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Interpretation ID: 2617y

Delbert N. Pier
Legislation and Compliance Coordinator
Hyundai America Technical Center, Inc.
5075 Venture Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Dear Mr. Pier:

This responds to your letter requesting an interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 107, Reflecting Surfaces. (49 CFR 571.107). I apologize for the delay in our response.

You explained that Hyundai is planning to test the surface of a windshield wiper blade rail spring by using several rail springs gathered together because one spring would have a limited amount of area to reflect the light source. You asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to confirm your view that this method of compliance testing is a satisfactory method of complying with section S4 of Standard No. 107.

By way of background information, NHTSA has no authority to approve, endorse or offer assurances of compliance for any motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment. Instead, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 ("Vehicle Safety Act") makes manufacturers of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment responsible for certifying that each of its products conforms with all applicable safety standards. The following represents our opinion based on the facts provided in your letter.

Each safety standard specifies performance requirements and test procedures used by the agency in its compliance testing to evaluate a vehicle or item of equipment. For instance, section S4 of Standard No. 107 specifies specular gloss requirements for certain vehicle components, including windshield wiper arms and blades. That provision requires that the specular gloss of the specified components must not exceed 40 units when measured by the 20 degree method of ASTM Standard D523-62T.

While the agency would follow ASTM Standard D523-62T for purposes of compliance testing, the Vehicle Safety Act does not require a manufacturer to test its products in the manner specified in a motor vehicle safety standard or even to test the product at all. A manufacturer may choose any means of evaluating its products to determine whether the vehicle or item of equipment complies with the requirements of that standard, provided, however, that the manufacturer exercises due care in ensuring that the vehicle or equipment will comply with Federal requirements when tested by the agency according to the procedures specified in the standard. In other words, the manufacturer must show that its chosen means of evaluating compliance is a reasonable surrogate for the test procedure specified by the standard.

In the event that the agency determines an apparent noncompliance exists with a vehicle or item of equipment tested in the agency's compliance program, the manufacturer must show the basis for its certification that the vehicle or equipment complies. The manufacturer may be subject to civil penalties unless it can establish that it exercised due care in its designing and manufacturing of the product and in its checking (through actual testing, computer simulation or otherwise) to ensure compliance, but nevertheless did not have reason to know that the vehicle or item of equipment did not in fact comply. Of course, notwithstanding the exercise of due care, the manufacturer would still be subject to the recall responsibilities of the Vehicle Safety Act for any noncomplying vehicles or equipment.

With these considerations in mind, you appear, based on the statements in your letter, merely to be testing a group of identical components with identical specular gloss levels at one time rather than separately. If this is the case, it appears that your intended method of testing is consistent with the testing procedures in Standard No. 107.

I hope this information answers your questions. Please contact Mr. Marvin Shaw of my staff at (202) 366-2992, if you have further questions.


Paul Jackson Rice Chief Counsel

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