All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Subaru Repair Seattle: Understanding the Difference between a Recall and a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin)

The word recall has been mentioned quite a bit in the media lately.  I thought it would be a good time to try and explain the difference between a Technical Service Bulletin or (TSB) and a Recall.

In the link provided below you will see a typical document provided to all franchised Subaru dealers by SOA ( Subaru Of America).  In this example Subaru is letting Dealers know abut a possible issue with a trailer hitch.  This is whats called a internal document for fixed operations.  Both the parts and service departments are made aware of the issue and given instructions on how to deal with a complaint should one arise.  There will be no customer notification however, and unless the driver experiences an issue and brings it to the attention of the service or parts department they will never be made aware of any solution covered under a warranty.  I will also point out that not every TSB indicates something that will be covered for free, as many TSB’s will have a time limit.  The information however is very useful when servicing your Subaru as we want to make sure we use the most updated components and the most updated procedures.

There are more examples of this then you could ever possibly imagine.

Subaru Trailer Hitch TSB

In the link provided below I have provided some information about the recall affecting some late model Outbacks, this recall pertains to an issue with the parking rod potentially becoming damaged during assembly.  The potential defect could allow the vehicle to not remain in park when selected, which would allow the car to move unexpectedly.    This is deemed a safety issue, and as such Subaru must inform the driver in writing of the defect.  Subaru Dealers are also required to inform the customer.

Some Dealers will use this as an opportunity to market to a customer, get them in for the recall, and also remind them they are due for a 15,000 mile service, brake inspection, oil change etc., while the car is in for there.

Subaru Transmission Rod Recall

You will clearly see the much stronger language in the recall notice then in the TSB.  Subaru nor any other car maker is required to notify customers about TSB information, drivers can use the internet as a tool to look for TSB information but even then may still be unaware.

TSB info provided to a Dealer is mostly about cutting down on warranty costs and helping Technicians pinpoint issues that may be other wise challenging to diagnose, thus cutting down on components being replaced that did not need to be.   It’s not uncommon however for a TSB to eventually turn into a campaign or Recall.  As the car maker learns more, about component failures they may either opt to or be forced to by the NHTSA to ramp up its efforts.

Taking your Subaru to a Shop like ours is one of the best ways to stay informed about your Subaru.  All Wheel Drive Auto stays informed! We pay for the TSB information, that way when we service your Subaru we can either help you retain as much value by pointing out there is a TSB for a procedure that may be done at no charge by Subaru, or by making sure we are using the most updated components in the service of the vehicle.

Thanks for reading


Independent Subaru Repair Expert






One Response

  1. Thank you Justin. In addition to running a business, you provide a wealth of valuable information to Subaru owners for free. I have been following your blog since I bought my first Subaru in 2004 (MY 2005). I just replaced it with a new MY 2016. I really didn’t want to replace my 05 Forester with 177,500 miles, but I didn’t have a mechanic like yourself who is devoted to Subaru’s. I currently have separation anxiety for my 05 that is gone now, feeling that my 2016 doesn’t measure up to what I used to own. I only hope that my 2016 Forester will be the workhorse my 05 was.

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