main goal is injury prevention and product safety as a basis for a healthy and productive society and as a vital component to reducing health care costs. The group is currently involved in a variety of issues regarding product safety, including reports that monitor vehicle defect trends and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recall and enforcement activities. Their quarterly compiled early warning list shows the top 15 vehicle trends that they say automakers and government should be paying attention to. Continue reading

Owners of certain Chrysler and Dodge minivans, Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram pickups, have filed complaints with the NHTSA over safety concerns caused by their vehicles’ Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM).

The TIPM consists of a computer, relays, and fuses that control and distribute power to the vehicles electrical systems. These include safety systems, security system, ignition, electrical power-train, airbags, fuel pump, windshield wipers, headlights, turn signals, and power windows and doors. Drivers report electrical problems which have resulted in unsafe driving conditions on numerous occasions. Continue reading

A recall of certain 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles has raised safety concerns on whether General Motors should have included four more models. In October 2006, GM sent dealers a technical service bulletin (TSB) warning about an ignition problem that could prevent the airbags from deploying. (NHTSA Technical Service Bulletin Number: 050235007) Continue reading

Most consumers know that automobile manufacturers are required to issue recalls on vehicles with problems that affect the safety, value and use of the models they manufacture. We have blogged about rental companies and consumers failing to repair recalls, and have encouraged everyone to check our recall list to make sure the problem has been repaired.

Many consumers don’t realize, however, that automobile manufactures also release Technical Service Bulletins (TSB’s). TSB’s are issued after several complaints of unanticipated vehicle problems are received. The manufacturer is not required to issue a recall, do the repairs, or even notify consumers of the problem. It is important for drivers to know if a TSB exists on their vehicle because the information on the reports can save technicians troubleshooting time, provide organized, itemized repair procedures, and standardize the repair process. This can enhance the quality of the maintenance and can save the vehicle owner money by allowing the technician to repair the problem quickly.

If you are experiencing problems with your vehicle and are taking it in to have repairs done, it is in your best interest to research TSB’s related to your problem. If you find one that could be related, let the service manager know that it exists and make sure it is noted on the repair order.

A Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) is a bulletin issued by an automobile manufacturer to an auto dealer notifying them about warranty extensions and fixes for known repeated problems. Because it is not a recall, the dealer is under no obligation to make the repair or to even notify customers of the problem. The publication of these TSB’s gives information that could save consumers large amounts of money on repairs, but still the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declined to post these reports on their web site. The reason: The NHTSA has been warned that the TSB’s are copyrighted.

According to NHTSA spokeswoman, Karen Aldana, “Many manufacturers say that technical service bulletin information is copyrighted, and therefore the NHTSA has a legal obligation to leave them “off” their site.” These manufacturers believe that the bulletins should not be published because they show how to make repairs that “should not be performed by do-it-yourselfers. These bulletins, however, can be obtained through commercial services which sell the information to repair shops as well as individuals.

But not all automakers copyright their bulletins. Automakers like BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru and Volvo all say they would not object to publication by the agency. Some say that failing to do so could be seen as the agency being more concerned about catering to the auto industry instead of helping consumers.