What you Need to Know about Service Bulletins

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Dealing with Defects
Sometimes automobiles develop defects that only become known after many miles on the road. You may have heard news reports on major auto recalls when a defective part causes a safety concern. Toyota once had a problem with driver's side floor mats that would catch the accelerator. Remember when several manufacturers had to recall defective airbags that could blast bits of metal into passengers? Sometimes these recalls are an easy fix, such as switching the floor mats, other times, they require you to be without your car in order to switch out defective parts.
Recalls usually involve a fix to a problem that is handled at your dealership at no charge to you. Safety recalls are mandated by the government and the automaker must make the repair at no cost to the consumer, even if the car is out of warranty. Sometimes a recall is put out regarding a defective part that is not safety related but still covered under the warranty. Then there are Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) - What's the difference between a technical service bulletin and a recall? Let's find out.

How to Find Out

All automobile recalls and technical service bulletins are tracked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can go to the website at www.nhtsa.gov and run a check on your vehicle by entering its VIN number. Any outstanding recalls will pop up. Take a look at any TSBs that were issued on your make and model of car. Many times, the manufacturer will have found a fix for the problem.
This is also a handy and free tool when you are shopping for a specific make and model of vehicle. You could check to see if it had any major recalls and note the TSBs to find out what problems have occurred with the vehicle over time. Consumer complaints are also tracked by the NHTSA so you can see what people have complained about regarding that specific make and model of car. Maybe it goes through brake calipers faster than it should or maybe the transmission is clunky. Maybe the steering lags or the infotainment system is glitchy. If consumers had a problem with their car, you'll know.
To find recalls and TSBs for your vehicle, go to the NHTSA site and click on RECALLS found across the top of the menu. This will take you to a page where you can enter your car's 17-character Vehicle Identification Number. You'll find your car's VIN number on your auto insurance card. To find it on your car, look on the lower left of the car's windshield. It is also seen on your DMV Registration Card. Simply enter your VIN number and this tool will do the rest, showing you any defects or recalls on your vehicle in the past 15 years. If your car has any un-repaired safety recalls, they will come up.
You can also get instant recall alerts by downloading the NHTSA's free SaferCar app. When SaferCar discovers a safety recall for the vehicle or equipment you entered, it will send an alert to your phone or email. You can also report a safety issue right from the site.

How TSBs Can Help You

TSBs cover specific problems that may have been common to your vehicle. Often these would be difficult for mechanics to diagnose, and the TSB offers guidance for specialized repairs. TSBs focus on problems that, while less serious than safety recalls, can prove annoying and time-consuming to properly repair. They may have to do with electrical problems or air intake malfunctions, battery charging or chronic worries such as misaligned storage compartments that cause annoying "squeaks." TSBs can be for just about anything really.
While the repairs for many service bulletins are covered under warranty, others are not. Automakers often offer repairs for these TSBs under the headings of a "customer service campaign," "warranty extension," or "service action" that in many cases pays for the repair. This is when an automaker agrees to cover the cost of repair possibly in response to a class-action lawsuit or on its own. But, unlike a safety recall, the automaker doesn't have to inform car owners about these fixes.
Before the NHTSA offered service bulletin information online, consumers spent time searching online forums regarding problems with their specific automobile or would even pay for the information from third parties. Now that consumers can find information on recalls and TSBs online, it is far easier to go to your local dealership for repairs with confidence. The other way to find out if your car has been issued any technical service bulletins by the manufacturer is directly through your dealership, and that's where Lithia Motors comes in.
Let Lithia Help
If you purchased a vehicle from Lithia Motors, your dealership will have your car's VIN number on file and will be able to provide you with any technical service bulletins issued by the manufacturer. Since we service and maintain your vehicle, we'll know about any recalls or fixes that are suggested from the automaker and be able to carry out any repairs quickly and efficiently. If you purchased your car elsewhere, just supply us with your car's VIN number and we can look up recalls and service bulletins as well. It's one of the many ways that Lithia Motors looks out for all your personal transportation needs, because we want to keep you as a customer for life!