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HQ 963031

MARCH 3, 2000

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 963031 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8708.93.60, 8708.93.75

Michael J. Walsh
Ford Motor Company
17101 Rotunda Drive
P.O. Box 6089 MD-654
Dearborn, MI 48121

RE: Clutch Assembly and Parts for Motor Vehicle Automatic Transmissions

Dear Mr. Walsh:

In a letter to Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated July 2, 1999, you inquire as to the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of clutch assemblies and parts for automatic transmissions used in motor vehicles. Your request has been forwarded to this office for reply. Samples and an engineering blueprint were submitted. We regret the delay in responding.

In general, ruling letters are issued under the authority of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR Part 177) with respect to prospective transactions. You have indicated that the merchandise is currently being imported through the ports of Detroit and Chicago, and that the importations are ongoing. A member of my staff has advised you by telephone that section 177.5, Customs Regulations, requires that you notify the ports of Detroit and Chicago that this ruling request is pending at Headquarters. We will provide a copy of the ruling to these ports for their information and guidance.


The articles at issue are identified as a clutch piston, service part XW4Z-7A262-AA, a clutch friction plate or transmission clutch internal spline, service part F6CZ-7B164-BA, a clutch plate or transmission clutch external spline, service part

E92Z-7B442-C, a drum assembly, transmission interim brake, engineering part XW4P-7D044-AA, and clutch assembly, transmission forward, engineering part XS4P-7A511-AA. The first three parts are represented by samples and parts four, a complete clutch, and five are depicted in the blueprint.

The clutch assembly and parts at issue are for use in automatic transmissions for motor vehicles. You note that existing rulings differentiate between clutches and their parts for manual transmissions, which are provided for in respective provisions of heading 8708, HTSUS, for clutches and parts thereof, and those for automatic transmissions, which are provided for in other provisions of heading 8708 as other parts for power trains. You indicate that a manual transmission requires driver intervention to engage and disengage the gears while an automatic transmission does not. You also indicate that parts for an automatic transmission are interdependent in contrast to those for a manual transmission. Because it is so difficult to differentiate between clutches and parts for manual transmissions and those for automatic transmissions, you conclude that the latter should be classifiable in subheading 8708.99 as other parts for power trains.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8708 Parts and accessories of the motor vehicles of headings 8701 to 8705: Other parts and accessories:
8708.93 Clutches and parts thereof:
For other vehicles:
8708.93.60 Clutches
8708.93.75 Other
8708.99 Other:
8708.99.67 Other parts for power trains


Whether for tariff purposes clutches and their parts for automatic transmissions used in motor vehicles are parts of power trains or parts of clutches.


General Rule of Interpretation, HTSUS, (GRI) 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 3(a) states in part that when goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings the heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description. GRI 6 states, in part, that goods are classifiable in the subheadings of a heading according to the terms of those subheadings and any related subheading notes and, by appropriate substitution of terms, to GRIs 1 through 5, on the understanding that only subheadings at the same level are comparable.

A clutch is a mechanism that engages and disengages the engine’s flywheel from the drive shaft as gears shift through the transmission. When used with a manual transmission, a clutch assembly is a separate unit located between the rear of the engine block and the transmission. Such transmissions and their parts are classifiable in provisions of subheading 8708.93, HTSUS, as clutches and parts thereof. See NY 859108, dated January 2, 1991, a ruling you cite. Automatic transmissions, however, utilize a type of fluid coupling called a torque converter to couple the engine and the gearbox incorporated in the transmission. The gearbox contains a set of planetary gears, with clutches and brake pads for engaging the desired gears. Clutch assemblies for manual transmissions are separate units located between the rear of the engine block and the transmission. Automatic transmissions, on the other hand, have internal clutches that disengage the engine automatically as the gears change. For this reason, another ruling you cite, NY 818430, dated February 21, 1996, regarded such clutch assemblies, the transmission, together with other associated parts for transmitting power from the engine through the drive shaft to the wheels as parts of the vehicle’s power train.

However, tariff terms are generally construed in accordance with their common and commercial meanings which are presumed to be the same. Articles that disengage the engine automatically as the gears change perform the function of a clutch and are within the common and commercial meaning of that term. In addition, for purposes of subheading 8708.93 the provision for clutches describes a commodity eo nomine, by name. Normally, an eo nomine designation, without limitation, or a shown contrary
legislative intent or judicial decision will include all forms of the named article. Therefore, when comparing subheadings within heading 8708, GRI 3(a), HTSUS, applied at the subheading level through GRI 6, authorizes classification in the subheading providing the most specific description. Thus, in classifying the parts at issue, it is our opinion that the subheading description for clutches and parts thereof, other, is more specific than other parts for power trains. NY 818430, dated February 21, 1996, has been revoked and no longer represents Customs position on the classification of this merchandise. See HQ 963322, dated March 3, 2000, a copy of which is enclosed.


Under the authority of GRI 3(a), applied at the subheading level through GRI 6, the articles designated service parts XW4Z-7A262-AA, F6CZ-7B164-BA, E92Z-7B442-C, XW4P-7D044-AA and XS4P-7A511-AA, are provided for in heading 8708. The first four parts are classifiable in subheading 8708.93.75, HTSUS, and the complete clutch, part XS4P-7A511-AA, is classifiable in subheading 8708.93.60, HTSUS.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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