Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commission
Louisiana Department of Economic Development
3132 Valley Creek Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Dear Ms. Stroud:
This responds to your letter addressed to Walter Myers of my staff in which, referring to previous telephone conversations with Mr. Myers, you asked for written confirmation of several statements. I apologize for the delay in responding.
You requested confirmation that a dealer can sell new trailers either with new tires or no tires, but not with used tires. You also sought confirmation that if a manufacturer ships trailers with used tires to dealers, the dealer would have to remove the used tires prior to retail sale and the purchaser would be responsible for installing his/her own tires. You also asked certain other questions which I will discuss below.
Pursuant to your telephone conversation with Mr. Myers on October 5, 1995, Mr. Myers sent you a copy of Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) No. 120, Tire selection and rims for motor vehicles other than passenger cars, and copies of the interpretative letters previously issued by this office that are listed and synopsized in the Appendix to this letter.
By way of background, in general, paragraph S5.1.1 of FMVSS No. 120 requires that tires installed on new vehicles other than passenger cars, which includes trailers, must meet the requirements of either FMVSS No. 109, New pneumatic tires, or FMVSS No. 119, New pneumatic tires for vehicles other than passenger cars. As an exception, however, paragraph S5.1.3 of FMVSS No. 120 provides that instead of tires that meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 119, new trucks, buses, and trailers may be equipped with used or retreaded tires owned or leased by the vehicle purchaser and installed at the place of manufacture of the vehicle. Paragraph S5.1.3 also requires that the sum of the maximum load ratings meets the requirements of paragraph S5.1.2 and further requires that the tires were originally manufactured to comply with FMVSS No. 119 as evidenced by the DOT symbol. There is no requirement, however, that a vehicle subject
to FMVSS No. 120 must be equipped with tires and wheels at the time of sale (see letter to Mr. Steve Thomas, dated April 14, 1993, listed in Appendix).
Your letter stated that your main problem seems to be manufacturers who ship new trailers equipped with used tires. Assuming the conditions of S5.1.3 of FMVSS No. 120 are not met, that act is prohibited by 49 U.S. Code '30112 (copy enclosed), which provides in pertinent part:
[With certain exceptions] a person may not manufacture for sale, sell, offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction in interstate commerce, or import into the United States, any motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment manufactured on or after the date an applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter takes effect unless the vehicle or equipment complies with the standard and is covered by a certification issued under section 30115 of this title.
Thus, manufacturers cannot ship and distributors and dealers cannot sell vehicles or equipment that do not comply with all applicable FMVSSs. As provided in paragraph S5.1.3 of FMVSS No. 120, used or retreaded tires can only be installed at the place of manufacture of the vehicle and only if owned or leased by the vehicle purchaser.
With respect to used or retreaded tires, distributors and dealers cannot install such tires whether or not the tires are owned or leased by the vehicle purchaser. If a distributor or dealer receives a trailer from the manufacturer equipped with used or retreaded tires that were installed not in accordance with paragraph S5.1.3, the distributor or dealer must either replace those tires with new tires or sell the trailer without tires, leaving tire installation to the vehicle purchaser.
Turning now to your specific questions, I will answer them in turn:
1. What is the definition of a trailer manufacturer? A "manufacturer" is defined in 49 U.S. Code '30102(a)(5) as a person:
(A) manufacturing or assembling motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment; or
(B) importing motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment for resale.
We define a "trailer" in 49 CFR 571.3 as:
[A] motor vehicle with or without motive power, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by another vehicle.
Under these definitions, a trailer manufacturer is one who manufactures or assembles trailers, as distinguished from a distributor who primarily sells and distributes motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment for resale (in other words, a wholesaler), or a dealer, who primarily sells and distributes motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment at retail.
2. Is a Utility Trailer included in this safety standard [FMVSS No. 120] or does it relate only to certain size trailers? Paragraph S3, Application, of FMVSS No. 120 provides that the standard applies to "multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, trailers, and motorcycles, . . ." (emphasis added). Neither the standard nor the trailer definition limits its application to trailers. Accordingly, all new trailers of any size, use, weight, or configuration, including new utility trailers, are subject to the requirements of the standard.
3. Could you indicate those trailers which are governed by this regulation? As indicated in the answer to question 2 above, all new trailers, including utility trailers, are included in the requirements of FMVSS No. 120.
4. Is there a specific length or width that falls under this safety standard? The answer is no. As indicated above, trailers are subject to the requirements of FMVSS No. 120 without limitation.
I hope this information is helpful. Should you have further questions or require additional information, please feel free to contact Mr. Myers at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel