All Clear Taillamps

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All clear taillamps with "DOT" mark. 

civic_clear_tails.jpg (19587 bytes) Are they compliant with FMVSS No. 108?  Are they legal for sale in the United States?

The answer to both questions is NO.  (see interp)



But why aren't they compliant with FMVSS No. 108?


- S5.8.1 requires replacement lighting equipment to designed to conform to this standard.

- S5.1.1 specifies the minimum required lighting equipment for each motor vehicle and the equipment must conform to the applicable SAE standards.

- The Honda Civic pictured above has the following functions incorporated into the OEM taillamps, which were required for the original certification of the motor vehicle.

  • Side Marker (Red, per SAE J592e)

  • Side reflex reflector (Red, per SAE J594f)

  • Taillamp (Red, per SAE J585e)

  • Stoplamp (Red, per SAE J586)

  • Rear reflex reflector (Red, per SAE J594f)

  • Backup lamp (White, per SAE J593c)

  • Turn signal (Red or amber, per SAE J588)

- The most obvious noncompliance of the "clear tail" shown installed on the Honda Civic above is the lack of red reflex reflectors on the rear and side.

- In addition, the stoplamp and taillamp are lacking a red lens to create the red color required by S5.1.5.

- There are probably more violations as well, however, only one violation is required to demonstrate a noncompliance with the standard.

- Please note:  These taillamps appear to be noncompliant with FMVSS No. 108 despite the "DOT" marking.  Therefore the manufacturer has falsely certified these lamps.


What about red bulbs, will they satisfy the requirements for the red color in taillamps and stoplamps? 

Manufacturers are required to certify motor vehicle lighting equipment using bulbs which meet SAE specifications.  Since there is currently no SAE specification for a red bulb, a red bulb could not be used to show conformance with SAE standards.  Therefore, no taillamp with an all clear lens could possibly comply with the red color requirements specified in S5.1.5 of the standard.

red_taillamp_bulbs.jpg (117742 bytes)

Furthermore, the NHTSA knows of no manufacturer who is producing a red bulb that is intended to make signal lamps with colorless lenses comply with FMVSS No. 108.  (see interp)


This page modified on February 17, 2001

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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.