You’ve probably heard of recalls and service bulletins on the news relating to various vehicles and auto parts over the years. Some of them are more dangerous than others, but it’s important to understand what these recalls and service bulletins mean, especially when they apply to your vehicle.
The most important of these warnings to understand are the safety recalls, because, of course, they have to do with your safety. Safety recalls come in two versions: mandatory and voluntary.
Mandatory Safety Recalls
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) is a government agency that is responsible for ensuring vehicle safety in the United States. When the NHSTA issues a recall, it’s called a Mandatory Safety Recall, and the vehicle manufacturer pays for any repairs or replacement parts. These recalls are generally for safety related defective parts.
Voluntary Safety Recalls
The manufacturer can also issue a safety recall, but these are called Voluntary Safety Recalls. These are for defective parts that could, potentially, affect safety, but not necessarily. These repairs or replacement parts are also paid for by the manufacturer.
When a vehicle has an issue that isn’t great, but isn’t going to affect the safety of its passengers or its ability to function properly, a technical service bulletin may be issued.
The bulletin will list the issue, the repair for the issue, and possibly, a change in procedure for handling the issue in the future. While a technical service bulletin will let consumers know what might be wrong with a vehicle, they also serve to notify dealerships of new issues and repair procedures. Because technical service bulletins are often issued only to dealerships, if you have your vehicle serviced at an independent repair shop, you may not be aware that such a bulletin exists for your vehicle unless you go looking for the information.
Repairs outlined in service bulletins may or may not be paid for by the manufacturer. Often, if the vehicle is still within its manufacturer warranty period, the manufacturer will pay, but if it’s not, the consumer is responsible for the cost.
Finding Service Bulletins and Safety Recalls
If you’re wondering whether a service bulletin or safety recall applies to your vehicle, search the NHSTA website! You can use your vehicle make, model, year, and VIN to search for alerts relating to your car, so that if there is an issue, you can have it taken care of as soon as possible.