Technical Service Bulletins Are Now Available To You, The Consumer

By Blake Z. Rong | July 06, 2012
Last week's $105-billion transportation bill, passed by Congress in a rare show of bipartisanship support, included financial incentives for cracking down on distracted driving, expanded federal funding for public transport, and in the sort of dramatic deadline that arouses any inkling of change, even prevented a shutdown of our highway programs. But for consumers, the bill also included one important factor: Technical service bulletins (TSBs) must now be made readily available to the public, from both dealers as well as the Internet. TSBs are issued from automakers to their dealers; they're step-by-step instructions on how to repair a component for a new car. They're a step well below a recall: when there's a problem that occurs a few times, automakers issue them in advance of the problem spreading into a full-blown recall. Formerly, TSBs were relatively hard to find. Despite a law from the 1970s requiring automakers to make them public, the NHTSA only publishes a handful on their website. Now, however, the Department of Transportation must make every TSB available on its website—and searchable by make, model and year in a database. They'll also be available upon request at dealerships.
Previously, dealers were reluctant to make TSBs mandatory, as they preferred to charge for their repair work. But this is good news for do-it-yourselfers and owners of late-model cars—especially those long out of warranty—for which this information can be near-impossible to find. Source: Consumer Reports