32-30 54 Street - Woodside
New York, NY 11377
Dear Mr. Sousa:
This responds to your letter asking about whether you can import a product into the United States. You stated that the product uses air pressure from a vehicle's brake system to "prevent the air from escaping from the tires of trucks and buses" and "keeps air pressure in the case of punctur (sic)." I am pleased to have this opportunity to explain how this agency's requirements apply to the manufacture and importation of such a product. The following represents our opinion based on the facts provided in your letter.
By way of background information, this agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regulates the manufacture of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Under our governing statute, the manufacturer must certify that its vehicle or equipment complies with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). Importers are included in the definition of "manufacturer" under our statute.
NHTSA does not have any specific regulations covering a tire pressure device such as you describe. However, since this device is tied into a vehicle's air brake system, it could affect a vehicle's compliance with Standard No. 121, Air Brake Systems.
If the device is installed as original equipment on a new vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer is required to certify that, with the device installed, the vehicle satisfies the requirements of all applicable Federal safety standards. If the device is added to a previously certified new motor vehicle prior to its first sale, the person who modifies the vehicle would be an alterer of a previously certified motor vehicle and would be required to certify that, as altered, the vehicle continues to comply with all of the safety standards affected by the alteration.
One relevant issue is whether your device is considered an integral part of the brake system in the sense that it would need to comply with certain of Standard No. 121's requirements. A related issue is whether certain parts of the device are considered brake hoses and therefore subject to the requirements of Standard No. 106, Brake Hoses.
We do not have sufficient information about your device to specifically address these issues. I can advise you, however, that your device would not be considered part of the braking system if it were separated from the vehicle's main braking system by a check valve in such way that the main braking system would not be affected by a leakage failure in the device. Moreover, if your device is not considered to be part of the braking system, it would not be subject to Standard No. 106.
If the device is installed on a used vehicle by a business such as a repair shop, the repair shop would not be required to attach a certification label. However, it would have to make sure that it did not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable FMVSS.
You should also be aware that all manufacturers headquartered outside of the United States must designate a permanent resident of the United States as the manufacturer's agent for service of process, notices, orders, and decisions. This designation is to be mailed to the Chief Counsel of NHTSA. In accordance with 49 CFR 551.45, the designation must include the following information:
1. A certification that the designation is valid in form and binding on the manufacturer under the laws, corporate by-laws, or other requirements governing the making of the designation at the time and place where it is made;
2. The full name, principal place of business, and mailing address of the manufacturer;
3. Marks, trade names, or other designations of origin of any of the manufacturer's products which do not bear its name;
4. A statement that the designation shall remain in effect until withdrawn or replaced by the manufacturer;
5. A declaration of acceptance duly signed by the agency appointed, which may be an individual, a firm, or a U.S. corporation; and
6. The full legal name and address of the designated agent.
7. The signature of one with authority to appoint the agency. The signer's name and title should be clearly indicated beneath his signature.
Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel ref:551#121 d:1/4/95