It’s never great news if your car’s manufacturer sends you a notice in the mail. Most people assume that any manufacturer’s communication about their car is automatically a recall notice, but that’s not entirely true. Manufacturers can also send out technical service bulletins (TSBs), a similar but distinct message that contains important information about your vehicle.
While a TSB isn’t a recall, it’s still something you need to understand and respond to. Keep reading to learn what TSBs communicate, what it means to get one, and how to ensure you get your car repaired.
What Is a Technical Service Bulletin?
A TSB is an official notice from a manufacturer explaining a common problem with a vehicle and the recommended way to fix it. Bulletins are typically issued when a manufacturer becomes aware of a problem with a car that’s leading to a surprising number of warranty claims or complaints. They provide detailed instructions on fixing the problem, allowing mechanics to resolve these complaints quickly and effectively.
Technical service bulletins aren’t issues for dangerous problems. They’re typically used to explain how to resolve irritating but not life-threatening issues such as chipping paint, peeling seats, or sticky windshield wipers.
Because these problems aren’t dangerous, manufacturers may not even notify you that they’ve issued a TSB. Instead, they’ll send the bulletin to mechanics at their dealerships, so the mechanics are aware of the issue and how to fix it. To know whether your vehicle has any bulletins issued, you’ll have to look up a TSB summary through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Difference Between Technical Service Bulletins and Recall Notices
TSBs and recall notices have a few critical differences. Most importantly, recalls are legally required by the NHTSA. If your vehicle has a dangerous problem, the NHTSA requires the manufacturer to notify you and fix the issue at no cost.
In comparison, TSBs are not legally required. You may be able to get the problem repaired at no cost, but only if your vehicle is still under warranty. Furthermore, bulletins can implement extra time limits on specific repairs even if cars are still under warranty. You need to be alert to ensure you don’t miss a bulletin notification and lose your opportunity to get problems repaired without cost.
What Does It Mean If There’s a TSB on Your Car?
There are many reasons a bulletin might be issued for your vehicle. Examples of recent TSBs issued by Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler include:
- 2022 Ford Expeditions: Driver assistance systems may display “not available” or “service required” messages due to software faults.
- 2005-2023 GM vehicles:Sunroofs may leak, bind, or fail to close due to the accumulation of ordinary dirt and debris.
- 2021 Chevrolet Colorados:Vehicles may refuse to start due to a failure in the software that connects the contactless key to the engine.
According to the NHTSA’s standards, none of these issues are life-threatening or even dangerous. However, they are profoundly irritating and can heavily impact the value and utility of your car. If a TSB has been issued for your new vehicle, you deserve to have the problem repaired under warranty, and California law supports that right.
What to Do If You Receive a TSB
If the manufacturer has issued a bulletin for your car, it’s time to take action. If your vehicle is still under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired as a warranty issue at no cost. Here’s how to ensure you address any bulletins effectively and get the necessary repairs.
Determine If Your Vehicle Is Affected
Use your car’s details to search the NHTSA site for TSBs issued by the manufacturer. Carefully read through the communications listed on the site to learn what problems the manufacturer knows about and see if any of them sound familiar.
If your car isn’t displaying a problem, then there’s no need to have it repaired. Technical service bulletins are issued when a problem is common, not necessarily ubiquitous. You may be lucky, and your vehicle will never show signs of the problem. Still, knowing which problems are common enough for a bulletin helps you to spot potential issues early before they get worse.
Take Your Car to the Manufacturer’s Mechanics
Once you’ve realized that your car has a problem and there’s a TSB about how to fix it, it’s time to take it to the shop. For two reasons, the best place to get the repairs made will be the in-house mechanics at your local brand dealership.
First, these mechanics are most likely to have received the TSB. The manufacturer sends TSBs out to their own mechanics, not every auto shop in the country. Second, since they’re affiliated with the manufacturer, they can potentially perform warranty repairs at no cost to you.
Monitor the Issue
Once you’ve had your car repaired, pay attention to how the repair holds up. TSBs provide specific, tested methods for resolving potential warranty problems, so it shouldn’t take multiple visits to get your vehicle fixed for good.
If the problem crops up again, don’t hesitate to take your car back to the shop. It remains a warranty issue, even if the dealership has already tried to fix it once. If you have to spend more than four visits trying to get the issue repaired, or if your vehicle has spent more than 30 days in the shop for warranty and TSB problems, then it may officially be a lemon.
Track TSBs to Monitor Potential Warranty Problems
A TSB isn’t a recall, but it’s a sign that your car has problems. Monitor the NHTSA website to find out if any TSBs are issued for your vehicle, so you can get problems repaired under warranty sooner rather than later.
If you’ve tried to have your vehicle repaired under warranty for technical service bulletin issues and the fix didn’t work, you have other options. You can potentially file a lemon claim against the manufacturer to get your car repaired, replaced, or refunded. Learn more about how failed TSB repairs may be grounds for a lemon claim by contacting the expert California lawyers at 866-761-2317 or online.