Temperatures are dropping, and that means now is the time to prepare your vehicle for winter.
A German federal law that took effect in November of 2010 mandates the use of winter tires when conditions are icy.
The law does not specify specific dates, according to ADAC, the German auto club that provides roadside assistance and air rescue. Many German drivers, however, abide by the general rule of “von O bis O” (from O to O), which means snow tires should be put on in October and remain on until Ostern (Easter).
You may be asking: What kind of winter tires does the German law require? First of all it is very important to look for certain marks placed on the tire.
European winter tires have two kinds of markings: a snowflake for snow tires or M+S for tires designed to work in mud and snow, or “matsch und schnee” in German. All-season or all-weather tires may also have the M+S marking and are acceptable for winter driving, but tires designed specifically for snow function better than all-weather tires, according to a U.S. Army Europe winter driving fact sheet.
The law also applies to motorbikes, trucks and buses, regardless of whether the driver is the owner or is renting the vehicle.
To drive in Germany — no matter the road conditions — ensure you have a tire tread depth of at least 1.6 millimeters. The best is to have 4 millimeters, according to ADAC. A one Euro coin can be used for a quick “tread check.” When placed in the tire’s tread, you should not be able to see the golden edge of the coin. If you can, the tire needs to be replaced.
In some parts of Germany, particularly in the southern mountainous region, carrying snow chains is recommended. Know how to put them on before you need them and make sure you don’t exceed 50 kph when driving with them on.
Tires can be changed out at the Auto Skills Center on Clay Kaserne North.
If you’re unsure if other countries have similar tire laws, check the European Road Safety website. And for more on winter driving, check out the Army Europe Drivers Handbook and Examination Manual for Germany.
Remember, if you don’t follow these requirements you can receive a ticket for 60€ or higher. If you have questions, contact the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Safety office at DSN 548-2301/2/3, civ (0611)143-548-548-2301/2/3.
WINTER TIRE SWAP
The Family and MWR Automotive Skills Center offers seasonal tire swaps. Customers can have all four tires mounted and balanced for $56 to $64 in most cases.
Need a new (used) car or want to sell yours? MWR can help
The Wiesbaden Automotive Skills Center offers cars available for bid. The bid lot is on Mississippi Strasse, across from the Wiesbaden Army Lodge. Family and MWR invites interested parties to stop by and take a look or view the available bid cars on Facebook. To place a bid, fill out the bid form online on the Wiesbaden Army MWR website. Cars are sold through sealed bid, buy-it-now or a combination of both. Vehicles are sold as-is.
For those interested in selling their vehicle, FMWR offers their resale lot. The resale lot is located between the Wiesbaden Lodge and the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center. To register your vehicle for the resale lot, fill out a permit at Wiesbaden.armymwr.com and take it to the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center. The cost is $30 for 30 days. For more information about the resale lot and to check availability of space, contact the WEC.