— The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) has dropped its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) which was filed in 2016 over publicly posting technical service bulletins (TSBs) and auto manufacturer communications.
The lawsuit alleges the government failed to publish bulletins and other communications between automakers and dealerships even though the practice was mandated by law.
The communications include updated warranty information, product improvement notices and repair instructions for dealer technicians.
CAS argued automakers weren't too keen on making TSBs public because manufacturers save money when vehicle owners don't know about possible free repairs or warranty extensions.
“The Center fought for decades against secret warranties and other dirty tricks of the auto manufacturers in order to bring Technical Service Bulletins to light. Despite the law being updated in 2012 to require communications from manufacturers to their dealers to be posted online, the government failed to do so - which is why we took DOT to court.” - Jason Levine, Center executive director
CAS fully believes these bulletins save lives, but automakers and the government made it difficult for the public to view the communications. Just with TSBs, customers can receive free repairs for problems consumers may not have even known existed.
In addition, many problems customers complain about never reach the stage of an issuance of an official recall, but free repairs may still be available based on manufacturer communications.
Although the DOT has made many manufacturer communications available since the Center filed its lawsuit, the government has not posted certain communications that were submitted without an index.
As part of the resolution of the lawsuit, the Center says the Department agreed to send a message to manufacturers that had previously submitted electronic communications.
The message will remind automakers of their obligation to submit communications to the government and for anything sent without a full index, they must resubmit the communications with an index.
The government also agreed to publish a message on its website informing the public that some communications may not be available but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working on it.
The Center says it dismissed the lawsuit after 50,000 communications were posted to DOTs website, but the suit will be refiled if CAS believes the DOT is backing down on its promises.
The Center for Auto Safety is represented by the Public Citizen Litigation Group.