The 5Ws of TSBs in Auto Repair Information

In the field of journalism, writers know that they need the 5Ws for a complete story. Although I’m not a journalist, I still like to use the 5Ws for describing the story of TSBs and how they can benefit your shop. Although as professionals you may be fully aware of TSBs, sometimes it is important to go back to the basics and be reminded where to find them and why you should keep them in mind.

What is a TSB?

Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) are documents published by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) with information about repairing the vehicle. After a problem becomes repeatable, OEMs will document the problem and a fix and then distribute that document to automotive professionals servicing their vehicles.

On the other hand, a recall is a document published similar to a TSB, but a recall specifically deals with a safety issue. Recalls usually have the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) involved and may include a mail campaign to consumers.

Who uses TSBs?

TSBs are primarily written for technicians and service advisors. TSBs deliver relevant information to these professionals who are directly involved with repairing and servicing our automotive vehicles.

Vehicle owners, including consumers, government agencies and businesses, can also benefit from reading TSBs and learning about a common failure or a safety recall on their vehicle.

Where can I find TSBs?

The easiest way to find and use TSBs is to open ShopKey Pro and click on the TSB quick link inside the product. See the graphic below for the location of the TSB quick link:

When are they available?

OEMs publish a TSB depending on how often they need to send information to the technicians servicing their vehicles. But aftermarket information products, like ShopKey Pro, must also format and publish that content. ShopKey Pro’s editorial team works hard to get TSBs published as quickly as 6-8 weeks from the OEM publication date.

Why would I benefit from using TSBs?

The best practice of a technician is to always check TSBs prior to starting a job. It would be costly (and embarrassing) to replace a $500 ignition module only to learn that the OEM published a TSB for a corroded ground wire.

Ultimately, TSBs are broadcasted lessons that have been learned from other professional technicians who have been through the same pattern failures. Over time, best practices are recognized from those failures, giving the TSB reader the chance to benefit from the lessons learned by other peers.


ShopKey Pro brings TSBs to you. After performing a search, any related TSBs are shown on the screen with the search results – see below.

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About the Author

Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor is the SureTrack Community Administrator and a Senior Applications Specialist at Mitchell 1 with over 25 years of experience with electronic repair data systems. Nick previously worked in the automotive dismantling and engine rebuilding industries.