When it comes to cars we’ve all heard the words “Recall”, “Warranty” and “TSB” (Technical Service Bulletin) but they can be confusing. So let’s break it down so you know the difference and how to handle each.

Let’s start with Recalls

When numerous consumers report an issue to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) they will open an investigation. If the manufacturer is found to be responsible for a defect that is a safety issue then the Safety Recall is issued. Sometimes recalls will be issued directly by the manufacturer, these are considered Voluntary Recalls.

In either circumstance the owner of the vehicle will receive a letter in the mail guiding them to an immediate course of action. In some cases the letter is a “Heads Up” that a recall campaign has begun. There are issued when parts aren’t available yet. The vehicle owner will then be notified when the parts are available for their vehicle and they can make an appointment at a Dealership or an Official Service Center. Recall repairs are done without diagnosis – no questions asked.

Technical Service Bulletins are quite different

TSBs are issued by the manufacturer for less serious problems that affect the normal operation of the vehicle. TSBs cover known problems and provide repair instructions for service technicians and are distributed to all of the manufacturer’s dealerships and official service centers.  TSB repairs require inspection and verification. They are made only to resolve problems that can be verified by dealer service technicians.The NHTSA maintains a database of TSBs issued by every manufacturer, but consumers only have ready access to summary information.

Warranties are another animal

Factory Warranties are included in the purchase price of a new vehicles. They cover certain repairs and some times small maintenance like Oil Changes. These warranties have to be performed at the Dealership or Official Authorized Service Center.

Extended Warranties are purchased from a third party at the time of purchasing a new vehicle or a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. These warranties often cover repairs beyond what a factory warranty covers and may be sold with different level of coverage (Basic, Better, Premium). Not all extended warranty companies are the same so it is best to do your research to make sure and not make the purchase without understanding the whole package. The coverage generally provides an expiration based on Time or Mileage.


If you have any questions about Recalls, Warranties, and TSBs feel free to give us a call at 303.238.7222.