United States Senate
1835 Assembly Street
Columbia, S.C. 29201
Dear Senator Hollings:
Thank you for your letter to Mr. John Horsley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs, at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Since you request an interpretation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) regulations, Mr. Horsley has asked me to respond.
Your letter informs us that your constituent, Mr. Pritchard, wishes to disable a "dashboard warning light" on his motor vehicle. Mr. Wyeth Ruthven of your Columbia office has informed my staff that Mr. Pritchard owns a model year 1992 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. After the vehicle is driven 60,000 miles, a light actuates on the front dashboard, as a reminder that the vehicle should undergo a maintenance inspection. Mr. Pritchard apparently wishes to disable the maintenance inspection reminder display light.
NHTSA has issued a number of safety standards that apply to new motor vehicles. None of our standards, however, regulates a maintenance inspection reminder display. Thus, our requirements do not restrict anyone from disabling the display or arranging with a commercial business to disable it. We would like to note, however, that certain other displays, such as an air bag readiness indicator, are required by our safety standards and thus could not be disabled by a commercial business. In addition, state laws may restrict the changes a vehicle owner may make to his or her vehicle. Mr. Pritchard might want to contact South Carolina state officials for information on that issue.
I hope this information is helpful. If you need any other information, please let me know.
Acting Chief Counsel