What is ECE R90?

European legislation came into effect in September 1999 titled ECE R90 that stipulates that all brake pads ( and now also discs/rotors) sold for use on vehicles manufactured after this date must be tested and comply with 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 poor quality 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 the 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 the UK which signifies where the testing has been done. 

Factory Approval is part of the R90 process which involves engineers inspecting and accrediting the factory manufacturing the product before approval is given.

R90 limits low-quality brakes from appearing on highways and in that respect it is a good regulation but it does place limits on products you can use legally in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
Here are some examples of some brake pads and whether or they are road legal/R90 approved
  • Mintex MRM1801 - Road Legal across the range
  • Mintex M1155 - Not Road Legal
  • Ferodo DS Performance - Road Legal (although some that are designed for race/performance calipers are not)
  • Ferodo DS2500 - Not Road Legal
  • Pagid Racing - No compound in the Pagid Racing Range are road legal.

Although some pads designed for race use feel good on the road, they do have some downsides. Increased noise and vibration, excessive disc wear when not being used at the materials optimum temperature and depending on the compound, they may or may not have good cold bite performance. 

One area where pads do not need to have R90 approval, is if you have an aftermarket brake kit fitted i.e. AP Racing or Brembo calipers. 


If you need to see the legislation in detail, you can visit: