German Car Inspection
This page contains topics:
- Which organization offers general inspection (TÜV)?
- What is car inspection (HU) in Germany?
- TUV sticker
- Periodic inspection of different vehicle classes
- Vehicle classes that don’t need emission test (AU)
- Self-checklist, before going for the TUV inspection
- Classification of defects
Which organizations offer general inspection?
Car inspection in Germany is generally known as TÜV. The exact German term for general vehicle inspection is Hauptuntersuchung (HU in short form).
TÜV (Technischen Überwachungsvereine) is a private firm, which previously enjoyed monopoly over general car inspections (Hauptuntersuchung) in Germany. However, today, TÜV is not the solo firm responsible for the periodic vehicle inspections. Other firms like DEKRA, GTÜ and KÜS are also eligible for vehicle inspections (HU).
You might not need to drive far for the inspection of your car. Inspection can be performed at any workshop of above-mentioned firms or even at your local/nearby workshop that has the contract with inspection firms for HU.
What is car inspection (HU) in Germany?
HU is mandatory in Germany since 1951. The test comprises two parts.
- Vehicle’s general traffic safety and compliance test (HU)
- Emission test (AU)
AU (Emission test) is carried out before the main inspection (HU). The emission test (Abgasuntersuchung or AU in short form) is the measure of emitting gases through the vehicle’s exhaust pipe, like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and also soot particles in the case of diesel motors. Since 2018, tailpipe particle measurement is reintroduced. The test is performed at different engine speeds and temperatures. Before 2018, just OBD readings were considered sufficient and no tailpipe measurements were required. Environmental stickers are issued on the basis of AU test. Please read the topic, Environmental Zones in Germany for further details.
HU is the test of mechanical and electrical performance of a vehicle. If there is any mechanical or electrical fault found during the inspection, the owner is given 4 weeks period to remove the particular fault. After completing the test successfully, the car gets a new HU sticker for two years.
HU badge, which is normally known as Tüv sticker, shows the year and month of the upcoming inspection. Tüv sticker is round and gets a specific new color each year.
Authorities change the color so that the sticker can be recognized from a distance. The above sticker is valid till 2018, which is mentioned in the center of the circle, in two digits. The month is mentioned directly above the two-digit year number, exactly at 12 o'clock. In the above sticker, it is March. So, the owner must arrange the inspection in March 2018.
The numbers are not easy to read on a small sticker. There is also a second indication for the month. There are black bars at the edge of the circle. They show the month in the form of the clock’s hands. In the above image, the clock hand, formed by black bars, is at exactly 3 o'clock. Which indicates the 3rd month, i.e. March. With the help of the sticker’s color and black bars, law enforcement authorities can easily read the next due inspection date, even without going closer to the vehicle.
The following table shows how the colors of Tüv stickers are changed periodically each year.
Inspection timeline of different vehicle classes
For some vehicle classes, the due time of the first inspection (inspection of the brand new car) is different from the following inspections. Please see the below table to see periodic inspection timetable of different vehicle types.
|Vehicle type||First inspection||Following inspectons|
|Cars and Motorcycles|
|Cars (up to 8 seats)||After 3 years||After every 2 years|
|Motorcycles||After 2 years||After every 2 years|
|Up to 3500 kg vehicle gross weight||After 3 years||After every 2 years|
|From 3500 to 7500 kg vehicle gross weight||After 2 years||
After 2 years
When the vehicle is 7 years old: Every 12 months
|Over 7500 kg vehicle gross weight||After 12 months||Every 12 months|
|Trailers and caravans|
|Without Brakes||After 3 years||After every 2 years|
|Up to 750 kg gross weight||After 3 years||After every 2 years|
|From 750 to 3500 kg gross weight||After 2 years||After every 2 years|
|From 3500 to 10000 kg gross weight||After 12 months||After every 12 months|
|Trucks and commercial vehicles|
|Having up to 40 km/h top speed||After 2 years||After every 2 years|
|Up to 3500 kg vehicle gross weight||After 2 years||After every 2 years|
|From 3500 to 7500 kg gross vehicle weight||After 12 months||After every 12 months|
Vehicle classes that don’t need emission test (AU)
The following vehicles do not require to undergo the emission test. However, they do require general traffic safety and compliance test (HU).
- Agricultural vehicles (tractors etc.), self-propelled work machines, which do not resemble forklifts or trucks.
Petrol engine vehicles with the following specifications:
Three wheels vehicles or vehicles having less than 400kg total weight or vehicles with the top speed less than 50 km/h or vehicles that were registered before July 1969. All types of motorcycles, having their first registration in Germany before the 1st January 1989.
Diesel engine vehicles with the following specifications:
Vehicles with less than four wheels or vehicles with the maximum speed of not more than 25 km/h or vehicles which were first registered before the first of January 1977.
Self-checklist, before going for the TUV inspection
- Seat belts must work properly.
- Check back mirrors (both interior and exterior). There should be no crack/damage.
- There should be no crack/damage on the wind shield on the area above the steering wheel.
- Check windshield wipers. Windshield wash system must work properly.
- Check if all lights of your vehicle are working properly. Check low and high beam, day running lights (if available), parking lights, all turn signals, hazard lights, tail lights, reverse gear lights, and lights for the rear registration plate.
- Check dashboard lights, i.e. ABS, battery, oil, airbag, seat belt and parking lights should not light up continuously. They only light up when the engine starts and then turn off.
- Check for any leakage of the engine oil, gear oil and radiator fluid
- Check the horn
- Check the exhaust pipe. It should be tightly attached to the vehicle’s body and should not sound loud.
- Registration plates must be properly fixed in their positions.
- If your vehicle has a tow hitch, it should be attached.
- If your vehicle has removable seats, they all should be attached and fixed.
- Check the tire profiles. Minimum allowed profile depth is 1.6 mm.
The vehicle must have following equipment:
- Waring triangle
- Waring vest
- First aid kid with valid expiry date
- Electric and plug-in hybrid cars must have their charging cables in the vehicle.
Check for all the documents, i.e.
You must take your Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil I with you and any extra document that has details of any after factory change in your vehicle, i.e. if you or the previous owner has changed the default tires with bigger/smaller/wider tires etc.
- In case of unregistered vehicle, you must have Zulassungsbescheinigung Teil II with you.
Classification of defects
Defects are classified based on the severity from HW (lowest) to VM (highest).
According to inspection guidelines (HU guidelines) following are classifications and details of defects that can be found during an inspection.
HW is the short form of the German word Hinweise which means comments.
Comments indicate future defects such as early wear and tear of a specific part, corrosion, etc, that are already becoming apparent. Comments do not cause a problem with the current inspection.
GM stands for the German term Geringe Mängel (minor defects).
GM are expected to be eliminated immediately. If the minor defect is eliminated, a HU-sticker is issued.
EM stands for Erhebliche Mängel (serious defects).
EM is issued for the defects that endanger traffic or pollute the environment. A review inspection is mandatory in this case. The inspection sticker (HU-sticker) is not assigned in this case.
VM stands for Verkehrsgefäharde Mängel (traffic-endangering defects).
VM is assigned to more dangerous defects than EM classification, but they do not cause the immediate ban on the vehicle to operate on public roads. VM represent repairable classification of most dangerous defects. The inspection sticker (HU-sticker) is not assigned in this case. However, if defects are removed in the given time period, the sticker is issued.
VU stands for Verkehrsunsicher (unsafe to drive).
VU is the last classification. The vehicle is extremely unsafe for public roads or is the cause direct hazard to the environment. In this case the existing sticker is removed and the authorities are informed. The vehicle is no longer eligible to operate on public roads. However, a review is possible.