How to Find Technical Service Bulletins and Other Manufacturer Communications via NHTSA’s Search Portal

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

April 25, 2016

How to Find Technical Service Bulletins and Other Manufacturer Communications
via NHTSA’s Search Portal

On February 4, 2016, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) filed a lawsuit against Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx seeking to enforce the Congressional mandate in in the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21) enacted on July 6, 2012.

MAP-21 provided 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.”

To make the Bulletins searchable by consumers, MAP-21 required: “an index to each communication, which– (A) identifies the make, model, and model year of the affected vehicles; (B) includes a concise summary of the subject matter of the communication; and (C) shall be made available by the Secretary to the public on the Internet in a searchable format.”

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.

Soon after, NHTSA began posting TSBs only to its website through the safety portal used for recalls, complaints, and related information. Electronic communications to dealers should begin to be posted in the summer of 2016. You can locate these communications by following searching the Center for Auto Safety’s Vehicle Safety Check window on this page, or you can click here to search NHTSA’s database.