Contrary to the English language, the German term for car tuning has vast meanings. Many performance upgrades, computer chips, and design modifications come under tuning.
Car modifications, either performance mods, or looks and design mods are complex topics in Germany and often need permissions. “Straßenverkehrszulassungsordnung (StVZO)” (Road Traffic Act and Authorization of Vehicles for Road Transport) section 19 para 2 and 3 explain the modification rules.
According to the Road Traffic Act and Authorization of Vehicles for Road Transport (StVZO) section 19 para 3, there are three kinds of modifications that need permissions.
- The vehicle type approved in the vehicle class is changed,
- a danger to road users is to be expected or
- the exhaust or noise behavior has deteriorated.
Before any modification in the vehicle, it is always safer to ask about the law from the people working in modification and performance firms as they are working in the field and know better. These people have contacts with inspection firms as well. There are more than 400 tuning and performance firms registered in Germany. Information about modifications can also be discussed with the inspection company or officials at the vehicle registration office (Fahrzeug Zulassungsstelle).
Inspection companies like TÜV and Dekra inspect these modifications. After the approval from the inspection company, the modification is mentioned in official papers (Fahrzeugbrief and Fahrzeugschein) of the vehicle, or an additional paper (Zusatzblatt) can be issued in some cases. If the modification is apparently visible, the police may stop and ask for permission papers. Some common modifications are:
- Display modifications: e.g. tires and rims. Tire size is written on vehicle documents. Tires of other sizes are not allowed. To change the size of the tires, permission is necessary. Similarly, modifications, that change the driving behavior at low or high speed would need permissions, for example, spoilers.
- Sound modification: Noise level of every vehicle is registered. If the exhaust modification increases the noise from its original level, it needs permission.
- Performance modification: Power increase also changes the behavior on the road so, it would need a permit. For example, change of engine. If the engine of another vehicle is fitted in a vehicle it would need permission.
- Interior modifications like seat change etc are allowed without any permission.
Important! After the vehicle has been modified and paperwork has been done, make sure to inform the insurance about the modification.
If not informed, payment through an insurance company can cause complications in case of any accidents.
To find a tuning & performance shop near you, please visit: Performance Firms in Germany