The Mystery of Technical Service Bulletins Revealed

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on February 18th, 2008

When it comes to automotive Lemons, “TSB” is term that’s often bandied about but rarely defined. A TSB is a Technical Service Bulletin that vehicle manufacturers send to dealerships so that service departments can be kept up-to-date about problems that have come to the manufacturers’ attention. TSBs aren’t safety recalls; they’re a set of instructions about problems that crop up for new or redesigned vehicles.

If your Lemon is still under warranty, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for TSBs that affect your car. If you find a TSB that addresses your problem, the dealership should be willing to fix it for free.

How do you find TSBs? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an Office of Defects Investigations that allows you to search for Technical Service Bulletins online. Go to the TSB section of the ODI, and use their “drill down” search engine to enter the year, make, model, and component of your vehicle.

I just performed an arbitrary search for a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban 1500, and the ODI database returned 89 Technical Service Bulletins for the vehicle, ranging from issues with the instrument panel to a broken bolt on the battery cable terminal. I could have narrowed my search to a single component, such as “Electrical System: Ignition Switch,” and the database would have returned two TSBs.

All the best,


New Jersey Lemon Law Getting Even Better

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on February 7th, 2008

New Jersey Lemon Law, already one of the best in the nation, may be getting even better.

Senate Bill S-454, sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Nicholas Scutari, would add several provisions to further strengthen NJ car buyers’ protections under the law, including:

  • extended coverage from 18,000 to 24,000 miles (the current time limit of two-years would remain the same).
  • a distinction between general defects and those “likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.” For potentially lethal defects, S-454 would allow the dealer only one chance to make the fix, as opposed to the current three chances.
  • a requirement that dealers provide car buyers with an “Owner’s Warranty Rights Notification” booklet to ensure that consumers are made aware of the state’s Lemon-Law protections.

New Jersey legislators have felt that the law law requires updating since it was enacted more than 15 years ago. Commenting on the “one-chance” provision, Sen. Scutari said, “When safety is a concern, three repair attempts are two too many. There is a major difference between an inconvenient oversight like a malfunctioning radio and the possibility that your car won’t stop when you hit the brakes. Our drivers shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk two or three times before they get a car that provides the safe transportation we expect…”

Other protections under New Jersey’s current Lemon Law would remain in effect. For example, in addition to a refund of the purchase price or replacement of the vehicle, consumers can still recover such expenses as attorney fees, sales tax, license and registration fees, and finance charges.

Bill S-454 passed the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.