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Car Safety >> Car Recalls

Reading and Using a TSB - Technical Service Bulletin

As disheartening as it may sound you need to do a lot of homework when it comes to reading and gathering information for a TSB. More often than you realize, you will enter the year, make and model of your car, and the part in question, and restlessly anticipate the search results. In a worst case scenario the results that come up on the computer screen are just some random numbers that are impossible to decipher. Of course, this information will be of no use to you in trying to explain the problem to your mechanic.

The preceding problem generally arises because of the multiple entries found. This is primarily because the different mechanics are reporting the same problem at different times (relative time – say days and month) and at different times in the life of the car (say a year old or three years old). The manufacturer then puts together a detailed procedure for dealing with the issue and sends the report to all its dealers as a technical service bulletin.
How can car owners manage this sometimes cumbersome process? One way is to take a chance – note the number and go to your service manager to discuss it.

The service manager / dealership usually maintains a copy of all TBS’s, and this one is more detailed. The dealer can then look up your particular car problem. However, if you are not in luck on that particular day you may find that the service manager / dealership has an outdated copy of TBS from NHTSA; and no clue of what you are talking about.

In such cases it can be prudent to order your own copy from an updated NHTSA bulletin. Another option might be to visit certain websites which offer full text service; ideally for free.

Now you have the information you need and you feel that you have diagnosed your car problem. Why is that important? As the saying goes, knowledge is power. With the TSB number and complete description of the problem in hand you will be able to present a stronger case, which is in turn more likely to yield the results you are looking for, i.e. car repairs or part replacement.

You can request a meeting with the service manager and discuss the problem and outline possible solutions. Usually, a service manager maintains contact with the manufacturer's representative (a field technician) whom they can contact for analysis – determining what would be the next best step for your car.

Alternatively, print the full text of the TBS related to your car problem, take it to your mechanic and ask “where should we go from here?”

Now that you and your service manager / mechanic have come to an understanding of your car problem you can advance to the next step. Generally, the car manufacturer will offer financial help for known problems as a gesture of goodwill; but be warned this is only a token sum. Rarely does it match costs related to the whole amount of required repairs.

Finally, when you experience mechanical problems with your car be sure to approach the right entity to get the best results. Be aware that only the cost of recall-related repairs will be covered in the event of a recall, which is unrelated to a TSB. Any other problems will not be covered.

Also understand that recall work is a separate matter from warranty work. Recalls repairs are not covered by your warranty. It does not matter if your warranty has expired; the car manufacturer has to account for the recall work, not the consumer.

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