Factbox: Where to find auto service bulletins

March 25, 2010

DETROIT (Reuters) – Automakers provide notice of recalls involving cars, SUVs or pickup trucks to their owners, but drivers may not know whether their vehicles are covered by one of the thousands of “technical service bulletins” filed each year with U.S. safety regulators or where to find them.

Following are some facts about technical service bulletins, or TSBs, and where vehicle owners might find them.

* A technical service bulletin is a repair notice aimed at dealers and mechanics directing repairs for a range of issues not deemed safety risks. Safety risks require a vehicle recall under the formal system administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

* Manufacturers are required to submit all TSBs and related correspondence to U.S. safety regulators. NHTSA posts summaries on the www.safercar.gov website. Several car companies and consumer advocates provide access to bulletins on websites.

* Anyone can search the NHTSA website for service bulletins. However, summaries provided free of charge are vague. People can request a full bulletin in writing or through the website, but must pay for copying and it can take up to 20 days to meet a request.

Here is the number of technical service bulletins filed with NHTSA for the top seven selling automakers in the United States.

2010 MY 2009 MY 2008 MY
General Motors 46* 857* 2264*
Ford 9 69 663
Chrysler 0 62 333
Toyota 1 37 160
Honda 0 4 36
Nissan 57 154 340
Hyundai 14 80 90

* GM includes its four surviving brands and the other four that are being discontinued (Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac).


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The technical safety bulletins should be submitted to the government in text-searchable PDF format rather than on paper. That way, they could be made available for downloading for free from the government safety regulator’s web site. The fact that this is not being done, even though most government agencies work that that nowadays, suggests a certain amount of complicity with regulated companies that don’t want their technical service bulletins to be made easily available to the general public.

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive

I have read the TSB summaries for my vehicle. I do not need, nor would I want the full text of the TSB. I do most of my own vehicle work. Most of the TSB’s are either part related or require dealer work.

BTW, my scanner makes PDF’s just fine, so your assertion is not valid.

Posted by jrg | Report as abusive