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Ford Motor Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Ford Focus

Ford Motor Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claude H. Harris
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
November 21, 2013


[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 225 (Thursday, November 21, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 69931-69932]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-27950]



[[Page 69931]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0004; Notice 2]


Ford Motor Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Grant of Petition.

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SUMMARY: Ford Motor Company \1\ (Ford), has determined that certain 
model year 2012 Ford Focus model passenger cars manufactured between 
May 12, 2011 and May 18, 2011, do not fully comply with the 
requirements of S5.2.1 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 
No. 101, Controls and Displays and the requirements of S5.5.5 of FMVSS 
No. 135, Light Vehicle Brake Systems. Ford has filed an appropriate 
report pursuant to 49 CFR Part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports, dated July 7, 2011.
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    \1\ Ford Motor Company is a motor vehicle manufacturer 
incorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware.
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    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and the rule 
implementing those provisions at 49 CFR part 556, Ford has petitioned 
for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 
U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of Ford's petition was published, with a 30-day 
public comment period, on February 2, 2012 in the Federal Register (77 
FR 5302). No comments were received. To view the petition, and all 
supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2012-0004.''
    Contact Information: For further information on this decision 
contact Mr. Stuart Seigel, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 
366-5287, facsimile (202) 366-7002.
    Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 485 model year 2012 
Ford Focus passenger cars that were manufactured at Ford's Michigan 
Assembly Plant between May 12, 2011 and May 18, 2012.
    Summary of Ford's Analyses: Ford explains that the affected 
vehicles display a red International Standards Organization (ISO) 
symbol for the brake telltale and warning indicator within the 
instrument cluster instead of the word ``BRAKE'' as required in FMVSS 
No. 101 and FMVSS No. 135.
    Ford stated its belief that although the instrument cluster 
telltale symbols are displayed using ISO symbols the noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the following reasons:
    (1) The Owners Guide for the subject vehicles is written for 
multiple markets and depicts both the ``BRAKE'' and ISO symbol 
telltales for brake warning conditions.
    (2) Paragraph S5.5.1 of FMVSS No. 135 states that the warning 
indicator must identify a gross loss of fluid or fluid pressure and 
identify if the parking brake is applied and is satisfied by a separate 
ABS lamp which complies with all requirements of FMVSS No. 135 and 
FMVSS No. 101.
    (3) In the event that the brake fluid level in the master cylinder 
reservoir is less than the recommended safe level, the ISO symbol will 
illuminate and a warning message will display in the Message Center 
that states ``BRAKE FLUID LEVEL LOW SERVICE NOW'' and an initial 
warning chime will sound. The message will stay continuously displayed 
until acknowledged by the operator, provided there are no other serious 
message(s), which would result in the messages alternating. If the 
brake fluid is still low on subsequent key cycles the message will be 
redisplayed in the message center. If the message is acknowledged by 
the operator a red ``i'' is illuminated on the instrument cluster 
noting that an important message is stored and can be re-accessed by 
requesting a System Check.
    (4) The parking brake in the subject vehicle is set by pulling up 
on the parking brake handle, which is located on the center console 
adjacent to the gear shift lever. Thus the application of the parking 
brake is in full view of the operator. When the parking brake is 
engaged it illuminates the ISO symbol and should the operator proceed 
with the parking brake engaged, a warning message ``PARK BRAKE 
APPLIED'' and an initial audible chime will sound when the vehicle is 
driven at six miles per hour or greater for more than five seconds, in 
addition to the vehicle feedback of a lack of acceleration. The warning 
message will time out after ten seconds but a red ``i'' remains 
illuminated noting that an important message is stored and can be re-
accessed by requesting a System Check. If the operator continues to 
drive with the parking brake engaged, after 30 seconds the warning 
message ``PARK BRAKE APPLIED'' will return, along with a warning chime.
    (5) In all cases the ISO symbol for the brake telltale illuminates 
and remains illuminated in accordance with the requirements of FMVSS 
No. 135.
    (6) Ford is unaware of any field or owner complaints regarding the 
issue of non-compliant telltales.
    In summation, Ford believes that the described noncompliance of its 
vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its 
petition, to exempt it from providing recall notification of 
noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall 
noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted.
    Requirement Background: FMVSS No. 101 S5.2.1 and S5.5.2 
specifically state:

    S5.2.1 Except for the Low Tire Pressure Telltale, each control, 
telltale and indicator that is listed in column 1 of Table 1 or 
Table 2 must be identified by the symbol specified for it in column 
2 or the word or abbreviation specified for it in column 3 of Table 
1 or Table 2. If a symbol is used, each symbol provided pursuant to 
this paragraph must be substantially similar in form to the symbol 
as it appears in Table 1 or Table 2. If a symbol is used, each 
symbol provided pursuant to this paragraph must have the 
proportional dimensional characteristics of the symbol as it appears 
in Table 1 or Table . . .
    S5.5.2 The telltales for any brake system malfunction required 
by Table 1 to be red, air bag malfunction, low tire pressure, 
electronic stability control malfunction (as of September 1, 2011), 
passenger air bag off, high beam, turn signal, and seat belt must 
not be shown in the same common space.

    Additionally, Table 1 Note 9 states:

    Refer to FMVSS 105 of FMVSS 135, as appropriate, for additional 
specific requirements for brake telltale labeling and color. If a 
single telltale is to be used to indicate more than one brake system 
condition, the brake system malfunction identifier must be used.

    FMVSS No. 135 S5.5.5 specifically states:

    (a) Each visual indicator shall display a word or words in 
accordance with the requirements of Standard No. 101 (49 CFR 
571.101) and this section, which shall be legible to the driver 
under all daytime and nighttime conditions when activated. Unless 
otherwise specified, the words shall have letters not less than 3.2 
mm (\1/8\ inch) high and the letters and background shall be of 
contrasting colors, one of which is red. Words or symbols in 
addition to those required by Standard No. 101 and this section may 
be provided for purposes of clarity.
    (b) Vehicles manufactured with a split service brake system may 
use a common brake warning indicator to indicate two or more of the 
functions described in S5.5.1(a)

[[Page 69932]]

through S5.5.1(g). If a common indicator is used, it shall display 
the word ``Brake'' (emphasis added).

    NHTSA Analysis and Reasoning: Ford stated that there are two 
conditions which will cause the brake system warning indicator, located 
on the instrument cluster and labeled with an ISO symbol instead of 
BRAKE, to illuminate:
    1. The brake fluid level in the master cylinder reservoir is less 
than the recommended safe level; and
    2. The parking brake control, a handle located on the center 
console, is applied.
    Ford also stated that each warning to the driver includes an 
audible chime and a warning message in the vehicle's message center. 
The message ``brake fluid low service now'' would remain illuminated 
until brake fluid is added. However, that message may alternate with 
other serious message(s) should they appear. If the vehicle's parking 
brake is applied, an audible chime will sound when the vehicle reaches 
6 mph for more than 5 seconds. The message ``park brake applied'' will 
time out after 10 seconds, but it will be stored in the message 
information center for subsequent retrieval by the driver. In addition, 
the parking brake control is readily visible to the driver and the 
vehicle will lack acceleration if the parking brake is applied. For 
either or both conditions 1 and 2, the red brake system warning 
indicator labeled with the ISO symbol will remain illuminated until the 
problem is corrected.
    We believe that the combination of the red color of the ISO symbol, 
the audible chimes, message center warnings, and additionally for the 
parking brake, the position of the applied lever and reduced 
drivability, all described in the owner's manual, will be sufficient to 
adequately warn the driver should these serious problems in the braking 
system occur, even in the absence of the required BRAKE label on the 
indicator. The manufacturer has shown that the discrepancy with the 
safety requirement is unlikely to lead to any misunderstanding 
especially since other sources of correct information beyond the ISO 
symbol are available. We also believe the ISO symbol has over time 
evolved to become more recognizable and understandable to drivers. In 
addition, NHTSA has not received any consumer complaints regarding the 
subject vehicles.
    NHTSA Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has 
determined that Ford has met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS 
No. 101 and 135 noncompliance for the BRAKE telltale is inconsequential 
to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Ford's petition is hereby 
granted.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, this decision 
only applies to the 485 vehicles that Ford no longer controlled at the 
time that it determined that a noncompliance existed in the subject 
vehicles. However, the granting of this petition does not relieve 
vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer 
for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control after Ford 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

    Issued on: November 18, 2013.
Claude H. Harris,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2013-27950 Filed 11-20-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P



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