ECE and ABE – Know Your Certificates
Are you considering a new set of wheel rims for your vehicle? Unfortunately, this will require a bit of regulatory know-how. Even the sleekest alloy wheel rims will only work out if qualified personnel have approved them for use on your vehicle. In Germany, a serially produced vehicle is authorized for use on the road by its general operating permit (ABE). The accompanying registration documents list all the approved wheel and tire sizes. Aluminum rims are usually not listed in the vehicle’s ABE.
If you’re interested in alloy wheel rims – and you even already have some potential models picked out – there are a couple ways to determine whether they are approved for your vehicle. The first and most simple option is ECE type approval, or the “E-mark”, from the Economic Commission of Europe. It consists of a large E in a circle and an approval number.
The E-mark indicates that the wheel rim may be operated with the respective vehicle without any further inspections or testing – simply mount the wheel rim with an approved tire and you’re ready to go. Use of an ECE-certified part requires no entry in the vehicle documents. This regulation is valid in all countries participating in the ECE process, including Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
The second option for wheel rim approval is a special vehicle component ABE. Such an ABE allows the use of aluminum wheel rims without additional review by testing services. However, the technical and legal precondition for this is that the vehicle chassis and brake system be in their original condition.
Manufacturers apply for vehicle component ABEs for various wheel-tire-vehicle combinations, which are issued by a technical inspection association (TÜV) after extensive tests. Vehicle component ABEs are provided with wheel rims upon purchase and are also available to download online. You can find the current certificates for all RIAL wheels here.
Additionally, it is important to always have the vehicle component ABEs on hand in your vehicle. In contrast to ECE certificates, vehicle component ABEs for wheel rims must be carried at all times – failure to comply can result in a €10 fine. Because your safety is at stake, other ABE-related penalties can also be quite steep. Failure to implement the ABE requirements results in a €40 fine and one penalty point on your driver’s license. Driving without a necessary ABE – and therefore without authorization – will bring three penalty points and a €75 fine. So please be sure to keep your ABE up to date and always carry it with you!