The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) original mandatory component identification standard for high theft "passenger car" lines became effective on April 25, 1986. The original standard was not applicable to vans, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, buses, or low theft passenger car lines, nor did the original standard cover any component on a 1986 or prior model year vehicle. Once a "passenger car" line became subject to the standard, coverage continues until the line ceases to be manufactured, or the line receives a "black box" exception pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 543 from NHTSA because of additional anti theft features that the car contains as standard equipment. As new "passenger cars" were introduced, NHTSA would make a determination as to which would likely be high theft lines, and such lines became subject to the theft prevention (parts marking) standard.
The Anti Car Theft Act of 1992 expanded the universe of vehicles subject to parts marking. The new standard extends to "passenger motor vehicles," including certain multipurpose passenger vehicles, except light duty trucks, and extends to not more than 50% of the lines not designated as high theft lines. The current parts marking regulations appear at 49 C.F.R. Part 542 et seq.
The mandatory standard now covers these eighteen components and their replacements on the covered passenger motor vehicle lines: (1) engine; (2) transmission; (3) right front fender; (4) left front fender; (5) hood; (6) right front door; (7) left front door; (8) right rear door (if present); (9) left rear door (if present); (10) sliding or cargo door(s); (11) front bumper; (12) rear bumper; (13) right rear quarter panel (passenger cars); (14) left rear quarter panel (passenger cars); and (15) right side assembly (MPVs); (16) left side assembly MPVs); (17) pickup box, and/or cargo box LDTs; (18) rear door(s); (both doors in case of double doors) decklid, tailgate, or hatchback (whichever is present). In most cases the full 17 character VIN of the vehicle itself must be placed on the original component. While the number can be stamped into the component, most manufacturers are applying a counterfeit resistant label that contains the VIN. The label will self-destruct if it is removed. The number is to remain with the component until the component ceases to exist.
New replacements for the required components must contain the registered trademark of the manufacturer, the letter "R" to indicate "replacement," and the letters "DOT" which reflects the manufacturer's certification of compliance with the mandatory standard. Only the components originally attached to a car will contain a specific VIN, which, as mentioned above, will be the VIN assigned to the particular passenger car to which the component was attached.
[cited in USAM 9-61.700]