TSA's -- to speak or hold my peace?

2007 Chevrolet Impala 1LT

3.5L V6 Flex Fuel engine

auto trans

6,750 miles

Couple problems last two days:

1) headlights and interior lights flickering now and then

2) air bag light/alarm chime alerting and message “service air bag” displayed

Had OnStar run diagnostic which showed no codes of any kind.

Have appt Friday morning to have oil chg., tire rotation, and check out these probs along w/ existing puzzle of DRLs either turning off or not when engine turned off.

Research shows TSA’s for the flickering lights and air bag sensor.

Question: Should I mention I know about the TSA’s when I take the car in or merely describe the problems and not mention the TSA’s???

Appreciate feedback from any of you mechanics. Thanks.


…still asking questions so I can learn…

You should definitely mention that you are aware of the TSBs on this model, for a couple of reasons. If the service people are not on top of things, they may not be aware of the existence of those TSBs. And, there are service departments that will not really attempt to resolve problems on the first visit and instead just try to “blow the customer off” with vague notations like “problem not observed” on the repair order.

Knowledge is power! Make the service department staff aware that you have some knowledge of these problems and you are more likely to have this resolved. If they are not able to resolve it, then you need to request an appointment with the factory Zone Representative the next time that he or she visits the dealership. These people have the authority to approve repairs that the dealership is sometimes reluctant to do.

Incidentally–your posting is a model of how to ask questions properly!

If everyone would begin by including the make, model, year, engine type, and odometer reading of their vehicle, it would make it a whole lot easier to provide an answer.

Good luck with having these problems resolved.

Marnet–One additional thought!

Since the possibility of a problem with the deployment of your air bags exists, this is definitely a safety-related issue. I strongly suggest that you report this to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), via their website.

If enough owners of problematic vehicles report a problem, that serves to “tighten the screws” on a manufacturer to provide a solution promptly. And, since the possibility exists that your air bags will not deploy in the event of an accident, this situation should be taken seriously. Do your civic duty by reporting this problem to NHTSA.

You certainly want to report the issues and you want it to be documented. I don’t know if I would start off informing the dealer of the TSB’s. It will be interesting to see if they know about them and apply them. If they do, it should build your confidence in their work, if they don’t it is a warning about them and you can then inform them of their existence when you pick up the car if they have not done them.

Thanks for the feedback! It’s because of reading this board quite a lot over the past year and a half that I even know about such things as the TSA’s. I highly appreciate the time and effort you regulars make to answer questions and help us non-mechanics learn better how to properly “feed and care” for our cars, thereby extending the life of the cars and keep us more safe!

Oh, and thanks for the comment about how I formatted my question. Learned that, too, from reading lots of previous reply postings.


I’d go one step further. If you know the TSB #, or better yet, can print out the details, then bring that along. When you speak to the service advisor, do it in a way that doesn’t get them defensive. Something like this;

I noticed the following problem {describe symptoms} and wasn’t sure if it would be easily reproduced for your service tech. Then I noticed this service bulletin that addresses the exact symptoms I have been experiencing.

Then hand him the TSB.

I go one step further if I ever have to resort to the dealer performing work. I print out a short description of my problem and leave it on the passenger seat. The tech then sees it when he gets in the car and can get my information first hand instead of some sanitized version the advisor writes on the repair order. I’ve had techs even comment on the sheet how helpful that was in resolving the problem. YMMV.

Oh, I like that idea! I’ve often written up a description of the problem and given it to the service advisor but never thought to leave a copy on the seat for the person actually working on the car to see. Had assumed the advisor writing the ticket would include my printout w/ the ticket. Nor had I thought of printing out the TSA’s. Just might take a copy of those along too, just in case.

Thank you.


Marnet, you should provide this TSB info to the service advisror. These guys can get overwhelmed at times and chances are they may not have heard of the TSB or had a chance to read it yet. Sometimes those TSBs come in and copies are placed in a notebook without the service advisor even knowing about it.

I ran into a Ford TSB about 5 years ago about an updated control arm bushing (got it off of ALLDATA) and when I went into the Ford dealer about those bushings the service advisors did not even know about that TSB; and it had been out for about 8 years!

TwinTurbo’s suggestion about leaving a note on the seat describing the problem and giving details on the problem is about one of the best suggestions that could ever be made. This kind of thing helps the tech enormously.
I’ve often said there is a disconnect between the car owner and the mechanic. A detailed note fills in that gap very nicely as often a tech goes back to a service advisor to clarify something and since the service advisor is having to juggle a couple of dozen things at the same time he has often forgotten any specifics that were related by the customer.

Thank you. I now have a new habit for anytime I take the car in for service! Until reading the board here, I hadn’t known that service advisors are not knowledgable mechanics themselves and had always blithely assumed they are. See, I ask questions, y’all give me great answers, and I keep learning. Love it.


Follow-up from getting the car serviced:

Took 2 copies of brief write-up of probs and printout of the TSA’s, gave one to the service advisor, left one on seat for mechanic. Advisor loved it and she used it to question things further in detail before writing the ticket. Mechanic used his copy to make extensive notes of explanations for the advisor to review with me when the work was done. And everything got done quite nicely, including the mechanic researched and checked out several other functions of the car which could be related due to being on the same computer/electronic circuit. Very impressive results!

BTW, even though OnStar diagnostics did not show any codes for the air bag sensor prob, the shop was able to retrieve a code. So apparently OnStar diagnostics have limitations. Nice to know.

Oh, and the mystery about the DRL’s sometimes not having a courtesy delay before turning off when the engine is shut off, the mechanic couldn’t find anything in GM’s database regarding that but said perhaps it has to do with the battery drain protection, since the times the DRL’s go off immediately w/o a delay seem primarily to be if the car has sat overnight and then is run only a few blocks before my first stop of the day when I go out. (Note: notice I said first stop…if I’ve only one stop to make that close to home I walk rather than drive.)

Thanks again for all the helpful feedback!!! Now I just need to report the prob w/ the air bag sensor to the NHSA like VDC Driver suggested and I think all will be fine. Thanks folks.


Marnet–You are one smart lady!

You did your research on car buying over a period of a few months, and as a result, you came to a good decision on your purchase.

When you encounter a problem, you deal with it in a deliberative fashion, gathering information as you go.

You also know how to ask a question, which is a quality frequently lacking nowadays, as evidenced by so many of the other posts on this forum.

And, the result is that you have apparently resolved the problem on the first visit to the service department. Congratulations for being the type of person who almost always prevails because you do the right thing!

Well, thank you for the high compliment. Just wish I could get as good a result on getting the electrical repairs on my house accomplished! I just figure that I KNOW I’m mostly ignorant of such things so need to do my homework first for any hope of making decent, fiscally sensible decisions.

Sad to report, just a little while ago, the air bag sensor started alerting again, so I’ll have to call them in the morning and let them have a second go at it. Frustrating, but since the tech DID have it fixed, I have to assume there is more to this than the TSA instructions for remediation.

Like I said, I like/need something a bit more easy to drive than an econobox but would happily ditch all this electronic wizardry!

The only other problem, also under warranty, I’ve had on the car in the year I’ve owned it was with the remote fob and tire pressure sensor. That required two attempts to fix also, due to faulty parts.

Otherwise, it is proving to be a very good car and I’m more and more pleased with my choice as time goes on.


Wait until you are reasonably sure that the air bag issue is fixed before reporting it. There are two reasons for this. If the problem is just a faulty alarm light, it is not really a safety problem. Second, NHTSA might appreciate a full report, and waiting would allow you to provide that. I’m not familiar with he NHTSA system. You might want to visit the URL and see how the system works. Maybe they want to hear about any fault, including false sensor enunciation.

Thank you for the suggestion. Think it’s a very good one.

Great job you’ve been doing Marnet.

What does the TSB say concerning a fix for the air bag?

Your vehicle has front seat side air bags, correct?

Please note that the correct term is TSB for Technical Service Bullitin. Since you’re trying to impress the service rep, you should use the correct term as other posters have in their answers to you.

Ah, okay, thank you. I had pulled them from Edmunds.com where they are termed TSA. But I will try to remember they are more properly called TSB.

Actually, not trying to impress the service rep or anybody; just trying to give as accurate info as I can. I am ALWAYS open to learning and improving how properly to do something. So, again, thanks for the correction.


(Arrggghhh, first time I wrote this and hit the submit button, it disappeared into the ether.)


No, my car does not have side air bags; only front and head air bags.

The final service ticket regarding the fix for the air bag, after the work was completed, read:

“Service air bag light coming on at times scanned vehicle for stored data, performed diagnostics and found code B1019 stored, referred to Doc# 2033246 necessary to recalibrate instrument panel cluster with updated programming
wk 93 N4199 .4. OLH .3 auth 90E due to excessive time to diagnose code”

Remembering some previous discussions on the board about how mechanics get paid for the time spent working on a car, especially with warranty work, I dearly hope the comment about excessive time to diagnose code doesn’t mean the mechanic ended up taking a loss for the time spent on my car. It did take a long time for them to do the work other than the oil/lube/filter and tire rotation.


Working for new car dealers means the mechanic goes through the warranty Purgatory almost on a daily basis. It’s part of the routine and a necessary evil for both the mechanic and the dealer.
Most warranty repairs are a losing deal and hopefully by the time the smoke has cleared on payday things have sort of balanced out a bit anyway. hopefully :slight_smile:

This is something neither you, the tech, or the dealer has any control over and you should not fret one minute over.
That is their worry; not yours.

I guess he meant that you are trying to give the service rep the most accurate information possible. But we know that. A positive impression will be remembered well because there are some real winners out there. At least the service people won’t make money by sending your comments to Readers’ Digest as a joke. Like the clerk for a military chaplain from the Order of St. Benedict who typed the signature block as SOB instead of OSB. The chaplain asked the typist if he was trying to tell him something.