Editor’s Note: This article has been updated on Dec. 11, 2020.
From cracked windows to auto decals, here are the Top 9 reasons your vehicle may fail inspection.
1. Engine/Transmission/Power Steering Fluid Leaks
The vehicle will be rejected if there is evidence of an excessive leak or an ongoing slow leak of oil, antifreeze or saturation of the underbody of the vehicle. If there is evidence of a slow leak, the undercarriage must be cleaned and re-inspected to verify whether or not there is still a slow leak. Excessive leaks are immediate failures.
2. Worn Tires
The tread depth of the vehicle tires must be at least one-sixteenth of an inch (1.6 mm) over the entire tread of the tire. Inspectors will use a tread-depth gauge at any two adjacent major grooves at three areas spaced equally around the outside of the tire to test the depth. Tires will be rejected if the side walls or thread area are dry rotted. Tires with any cords exposed will be rejected and render the vehicle “Unsafe to Operate.”
Although not required for inspection and registration, German law requires winter rated tires during snow and icy conditions. It is recommended to have these tires installed on your vehicle before arriving. If your tires have the M+S symbol on the sidewall, then you have mud & snow tires and meet the requirement.
Headlights must be aimed correctly. The inspectors will verify correct adjustment using an authorized special tool. All lights must be securely mounted and function properly. All lighting must be the correct color, position and intensity in compliance with regulation AE 190-1. Damaged or cracked lenses (brake, headlight, tail light, etc.) will be rejected. All lighting housing assemblies should be free of moisture and water. After-market lighting located around the windshield, behind the front grill or underneath the vehicle is prohibited. Painted or tinted lights or lenses are not acceptable. Spotlights on the rear or facing the rear of the vehicle are prohibited. All other spotlights must be covered by a black cover.
A brake-test machine will be used to verify proper brake effort and imbalance. Also a visual inspection of all visible brake components will be conducted. Dry-rotted brake hoses and excessively corroded metal brake lines or any brake components to include brake rotors will be rejected. Brake lines and hoses improperly installed or kinked are prohibited.
5. Chips and Cracks in the Windshield
Glass in the front, rear or side windows may not have cracks that impair or distort the driver’s vision. Windshields with cracks or fracture damage in the passenger windshield-wiping area over one inch long (2.5 cm), or star-shaped fractures over one-half inch (12.5 mm) are not allowed. Any chips or cracks in the driver’s side windshield wiping area are not allowed. If crack exceeds maximum allowed measurements or does not meet AE 190-1 standards, the window must be replaced no matter if it was previously repaired.
6. Driver and Front Passenger Door Window Tint/U.S. Decals
After-market tint located on the windshield, front driver-side window and front passenger-side window are prohibited. The use of decals and material attached to the personally owned vehicle that show connection with the United States (ex. old base decals, Air Force decals, flags, etc.) are prohibited on POVs with U.S. Forces-provided German license plates.
7. Exhaust Leaks/Noise Level
The exhaust system must be secured tightly and free of leaks. Tailpipes must extend behind the rear wheels or beyond the side edge or rear of the vehicle body unless prevented by the manufacturer’s specifications. Vehicles will be rejected if it emits excessive blue or black smoke. All exhaust line parts must be strong enough to resist normal hand pressure applied by the inspector. All repairs to exhaust systems must be made by welding or component replacement. The use of exhaust bandages or putty is prohibited. All motorcycles and automobile exhaust systems will be inspected for noise levels. Noise level may not exceed 95 decibels.
8. Body/ Frame Corrosion, Ride Height Clearance, Loose Exterior Components
Minimum body-ground clearance for flexible body parts, such as ground-effect spoilers or air dams, and metal parts, such as exhaust systems or frame and suspension components, must be at least nine cm. Vehicles with excessively corroded and damaged frame components will be rejected. Loose fenders, bumpers and any damage with sharp edges that present a safety hazard will be rejected.
9. Incorrectly Mounted/License Plate Not Installed
License plates will be attached horizontally to the front and rear of the POV at the location prescribed by the manufacturer and the law so that both plates are clearly visible. The rear plate will be centered under a light or placed between lights on either side. Motorcycles and trailers will display one plate attached horizontally to the rear. License plates will be attached firmly to the POV using bolts, screws, mounts or brackets directly on the front bumper. The use of string, wire, zip ties or double-sided tape to secure permanently-issued plates is prohibited.
Important Note: Improper/Missing First-Aid Kit and Warning Triangle
Although not required for inspection and registration, German law requires that these items be located within the vehicle:
These items are available at the local Post Exchange or shoppette. If pulled over by local law enforcement without these required items, then a person should expect penalties.