Tuning the car – what is allowed?

Tuning on the car - what is allowed?. Acceptance by the expert: Modifications make a car unique. But not everything that is offered is allowed. (Source: obs/TuV Rheinland AG/Wolfgang Flamisch)

Whatever you like is allowed? This does not apply to tuning. modification parts need official test marks, many modifications have to be approved by an expert. And what about the warranty? T-online answers all questions.


More power, better sound or a cooler look: if a standard model is too boring for you, you can create an almost new car with an infinite number of add-ons and conversions. In principle, this is not forbidden – as long as all applicable guidelines are followed, so that no one is endangered by the modifications.

When tuning is allowed

The modifications must be generally permissible and legal to use within the scope of the road traffic licensing regulations (stvzo). Important for all new parts is an official test mark, such as a general operating permit (ABE), general type approval (ABG), EC type approval or an ECE approval.

Converted VW Beetle: At trade shows like the Essen Motor Show, hobbyists show off their cars. (Source: dpa/Revierfoto)

Converted VW beetle: at trade fairs such as the essen motor show, tinkerers put their cars in the limelight. (source: revierfoto/dpa)

The alternative: a parts certificate from the inspector, such as TuV or dekra. This expert opinion may also be necessary even if the vehicle has an official test mark. As a rule, these marks only apply to the respective part as such. However, if several parts influence each other or have other effects on the car, a separate appraisal by an officially recognized expert may be required.

What has to be registered

automotive expert steffen mibbach from tuV rheinland says: "in principle, everything that affects noise and exhaust properties and could endanger safety must be registered." furthermore, it is difficult to generalize which changes have to be checked by a specialist and entered into the vehicle documents.

In general, these include the popular widebody kits (they widen the car), for example. New wheel and tire combinations that deviate from the combinations specified by the car manufacturer must also always be approved by an inspector.

Eye-catching wheels: they are often where car conversions begin, as they are a fairly simple but effective modification. (source: dpa/Felix Kaestle)

conspicuous wheels: they are often the first step in modifying a car, as they are a fairly simple but effective modification. (source: felix kaestle/dpa)

Theoretically, roll cages or roll bars, as used in motor sports, do not require registration. In practice, things often look different. Registration is necessary if the cage or bracket changes the visibility or the characteristics of the car (for example, if seats are removed or a strut makes it difficult to get in).

Gearshifts can usually be changed without registration – if they have an official test mark.

For total conversions, an expert’s opinion is always required. If parts and design meet the standards, you don’t have to worry about that. "reputable suppliers deliver the products with the necessary certificates and approvals, so that acceptance of modifications is not usually a special challenge.", says harald schmidtke of the association of automotive tuners (VDAT).

Steering wheels for retrofitting: If a parts certificate is available, installation is no problem. (Source: dpa/Revierfoto)

Steering wheels for retrofitting: if a parts certificate is available, installation is no problem. (source: revierfoto/dpa)

Caution with counterfeits

Car tuning is a billion-dollar business. Because of the high demand, cheap, illegal replica parts are also flooding the market – especially on the Internet. TuV expert mibbach: "be careful with supposed bargains, even alleged test reports could be fake." cheap materials, poor workmanship or design flaws may only become apparent when it is already too late.

Inform insurance

After tuning and registration in the vehicle documents, inform the insurance company so that there are no discussions in the event of a claim.

Hifi system on wheels: With extensive conversions, there is no getting around an inspection by a specialist. (Source: dpa/Revierfoto)

Hifi system on wheels: in the case of extensive conversions, there is no getting around an inspection by a specialist. (source: revierfoto/dpa)

This threatens, if the registration is missing

"Modifications to vehicles are often subject to legal regulations. If they are not observed, the operating permit (BE) may expire", says schmidtke. Then the car is forbidden on public roads: in the event of a check, a warning fine or fines and points will be incurred and the insurance cover may lapse.

What applies to warranty and guarantee

The vehicle warranty can be invalidated by tuning measures, for example if the engine and drive unit are subsequently tuned. But: "that all warranty claims are void when retrofitted accessories are installed, is not true", says schmidtke. "Even though the warranty is a voluntary benefit provided by the manufacturer or dealer, whereas the guarantee has a legal basis." and what applies in the event of a defect? To void the warranty, tuning must be the cause of a defect.

BMW M2 Competition: many manufacturers have long offered conversion parts and complete models that are optimized to the tastes of a larger group of buyers. (Source: Manufacturer)

BMW M2 competition: many manufacturers have long offered conversion parts and complete models optimized for the tastes of a larger group of buyers. (source: manufacturer)

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Car manufacturers also offer tuning

Whether it’s a tuning part or a complete vehicle: many carmakers also have a large program on offer. With this you relieve the customer of a worry right from the start, because all modifications are legal, the warranty remains valid and nothing needs to be added. "In addition, the tuning is specially adapted to the vehicle and stable. Thus a worsening of the driving behavior is not to be expected", says thomas caasmann from the german technical inspection agency (GTu). However, models and components of the manufacturers are intended for a larger mass. creating a unique car, which is the idea behind tuning, is hardly possible here.

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