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under this section to publish notices and information concerning defects in those situations where so doing will bring about a higher level of safety. In this connection, the committee is confident that the manufacturers will be active in notifying purchasers and users so that defects will be corrected as quickly as possible.
Senate Passed Act
Notifcation SEC. 116. (a) Every manufacturer of motor secret or other matter referred to in section vehicles shall furnish notification of any 1905 of title 18 of the United States Code defect in any motor vehicle or motor vehicle unless he determines that it is Docessary to equipment produced by such manufacturer carry out the purposes of this Act. which he determines, in good faith, relates to (e) through testing, inspection, investimotor vehicle safety, to the purchaser (where gation, or research carried out pursuant to known to the manufacturer) of such motor this title, or examination of reports pursuant vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, within to subsection (d) of this section, or other. a reasonable time after such manufacturer wise, the Secretary determines that any bas discovered such defect.
motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle (b) The notincation required by subsec equipment tion (a) shall be accomplished
(1) does not comply with an applicable (1) by certifod mall to the Arst purchaser Foderal motor vehicle safety standard pre(not including any douler of such manu. scribod pursuant to sections 102 and 103; or iacturer) of the motor vehicle or motor (2) contains a detect which relates to vehicle equipment containing a defect; and motor vebicle safety;
(2) by cartidad mall or other moro ape- then be shall immediately notify the manuditious means to the dealer or dealers of such facturer of such motor vebicle or item of manufacturer to whom such motor vehicle motor vehicle equipment of ni
motor vehicle equipment of such doroct or or equipment ww dellvered.
fallure to comply. The notice shall contain (c) The notigation required by subrec
tube indings of the Socretary and shall intion (a) shall contain a clear description of clude all information upon which tho andthe detoct, an evaluation of the real to tramc Inn ane band
ing are busod. The Secretary sball word
Tha a safety mmasonably related to the defect, and such manufacturer an opportunity to proa statement of the measures to be taken to sent his views and evidence in suport thererepair the defect. Tai Tvery manufacturer of motor vehicles compliance or that the alleged defect does
of, to establish that there is no fallure of wball furnish to the Secretary a true or repre
not affect motor vehicle safety. Il after rentative copy of all noticea, bulletins, and
such presentation by the manufacturer the other communications to the dealers of such
Secretary determines that such vehicle or manufacturer or purchaun of motor vehicles
Item of equipment does not comply with or motor vehicle equipment of rich manu
applicable Federal motor vehicle Balety Tacturer regarding any doroct in ruch ve
standards, or contains a defect which relates bicle or equipment sold or werviced by ruch
to motor vehicle safety, the Secretary shall daler. The Socretary shall disclove so much
direct the manufacturer to furnish the notiof the information contained in such notice
acation specified in subsection (c) of this or other information obtained under rub
section to the purchaser of such motor venction 114(a) to the public as he deems
hicle or item of motor vehicle equipment as will wist in carying out the purpose of this
provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this Act, but he shall not disclose any infor
rection. mation which contains or relates to a trade
I am particularly pleased to see in When you bring your Buick in, this matter duded in this bill the fair warning will receive prompt attention; however, you amendment I proposed several months
may prefer to call us at - for a definite ago. This provision requires every man
appointment, which will allow us to give you
preferred service. ufacturer of motor vehicles to notify the
Very truly yours, purchaser of any defect which the manufacturer determines in good faith relates
Please call our Service Department at 534 to safety. The manufacturer would 8500 for appointment. For your convenience have to furnish such notification within we will be open Saturday, June 11th, & 18th, & reasonable time after discovery. No ospecially for this modification. time limit is included in the legislative Thank you. language because of the probability that
BRUCE LEISTER, such & limit would be unduly restrictive
Service Manager. and subject the manufacturer to a dvelM r. MONDALE. Mr. President, the penalty. My original amendment set & recipient of this letter states: time to furnish notification, and I would
This letter 18 unique in that the concern hope that the Secretary would attempt of General Motors, or Buick Motor Division, to use this as & guideline.
or the dealer or the somebody who did not The bill also requires the manufac. alga the undated letter (except as a post turer to send the safety defect notifica script)—this sudden concern over the brake tion by certified mall to the purchaser mechanism wbich "might prove to be trouand by certified mail or more expeditious bloomo. some time. In the futuro"oomas means to the dealer or dealers of the somo 18 months and 11,000 miles after the vehicle or equipment in which there is a
car was delivered in January of 19651 safety defect. The notification must
Fortunately, the braking system, up to
now, is one of the things that has not caused contain a clear description of the defect,
troublo or inconvenience. Nonetheless, I am an evaluation of the safety risk involved moved to sympathize with those other ownin the defect, and a statement of the era of 1965 Losabre Convertibles who, bomeasures to be taken to repair the defect. latedly, may bave found "a bolt installation
· I have always considered this latter re ... troublesomo ..." some time in the past quirement an essential part of any type
18 months. Ono cannot help but wonder of fair warning to the consumer, but my
about the seriousness of the trouble that
may have been experienced by such owners resolve on this matter was greatly
and their familles. Also, I am inclined to strengthened the other day when & re speculate as to whether or not Buick and/or cent letter addressed to Ralph Nader GM, at this late date, would have incurred from a gentleman in Falls Church, Va., the axpense involved in the modification of came to my attention. Enclosed was a carly 1966 models bad it not been for the letter from his Buick service manager
pressure of public opinion generated by your which I ask unanimous consent to have
excellent research and Hreless determina
tion. printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the letter The letter from the Buick service manwas ordered to be printed in the RECORD, ager, although it suggests corrective acas follows:
tion as soon as possible, makes no menDEAR BUICK OWNER: It has been called to
tion of the fact that the problem may our attention by Buick Motor Division that
endanger the We and umb of the occu& bolt installation on the brake mechanism pants of the car. On inquiry yesterday, of your particular Buck LeSabre, Serial or the service manager stated that the probVehicle No. , which we delivered to you lem involved the bolts on the brake lockmight prove to be troublesome some time ing plate which he said were not selfin the future.
locking and might work loose. If they In order to forestall this possibility, it
did work loose, he said, the wheel could would be appreciated 11 you would bring
fall off without warning. I do not conyour car into our Service Department in the immediate future in order that we may check
sider it necessary to speculate whether a this installation and make any necessary
wheel falling off without warning corrections.
is a safety hazard. Obviously, it is.
Yet, the letter to the owner did not make the manufacturer furnish the Secretary clear either the problem or the great with representative copies of all notices, risk involved. Rather, it attempted, with bulletins, and other communications to clever wording, to conceal the nature of dealers of any defect, and authority for the problem and the danger involved. the Secretary to make public the infor
It is my view that the fair-warning mation contained in such notices. Also, provision is essential to make sure that in the same section of the bill is another the automobile consumer is warned of fine addition. If the Secretary deterhazards such as this.
maines, after allowing the manufacturer It is only fair, in view of the vast orga chance for rebuttal, that a vehicle or nizations established for the sale and item of equipment does not comply with service of these automobiles, to notify Federal safety standards or contains a the owner in clear and unmistakable safety defect, he must direct the manutermas, once & safety defect is known facturer to notify the purchaser of this that a safety hazard is involved, what noncompliance or safety defect, as proIt is, and what corrective steps can be vided in my fair warning amendment. taken.
These provisions, the fair-warning I compliment the members of the com- amendment, and other defect amendmittee for accepting my fair-warning ments which were adopted in committee amendment, so that this long overdue on the recommendation of several Seninadequacy in notifying owners can be ators combine to make a neat package corrected, as required by the provisions which recognizes the consumer's right of the bul.
to know about the hazards of the prod. I was pleased that the Commerce Com- uct he purchases and the manufacturer's mittee adopted other measures concern obligation to inform him. ing defects, such as the requirements that
Another aspect of this legislation, Mr. ened the administration's original proPresident, involves the important matter posal was through the inclusion of Senof driver notification. The hearings in- ator MONDALE'S amendment, which I was dicated that the industry had been se- pleased to cosponsor, which would reriously remiss in notifying car purchas- quire car manufacturers promptly to ers of safety defects discovered in cer notify the purchaser of any vehicle which tain models after they had been dis- has been discovered to contain a safetytributed to dealers. One of the many related defect. ways in which the committee strength
We are helping the driving public in must be notified by manufacturers of another way-by assuring that he will safety defects. The manufacturer is also be kept informed of faults in his car. to be required to repair any new equipManufacturers will, under this legisla- ment with defects affecting safety. tion, have to inform the Secretary of Mr. President, this legislation has been safety defects, and, as proposed by Sen needed for some time. The facts which ator MONDALE in the amendment on have been produced in the course of which I joined him, new-car buyers hearings on the legislation, both here and in the other body, show even more chasers of cars of defects has been shown. strongly the need for this legislation. We need this legislation. We need its The need for mandatory standards bas mandatory provisions. The whole counbeen shown. The need for the require- try will be thankful to us if we pass this ment that manufacturers notify pur bill.
The Senate conferees accepted, as a most constructive addition, the House provision authorizing the Secretary to require manufacturers to disclose safety performance and technical data on their products to new car purchasers. For that purpose, the Secretary is authorized to require manufacturers to furnish him with such data so that he can determine what should be disclosed to purchasers. In so doing, the Secretary is not expected to divulge manufacturers' trade secrets, except to the extent that he determines such information should be in the hands of prospective purchasers.
insure that he is informed of the substance of all communications relating to significant defects.
In addition, the Senate notification procedure makes it clear that the Secretary can make public information concerning safety-related defects or noncompliance with standards where necessary for the public safety. As was stated in the Senate report explaining this procedure, the Secretary will be expected to avoid premature publicity, to check with the manufacturer, and to afford him an opportunity, wherever practicable, to accomplish the required notification and correction through the manufacturers' own procedures.
The House managers also accepted the Senate defect notification procedures to require that the manufacturer furnish the Secretary with the substances of oral as well as written defect communications to their dealers. While the manufacturer will not be required to advise the Secretary of every isolated telephone communication with a dealer concerning a possible defect in a car, the Secretary will be expected to adopt regulations to
Senate Committee Report Senate Report 1301, Pages 8 and 9
In order to insure the uniform notification of car owners as to any safety-related defects and to facilitate the prompt curing of such defects, the bill provides that every manufacturer of motor vehicles notify the purchaser of any vehicle which the manufacturer determines, in good faith, contains a safety-related defect (sec. 116).
A "defect” is defined to include any defect in design, construction, components or materials in motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment (sec. 101 (1)). The term “defect" is used in the sense of an error or mistake in design, manufacture or assembly.
Such notification must be accomplished within a reasonable time (sec. 116(a)) after the manufacturer has discovered the defect and formulated the corrective procedure (sec. 116(c)) and must be made by certified mail to the first purchaser and by certified mail or more expeditious means to the manufacturer's dealer (sec. 116(b)). More- 9 over, the notification must contain a clear disclosure of the defect, an evaluation of the risks to traffic safety reasonably related to the defect and a statement of the measures to be taken to repair the defect (sec. 116(c)).
In addition, every manufacturer is required to furnish the Secretary copies of all communications with his dealers relating to any defect, whether or not safety-related (sec. 116(d)).
The Secretary is directed to notify the manufacturer of any failure to conform to safety standards or any other safety-related defect which he determines to exist on the basis of evidence that comes to his attention through reports from manufacturers, Government research and testing, complaints or other sources, and to require that the manufacturer furnish the purchaser and dealer appropriate notification (sec. 116(e)).
This process would be in addition to and not in place of, nor a condition upon, taking any other enforcement action under the provisions of the act. The Secretary could elect to impose a civil penalty (sec. 110) for a violation and require notification of defects of noncompliance with a safety standard (sec. 116). The Attorney General could also seek an injunction to stop the sale of a noncomplying vehicle (sec. 111). These and all alternative enforcement techniques should be exercised within the administrative discretion of the responsible officials.
The Secretary is also authorized to make public information concerning safety-related defects or noncompliance with standards where necessary for the public safety (sec. 116(d)).
The committee expects that the Secretary would use this power to publish defect information as a last resport. It is the committee's expectation that the Secretary would promptly review the matter with the manufacturer and give the manufacturer an opportunity to accomplish the required notification and correction through the manufacturer's own procedures. Publicity would be invoked only if the Secretary concluded that the manufacturer's own actions would fail or had failed to provide car owners with adequate and prompt notice on the existence and safety significance of the defect and the procedure for correction.
The committee also expects that the Secretary will act with extreme caution to avoid premature publicity of unevaluated reports as to suspected defects, before the suspicions have been evaluated. Permature publicity of this type, of course, can cause undue public alarm, with a damaging and unwarranted effect on vehicle sales even though the suspicions may ultimately prove to be without foundation.