In Response to CAS Lawsuit, NHTSA Announces Plan to Comply With Law to Post TSBs and Manufacturer Communications to Dealers

March 28, 2016
202-328-7700

In Response to CAS Lawsuit, NHTSA Announces Plan to Comply With Law to Post TSBs and Manufacturer Communications to Dealers

Until sued by Center for Auto Safety (CAS), DOT violated the Congressional mandate in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) enacted on July 6, 2012 that “the Secretary shall make available on a publicly accessible Internet website, a true or representative copy of each communication to the manufacturer’s dealers or to owners or purchasers of a motor vehicle or replacement equipment produced by the manufacturer about a defect or noncompliance with a motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter in a vehicle or equipment that is sold or serviced.”

On March 25, DOT finally announced its intent to start obeying the law by issuing a Federal Register notice stating it would post all Technical Service Bulletins and communications to dealers on defects in vehicles, regardless of whether the defects were safety related. DOT also required manufacturers of vehicles and equipment to prepare indexes to TSBs and dealer communications, as a guide to consumers looking for information on potential vehicle problems. “At a minimum, an index must identify the make, model, and model year of the affected vehicles and must include a concise summary of the subject matter of the communication.”

According to CAS Executive Director Clarence Ditlow:
“DOT’s new measures to implement the law will save consumers money for repairs covered by Service Bulletins and dealer communications.  For Service Bulletins and dealer communications concerning defects that can cause crashes, deaths and injuries, disclosure could save lives. The GM ignition switch provides a good example. In December 2005, GM issued a TSB warning that the ignition switch could shut off while driving that was never posted by DOT. Nine months earlier in February 2005, GM issued a electronic dealer alert warning that the ignition switch could cut off while driving.  This alert was never made public. Disclosure of these dealer communications could have saved lives and led to an earlier discovery of the ignition switch defect.”

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The Center is represented by Adina Rosenbaum of Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington DC (202-588-1000).