Mr. Edward M. Kronk
Butzel Long, PC
150 West Jefferson
Detroit, MI 48226-4430
Dear Mr. Kronk:
This is in reply to your letter of April 26, 2001, asking three
questions about the relationship of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 to lighting equipment that may be marketed as
being for off-road use but that is capable of being installed on-road
vehicles and used on the public highways. You remarked that "there
is interest in the automotive enthusiast community in using so-called
'European-styled' or 'E-Code' Headlamps as replacement headlamps,"
and that they are not certified as complying with Standard No. 108. Your
questions, and our responses, are set forth below.
"1. May automotive headlamps that do not comply with FMVSS 108
be imported and sold in the US for "off-road" use on
"off-road vehicles" are not terms defined in Standard No 108
or in any other regulation or law that we administer, and have no legal
meaning. You identify the headlamps as "replacement
headlamps." In our view,
S5.8, Replacement equipment, of Standard No. 108 requires that
any motor vehicle replacement headlamp that is offered for sale in the
United States must comply with the same requirements as are applicable
to the original equipment that it replaces. I enclose letters on
related subjects that we sent to Mitch L. Williams of Hella on July 17,
1998, and to Tobin Tracy of Clr Alt Accessories on April 17, 2001. We
informed Mr. Tracy that "any item of motor vehicle lighting
equipment manufactured to replace lighting equipment that is required on
a new vehicle by Standard No. 108 must itself comply with Standard No.
108," and that such a term as "off-road" has no
exclusionary meaning under Federal law.
"2. Does the answer to question 1 change if, despite the
express intent of the manufacturer and seller of the headlamps that
they be used only "off-road," they are capable of being
installed and used "on-road" in conventional
As noted above, if the headlamps are capable of being installed and
used in motor vehicles subject to the Federal motor vehicle safety
standards (i.e., "conventional 'on-road' vehicles"), they
are motor vehicle headlamps that must comply with Standard No. 108 in
order to be imported or sold regardless of the "intent" of the
importer or seller. Even if we assume the best of intentions, we
recognize that a seller has no control over the use of a product after
it is sold.
"3. If the importation and sale of such noncompliant headlamps
intended for off-road use only is permitted, what packaging and
labeling requirements, if any, apply to their importation and sale?
As we have indicated in response to question 2, such
lamps may not be imported or sold regardless of their packaging or
I hope that this answers your questions.
Acting Chief Counsel