Re-imports from EU member states have long since left the status of an insider tip behind them, because the financial advantages are obvious. In some cases, they can be authorities. It starts with VAT, but that’s not all. In Scandinavia, for example, luxury taxes of up to 180 percent are levied on some cars. So that the manufacturers can sell their cars there, they price them differently, of course much cheaper. There are more reasons for the price differences within the EU. In some countries there is a much lower purchasing power than in Germany. The manufacturers and dealers therefore stimulate sales with lower prices. Anyone who has the car imported into Germany from other EU countries only pays the 19 percent VAT that is customary in this country on the much lower net price. The bottom line is that there are incredible discounts.

What about the higher administrative burden?

The disadvantage of an EU vehicle can be the higher administrative burden. This arises primarily when the buyer drives to the relevant EU country himself, purchases the vehicle there without VAT, transports it to his home town himself after the purchase and pays the German VAT to the responsible tax office. The customer must also meet all the requirements in the course of the introduction, such as the technical check for approval. Safety-relevant features of EU vehicles – unlike US imports – must not differ from German regulations because uniform rules apply in the EU. However, the buyer is responsible for checking. He must ensure that his imported EU vehicle meets German standards. All these disadvantages disappear if the buyer buys the EU vehicle from a German re-importer. These are specialized dealers for EU vehicles who know the procedure as well as the technical details and take care of them accordingly. That costs a small surcharge, but the vehicle is still significantly cheaper than a car delivered to Germany by the manufacturer.

The equipment in EU vehicles

The equipment features of the EU vehicles often differ from the German version of the car. This can also be beneficial. In cars produced for Scandinavia, for example, special winter equipment can be found as standard, in EU vehicles from southern countries there is almost always a standard air conditioning system. But there are sometimes missing equipment features that drivers in some countries do not appreciate too much. As a German motorist, the buyer has to check such features and decide for himself what the price advantage is worth in terms of restrictions. When it comes to details, differences in equipment are sometimes strange, sometimes insignificant and sometimes almost invisible. For an exact determination, the buyer really has to compare the equipment list point by point with the German brochure for the car. It will turn out that many of the deviations are absolutely tolerable. Cars for the Mediterranean countries rarely have heated seats, many EU vehicles bring a spare wheel with them. In Germany, the sealing kit is now common for newer, high-quality vehicles. Voice output and voice control of built-in navigation systems may (very rarely) understand German. But these are details that many drivers can come to terms with. Voice output and voice control of built-in navigation systems may (very rarely) understand German. But these are details that many drivers can come to terms with. Voice output and voice control of built-in navigation systems may (very rarely) understand German. But these are details that many drivers can come to terms with.

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With this check, the vehicle should get through the cold season without any problems. The first thing every driver thinks of is the battery, but that’s not all. The special weather conditions, but also the change in tires, affect the setting of the headlights and of course the type of operating media and fluids, starting with the antifreeze in the windscreen washer system. Such apparent trivialities would seriously affect safety if the driver did not consider them. A film of water freezing on the windshield blocks the view within seconds. When driving fast, this can lead to a fatal accident. The winter check – preferably carried out by a specialist workshop – definitely contributes to increased safety. No driver should be without him. Without a workshop, it can hardly be done because, for example, the battery capacity has to be measured. The adjustment of headlights can hardly be managed by a layperson.

When is it time for the winter check?

Ideally, it is combined with changing the tires, so it takes place in late October. With that in mind, you shouldn’t be surprised by the onset of winter, as unfortunately happens to some drivers again and again. Sensible people shake their heads when the news in November reports a cold and snow chaos in which some drivers with summer tires (!) Have broken down, stopped traffic or even caused accidents. The winter / summer tire rule “O to O” (October to Easter) applies, the winter check is due in October. Good workshops remind their customers of this. Attention: the winter check has something to do with the tires, the equipment and the visibility, and thus also something to do with the outside temperatures. If these fall below +5 ° C at the end of September or the beginning of October, the winter check may be carried out earlier. Above all, it must be complete.

Check points of the winter tire check

Winter tires: The tires are fitted, but they must also comply with the regulations. This means that their profile must be at least 1.6 mm, but 3 – 4 mm is recommended. Each workshop will point this out to a customer. The age of the tires also plays a role, regardless of the tread, it is over after five years. The mixture will then become tender. Since 2012 the tires have had a label that drivers should pay attention to. It goes without saying that the tires must otherwise be intact and have the correct tire pressure. Ideally, the specialist workshop will mount the winter wheels in a balanced condition.

Battery: The workshop measures the battery capacity and thus protects the driver from a car that does not start when the temperature is below zero, but also from premature, expensive replacement of a battery that is still intact. Sometimes this stutters a little in the cold, wet October weather when the vehicle has not been moved for a long time, but it may not need to be replaced yet. The winter check of the workshop gives the driver certainty.

Brakes: As part of the wheel change, the workshop checks the brake fluid, the brake pads and the brake discs. A tip for urban, underground parking and infrequent drivers: if the brakes are rarely used hard, the rear brake discs will rust because the ABS often distributes the braking force to the front wheels. When entering the underground car park, there is far too little load on the rear windows. Occasionally, lightly pulling the handbrake with the gently rolling trolley brings this rust back from the rear brake discs, which otherwise would have to be replaced too quickly.

Frost protection: Not only for the windshield wipers, but of course the coolant must also be available in winter. Otherwise, in the worst case scenario, there would be engine damage in freezing temperatures after cables broke. Frost protection must reach at least -25 ° C. The windshield wiper rubbers are also checked as part of the winter check.

Engine oil: checking the oil level is part of the winter check. An oil change takes place as part of the small inspection.

Lighting: The workshop looks at the functionality of all lamps, then measures the height of the light cone of the headlights. Some vehicles allow adjustment from the cockpit, in other cases the headlights are screwed a little on the inside. Leave that to the friendly colleague from the workshop.

Door locks: As part of the winter check, they can receive a drop of oil to prevent icing.

Body: A car wash with underbody washing and wax sealing makes the body fit for the winter.

Accessories: The workshop also checks for the spare wheel, first aid kit, warning triangle and safety vest during the winter check.

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