Ms. Amy B. Kaus
Tesa Tape North America
5825 Carnegie Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28209
Dear Ms. Kaus:
This responds to your request for an interpretation regarding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSAs) Federal motor vehicle theft prevention standard, 49 CFR Part 541 (Part 541). The issues raised by your letter are addressed below.
By way of background, the purpose of Part 541 is to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle thefts by facilitating the tracing and recovery of parts from stolen vehicles.
Part 541 requires certain passenger motor vehicles to have identifying numbers affixed or inscribed on specified parts. See 541.5(a). The standard specifies a number of label requirements for affixing the identifying number to a part. See 541.5(d) and (d)(1).
Among other things, 541.5(d)(1)(v) specifies:
(v) Removal of the label must
(A) Cause the label to self-destruct by tearing or rendering the number on the label illegible, and
(B) Discernibly alter the appearance of that area of the part where the label was affixed by leaving residual parts of the label or adhesive in that area, so that investigators will have evidence that a label was originally present.
In your letter, you ask several questions related to possible qualifications or limitations with respect to these and other requirements for labeling, e.g., related to temperature range, chemicals, etc. Part 541 specifies the relevant label requirements to which vehicles must be certified. While we will address your specific questions below, our general answer is that Part 541 does not include the kinds of limitations or qualifications
you ask about. We also observe that the requirements address situations where persons would be deliberately seeking to remove and/or alter labels in the context of vehicle theft, and should be understood in that context.
Specifically, you asked for additional qualification of the term self-destruct by tearing in 541.5(d)(1)(v), quoted above. You suggested the following three qualifications:
1) the label must tear immediately when lifted from the surface to which applied;
2) the label must tear within a specified temperature range, without the use of tools or solvent;
3) under no conditions may the label be removed in one piece.
We believe the quoted language is sufficiently clear and decline to provide qualifications.
You also cited a NHTSA interpretation concerning child restraint system (CRS) labels that cited an American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) standard for CRSs in connection with the meaning of permanent. You asked whether conditions under which an anti-theft label must perform have been defined, such as temperature, environment, chemicals, etc. Again, Part 541 does not specify such limitations.
Finally, you asked about the standing of SAE J1892 Recommended Practice for Bar-Coded Vehicle Emission Configuration Label and SAE J1877 Recommended Practice for Bar-Coded Vehicle Identification Number Label, when determining whether a label meets Part 541 requirements. None of these recommended practices has been incorporated by reference into Part 541, and they do not qualify or otherwise limit the requirements of that regulation.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any other questions, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
 December 18, 2003 interpretation to Mr. Randy Kiser of Evenflo Company, Inc.