In most countries, car tyre regulations are set by the respective government agencies responsible for such rulings in regards to motor vehicles. However, in Europe there are also a wider set of car tyre standards that need to be obeyed.

For UK tyre regulations, most of these have been outlined in The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. Specifically, of these tyre regulations UK governments have set, the most important area is article 27: Condition and Maintenance Of Tyres. However, while this does set out various rulings, it itself still needs to comply with wider ECE standards.

Which institution is responsible for tyre regulations in the Europe?

Tyre regulations in Europe are set by the Economic Commission for Europe - or ECE for short. The ECE helps to standardise regulations across its member countries. Not only does this help manufacturers, as they can provide one product that is suitable across various countries, it helps with inter-country traffic. Every day, high volumes of private and commercial traffic cross through various national borders. The ECE ensures that such vehicles do not have to adapt to different regulations on a frequent basis.

traffic-on-highway

Numerous cars cross borders everyday, so European tyre regulations maintain a standard of quality across member countries.

For years, both car and truck tyres have been covered by ECE regulations in a number of areas. The ECE regulations list numerous factors, including a tyre’s physical dimensions, sidewall symbols and tyre markings, durability, speed index and load index. More recently, tyre noise has become a major concern, as seen in the use of EU tyre labelling regulations.

What About The US?

The United States, of course, is not part of Europe and does not have to follow tyre standards UK bodies have set out: neither does it have to follow the ECE european standard.
 
In America, tyre regulations are determined by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When tyres are certified in this manner, there is a DOT symbol on the sidewall. This also highlights the tyre’s production date, which is the most common way for drivers to determine a product’s age.
 
While the US has different regulations, it is important to remember a number of different points. First of all, there is a difference between tyres sold in the US and tyres that are simply manufactured there. For a tyre to be sold in Europe, it must meet the European standard. Of course, if tyres are purchased elsewhere, it is up to the driver to fit relevant, safe products on their vehicle. While this also means that other tyres, such as those from the US or China, might be perfectly suitable, it is still much safer to ensure any tyres you choose are ECE certified.

ECE regulations concerning noise

Tyre regulations set a limit on the amount of tyre noise that can be generated when a car (or, more specifically, the tyre) passes by. This ECE regulation has been gradually implemented since the start of 2004. Since then, all tyres installed as original equipment in new vehicles have to pass specific noise level tests.

busy-road

Tyre noise in populated areas is one of the reasons the ECE has implemented specific tyre regulations

Which tyres meet ECE standards?

Tyres that have the ECE symbol have passed all the relevant tyre regulations that appear in its description, including load ratings and speed ratings.
 
In order to obtain the ECE symbol, a tyre has to tested and certified in a lab. The tyre model itself has to pass conformity testing and, likewise, the manufacturing plant has to pass quality control tests.

How to read the ECE symbol

The ECE symbol can be identified through the use of the letter “E” and a numeric code, typically inside a circle or rectangle. The “E”, of course, stands for the ECE while the number indicates the country where the tyre was registered. Each nation has its own number, listed below, with E11 being used to signify products registered in the UK.

After this initial code, there is a series of two digits. This signifies which series of regulations have been used to certify the tyre, as products have different standards based on their purpose. For commercial tyres, “02” is used for ECE regulation 30, while “00” indicates regulation 54, which is for delivery trucks. For typical car owners, then, tyres need to follow ECE 30.
 
Furthermore, some tyres may also be designed an ECE symbol with an “-s” suffix. This indicates the tyres were subjected to additional testing and have been found to meet the tyre rolling noise limits. In this case, the “s” stands for “sound”.


EU-standards-2-291

    Traditional symbol             Alternative symbol           A symbol with noise marking                                                                                                               

If you’re looking for the ECE does for country of registration, they are as follows:

Code

Country

Code

Country

E1

Germany

E21

Portugal

E2

France

E22

Russia

E3

Italy

E23

Greece

E4

Holland

E24

Ireland

E5

Sweden

E25

Croatia

E6

Belgium

E26

Slovenia

E7

Hungary

E27

Slovakia

E8

Czech Republic

E28

Belarus

E9

Spain

E29

Estonia

E10

Yugoslavia

E31

Bosnia and Herzegovina

E11

Great Britain

E32

Latvia

E12

Austria

E34

Bulgaria

E13

Luxembourg

E37

Turkey

E14

Switzerland

E40

Macedonia

E16

Norway

E43

Japan

E17

Finland

E45

Australia

E18

Denmark

E46

Ukraine

E19

Romania

E47

South Africa

E20

Poland

E48

New Zealand

Finally, as an additional reminder, you should bear in mind that not all tyres are subject to ECE certification. Tyres intended for use outside of Europe need only meet the regulations of their respective country of use. For this reason, it is best to stick to tyres intended for sale in Europe, as this will ensure they meet ECE and UK tyre regulations.