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ECE R90 replaces General operating license for vehicle parts!

A replacement part can only be safely installed if it does not make any changes to the vehicle. This means that the part has the same function as the original part and does not add any additional functions or provide for any changes. This thus generally applies to all standard spare parts, regardless of whether they are the original part or an identical spare part from aftermarket manufacturers.

However, if a replacement makes changes to the vehicle, it needs one of the three approvals:

  • Tested and accepted by an expert and confirmed in a parts certificate
  • a valid general type approval
  • an ECE R90 certification

Below we present the different admission options in more detail and answer the following questions:

What is a general type approval for vehicle parts and when is it needed?
What does a general type approval for vehicle parts contain?
How to apply for a general operating permit for a spare part itself
Is a general operating permit for a spare part also valid as a copy and can it expire?
What is the ECE R90 approval?
How to recognize an ECE R90 certified spare part?

What is a general type approval for vehicle parts and when is it needed?

Vehicle with body conversions with Approved stamp placed over it.
Cutout of a sports brake disc showing the stamped KBA number

If you want to convert your car or install new parts, it is important to know whether an ABE (General Operating Permit) is required for these parts. Because installing parts without a general operating permit can lead to a higher fine.

First of all, it must be clarified what exactly a general operating permit is. The general operating permit is an approval issued by the German TÜV or the KBA (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt - Federal Motor Transport Authority). This approval states that the respective vehicle part meets the legal requirements and is therefore safe to operate. Many vehicle parts do not require a general type approval because they are already part of the series production vehicle. Other parts, however, which make a vehicle more sporty or more comfortable, for example, require a general operating permit because of their specific function or because of their performance. These include the following assemblies if they are not installed as standard:

  • Exhaust systems
  • Catalysts
  • Chassis
  • Shock absorbers
  • Brake systems
  • Parking heaters
  • Trailer hitches
  • certain types of tires
  • Rims

So if you want to install new vehicle parts, you should first check whether there is a general operating permit for these parts. In our W+S Autoteile Shop you will find the information about the general operating permit in the product descriptions. If a KBA number and general operating permit number are listed there, a general operating permit is necessary. In general, the parts manufacturers take care of the general operating permit for their vehicle parts and enclose it directly in the packaging of the products. If not please contact the seller. The general operating permit will then be requested from the manufacturer and sent to you by mail. Therefore, please be patient until you receive the original general operating permit.

What does a general type approval for vehicle parts contain?

The general type approval consists of a general type approval booklet and a KBA number. The KBA number is attached to or stamped on the product. In addition, the booklet lists all vehicles approved for this spare part, including the year of manufacture. Depending on the manufacturer, it may also contain other information. For example, additional information may be given for certain vehicle models, such as "only in conjunction with sports suspension" or "only for vehicles with manual transmission". It may also contain information on any adjustments that may be necessary to the vehicle, such as lowering or a different exhaust.

The general operating permit booklet must be carried as proof of legitimacy. Modifications can also be entered in the vehicle documents, which then makes it unnecessary to carry the general operating permit booklet. However, there are also areas where adjustments must be entered in the papers, because otherwise the operating license of your vehicle expires. In this case, it is not sufficient to carry the general operating permit booklet. The registration takes place at the registration office.

The affected areas are:

  • Type of vehicle (e.g. when converting a passenger car into a motorhome)
  • Capacity
  • Vehicle weight
  • Maximum speed
  • Power

How to apply for a general operating permit for a spare part itself?

If there is no general operating permit from the manufacturer, e.g. for special tuning parts, you can also order the general operating permit yourself. In this case, an individual parts certificate is issued by an officially recognized expert. This report certifies that the vehicle part in question meets the legal requirements and therefore does not represent a safety risk. The costs for the parts certificate are paid by the customer and start from 30,00€. The certificate is to be carried along for legitimation and the changes made are to be entered in the vehicle documents. Alternatively, an individual acceptance at the TÜV is possible, which costs at least 120.00 €. Also in this case a corresponding certificate is issued.

Individual acceptance at the TÜV in a workshop

Is a general operating permit for a spare part also valid as a copy and can it expire?

In principle, the general operating permit or the parts certificate for the respective component should be carried in the original, just like the vehicle registration document. Only then is it considered valid proof of legitimacy and there is no risk of fines. Fines are incurred, among other things, if the general operating permit is not carried or there is no general operating permit for an installed spare part. Copies of the general operating permit should be avoided in any case, as they are rarely accepted. In general, they lead instead to warning fines and a subsequent appearance to present the original at the next police station. This therefore costs more time and money instead of directly presenting the original. In order to protect the document from wear and tear, it is worthwhile to transport the general operating permit or certificate in a protective envelope, plastic folder or similar.

A general operating permit for spare parts may well expire or become invalid. Firstly, general operating permits for spare parts are only issued for a certain period of time and must then be renewed. Otherwise, their validity expires. In addition, the general operating permit may become invalid if it is revoked by the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Last but not least, other modifications to the vehicle can also cause the general operating permit for a spare part to become invalid. This happens when the other modifications mean that the specifications for the issued general operating permit are no longer met. In such cases, a new general operating permit is required, possibly by means of a parts certificate or an individual acceptance at the TÜV.

What is the ECE R90 approval?

As an alternative to the general type approval, there is also the possibility of certifying vehicle parts by the ECE standard R90. This is done exclusively by the parts manufacturers. The ECE standard R90 states that a vehicle part must meet the strict safety requirements of the European Union in order to be considered safe. This standard is monitored and regularly checked by independent testing institutes such as TÜV. To receive ECE certification, a vehicle part must pass a series of tests to ensure that it meets the highest safety standards. The ECE R90 standard is the highest safety standard for vehicle parts in Europe and is considered an internationally recognized safety standard.

The ECE standard R90 thus ensures that alternative spare parts to the original part still meet the OE standard. This ensures consistent quality and road safety. The ECE standard R90 is therefore increasingly replacing the general operating permit for spare parts.

Both standards have their advantages and disadvantages, but in terms of the advantages of the ECE R90 standard over the general operating permit for spare parts, there are some clear points in favor of the former:

  1. The ECE R90 standard is significantly more specific in its requirements defined than the general operating permit. The component thus meets the highest quality standards.
  2. The ECE R90 standard is valid in all EU member states, while the general operating permit is only valid in some EU member states and must be re-applied for in others.
  3. ECE R90 certified components do not require proof of legitimacy, which must be carried in the car.

How to recognize an ECE R90 certified spare part?

Every spare part that is certified and thus approved by the ECE standard R90 receives a corresponding test mark that is clearly visible on the spare part. In addition, the test mark is also attached to the packaging. The test mark begins with an E and a number usually in a circle followed by a longer number. The E stands for the European Economic Commission and the number for the country in which the approval was granted. 1 would be Germany in this case. The following number starts with the standard number 90R, followed by the actual approval number.

For spare parts certified according to the ECE standard R90, it is no longer necessary to carry proof of this in the vehicle. In addition, brand manufacturers such as Zimmermann offer an information sheet that can be downloaded and kept with the vehicle documents at home.

In our W+S Autoteile Shop you can already see in the product descriptions whether the affected spare parts are ECE certified. Corresponding spare parts are for example sports brake discs and trailer couplings etc.. Many brand manufacturers whose products we carry have already had the majority of their range certified with the ECE standard R90. Thus, you can be sure that the quality of these parts in our store corresponds to OEM quality. If you have any questions about the product certifications, please contact our customer service.

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Sport brake disc with enlarged cutout on which the stamped ECE-R90 number can be seen