Dennis Moore

Home ] Up ] Headlamps ] Light Sources ] Recalls ] Taillamps ] Site Map ]


This document retrieved from the NHTSA legal interpretations database.

Mr. Dennis G. Moore
Sierra Products, Inc.
1113 Greenville Road
Livermore, CA 94550

Dear Mr. Moore:

This is in reply to your letter of March 2, 2000, to Taylor Vinson of this Office.

As you are aware, Mark Rodgers of American Products Company (APC) was informed in a telephone conversation with an engineer from the Office of Safety Performance Standards that it appeared that the company's All Clear replacement rear vehicle lighting assemblies (which they import from China) are illegal did not comply with our safety standard and therefore could not legally be sold as replacement equipment, even though they were being advertised "For Off Road Use Only." You approve of this but have asked three questions:

"1. As I understand the 1966 Vehicle Safety Act . . . Rulemaking Standards have a right and a legal obligation to the American Public to decree these kind of lights as "Illegal" . . . True?"

Pursuant to its authority under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has promulgated a Federal motor vehicle safety standard that requires replacement lighting equipment to comply with the same requirements as are applicable to the original equipment that it replaces (see S5.8.1 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108). If the replacement lighting equipment fails to comply, it may not be sold and the manufacturer (defined to include the importer) of the equipment must make a determination of noncompliance and inform us of that fact, and then notify purchasers and remedy the noncompliance. If the manufacturer fails to make such a determination, NHTSA may make the determination instead and order the manufacturer to notify and remedy.

"2. Without a printed Legal interpretation on this matter somewhere in Accessible Public Files . . . who is going to know of this decision. Therefore, why hasn't this action been publicly printed for all concerned to read?"

As required by 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 and by 49 CFR Part 573, APC filed a Noncompliance Information Report with us on November 12, 1999 covering clear taillamp lenses that it had imported. The Recall Campaign Number is 99E-039. All Part 573 Reports are available to the public in NHTSA's Technical Reference section, and all recalls are tracked on the agency's internet Website, at

In addition, we have responded to a request from a law enforcement officer in Arizona for an interpretation on the law on replacement taillamp lenses that are marked as intended for -off road. I enclose a copy for your information.

"3. Under what circumstances will NHTSA continue to decree Obviously "Non-Compliant", or "Confusing," or "Distracting" Lighting products as "illegal" for O.E.M. use by U.S. Vehicle Manufacturers, or for U.S. Aftermarket Sales . . . for the Replacement of Originally Mandated Lights?"

Standard No. 108 will continue to require replacement taillamp lenses and side and rear reflex reflectors to be red, and we foresee no circumstances under which we will change that requirement.

You have asked that we post your letter and our reply on NHTSA's website "so readers can compare my questions with your answers." As I indicated in response to your second question, it is our practice to post copies of our interpretations on our website. This letter repeats the questions you have asked, and it will be posted shortly after I have signed it.

I hope that this answers your questions.

Frank Seales, Jr.
Chief Counsel


Enforcement Contacts

State Laws Recalls Site Map

This site is not affiliated with any Federal, State, or Local organization.  The goal is to be as factual as possible, however, the views expressed on this site are the opinions of the author and should not be used to determine the legality of motor vehicle equipment in accordance with Federal laws.  If you require a legal interpretation of your specific situation concerning FMVSS No. 108, you should contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Chief Counsel.