Altezza Style Taillamps

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Their has been a real "surge" in the popularity of custom taillamps in recent years.  Manufacturers, (defined to include importers in Federal law), have been quickly developing many various styles of taillamps trying to capture a portion of this seemingly lucrative market.

In recent times, most of the custom taillamps have been loosely based on the Toyota Altezza, which is known in the U.S. as the Lexus IS300.  These types of custom taillamps have become known as "Altezza" style taillamps.  There is no reason to believe that the Lexus IS300 taillamps are not compliant with FMVSS No. 108. 

(Please note the side marker lamp and side reflex reflector are located in a separate, bumper mounted device).

lexus_is300_2001_rear_side.jpg (101757 bytes)
lexus_is300_2001_4.jpg (98858 bytes)
So what's the problem with the aftermarket taillamps?

One major issue is that most of the Altezza style taillamps are missing functionality which existed in the OEM taillamp.  Functionality which was required for certification with the standard.

In addition, many of these types of taillamps may have sealing problems (just check any message board).


Example 1:  Chevy S10 Taillamp

OEM 2000 Chevy S10*

Chevy S10 Altezza style*

2000s10tailside.jpg (48432 bytes)

s10_altezza3finala.jpg (115350 bytes)

*  Both photos taken with a flash to show existence of a side (red) reflex reflector.  Note that the Altezza style lamp is missing this function. 


If you compare the photos of a stock 2000 Chevy S10 taillamp and an Altezza style taillamp for the same model, you notice that the Altezza style lamp is missing the side (red) reflex reflector which existed in the OEM lamp.  This particular Altezza style lamp may also be missing proper side marker functionality as well.


Example 2:  Dodge Neon Taillamp

OEM 1999 Dodge Neon*

Dodge Neon Altezza style*

dodge_neon_1999_3.jpg (74456 bytes)

dodge_neon_1999_3a.jpg (56523 bytes)

*  Both photos taken with a flash to show existence of a side (red) reflex reflector.  Note that the Altezza style lamp is missing this function. 

So are these Dodge Neon Altezza style taillamps compliant?

If you look at the photos above it is quite obvious that the Altezza style taillamp is missing the side reflex reflector functionality that exists on the OEM taillamp.

Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, lets dig a little deeper.  Currently, there are no lens marking requirements (S5.8.10) for a taillamp assembly under federal law, however, many of the state laws do require the SAE markings.  If the markings exist on the lens, then they are an indication of the functions the manufacturer certified as conforming to the SAE standards for the taillamp assembly.

SAE Lens Markings
Stock Dodge Neon taillamp SAE AAIP2RST 94
Altezza Style Dodge Neon Taillamp SAE AIRST 94


The SAE symbol and year indicate that the manufacturers have certified that the taillamps conform to the indicated SAE standards of the indicated year.

The rest of the markings are the SAE lighting identification code symbols.  The table below shows what each symbol means and the related SAE standard which the taillamp is designed to conform to.

SAE Marking


Related SAE Standard
A Reflex reflector SAE J594f
I Turn signal lamp SAE J588
R Backup lamp SAE J593c
S Stoplamp SAE J586
T Taillamp SAE J585e
P2 Side marker lamp SAE J592e
Comparing the lens markings, you may notice that the OEM taillamp has two reflex reflectors (AA), whereas the Altezza style taillamp only has one (A).  As shown in the photo above, the Altezza style taillamp does appear to be missing this function.

Also, the OEM taillamp has a side marker lamp (P2), whereas the Altezza style taillamp is missing this function.

These are two problems that could be determined visually by a field officer without the use of any special equipment.

This page modified on June 04, 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.