ECE R90 or Regulation 90 – What’s it all about?
E uropean legislation came into effect September 1999 titled ECE R90 that stipulates that all brake pads sold for use on vehicles manufactured after this date must be tested and comply to R90 standards. This test which involves taking each homologated vehicle used on the public roads within Europe and comparing the front and rear brake performance with the original parts to those of aftermarket offerings has closed the door to cheap and nasty imported brake pads throughout Europe.
The test includes cold and hot brake friction analysis and if a part has been approved to R90, it can be safely assumed that the product is equal to or better than original equipment product. The brake pads are then marked with an R90 code number and a country code in a circle such as E1 for Germany or E11 for UK which signifies where the testing has been done. EBC Brakes does all of its testing at the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) test facilities at MIRA in Nuneaton, UK. MIRA stands for the Motor Industries Research Association who have a high speed test track for conducting these tests which EBC Brakes uses on a regular basis. Compare this to some of the blanket approvals that have been obtained (or supposedly obtained) from some (shall we say) less scrupulous industry participants and it is clear to anyone with an engineering knowledge that the EBC Brakes method of testing is 100% reliable.
Factory Approval is part of the R90 process which involves engineers inspecting and accrediting the factory manufacturing the product before approval is given.
What are the benefits?
If you are selling brake pads for European vehicles and the material you are offering is not very close to the original equipment material in terms of friction level, you could be placing your customers safety at risk. Considering that in 90% of cases the front brake pads on a vehicle wear out before the rear, it is normal to see replacement of front brake pads with an aftermarket offering whilst the rear pad is still left in the vehicle. Simple physics tells you that a vehicle with higher friction in the rear than in the front is a danger area. Such an imbalance of braking can cause rear wheel lock up as pedal pressure is increased by the driver in an attempt to bring the vehicle to rest, and the simple result is ….. front wheel lock up and the car brakes IN A STRAIGHT LINE …. rear wheel lock up and the car goes into a tailspin.
In what ways are European pads different and why does this affect me?
Most European vehicles are built with single piston caliper systems with “deep” profile pads where the band width (height of the pad from top to bottom) is much larger than in brake systems used on Asian cars or American built cars. This basic design difference has lead to European car manufacturers using HIGHER FRICTION pads than most of their counterparts who build vehicles in Asia and USA. To use the lower friction level pads common in the American and Asian markets inter-mixed with a higher friction European spec pad is a recipe for disaster.
Another major advantage
Of the EBC product is its far reduced disc (rotor) wear rates compared to many original parts. Internal tests have show significant reduction in rotor wear when using the EBC Ultimax material.