Life in the (not so) Fast Lane

On Tuesday we were finally able to return the rental car!  We knew we would purchase a car when we arrived, but it took us about a week and a half till we found one we liked.  At first it just needed its brakes fixed so it would pass inspection.  Then the dealer (I use the term very loosely, a shady auto mechanic who was selling the car for a “friend”) wanted to repaint the bumper.  Phone tag ensued.  When Hubby finally took it out on the autobahn it didn’t accelerate properly.  We let the “dealer”  take another look at it.  A few more days passed and when Hubs got in touch again we were told it had a cracked head gasket.  No thank you.

Unfortunately we were back at square one and had ended up adding nine more days to our rental car.  (Gee, I love hemorrhaging money! )

We scrambled for another car.  I had a very strict amount I wanted to spend.  Hubby’s pride didn’t like the thought of me driving a “hoopdy”, but that’s what I wanted.  After living here for even a short amount of time, I didn’t want anything nice.  Nope, no guilty feelings if I curbed the rims or scrapped the side panel.  I wanted a junker, though, preferably one that would be dependable.

After more phone tag with several people selling cars we came across a little gem.  Again, a few days of back and forth – making sure the vehicle would pass inspection and waiting on customs forms – and I am now the proud owner of a 1997 VW Passat!

*They see me rollin’ – they hatin’*

I have dubbed the car, Nemo.  Because, the passenger side mirror is smaller than the driver’s side mirror.  Thus, my car is a bit gimpy, but that’s ok with me.  It runs.  Smells like the car I drove in high school.  Passed inspection.  Fits the entire family.  Has a spare tire.  And, if I ever come across my old mini-disk collection, you just better watch out.

The two biggies for me, it’s paid for and I really don’t care if it gets dinged.

As an FYI for those who have never experienced the joys of registering (as a military member) a vehicle in Germany, let me just say it’s a process.  Here’s the lowdown for ya:

1) Locate vehicle and purchase.
2) Take Bill of Sale, proof of tax payment or customs bill, and a VAT form to the Vehicle Registration Office.
3) Stand patiently in line…
4) Cross your fingers, say a prayer, and wear your lucky socks – make sure all of the forms are properly completed.  Dot those “i’s” and cross those “t’s”.  If not, you have to go back to your “dealer” – fix the forms and then get back in line.
5) Once all of your documents have been processed, fill out more forms that are given to you.  Then, go stand in another line.
6) Verify documents.  Pay.  Go stand in another line.
7) Verify all documents.  Verify temporary plates.  Receive temporary plates.  Do a happy dance because your done!  (Wrong)
8) Return to location where vehicle is (that’s right, you don’t actually get to drive it without your temporary plates).  Secure temporary plates.  Drive newly purchased vehicle back to the VRO.
9) Que for vehicle inspection.
10) A second verification of documents occurs before proceeding to the inspection.  In addition to having a properly running vehicle, no oil leaks, no excessive rust, all lights and horn working properly; you also have to have an approved first aid kit and emergency triangle (in the passenger area of the car, not in the boot).
11) If you pass vehicle inspection, then your documents are again verified.  And you are finally issued your registration and permanent plates.  Repeat every two years.  If your vehicle of over 10 years old, repeat steps 4-6, 9-11 annually.

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