Herr Franz Horneffer
ZF Getriebe GmbH
Postfach 25 67
Dear Herr Horneffer:
This responds to your request for our legal opinion whether the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) require that passenger cars with automatic transmissions must have a parking brake. The answer is that all passenger cars must have a parking brake. Thus, passenger cars with automatic transmissions must have a parking brake.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue FMVSSs, which apply to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, introduced or delivered for introduction in interstate commerce or imported into, the United States of America. (See Title 49 of the United States Code Section 30112.)NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to certify that their vehicles and equipment meet applicable standards.
The answer to your question is found in FMVSS No. 135, Light Vehicle Brake Systems. FMVSS No. 135 applies to passenger cars manufactured on or after September 1, 2000. (See S3. Application.)Equipment requirements are specified at S5. of FMVSS No. 135. Parking brake systems are addressed at S5.2, which states:
Each vehicle shall be equipped with a parking brake system of a friction type with solely mechanical means to retain engagement.
The requirement for "each vehicle to be equipped with a parking brake system" means that passenger cars with automatic transmissions must have a parking brake.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Stephen P. Wood
Acting Chief Counsel