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Auto Club Tips On Vehicle Recall Notices And Service Bulletins

Mechanic repairing brakes by Mario Anima
Photo copyright Mario Anima

With several million General Motors vehicles now being issued recall notices, the Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding motorists to be watchful to make sure their vehicle gets needed repairs if a recall or service bulletin is issued. 


After years of delays, GM has recalled 2.6 million compact Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars worldwide for the faulty ignition switch which can unintentionally turn off the vehicle, disabling the airbags and power steering. These problems have been linked to 13 deaths and 35 crashes. In all, GM has recalled several million vehicles since February for various reasons, according to news reports.  Toyota also recently announced a worldwide recall of 1.9 million Prius vehicles as well as 295,000 trucks and sport utility vehicles for two separate software problems.


Auto manufacturers recalled almost 22 million cars last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Recalls are utilized when a vehicle or item of vehicle equipment doesn’t comply with a federal motor vehicle safety standard. A recall also occurs when there is a safety-related defect in the vehicle or equipment.


“If there’s a safety recall for your vehicle, contact your local dealer and have the repair completed as soon as possible and remember to ask if you you’re entitled to a rental car while the repairs are conducted,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center.  “Keep a copy of the work for your repair records.”


Owners who move should notify the vehicle manufacturer by using the post card many provide in the warranty booklet or by giving the dealer the new address so notices and other information can be sent to the new home, Mazor added.


How should consumers determine if a safety recall or a technical service bulletin has been issued for their car or truck? 


  • Watch the mail. Mailed recall notices should now be easier to identify. A new NHTSA rule means all manufacturers now must use a distinctive label on required mailings that notify owners of recalled vehicles or equipment. The new label says “Important Safety Recall Information” in red and black, along with the phrase “Issued in Accordance with Federal Law,” and U.S. Dept. of Transportation and NHTSA logos.
  • Download a free app. The SaferCar app is available for Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and helps consumers find recall information and up-to-date vehicle safety information, search the agency’s 5-Star Safety Ratings for vehicles by make and model, and subscribe to automatic notices about vehicle recalls, among other features.
  • Go online. At, consumers can start at the right-hand side of the home page under “Safety Recalls” and follow the prompts until asked to enter their vehicle information to find out if a recall has been announced for their car or truck.


Safety recall repairs are paid for by the manufacturer, regardless of warranty considerations, Mazor said, and manufacturers may voluntarily issue their own safety recalls after notifying NHTSA.


Another lesser-known type of repair notice is a technical service bulletin.  These are recommended repairs to correct specific vehicle problems if consumers complain about them when they visit their dealer.  If you learn about these repairs, you can take the car or truck to the dealer and have repairs made while the vehicle is still under warranty to cover the repair costs, said Mazor. 

 As your vehicle is brought in for service, ask the service advisor to check for bulletins covering the problems you may be experiencing.  In some cases, repairs listed in the bulletin may be covered by the manufacturer “service campaign” that provides free or discounted repairs, even if the warranty has expired.    



CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.