No stancing allowed! How German law differs when it comes to car modification.
When it comes to car customisation here in the UK, we have it easy. Many other European countries, such as Germany, have much stricter regulations when it comes to car modification and the police are a lot more hands-on.
Germany is quite the hot tourist destination for car enthusiasts thanks to the famous Nurburgring, Autobahn (motorways without speed limits) and also the beautiful roads of the countryside. However, foreigners often end up running into the law due to their modifications being deemed unsafe and that the car is not using quality approved parts.
It doesn’t matter if your car is riding 1cm off of the ground with extremely cambered wheels or if it’s just got aftermarket alloys and a small spoiler, most modifications in Germany will need papers to go with them if your car is registered in the country. Aftermarket parts are expected to have a certain standard, meaning if you’re a keen eBay customer when it comes to buying aftermarket parts, you will need to be extra careful.
Motorists in Germany can only fit TUV-approved parts to their cars. TUV stands for Technischer Überwachungsverein and translates to Technical Inspection Association. This organisation is responsible for carrying out safety inspections for cars, as well as many different types of machinery, from wind turbines to dams.
An approved TUV inspector must approve the parts used on the car and also the way that they have been fitted and the papers that certify the modifications must be in the car in case the police pull you over.
Although German motorists will only have to pay for a TUV test on their car once every two years, the test will cost between 100 and 200 depending on weight. So yes, it’s half as frequent as our MOT but costs more than double!
Luckily, for foreigners that are driving in Germany, it’s a little less strict. Although you don’t need to have TUV documents if you are a tourist, the police still have a right to inspect the car and make sure that they are satisfied the car is safe. This may sound reasonable but remember that German law is not kind to modified cars as the parts must be high quality and meet the approval.
The Nurburgring website recommends that you carry any paperwork you have that suggests your modifications (brakes, suspension, roll cage etc.) are somewhat certified, if not by TUV then by FIA, CE or EC. In other words, if your part is from an unknown manufacturer in China and doesn’t adhere to an established safety inspection organisation then you could be in trouble.
This is exactly what happened in May 2019 to a group of Brits that were driving through Germany to Austria, where they were going to a motoring event called Worthersee. The convoy had stopped, probably at a service station, to get something to eat and whilst parked, the vehicles gained the attention of the police.
In the end, nine cars were seized leaving 22 people stranded with their luggage and a pile of fines to pay. The story made the rounds in various outlets and people began to debate who was in the wrong. Either way, it certainly pays to know the laws of the country you are visiting and it just so happens, cops in Germany take stretched tyres and slammed suspension very seriously!
In the UK, cars with trumpet exhausts, aftermarket spoilers and tuned engines seem to be a dime a dozen whereas in Germany, you may not see them as often and people will even describe tuned car meets as a cop magnet.
Furthermore, motorcycles are now being targeted by law enforcement as complaints of loud exhausts have increased. The German state of Baden-Wurttemberg is even proposing new steep fines and a ban on aftermarket motorcycle exhausts due to all the noise complaints. This has riled up the motorcycle enthusiasts of Germany because as you may have heard before, loud pipes save lives.
Let us know if you know anyone that has had trouble with their vehicle modifications and the German police, in the comments.
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