If a car company posts an internal technical service bulletin, with a title like “Check/Replace Lower Control Arms”, is this just guidance to the service department on how to do a repair, or essentially notification that they should be doing this repair? (i.e., an unofficial recall notice)?
Its just to provide guidance to the mechanics about a common problem found and how to fix it. If the engineers get enough of a particular problem, they’ll come up with a better fix or a repair to a perplexing problem. They can refer to all kinds of things like revised parts, procedures, kits and so on.
No way is it a recall, where customers are notified to return the vehicle for a repair or update.
Another way to look at a TSB is that it is an addendum to the shop manual. Subsequent editions of the manual usually incorporate the TSBs.
They can be indications of problems. If a TSB is issued for stress cracks in control arms, it means that the problem is not significant enough to merit a recall. Some spirited drivers might have a problem with that part, but most will not. In this case, there will be obvious cracks long before the part fails. For my vehicle, motor mounts were found to be fail prematurely under high heat conditions when the vehicle was idling for long periods. It was for a limited number of years '98-2000, IIRC. The mount design was probably changed in 1998. They probably revised the mounts when a problem was discovered and did not want any old stock installed as replacements so they issued a TSB.
OK, thanks. That’s what I wanted to know. My VW Passat with only 50,000 miles on it needed all 4 control arms and tie rod ends replaced, which cost over $1700, but afterwards, I found VW had issued a TSB specifically about this – and was hoping that I could make a claim for reimbursement…