Effects of New FMVSS Requirements

Originally published in the March 2015 edition of Tech Trends (e-newsletter and as an article within NTEA News), this article is also available to you below as an employee of an NTEA member company.

NTEA’s Technical Services Department is receiving numerous calls as new model work trucks arrive in shops. New Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requirements are being phased with these vehicles, and corresponding chassis changes are affecting what and how members upfit. For example, a common strategy used to meet two of these standards — FMVSS 214: Side Impact Protection and FMVSS 226: Ejection Mitigation — is side curtain airbags on trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. or less. What does this mean for upfitters?


  • All vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less should have side curtain airbags next to the front driver and passenger seating positions by the 2016 model year to meet FMVSS 214. (This has already been implemented on some 2015 models.)
  • Upfitters need to know the locations of the airbag inflator and airbag deployment zones, as there will be restrictions on attachments to these areas.
  • Equipment installations such as partitions, computer stations, seats, spotlights and other items mounted inside the cab will be affected.
  • The airbags and inflator system may be installed on the upper roof rails, and the ability to mount equipment near these items would be restricted. Any damage to these systems could result in costly repairs.



  • All vehicles with a 10,000-lb. GVWR or less will use side curtain airbags to meet FMVSS 226 by the 2018 model year. This impacts all seating positions and window openings.
  • Any vehicle with windows behind the front driver and passenger seats, such as a van or crew cab, may have side curtain airbags mounted the full length, covering any window openings. 
  • Cargo van applications with additional windows could require specific equipment installation to help meet the requirements, while still allowing for supplemental equipment such as bins and rack systems.
  • Specific vehicle options, including airbag systems, will need to be ordered when adding seats in the rear cargo area. It will be important for chassis manufacturers to know if the vehicle is intended for extra seats, as it would be difficult and expensive to modify a cargo van for passenger usage.
  • As with FMVSS 214, the upper roof rails will have restrictions on what can be mounted and how it’s attached to the vehicle.


With these new requirements, utilizing the proper chassis for the intended purpose is critical. It is equally important to follow mounting instructions from the equipment supplier (partitions, seats, etc.) to ensure the upfit does not affect safety standard compliance.  

Are you faced with technical or engineering challenges?
Contact the Technical and Engineering Hotline at (800) 441-6832 for individual attention on varied topics such as Federal Excise Tax, truck certification and labeling, vehicle compliance and truck spec’ing. The Hotline is available Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm (EST). Members can contact the Association as frequently as needed.