Check if there is an open recall for your car on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. You will need the VIN number of your car. Scroll below to find out how to locate your VIN. 

FREE RECALL CHECK

free recall check

You can also check for recall based on vehicle Make, Model and Year. 

Another option is to check by calling your dealer. 
 

Where do I find my VIN?

vin location

 

Door Jamb
VIN NUMBER LOCATION

 

Windshield

  Insurance Card
  Car Registration
  Vehicle Ownership / Title

Many people often confuse technical service bulletins (TSBs) with recalls, but they are NOT the same thing. TSBs are a kind of diagnosis that a vehicle manufacturer issues when an unanticipated problem has occurred multiple times and is affected a wide array of cars/trucks, etc.

What does a VIN Recall Check  Cover

What VIN search tool covers:

  • Safety recalls that are incomplete on a vehicle
  • Safety recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years
  • Safety recalls conducted by major light auto automakers, including motorcycle manufacturers.

What VIN search tool does NOT cover:

  • Completed safety recall information
  • Manufacturer customer service or other non-safety recall campaigns
  • International vehicles
  • Very recently announced safety recalls for which not all VINs have been identified
  • Safety recalls that are more than 15 years old (except where a manufacturer offers more coverage)
  • Safety recalls conducted by small vehicle manufacturers, including some ultra-luxury brands and specialty applications

NOTE: Recall information provided through this VIN lookup tool is provided by the manufacturer conducting the recall. NHTSA does not record VIN information or results provided through the VIN lookup tool.

Recall vs. TSB: What’s The Difference Between Them?

Recall

recalls vs tsb whats the differenceWhen a recall is issued, the repair/maintenance work is done for free, no matter what the warranty status is on the vehicle. When the vehicle manufacturer has issued a recall, they must reimburse the dealerships who do the repair and require them to do it.

TSB - Service Bulletin

On the other hand, if a TSB is issued, dealers are under no obligation to recall cars to do the repairs at a free or reduced charge to the affected vehicle owner. Under the TSB, the dealership will not be reimbursed for repairs made because the manufacturer hasn’t issued an official recall.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with bulletins – to save yourself money by letting you know of potential problems with a vehicle you currently own or are looking to purchase. In some cases, TSBs can offer some insight into whether or not there is a problem and could become a costly issue.

Auto manufacturers will use these bulletins to let dealers know about the various issues affecting a vehicle that’s shipped from the factory. It’s not uncommon for one vehicle to have several issued service bulletins in its lifetime.

What is a service bulletin?

Bulletins are focused more on the non-safety-related defects that could affect the vehicle’s longevity and performance like a premature failure or improper operation of the parts. These bulletins will offer service technicians advice on how to diagnose and repair the issue, identify the right tools, parts, and methods to fix the problem.

Bulletins make dealers aware of a host of issues:

  • Changes in lubricants
  • Changes in recommended tire pressure
  • Repair processes
  • Maintenance requirements

Remember, TSBs should not be confused with recalls. They’re not totally free, but do provide extended warranty coverage on a particular issue.

Even though a bulletin lays out possible problems with a vehicle model, it doesn’t mean that the particular issue is going to “rear its ugly head.” The problem vehicles may be identified by:

  • Vehicles with specific VIN numbers
  • Vehicles manufactured at a certain factory
  • Vehicles that may have parts manufactured by a certain supplier

Some bulletins are easy to understand while others are bit more complex.

How Does A Technical Service Bulletin Help In Buying A Used Vehicle?

If you’re thinking about purchasing a used vehicle, it’s important to learn if there have been any TSBs issued for it. This TSB provides you, the consumer, with an idea of what your mechanic should know when looking over the vehicle. The problem could be something as minor as a loose screw in the glove compartment box or a major problem like an untimely failure of the brakes.

The mechanic can let you know if the issue the TSB was released for was fixed for the vehicle. If it’s not, you could use this information to negotiate with the dealer or seller on the price so that you can fix it.

A TSB is designed to provide consumers with early warnings about the problems affecting the safety of the vehicle. Of course, it would be best if you visit Safercar.gov to learn of any investigations, complaints and recalls on the vehicle you’re looking to purchase.

How Does A Technical Service Bulletin Assist You In Maintaining Your Current Vehicle?

Bulletins make you aware of possible problems with your under-warranty vehicle. Is the vibration your vehicle is experiencing normal? Probably not. If a vehicle isn’t under warranty any longer, the TSB is proof that the problem goes beyond your own vehicle. This may convince a manufacturer or dealer to do a goodwill repair, covering some or all of the cost.

If your vehicle is already in or was in for a repair, the TSB helps to determine if an improper solution was used or the repair shop didn’t accurately diagnose the problem. When choosing a repair shop to fix your vehicle, find out if they use TSBs for vehicles. Franchised dealers and qualified mechanics will always use TSBs.

If you like to fix your own vehicle, the TSB lets you know of part changes, repair processes, etc.

How to check TSB Bulletin For Your Vehicle

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides free technical service bulletins for a particular vehicle as well as any complaints, service investigations, etc. All you need to do to attain this information is to visit SaferCar.gov. Type in your vehicle’s year, make and model and read the results that come up under the “Service Bulletins” tab.

While the NHTSA officially runs the website, it can charge for research and copy fees. However, there is no charge if you order less than 100 pages of a bulletin (these run up to five pages long). It can take up to six weeks to attain the papers, as they’re sent by snail mail.

Do Warranties Cover TSB?

The only time a warranty covers a TSB repair is when the vehicle still has its factory warranty. If the car is no longer under warranty, the dealer doesn’t need to fix the problem for free. Some manufacturers may offer to repair a TSB free of charge as a goodwill. The catch is that you need to know about the TSB and ask if they offer a goodwill repair. The manufacturer will not send you a letter telling you there is a TSB on your car or that they will do the repair for free. It is important to be informed.