Driving with Bio-ethanol

Why you need a VB-Nummer to register a car

June 11th, 2013

FahrzeugscheinI’ve talked before about how the process of buying and registering a car in Germany.

Since I recorded that podcast there has been a change in the way that the insurance works, as I found out when I changed my car last year.

One of the best things about the German registration system is that you must arrange insurance for the car before you go to the Zulassungsstelle to register it.  If you do not, then you will either not receive any number plates to put on the car, or at the very least they will not have valid stickers on them, making uninsured cars very easy to spot on German roads.

So before you go to register the car, you used to call your insurance company and they would send you a white card called a Doppeldeckungskarte.  Originally this consisted of two identical parts, hence the Doppel in the name.  When you registered ownership of the car, one part stayed with the registration office and the other was used to notify the insurance company that you had been there and completed the process.

The card also had some insurance implications, such as 3rd party cover for the journey to and from the registration office.

The format of the card changed slightly in 2003, when the Doppel part got dropped, and was replaced with an electronic system.  But you still needed the single white card to register the car.

Now (and apparently since 2008) everything is electronic.

> Continue reading at AllThingsGerman.net

Leasing a car in Germany (and why you might want to)

November 30th, 2011

Ford FocusMany companies in Germany who provide their employees with company cars do not actually buy the cars outright, instead they prefer to lease them and my company car is no exception.

By leasing the car, I pay a monthly fee to a leasing company, often a bank, who have purchased the vehicle from my usual dealer.  That fee allows me to drive the car up to an agreed number of kilometres each year.

And when the lease runs out, I just return the car to the dealer and can lease a new one.

Buy why not buy the car outright as a business and then sell it again later?

> Continue reading at AllThingsGerman.net

New rules for Winter Tyres

October 24th, 2011

A new law in Germany has tightened the rules on the types of tyres that you can use in winter.

Until now, the law only said that you had to have “suitable” tyres for the road conditions, but did not actually specify that you had to have winter tyres on in winter.  Indeed, many people with good tread on their summer tyres continued to use them throughout the winter, and would probably argue that they were suitable as long as the main roads were clear.

The trouble was, that unless they caused an accident, the police were as good as powerless to argue against them, so the politicians were under pressure to amend the law to get things clarified.

Unfortunately, they made quite a mess of it.

For a start, they only agreed on it at the end of November, giving many people only a few days to change the tyres on their cars before it came into effect.

It would not have been so bad, if it wasn’t for the fact that the first snow was already on the ground.  At that is still part of the problem – the new rules still only apply for particular road conditions, ie. when there is snow, ice, slush, black ice, and a number of other variants of frozen water on the ground.

M+S symbol

The M+S symbol

> Continue reading at AllThingsGerman.net

Parking in Düsseldorf on a Sunday

October 7th, 2011

Halteverbot mit 2 PfeilenI learnt a valuable lesson last weekend: you can’t park in Düsseldorf on a Sunday.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it’s definitely not easy.

Last Sunday I wanted to hear Cathy Dobson’s public reading from her book “Planet Germany“.  I left in plenty of time.  Driving to Düsseldorf is usually a matter of about 2½ hours.  A bit more if I hit Cologne around the rush hour, but not on a Sunday.  Not on a public holiday.

But I decided to allow myself plenty of time anyway, and left home 4 hours before the reading was due to start.

The only trouble was, that the motorway to the east of Cologne was closed to allow a bridge to be removed!

> Continue reading at AllThingsGerman.net

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