Post Office Box 1283
Broomfield, CO 80038
Dear Mr. Van Sciver:
This responds to your letter of October 3, 1995 to this office requesting information on any safety standards applicable to the Auto Bib, a new product you are developing and marketing. From the promotional material you furnished with your letter, your Auto Bib can be described as a portable cover, of Naugahyde fabric, that clips between the window and door molding of a vehicle's door. The Auto Bib unrolls downward to cover the door, and is intended to protect the door's upholstery from damage caused by children, pets, and the sun.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the statutory authority to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) applicable to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle. Federal law establishes a self-certification system under which motor vehicle and equipment manufacturers themselves certify that their products comply with all applicable FMVSSs. NHTSA enforces compliance with the standards by randomly purchasing and testing motor vehicles and equipment. NHTSA also investigates safety-related defects. If a vehicle or item of equipment is found not to comply with applicable standards or is found to have a safety defect, the manufacturer is responsible for remedying the noncompliance or defect at no charge to the customer. NHTSA neither tests, approves, disapproves, endorses, or grants clearances for products prior to their introduction into the retail market.
Turning now to the Auto Bib, NHTSA would classify it as an item of motor vehicle equipment, defined in 49 U.S.Code (U.S.C.), '30102(7)(B) as any "part or component manufactured or sold for replacement or improvement of a system, part, or component, or as an accessory or addition to a motor vehicle." Specifically, the Auto Bib is an accessory if it meets two tests:
a. A substantial portion of its expected uses are related to the operation or maintenance of motor vehicles; and
b. It is purchased or otherwise acquired, and principally used, by ordinary users of motor vehicles.
After reviewing the product literature you enclosed with your letter, we conclude that the Auto Bib is an accessory. The Auto Bib was designed and is being marketed with the expectation that a substantial portion of its expected use will be in motor vehicles. Even its name indicates its intended purpose. Secondly, the promotional literature makes it clear that the Auto Bib is intended to be purchased and principally used by ordinary users of motor vehicles, as distinguished from professional vehicle repair businesses, since its stated purpose is to preserve motor vehicle upholstery from damage by children, pets, and the sun.
While the Auto Bib is a motor vehicle accessory, NHTSA has not issued any FMVSSs establishing performance standards applicable to this product. However, you as the manufacturer are subject to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. '' 30116 - 30121 which set forth the recall and remedy procedures for products with defects related to motor vehicle safety. As noted earlier, in the event that you or NHTSA determines that the product contains a safety-related defect, you would be responsible for notifying purchasers of the defective equipment and for remedying the problem free of charge.
You asked about state or local requirements that may apply to your product. NHTSA has no information on such requirements. You may, however, be able to obtain some relevant information in that regard from:
Automotive Manufacturers Equipment Compliance Agency, Inc. 1090 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 1200 Washington, DC 20005 (202) 898-0145; Fax (202) 898-0148
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or need any additional information, please feel free to contact Mr. Myers of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel Ref:206 d:12/8/95