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United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (U.N.E.C.E.)

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Uniform Provisions Concerning the Approval of Pneumatic Tires for Motor Vehicles

Most countries have government agencies that regulate standards for motor vehicles sold and/or driven within their jurisdiction. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are responsible for developing many of the nationwide standards for vehicles and automotive components sold here. Tires that are certified by their manufacturers to meet U.S. standards are branded with "DOT" preceding the Tire Identification Code on their sidewall.

In Europe, because so much personal and commercial travel extends beyond the borders of any one country, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (U.N.E.C.E.), commonly referred to as just E.C.E., helps develop uniform motor vehicle standards for its member countries to regulate and standardize passenger and commercial vehicle components. While automobile and truck tires have been regulated by E.C.E. standards for years for their physical dimensions, sidewall branding, durability and high-speed endurance requirements, more recent additions include standards for the sound generated by rolling tires and wet traction.

While sound is a byproduct of modern society, it's one thing that most Europeans would enjoy less of. Excessive noise is considered a form of environmental pollution readily apparent to humans. People who express being disturbed by noise during the day and/or night cite truck, motorcycle and automobile traffic as the most universal sources.

E.C.E. standards have been initiated that require tire "pass-by" noise meet specific limits. These standards began in 2004, when tires fitted as Original Equipment on new vehicles intended for sale in Europe must pass noise emission testing, and will continue to expand in scope until the standards will be applied to all tires sold in Europe.

This has required that some of the recent tires developed for Original Equipment use on cars and light trucks in Europe feature less aggressive looking tread designs than in the past. This trend isn't just a fashion trend among the European tire designers, it's a case where form follows function. The noise a tire generates as it rolls through the air and comes into contact with the road is associated to the aggressiveness of its tread design.

The E.C.E. symbol on a tire's sidewall identifies that the manufacturer certifies the tire meets all regulations, including the load index and speed symbol that appear in its service description. In order to be E.C.E. branded, tires must receive laboratory approval, pass confirmation testing and have their manufacturing plant pass quality control inspections.

The letter "e" (or "E") and number code combination (positioned in a circle or rectangle) identify the country through which an approved tire was originally registered, followed by two digits indicating the Regulation Series under which the tire was approved (such as "02" for E.C.E. Regulation 30 governing passenger tires and "00" for E.C.E. Regulation 54 governing commercial vehicle tires) followed by digits that represent the E.C.E. mark, type-approval numbers. Tires that have also been tested and meet the "pass-by" noise limits and wet traction can have a second E.C.E. branding followed by an "-s" (for sound) and "w" (for wet traction). Depending on the extent of tire testing completed, one or two E.C.E. symbols may appear on the tire's sidewall. They are as follows:

Traditional symbol
Traditional symbol
Alternate symbol
Alternate symbol
Symbol with sound
Symbol with sound
Symbol with sound and wet
Symbol with sound and wet

The list below provides selected E.C.E. codes and the countries they represent:

E2FranceE22Russian Federation
E8Czech RepublicE28Belarus
E10YugoslaviaE31Bosnia and Herzegovina
E11United KingdomE32Latvia
E19RomaniaE47South Africa
E20PolandE48New Zealand

Not all tires are subject to E.C.E. approval. Tires produced for use outside of Europe only require the approval for the countries in which they will be used. However, with the globalization of vehicle manufacturing, many cars & trucks produced in North America by traditional domestic manufacturers are equipped with E.C.E. approved tires because they might be driven or sold in Europe.

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