Mr. Tadashi Suzuki
Manager, Homologation Section
Stanley Electric Co., Ltd.
2-9-13 Nakameguro, Meguroku
Tokyo 153, Japan

Dear Mr. Suzuki:

This is in reply to your letter of May 15, 1997, to Richard VanIderstine of this agency asking for an interpretation of the visual/optical aiming specifications for headlamps. Because the Office of Chief Counsel is the designated office for providing legal interpretations of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards including Standard No. 108, please address your future requests for interpretations to this Office.

There are two matters for which you request clarification. Paragraph S7.8.2.1(c) states that "A visually/optically aimable headlamp that has a lower beam shall not have a horizontal adjustment mechanism unless such mechanism meets the requirements of paragraph S7.8.5.2 of this standard." You "think that the construction which vehicle user can not reach horizontal adjustment mechanism, can be treated as 'No horizontal adjustment mechanism' in view of S7.8.2.1(c), even if horizontal adjustment can be done only in manufacturing process." You ask whether your understanding is correct, and, if correct, whether you can use the construction shown in the three figures you enclosed with your letter.

We agree with your interpretation. If a headlamp is equipped with a mechanism allowing horizontal adjustment only at the time the vehicle is manufactured, and is thereafter inaccessible for adjustment, we will not consider this design to be a "horizontal adjustment mechanism" within the meaning of paragraph S7.8.5.2. The language of that paragraph prescribes performance requirements for on-vehicle aiming devices and clearly indicates that these apply to horizontal adjustment mechanisms that may be used over the life of the headlamp to adjust the horizontal aim of the headlamp.

With respect to the three figures, Example A depicts an adjustment bolt which requires for horizontal adjustment the use of a special tool that the user will not have. In Example C, a special coupler is used during the manufacturing process and "shipment will be done without this special coupler. So vehicle user can not do." We regard these as horizontal adjustment mechanisms within the meaning of S7.8.2.1(c) since the headlamp remains capable of horizontal adjustment, even if you do not intend it to be adjustable by the vehicle user. As such, if either Example A or C is to be used, each must meet the requirements of paragraph S7.8.5.2. However, in Example B, the headlamp cannot be further adjusted after the manufacturing process. Because further adjustment is not possible, we do not regard this construction as a horizontal adjustment mechanism.

The second matter concerns language in the preamble to the final rule. In discussing the visual/optical aimability identification mark for existing headlamp designs, you quote the agency as saying at 62 FR 10714 that the discussion therein "does not mean that existing designs can be changed from being mechanically aimable to being visually/optically aimable." You understand that you cannot change the design of a current mechanically aimable headlamp to be visually/optically aimable only, but that you can add visual/optical aimability to a mechanically aimable headlamp as an alternative. However, if a vehicle manufacturer offers "a new model vehicle, even outlook of vehicle is almost same as previous one", you believe that you can manufacture two different types of "outlook" headlamps, a mechanically aimable one for replacement of the previous model, and a visually/optically aimable one for original equipment and replacement of the new model. You also comment "Of course we can distinguish them." You ask whether your understanding is correct.

We are not sure what you mean by an "outlook" headlamp. The situation we believe you are presenting is one in which a new model vehicle would be equipped with the same headlighting systems that appeared on an older vehicle. You are asking whether the headlamp that was furnished with mechanical aim on the older vehicle (and will still be manufactured for replacement purposes) can be manufactured for the new model vehicle (as both original and replacement equipment) without the mechanical aiming feature. The answer is no. Although the vehicle design has changed, the design of the headlamp has not changed, and it must continue to be manufactured with the mechanical aiming feature even though it is installed on a new model vehicle, and even though you may be able to distinguish the two.

We will be pleased to answer any further questions you may have.

John Womack
Acting Chief Counsel