How to Use TSBs to Boost Efficiency
With the complexity of today’s vehicles, TSBs are a big deal. Technicians must know where to look, what to look for and how to determine if the TSB is applicable. Also, as more TSBs are issued, it’s important to be sure you have access to the very latest ones to ensure the most accurate repair.
Let’s start at the beginning with what TSBs actually are and why they are issued by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
A TSB — Technical Service Bulletin — is a type of service information released by the OEM based on service issues they are seeing in the field. There are several possibilities why a manufacturer would release a TSB, including:
- The OEM could have noticed a pattern failure as the vehicle is driven by consumers. The TSB is written to alert the service technician of the proper way to service/repair the vehicle.
- The OEM could have erroneous data in their service manual. They then release a TSB to overwrite or replace that incorrect data.
- The OEM could have switched parts for the vehicle during the production run, therefore requiring that they update information via TSB.
- The OEM also could have developed a special tool to help the technician more efficiently service the vehicle.
In addition to TSBs, techs should also pay attention to recalls and campaigns from the OEMs as they also contain post-production information based on lessons learned about using and servicing the vehicle. A recall is released by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) when there is a potential transportation safety issue — relating to anything from tires to car seats. The OEM must send out notifications to the consumer, so the consumer knows to take action to repair the vehicle. Typically with a recall, the consumer is able to return to a licensed dealership to have their vehicle or equipment serviced for free.
Campaigns are similar to recalls in that the consumer is notified about a problem with their vehicle. But campaigns do not involve a safety issue and, therefore, are sent out by the OEM (not by NHTSA). The repair cost for a campaign may or may not be covered by the manufacturer.
So, why are these bulletins important?
OEMs release TSBs based on seeing pattern failures for their vehicles. Not only will an independent repair shop benefit because the OEM has already identified the problem, but they’ll also give technicians the step-by-step correction procedure.
Generally, recalls and campaigns should be looked for when the tech first identifies the vehicle. If there is an open recall on the vehicle, the OEM dealership will service that recall for free (for campaigns it depends on the situation). Aftermarket shops want to catch these prior to starting the job to avoid having to explain to the customer why you charged them for something they could have had for free.
TSBs should be the first information you look up as part of a diagnosis. Your online auto repair information source can help. For example, ProDemand from Mitchell 1 is aligned with the technician’s proper workflow, putting a “Recalls/Campaigns” button in a prominent position on the home screen. TSBs are also easily accessed in their own Quick Link on the home screen or as part of a diagnostic lookup.
With TSBs, the OEM has already done all the hard work by identifying the symptoms, diagnosing the issue and providing the corrective procedure. As a technician, you just have to follow the instructions.