Get cheap repairs with “secret” car warranties


Vehicle recalls get a lot of publicity in the news, but too often people just ignore them in their daily lives. It’s estimated only one out of three people will comply once notified of a recall. That’s downright dangerous.

But in the world of car maintenance, not everything is a full-blown recall. Many times when there’s no official recall, there still might be a TSB (technical service bulletin) from the manufacturer.

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Knowing about technical service bulletins (TSBs) can save you money

Thousands of TSBs are issued each year, as automakers become aware of systemic problems reported by mechanics and consumers.

You can preview both full-blown recalls and TSBs for your vehicle by make, model, and year at the Center for Auto Safety website at and at Another good resource to know about for TSBs is

Consumer Reports also has a write-up about so-called ‘secret or hidden warranties.’

By knowing if there’s an active TSB, you can take it to the dealership and show it to them. With known issues like TSBs, very often you can get free or discounted repairs, even if you’re out of the manufacturer’s original warranty period.

In one relatively benign example from my own life, I had an issue with a gas cap that would not open on one of my vehicles. So I went online to investigate and found that this was a widespread problem. I printed out some supporting material and went to the dealer, fully expecting some kind of pushback from them. But the dealer was happy to replace the cap for me once they pried it off.

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