United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2004 HQ Rulings > HQ 966658 - HQ 966771 > HQ 966732

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 966732

AUGUST 13, 2004

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 966732 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8543.89.40

Area Port Director of Customs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
6747 Engle Road
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130

RE: Internal Advice 3/18; Crankshaft Speed Sensors

Dear Sir:

In a memorandum, dated August 25, 2003 (APP 7:FO:CM:NP:ANC:CO KSR), on behalf of Honda of America, Mfg., (HAM) and its counsel, you request internal advice on the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of crankshaft speed sensors. Counsel presented additional facts and legal arguments in support of their proposed classification during a teleconference with a member of my staff on April 23, 2004. Our decision follows.

The speed sensors at issue are identified on the Customs Form 6445 as the “sensor assy crank,” “sensor assy, TDC,” “sensor comp, crank,” and the “sensor sub assy, crank.” These goods were entered under heading 9032, HTSUS, as parts of automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. Based in part, at least, on a 2001 ruling to the internal advice applicant’s parent company, you propose to classify the speed sensors as other electrical machines and apparatus of heading 8543, HTSUS.


In the internal combustion engine, pistons move up and down inside cylinders which connect by a rod to the crankshaft. The rod converts the pistons’ up-and-down movement to circular movement. The rotating crank attaches by the flywheel to the transmission which transmits power to the driveshaft, then to the
axles and wheels, thus propelling the vehicle. Speed sensors of the kind at issue here typically incorporate a magnet, resistor, a wiper arm connected to the rotating machine part, all in a hard plastic housing, and electrically insulated conductor wires. As the wiper arm located inside the sensor contacts a notch, gear tooth, or raised protuberance on the crank, the sensors generate a pulse each time the shaft completes a revolution. Thus, the crankshaft speed sensors convert rotations of the crankshaft to electric pulses in the form of positional information data about, for example, where the shaft is in its rotation cycle. These pulses are then transmitted by the insulated conductor wires to the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which utilizes them in a computational function to ensure that the fuel injectors dispense the proper amount of fuel to the engine’s cylinders and otherwise monitor and adjust the engine’s timing.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [Chapter 85]:


8543.89.40 Electric synchros and transducers

8543.89.96 Other

Automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus; parts and accessories thereof:

Parts and accessories:

9032.90.60 Other


Whether the speed sensors are goods included in heading 8543; if so, whether they are more specifically described within heading 8543 as electric synchros and transducers.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified 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. With certain exceptions not relevant here,

Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, states that parts of machines which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapter 84 or Chapter 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. Chapter 90, Note 2(a) expands this legal concept to include parts and accessories.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

In a letter to you, dated April 28, 2003, counsel for the internal advice applicant maintains that the position sensors were initially entered at various ports as parts and accessories of automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus, in subheading 9032.90.60, HTSUS. However, in NY G86705, issued to HAM’s parent company, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. on March 1, 2001, the Director of Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, held that the correct classification was in heading 8543, HTSUS, a provision for electrical machines and apparatus having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere [in Chapter 85]. Counsel maintains that NY G86705 is incorrect and continues to assert that the parts provision in heading 9032, HTSUS, represents the correct classification. In counsel’s opinion, pursuant to Chapter 90, Note 7, HTSUS, as supported by appropriate 9032 ENs, the position sensors constantly measure and regulate a motor vehicle’s electrical ignition/fuel injection performance within established operational parameters through their function of monitoring crankshaft rotation. Counsel cites three Customs rulings purporting to support this classification. Additionally, counsel maintains that, as articles of Chapter 90, Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS, precludes the sensors from being classified in heading 8543. Alternatively, counsel argues that pursuant to GRI 3(a), heading 9032 provides a more specific description of the function these position sensors perform than does heading 8543 or, pursuant to GRI 3(c), heading 9032 prevails as that which occurs last among those headings which equally merit consideration.

Initially, we agree with counsel that NY G86705 is incorrect and we have revoked it. See HQ 967135, dated July 20, 2004. The classification expressed in that ruling, as electric synchros and transducers, in subheading 8543.89.40, HTSUS, and the legal analysis on which that classification was based, represent Customs and Border Protection’s current position and are incorporated by reference in this decision. See also HQ 967103 and HQ 967134, both dated July 20, 2004, in which substantially identical speed sensors were found to be similarly classifiable.

As explained in the cited decisions, subheading 8543.89.40 in part provides for electric synchros and transducers. The term transducer is not defined in the text of the HTSUS or in the ENs. When not so defined, terms are construed in accordance with their
common and commercial meaning, which are presumed to be the same. Nippon Kogasku (USA), Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982), and related cases. Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources. In HQ 964599, dated December 22, 2000, in considering the classification of optical encoders, we examined the term transducer and determined that it encompasses devices which convert variations in one energy form into corresponding variations in another, usually electrical form. Among these is the velocity transducer in which the velocity of rotating shafts can be measured by an optical encoder with a suitable light source and detector. By choosing an appropriate pattern, the output data can be produced in binary form suitable for direct input to a computer system. Optical encoders come in two kinds, absolute encoders and incremental encoders. The absolute encoder is a position transducer with output in the form of parallel binary digits. See McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Vol. 18, pp. 459-462 (6th ed., 1987). Position sensors of the type at issue here are transducers which convert physical condition data such as position, speed and acceleration into electrical signals that can be recognized by a processor. The sensors here are transducers which convert shaft rotations into an output of electric pulses. As to whether 8543 is the appropriate heading, relevant ENs state that heading covers all electrical appliances and apparatus not falling in any other heading of Chapter 85, nor covered more specifically by a heading of any other chapter of the HTSUS, or excluded by a legal note to Section XVI or to Chapter 85. Moreover, to be within the terms of heading 8543, a good must perform an individual function. The position sensors at issue perform an “individual” function because their ability to generate electric pulses is not dependent on the motor vehicle’s ECU which utilizes these pulses. Articles satisfying the above-described terms constitute goods included in heading 8543. See HQ 964599. Notwithstanding the fact that position sensors might function as parts of larger instrumentation systems, they are goods included in heading 8543, in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2(a) and Chapter 90, Note 2(a), HTSUS.

Finally, counsel cites three rulings, NY 878294, dated October 15, 1992, NY 817204, dated January 11, 1996, and NY 871911, dated March 26, 1992, in which speed sensors of various types were held to be classifiable in subheading 9032.90.60, HTSUS, as parts and accessories of automatic regulating or controlling instruments and apparatus. Substantial changes were made to Chapter 90, Note 7, HTSUS, the then-controlling legal authority on which these three rulings were based, the changes being made after the cited rulings were issued. These changes, and the legal effect thereof, are more fully explained in HQ 967269, HQ 967270 and HQ 967271, all dated August 13, 2004. Because the articles of which the speed sensors in the cited rulings are parts no longer meet the terms of Chapter 90, Note 7, NY 878294, NY 817204 and NY 871911 are revoked by operation of law, in accordance with section 177.12(d)(1) of the Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.12(d)(1)). Copies of HQ 967269, HQ 967270 and HQ 967271 are available to counsel for the internal advice applicant at www.cbp.gov.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the speed sensors at issue, identified on the Customs Form 6445 as the “sensor assy crank,” “sensor assy, TDC,” “sensor comp, crank,” and the “sensor sub assy, crank” are provided for in heading 8543. They are classifiable in subheading 8543.89.4000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). The current column 1 rate of duty is 2.6 percent ad valorem. Duty rates are provided for the convenience of the internal advice applicant and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUSA and the accompanying duty rates are provided on the World Wide Web at www.usitc.gov.

You are to mail this decision to counsel for the internal advice applicant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. On that date the Office of Regulations and Rulings will take steps to make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.cbp.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.


Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

See also: