Here’s Why My Diesel Manual Chrysler Voyager Failed Germany’s Ridiculously-Strict TÜV Inspection. Again.

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Germany’s TÜV inspection is one of the toughest vehicle safety inspections in the world, and my 260,000 mile diesel, manual Chrysler Voyager Minivan has been getting its ass kicked by it since 2020. It was then that I went through the inspection three times before finally making it through; with that under my belt, I was certain the vehicle would pass all subsequent TÜV inspections for years to come. I was wrong. Just today, the van failed; here’s why.

My biggest worry with Germany’s TÜV inspection is that technicians sometimes don’t know the ins and outs of all the cars they’re dealing with. That may seem like someone venting their frustrations, but it’s not — it’s acknowledged as a major problem by the “Oldtimer” car community here in Germany. Take two of the reasons why my 1994 Chrysler Voyager failed its inspection back in 2020 (see below): The rear brakes were considered too weak and the steering column wasn’t locking properly.

Neither of these were actual issues. The steering lock was just behaving in a way that the inspector didn’t understand (the inspector wasn’t used to there being a separate “off” and “lock” position), and the rear brakes were in perfect shape. I later called The Chrysler Voyager King of Germany, Tizian, who told me that all of his Voyagers tended to fail TÜV due to the inspectors’ scorecards containing overly optimistic target values for rear braking force.

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Luckily, this time around, my inspector didn’t fail the van for the weak brakes or an ignition he wasn’t used to or anything like that, though he did find some things

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First, the inspector claims the headlights are too dim; he’s not wrong that they’re dim, but Chrysler headlights from this era just were dim. My van’s bulbs are new, the wiring has been replaced, and the light looks about as bright as what I’m used to in 1990s-era Chrysler products. I know he’s got target light output values that my van needs to hit, but any inspector used to dealing with 1990s Chryslers would say “Yeah, these suck, but that’s just how these things are.”

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Actually, looking at that photo, maybe he’s got a point. Those really, really suck.

Second, my inspector discovered grease leaking from an outer CV boot that I had replaced. He’s totally right on this one, though I do think he’s being a bit picky. The boot is new, and it’s not cracked; it appears that the clamp is a little loose, and a bit of grease has oozed out. Could this affect braking performance theoretically? If it somehow gets to the brake pad or disk. I don’t expect that it will; still, this should be an easy fix — just tighten the clamp, and boom: done.

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The problem is that the headlight fix will not be easy. In fact, I’m really worried about it. Euro-spec headlights for a Chrysler Voyager (they’re mounted differently than U.S.-spec headlights, which weren’t required to have a leveling feature to keep the lights down when the vehicle’s rear was loaded, plus the beam pattern is a bit different) are basically unobtainium. Here’s a single New Old Stock for $330:

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Used ones are often listed at over $100, and they’re probably in no better shape than the ones in my vehicle:

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So what’s the solution? I don’t know yet. I’ve purchased some better bulbs than the crappy gas station ones I’d snagged for 5 Euros, and I have a lens restoration kit, which I hope will allow more light through:

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But I don’t think these two are going to be enough, and I don’t know what other options I have. Looking in my engine bay, it appears based on the paired relays near each headlight that someone already installed a headlight booster kit (which, if I understand it correctly, allows for a more direct path from the battery to each bulb to maximize brightness). Here’s how a booster kit looks:

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And here’s the setup in my car (yeah, I know, it’s a rat’s nest. The previous owner was messy with wiring):

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So if the wiring is okay, the bulb is good, and I can’t afford new headlight housings, then what’s the solution? I really don’t know yet, though the aforementioned Chrysler Voyager King of Germany suggested I send my headlight housings out to be restored. There are services like “” in Germany that will re-coat the reflectors in the headlight housings for about $60 a pop, though I’d have to carefully remove the lenses using heat; check it out:

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Here’s a look at my Voyager’s reflector situation; you can see how some of the reflective coating has faded away, and black plastic is showing through:

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Who knows; maybe the new bulbs and the lens cleaning kit will get me over the hump. I sure hope so. Tighten the clamp, squeeze out a few more lumens from those headlights, and I should be good. Screen Shot 2022 07 26 At 8.50.53 Pm

In all honestly, this inspection could have been so much worse. A few months ago, as my dad was driving the van, the thing just shut off. After a bit of diagnosis, I learned that the problem was that the engine computer wasn’t sending a steady signal to the fuel shutoff solenoid valve, meaning the valve would close and shut the engine off. The output from the computer appeared to be eight volts, which seemed low to me, so I just used it to trigger a relay, which sent 12 volts to the solenoid to allow fuel flow. This didn’t work either — at least, not under heavy acceleration, as the signal seemed to cycle the relay and shut off the fuel intermittently. During low pedal applications, it worked fine.

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I fixed this by bypassing the engine computer, so that — instead of the engine computer triggering the relay to send 12 volts to the fuel valve — the ignition switch did the triggering. I actually used the underhood OBD connector (see above) — which feeds 12 volts to the OBD reader when the ignition is on — as the source for the relay trigger (I also wired in a cutoff safety switch in the cabin, hence the two relays below). Now the van works great (though the computer can no longer shut the car off to protect itself — hence the safety switch), though even the inspector mentioned that he wasn’t thrilled to see this wiring situation:Screen Shot 2022 07 26 At 9.00.40 Pm

Still, he gave me a pass, his CV boot assessment is technically correct, and he’s not wrong that my headlights are dim, so overall, this time around wasn’t too bad. Though getting these lights bright enough may be a bigger job than I’d like.




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156 Responses

  1. I don’t know if David is still active on this thread, and I read as much as I could before wanting to choke myself out, but I agree with some of what I read that the booster might not be doing much in this case; at least not like it should.

    The place to go looking for help, if one is so inclined, is in forums for the 944, where weak headlights are also acknowledged as a problem. On that car, the issue is that the power to the headlights is routed through the switch. As the switch degrades over time, resistance builds and the headlights become dimmer. It’s important to note that headlight brightness is not linear with voltage. Small decreases in the input have large drops in lumen output at the headlights.

    What the headlight relay is supposed to be doing is feeding those relays with power directly from the alternator, or battery. You then use the headlight switch to activate the relays, which then send the power to the lights with much less voltage drop. Voila, brighter lights.

    So yeah, check that booster, or get a proper headlight relay harness, but at the very least check the voltage you’re getting at the lights themselves. I bet it’s pretty low and a big part of the problem.

    Good luck

  2. Having lived with TUV for over 18 years, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but they are doing exactly what they have been mandated to do. Ensure that every vehicle performs to the standard currently required for their safe operation on the roads of Germany. Doesn’t matter when your vehicle was built or what standards it was built under. German rules say “x” amount of light in such and such place, so if your system can’t manage it, it is on you to make it so.

    To our American sense of fair play this may seem arbitrary and capricious but that matters not one whit to German law. Sorry, TUV says your vehicle is junk just like tens of thousands of other German vehicle that are rejected every year and has no place on the road.

    And let’s be honest David, you know well that you just bodged your way through your last inspection. Black spray paint may be a repair in Michigan, but for TUV it is just lipstick on a pig. Hammering a heated widget into an approximation of what it used to be and painting it is not a safe reliable repair.

    If you want to repair your lights the way TUV expects you to, you bite the bullet and buy the expensive replacement lights and do the job properly. Otherwise, you’re just trying to game the system.

      1. I love plenty of old cars, but honestly I don’t know that I do want something that isn’t up to current standards on the road. I certainly don’t want to drive on public roads in a car without an airbag or insufficient lights.

        1. I get that, but many (most?) of us feel differently. I drive a 99 M3, and the lights are AWFUL. But they are what they are and the car is worth it to me. I’ve spent most of my life driving a car without an airbag, and I don’t think twice about doing it now.

          The only time I’ve ever felt unsafe in a car due to its equipment was riding in a Morris Minor that did not have seat belts (ok, and every time I’ve ridden in a VW bug).

      2. They don’t have to meet modern standards, generally. TÜV is pretty fair in that regard.

        My complaining about my inspector’s headlight assessment was just me being a bit silly. He’s right, technically, even though it may force a perfectly reliable car off the road.

        1. The perfectly reliable car has stranded your dad, is only outputting 67% of the voltage it’s supposed to from the computer that runs the engine and you have a zip-tie and tape ‘solution’ that is just going to be the first of many without finding and fixing the actual problem.

          That’s not even taking into account that your headlights have turned French.

          The value in some vehicles lies only in their practicality / reliability. I would say that this minivan is one of those vehicles and that it’s completely devoid of reliability (since it can’t be driven on the road and such).

          1. Right. It’s got a few electrical gremlins for sure, but man is it mechanically stout. That diesel engine, rebuilt in 2009, runs like a DREAM. And the body is so solid. It’s honestly a fantastic machine. Not perfect, but for a 420,000km machine, it’s great.

            1. My friend poked fun at me just now, saying I sometimes dismiss issues that others may find significant as trivial.

              I think that’s fair. I own so many cars and have had to fix so much that I consider 12000 miles and two years with only a little wiring issue to be reliable. I guess I could see how some others wouldn’t. I mean, the solenoid issue did shut the car down! (The PO actually wired a switch into the dash to override the ECU. Had my dad hit that, the van would have gotten him home. But yeah, it wasn’t ideal).

              I guess I’m in too deep! Blinded!

              1. I think you’re also dismissing the amount of work done before that 12k miles.

                Everyone here is irrational about cars. That’s fine as long as we don’t get delusional about them. (Even then, it’s still pretty much fine until there’s a transmission in the dishwasher.)

                1. My wife drew the line at a carburetor leaking gas onto the kitchen table. Now I didn’t put it there myself, my brother-in-law did, but guilt by association. I can’t actually blame her for that one, I wasn’t thrilled either.

                  1. Mine has been very understanding. I did the bodywork and then painted my 240sx in the attached 1-car garage below our townhouse. I did it with a roller (thin coat, let it dry then wet sand x 10). It happened over the course of a month and our living space stank of mineral spirits the entire time. She also let me get away with flying 3000 miles away to buy a Miata without telling her.

                    I guess she’s an automotive enabler.

    1. I did not bodge my last inspection; I meticulously replaced every worn component (CV joints, ball joints, tie rod ends, the water pump, shocks, tires, etc etc — I went through the vehicle component by component, made an assessment, and in the end, I got through without any major failures). The van has now driven 12,000 miles without a single issue!

      I agree that the inspector is doing their job, though they get it wrong sometimes, and you have to make appeals. I had to do that with my ignition switch, and the Chrysler Voyager King has to do that with his rear brakes. The fact is, TÜV folks can’t have as much expertise on a vehicle as people who own it, and that’s gonna require an occasional challenge.

        1. Yes. I took a 500 Euro junker from Germany to Istanbul and back and have a bit of Red & Tacky on a brake sensor to show for it.

          (And Honestly that clamp was quite tight. I’m surprised even a little got out).

      1. DT, maybe the next time you face this shit there may be a way around this. Can you import a US spec set of lights and grill? With cheap clear new lenses? Just a thought. When I was a kid we would bring the hottest girl willing to tag along at the I inspection process in our tiny Colorado town. A bra less tank top and tight bell bottom jeans, or cut offs always did the trick. You would not believe the crap he missed when his brain was focused on the hot 17 sweet thing standing 3 feet away. I once heard there are lots of hot girls in Krautland..

        1. No, you cant import US Headlights and use them, that is an immediate fail in a TÜV Prüfung, in fact its one of the first things you have to do if you to import a car from the US – Change the entire lighting system to a European Style one that is TÜV approved. And if you want to own a car, that as never been sold in Germany or anywhere else in the EU, you need to pay them A LOT extra to check if the lights pass the technical requirements. Lights are no joke in Germany, you have to be very careful. Even headlight cleaning and polishing kits are VERBOTEN in theory, because they might alter the lighting system and deflect light in a wrong way and dont think that you can install after market LED lights anywhere. Only unaltered E-numbered headlights fly here.

      2. Be careful using the headlight polishing kit. If I am not mistaken – those are theoretically illegal to use, because you might alter the lens and deflect light in a wrong way. That being said, I used them, just dont tell anyone. Say you got different used ones at a junkyard.

    2. And, to be blunt, with the Autobahn having no speed limit in places, you WANT this kind of rigorous standard. If you’re going to go out and get what you’ve got, all of the items that cN impact the safety of the ride had best be up to snuff.

      And some shitboxes deserve to be off the road.

    3. From a quick look there does not appear to be amazingly great data on what percentage of accidents are attributable to mechanical failures but what there is suggests that its around 2% in the US. Of those, tires are the most common cause, brakes second.

      I don’t think its a conclusive exoneration of allowing any old shitbox on the road, but it also doesn’t suggest that meticulous inspections of every possible detail are necessary either. I’d rather see the US spend its time trying to teach people to drive properly.

      1. Thank you this needs to be said, outside of tires and brakes mechanical failures are extremely unlikely to be the cause of a crash.

        What’s left out by these safety inspection pushers is the cost of these strict inspections outweigh the benefits. There is the cost of the inspection and the Lost time for everyone involved, and the cost to the environment for otherwise perfectly usable cars having to be replaced with new cars.

      2. God some better drivers education would go so far..

        I moved from Australia to the US, I already had a well-earned drivers license but I had to take the typical tests to get a US license anyway. That consisted of 8 hours of drivers education and then the test at the DMV. The entire test was spent with the instructor talking to me about Australia rather than actually, you know, evaluating my driving. But my absolute favorite part was the reverse parallel park.. “the two yellow cones represent other cars, you can touch them but you can’t knock them over” ..wait, I can hit other cars as long as nobody can tell I did it? Awesome. Just awesome.

        1. Got my first license back in bad old 90s in the state of Illinois. Of course I was nervous taking the road test, but the only ding I was given was for making too wide of a right turn. The parallel parking was no problemo though. My dad had to frequently parallel park in Wheaton and Naperthrill (although some still called it Naperville back then) during that decade, so I had a pretty good feel for how it was done and my dad did make me practice the shit outta that before taking me to the DMV.

        2. Did the same thing when I moved here in 2014. Written test, one day of classroom education and a driving test. Except my instructor didn’t say a single word outside of directing me what to do the entire time. It was very uncomfortable. He also made me reverse park in front of a driveway with no car behind me stopping how far backwards I could go.

    1. I’d expect that would mean his dad wouldn’t have (legal) use of it in that case, although whether he’d get away with driving it anyway would depend on things like whether or not he’s still active duty or retired (either way probably wouldn’t get past the base guardhouse like that, just a matter of how often he goes there/out).

    2. You see a smattering of old cars on looooong expired US plates in places like Greece, but it ain’t gonna fly in Germany. Even there, I think it requires a good relationship with local law enforcement. In Corfu, there used to be a W123 300 Diesel on 1980s New York tags which always made me laugh.

  3. What a pain in the ass.

    I think clearing the oxidation off the front of those headlight housings (which look quite terrible, by the way – then again…many cars running around the Detroit area might as well have borderline opaque housings) and putting those nice bulbs (which I assume are basically the Euro-equivalent of Sylvania Silverstars…since Sylvania = OSRAM) in there with the separate headlight harness should help out considerably.

    And not getting an inspector who apparently will fail you for a rock chip in the paint.

    1. ^^THIS^^
      Caravan CV (the cargo model with no rear windows) had single recto sealed-beams. Find the right bezels in a boneyard and you’re home free!
      Oh, wait, are sealed-beams cool with Germany?

  4. Gotta laugh at Europe and US states that “inspect” vehicles. Where I live, the state makes no inspection requirement whatsoever, with the exception of a bi-annual OBD-II check to make sure the emission controls are working. You can register a 1996 rusted-out crate with broken control arms, stuck brake calipers, headlights with water in them, tires as bald as Picard, and shocks that long ago gave up the ghost, and drive it all you want, perfectly legal. The only way this comes back and bites you in the butt is if you wreck somebody and their attorney can prove that your car was an unsafe death-mobile.

        1. NH has inspections but doesn’t require insurance or motorcycle helmets.

          I love to see the Massholes experiencing some ‘murican freedom by pulling over as they cross the NH border to remove their helmets.

    1. Talking about inspectors not being used to things, this year Vermont moved the sticker from top center behind (from the driver’s perspective) the rearview mirror where it’s been since at least the early ’70s to the lower left of the windshield, changing size and shape in the process. There’s been some…awkward placements.

      1. NH moved and changed the stickers a few years ago too.

        At least it’s better than when I moved here in the 70s — at that time they had 6 month inspections! (That changed in the early 80s IIRC.)

    2. A few years ago an elderly couple brought their rusted-out crate to their local shop in VT for an inspection. They gave the car a new sticker.

      I believe the shop owner and / or inspector were charged with homicide when the car folded in an accident like the rustbucket it was and caused a bit of death.

      After seeing some of the horrifying messes allowed to roam the highways of MI, I stopped complaining about the strict inspections of my home state. I’ve also seen some questionable machinery on the inspection-free roads of FL, but at least the metal on those hadn’t rusted completely away below the beltline.

      1. Years ago I complained about the triflin’ ways of Va inspectors. Then we visited my gf’s father in TN. That was a eye-opener: rusted hulks with plywood substituted for rear fender-liners, bungee cords holding hoods & trunks, padlock hasps on doors, an old 240 with a rear tire actually bouncing off the pavement ….

        Given the ‘I fitzed it!’ mentality and what you see on ‘look what rolled into the shop!’ videos, I can live with our minimal inspection regime here

      2. I live “next door” in NH. State inspections have fairly strict requirements for rust-through and you will fail at most stations with it. That happened many years ago now with our Alero that had enough rocker panel rust to fail, and the repair cost was higher than its worth. I also had to repair the rust on my WJ Grand Cherokee by rewelding a rocker panel and replacing the hood in order to pass.

  5. My issue with David (and many other Americans) is their concern with passing the test and not with safety. I would never knowingly drive a car with those headlights and I surely wouldn’t loan it to my father.

    I daily drive old cars but I try to keep them to a safe standard, generally better than new with upgraded lighting, brakes, and occupant safety systems. I firmly believe this is a responsibility to myself, my passengers, those around me, and to the old car hobby in general.

    1. First, I’m both German and American.

      Second, I inspect my vehicles more carefully and frequently than literally anyone I know. I keep very careful tabs on the states of my machines, and I do not drive dangerous cars. If I hear a weird noise, I fix it immediately. I know what shape my car’s underbody components are in because I look at them regularly. You gotta realize: This is not the case for the layperson. (Also, to imply that I’d put my dad in danger is unfair. It’s a factory headlight that’s a bit dim, and a tiny bit of grease. Relax!).

      You’ve see the vehicles I’ve rescued — completely rusted-out hulks (the POStal Jeep, the FC-170, the Willys CJ-2A). These are things I’ve taken from undrivable nothingmobiles to 5,000-mile road-trip champions; to do that with a perfect safety record requires precision and a thorough knowledge of engineering.

      My concern with vehicle inspections in general is the same concern you have with “Americans”: It’s not always about safety, it’s about rules. Like, the fact that you can fail an inspection because of a small underbody rust hole — seriously, what’s the issue, there? Who is that endangering? That’s just an example of the inspection no longer serving the public, and instead just pricing folks out of vehicles.

      With that said, I did author the article “All States Should Have Mandatory Vehicle Safety Inspections.” I’m actually pro-inspection, and generally, I don’t mind TÜV; sometimes you can chat with the technicians, and they’ll be reasonable.

      1. I agree with you on surface rust and pin holes in the body and a bunch of other silly requirements like paint chips. Those are not safety items. If we have a disagreement it is on our definitions of meticulous and safe.

        Those headlights are not safe if you are driving at night. Bodging up an ECU bypass wire is fine to get you home. Treating it as a permanent fix is not meticulous.

        Sometimes I think you are just playing ‘Captain Click’ and trolling us with your rust and bodges. And it’s working. I am looking forward to reading about your culture and climate shock when you arrive in LA.

        1. The ECU bypass is a permanent and safe solution; it’s meticulous because I engineered it after poring over wiring diagrams and studying the system — I’m not guessing, here. The headlights were fine, just as the last inspector determined; I bet some lens cleaning and new bulbs will solve it.

      1. Check this:,oder%20%C3%A4hnliche%20Verfahren%20ist%20unzul%C3%A4ssig.%22

        With polishing your lights you change them from a technical point of view, at least that’s what the TÜV says. Still many people do it and often the TÜV does not care about it…but sometimes they do…

        1. That’s absolutely stupid.
          Bug guts will eat through the protective coating and allow the lenses to yellow. At that point its changed component wise. Do Germans not allow bugs in their country? And that’s just one of the possible ways that the lenses can change component-wise.

          What an absolutely asinine decision.

          1. Well I am totally with you…my bmw has the typical problem that cars with plastic headlights have…so I am curious about what will happen next year at the next inspection. Luckily, ONE headlight only costs 1600€.

  6. Many years ago, the inspector at Hohenfels had a reputation as a hard case… Who didn’t like to get too dirty. Not saying it’s right, but plenty of folks had a 3-step inspection routine:
    1. Wait for a good, soaking couple of rainy days.
    2. Find a soggy tank trail.
    3. Pass inspection.

    Is it right? No. But when you get failed for a rust hole on the underside of the car, just behind the front tire, it’s hard to argue pedestrian safety. “Poor soul *would* have survived getting run over by an old 3-series, if only he didn’t get tetanus from that rusty patch!”

      1. I finally convinced the boss to condemn an old flatbed trailer we don’t often use. I was doing some wiring on it and smashed my knee into the back end of the frame… And hurt the trailer. My knee was fine. That thing makes Project POStal look good.

  7. This is probably silly, but if your battery is not at 100% and you might have any other drain on it other than the lights, depending on how your charging system and everything works (is the test while the engine is on) it could be getting a tiny bit of lesser voltage than optimum.

  8. DT. How/Why are you getting this inspected under a USAREUR stamp? I get that you’re an Army Brat, but what’s the deal here? Just odd to me.
    I haven’t been in country in many years. Maybe the rules (Status of Forces Agreement maybe?) have changed?

  9. Just import the vehicle to the good ol’ US of A… you’re past the 25 year waiting period, so you’re good there. Then, make the short drive down to Indiana and register it here (well, might have to establish an LLC with a PO box to do this right and register it to the business). Because we don’t even do smog checks in the hoosier state (unless you live in a Chicago suburb county), they’ll let you drive practically anything here. The only thing they check for in Indiana when you register is proof of ownership and insurance. Maybe get a new license here too… we have race cars on our licenses now.

  10. David,
    Have you checked the output of your alternator? It seems like you have a few issues on that van caused by low voltage. If that checks out OK, I wonder if you could use an actual ‘DCDC boost’ circuit to push the voltage at the headlights to 16v or so. For redundancy, I would use one DCDC per headlight.
    You only need a couple of volts more to make a big difference in brightness.
    I did something similar on my model T. I wanted to keep the car stock with a 6v system, but I needed 12v for some nice soft-white LED bulbs that were bright enough to actually use at night.

    1. If the bulbs are certified and approved for the road use by Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, then they are allowed. Kraftfahr-Bundesamt (KBA) is the federal agency responsible for evaluating, certifying, and approving the motor vehicles, OEM and aftermarket parts, accessories, and likes.

  11. David – a quick, cheap fix to pass inspection is to use bug spray with deet in it. Just spray it on a paper towel, wipe on, wipe off, repeat. Then clean it with windex a few times to get the remaining deet off the plastic. Yes, it works by melting the plastic. No, it is not permanent, and not exactly an elegant fix. It will probably get them clear enough to pass your inspection, though.

  12. Hi David,
    AlClad “Chroming” paint could come handy if you wish to give your bezels some more shine.
    Out of topic: I can’t remember you referring to “One head per cylinder” for your VM engine. They also made 5- and 6-straight blocks with 5-6 heads…
    My 1995 White-Whale-From-Rhine-River Scorpio sedan can testify.
    Now if I could just put my hands on a rear bumper…
    Best luck to you and your mini van.

        1. Beh… Always, why not? 5-speed manual here (oh, and original clutch and gearbox) plus some high compression per cylinder.
          OK: 90% double-clutching.
          Same for always downshifting with auto trans on other cars: +/- gearshift or palettes. (Exception: downsized gas-powered engines: no engine brake, just some hi-rev, useless, unpleasant noise unless I mean to be on the appropriate gear ahead of a curve).
          Ahem… I must acknowledge some 40-60.000 km (25-37.000-mi) lasting rear pads: rear electronic brake force distribution seems to prevail here.

  13. Uhm, why not just buy some LED headlight bulbs? They make them to plug in to anything now and they use a tenth of the juice of a halogen. If you really want to get fancy for a few Euros more you can get the ones which let the light “turn corners” via a box — all with CE homologation…

  14. Honestly, I think the US could use a little TUV love given the crap we see on the roads. That said, this does seem a bit over the top. There’s an argument to be made that if someone is keeping a car on the road in good faith that the inspector should give it a pass or note things that “won’t pass next time”.

  15. The stringent adherence to standards is a product of German culture and the higher demands the autobahn puts on a car. I work in manufacturing, and it reminds me of a custom test rig that an engineer who worked for me purchased from Germany. He did not do his due diligence, and it ended up NOT meeting safety standards mandated by our US factories. The main issue? These little plexiglass doors that slide down once the part is loaded and the test cycle begins. They had 2-hand controls, but did not have an interlock, preventing a finger from getting pinched. The way the Germans approached it was to ensure the force (pneumatic) was not enough to injure a hand or finger if caught in there when it shut, and to put big signs on the thing, essentially saying “keep your damn hands out when the test starts!” I feel like this would have been sufficient in Germany, where I have found people in general just follow the posted rules whereas in the US, people will constantly test and question posted guidance and blame the employer for their stupidity when they get hurt. There needs to be some wiggle room on things like this, but we worry WAY too much about the exceptions here in the US, and tailor our processes to them, instead of just managing them when they come up…

  16. Ah, these are just minor things really, both for the CV boot and the headlamps.
    I’d say not bad at all on a nearly 30-year-old vehicle with 400k+ kilometers!
    You should be proud of the condition the van is in, only these two things trained TÜV-mechanics could nitpick on.
    Also, the new headlights may be relatively expensive relative to the (perceived) value of the vehicle.
    But if you think about it, a defective LED compound headlight replacement on a modern car is probably several thousand Euros. And at the end of the day, they are both just headlights that serve the same purpose.

  17. See if you can find someone with an older-style large buffer (not the hook and loop style) using a big wool pad. I’ve had great luck using that setup with some fairly aggressive (approx. 600grit) buffing compound on the outer portion of some truly roached head light lenses. Hit them lightly with a sponge pad and some glaze compound after that if possible for just a bit more shine. Make sure to apply some plastic sealer (which I’m guessing you already have in that kit) every few months afterwards and you could be good to go for awhile.

  18. I think that “booster kit” looks suspect. Sure, the reflectors aren’t ideal, but the bulb glow is distinctly yellow. Replating the interiors, plus a lens cleanup, plus cheap high wattage Hella bulbs could work. As others have said though, ask your Van King if there is a sealed beam mount compatible with the Euro height adjustable mounts that you could put some E-code H4 reflector lenses in. I’d like to think a well built custom sealed beam replacement setup would pass inspection, but I somehow doubt they’d let you get away with a homebrew solution.

    Lens removal can be done in the oven. Just be careful with the temperature and how long they are in there. More even heating is more better. Reseal with butyl rubber – plenty of kits sold for it in the States.

    1. I’d be worried about throwing high-wattage bulbs in that thing, the wiring and light housings were never designed for that and whatever safety margin Chrysler’s engineers built in is probably long gone just from age and neglect.

    1. Nope. Electrical supply is fine. If he had LV system problems, the power windows would not work and the IPC would have ‘twitching.’ The headlights on these will dim under any moderate electrical load.

      Source: I fixed electrical on more of these than you can find at Carlisle. If there was a supply problem, I would’ve already said.

  19. This is an easy fix. Go back to the inspector once you’ve tightened the CV boot. The rest is all in your acting skills. Follow closely here… this is genius….

    Stand in front of the car, looking intently at the headlights as the inspector flips the switch. As soon as those headlights go on, cover your eyes wildly with both arms and shout “OH MY GOD I’M BLIND!!”

    Should get you an immediate pass.

  20. My dad refurbished a euro spec headlight housings for a Mercedes 560sl, he cleaned them really good then used reflective tape, then sprayed them with reflective paint, turned out real good, lot cheaper than $120!

  21. Suggestion: A series of articles in which David Tracy attempts to buy and legally drive a shitbox on every continent. Antarctica will either be really easy or really hard, depending on how you look at it.

    1. The 80w ‘off-road’ H4s should pass you. Not terribly pricey, either.

      And, there’s an article idea for you: a dive into what goes into lighting design, and why the affordable aftermarket crap is just that

  22. Yep, the old bulbs are dim. And from the picture, it almost looks like those lights have a larger issue of getting enough power.

    Hopefully the Turtle Wax kit helps. Any vid I have seen where that stuff got used was impressive as hell.

    I am nervous about those Night Breakers. The blue coating actually lets less light out, while making it harsher. If it works, great. If not, try a high power bulb that doesn’t use the blue.

    Admittedly, this looks at things from a US perspective, but still useful info.

    1. Night Breakers are good, I use them to mitigate the factory-spec shittiness of my Subaru’s headlights. They’re genuinely a bit brighter than normal; the trade-off, since they have to use the same amount of power, is that they also burn out faster.

      1. But are they truly brighter? Or just harsher? I saw a test done by a tuning magazine (can’t) find the link) a few years back where they tried all sorts of bulbs, and the stockers won in terms of light output over every blue-coated one they tried.

        Now if you get brighter bulbs without the blue coating….

  23. Well they don’t allow H4 LED conversions I imagine, so the best legal solution is the Silvania SilverStar Ultra 9003/H4. You can source them in pairs at Walmart or on Amazon or other places.
    They have reduced life compared to the regular SilverStar, so plan on that. [Blade Runner reference deleted.]

    I carry a spare at all times on my on my old Honda motorcycle, but it is worth it, noticeably whiter and brighter than the stock Stanley H4 in that application.

    1. An LED conversion can be legal but requires it be built and certified through actual testing and evaluation. Unlike the US where you just slap the ‘we said it’s ok’ sticker on it, because DOT will never inspect it.

      SilverStars are good stuff, but, they’re also currently over $60 a pair.

    2. If the bulbs are certified and approved for the road use by Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, then they are allowed. Kraftfahr-Bundesamt (KBA) is the federal agency responsible for evaluating, certifying, and approving the motor vehicles, OEM and aftermarket parts, accessories, and likes.

      Recently, Philips and Osram have released the LED replacement bulbs for H4 and H7 headlamps, which are legal in Germany WITH CAVEATS(!). You can’t simply pop them in any H4 and H7 headlamps and call it day (or night). Philips and Osram have to test EACH AND EVERY vehicles with H4 and H7 headlamps as to ensure that the LED bulbs are within the perimeters of halogen H4 and H7 bulbs. So far, they have released about 20 or so vehicles that are approved for LED replacement bulbs.

      Vehicles approved for LED replacement bulbs:

      The owners who have installed the LED bulbs must print out the certificate of approval (Allgemeinen Bauartgenehmigung (ABG)) to put in the glove compartment. Depending on some vehicles, the owners must install the spacers between the bulbs and sockets.

  24. I’m probably all kinds of wrong to suggest it, but I know KC makes the pigtails for conversion to H4 lamps and those sweet, sweet Hella glass housings for my JK. I’d imagine there’s got to be a conversion kit for your van, although I’m sure the glass housings aren’t cheap (if they exist). All I know is the light is a lot better after my H4 conversion.

  25. As a reminder: Japanese Shaken is literally a hundred times harder than TUV. Minimum.
    David’s Voyager would be deemed permanently unsafe under Shaken due to having corrosion on suspension components. Not rust-through. Just surface corrosion.

    The CV boot callout is correct, because he’s not calling out the grease – he’s calling out the grease impeding ABS operation. That is a safety issue, full stop. Fix boot, brake clean the shit out of the ABS sensor and tone wheel, all good.

    Same for the headlights. That’s not just “Chrysler suck” that’s “completely fucking trashed.” Sealed beams are of course, no bueno. But those things are so trashed inside and out that frankly, your only option here is a new housing. Replating it – even if it did take (very unlikely) – won’t help. Because they’ll never seal back up fully, and the lenses are shot. At which point you’re already going to be spending more than it costs for a replacement assembly.
    No, seriously. You need a proper heat gun, that’ll be $50-60. Then you’ll need the special sealant – RTV is NOT an acceptable substitute and never has been. The correct stuff is NOT cheap – it’s 3M black butyl rubber ribbon sealer. You’ll be spending at least $60 for sufficient quantity to do both assemblies. (People will claim the original stuff is reusable. IT IS NOT. Once it’s spent more than a few days cured, that’s IT.)

    The ASD shutoff is MUCH more concerning, but somewhat easier to fix. You need to find an electronics repair place that does component repairs. Take them the PCM, there’s likely a leaking capacitor or burnt resistor in it. That’s why you need to do it ASAP. Leaking capacitors WILL destroy the entire PCM leading to a much, much more costly repair. Hopefully it’s just a cold solder joint, which just means basic rework. But these are also very prone to failed capacitors at this age.
    “Ich glaube, es gibt einen undichten/ausgefallen Kondensator.”

      1. Check the xref, because I do believe that the Euro spec headlight assemblies are no different from the US spec. But check the xref, because I could be entirely wrong. But if they’re plastic lens and not glass, I’m like 99% certain they’re the same. In which case you can use LKQ CH2518104V and CH2519104V, which are about $80 each.

        1. Both US and ECE headlamps have completely different outputs and designs.

          The US headlamp bulbs have the transverse filaments while ECE has longitudinal filaments. The US optic diffusing flutes on the lens are vertical while ECE has the portion (usually lower half and to the left half on the LHD vehicles) that are diagonal resembling almost a half bow tie (more explanation below). In 1991, US finally allowed the ECE headlamps and insisted on HB2 (its name for H4) be built to the tighter tolerance than crappy transverse-filamented HB bulbs.

          The US allows the light output to be higher into the sky as to illuminate the unlit overhead signage and the signage on the left side of road (more and more signage on the highways and roads have been gradually moved to the right side of road in the last thirty years). That’s why they are bitch during the fog, heavy rain, snow, and inclement weather and higher degree of glare, especially toward the approaching drivers. This might explain why the HID headlamps for the US have massively obnoxious glare .ECE has a sharp horizontal cut-off from left to middle then cast upward from middle to right (as to illuminate the road signage).

          The US headlamps have to have both lens and housing (that includes reflectors) sealed while ECE allows both to be taken apart for the cheaper lens replacements that are damaged by collision. Sometimes, the manufacturers save money by gluing them together instead of using the clamps. This also gives the manufacturers more incentive to sell the whole headlamp units instead of parts.

          Lastly, US no longer allows the horizontal adjustment (they were permanently set at the factory), and ECE allows both horizontal and vertical adjustment. ECE mandates either manual or automatic headlamp aim while compensating for the heavier load in the rear.

          This answers your question, no?

      2. Hi David! You can buy brand new headlights reaplacements by Polish eBay-like site for 99 zloty which would be about 25$ apiece if the seller agrees shipping to germany. Here is link:
        description says that seller has left and right headlight in same price.

        Good luck in keeping that van on the road!

        I am using for four years now an old – 1997 Ford Transit van with 2,5 TDI engine as a campervan, it is slow and noisy, but gets pretty low fuel consumption. Each year it gets harder to find cheap parts, but I think it is still easier to get them in Poland than Germany, cause of higher average age of cars on our roads 😉

    1. Yep – shaken is def no joke. Spent a couple of summers in Japan a number of years ago. We’d been there for a few days when we noticed the complete lack of cars more than a very few years old. When it gets too expensive to pass shaken, it goes in the crusher. 5-6 years was about all when I was there.

      1. Crusher, not so much at least not anymore. There’s a big market for used JDM Japanese cars, not just the special ones, in places like western Russia, New Zealand and Micronesia.

        1. Yup, we were massive beneficiaries of Shaken requirements in the mid to late 1990s, when New Zealand lifted all vehicle import tariffs and JDM cars flooded in. The average age of our fleet dropped very hard (although it’s now been steadily rising again because 1990s Japanese cars refuse to die).

  26. Mother’s had a good headlight restoration kit that will last you through multiple vehicles at ~$30. I have done at least 6 vehicles on the same sandpaper pads it came with. I would also consider LED bulb replacement at 5400k (white with a little yellow) to 6000k (pure white) or an HID conversion..if they are looking at a lumen rating to hit for their inspection. Yes the refracted housing will throw some shadows but increase the light on the road substantially and at a lower wattage with no damage to the light enclosures. You can rip out that booster thingy all together. $30 for LED bulbs and $30 for the restoration kit (look for the drill version as the one with out will give you a serious workout).

  27. Many respondents are suggesting different bulbs, coatings, etc. These American “solutions” are probably moot. From my experience in Germany most American “enhancements” are specifically forbidden by law. Get a 500 euro fine and possible empoundment

    1. Very much this. The US, particularly DOT, is a total joke. Every aftermarket and OE headlight is ‘self-certified’ which amounts to them saying ‘we totally promise it’s compliant, even though we didn’t test anything.’ Direct result is that 90% of aftermarket parts from Dorman are so super totally illegal everywhere it’s not even funny. But since there’s no real consequences besides maybe a meaningless and impossible to enforce recall and a few thousand dollars of fines, they just keep doing it.

  28. Crazy thought but… couldn’t it be an issue with the aftermarket headlight booster kit? Maybe worth checking to see what happens if the kit is removed before messing with the lights?

  29. The fun part of an inspection system that expects old cars to hit new car standards.

    In the US, most areas are “if it meets the standards of the time of production, we are good”.

    Maybe this is their way of removing cars from the road?

    I have seen this in other EU nations were a car failed a modern standard, ie air bags, on a car from the 60s.

    1. No one expects your old car to meet modern standards at the German TÜV.
      Best example: Emissions. My 1973 Bmw has to meet the the emission standards of 1973. Same with everything else.

      They just expect your car to be in a decent shape concerning safety topics. I have several cars and therefore have to go to the TÜV on a very regular basis and never had serious issues. But I try to keep my cars in shape, at least concerning technical aspects.

      And what do you mean with your last sentence? If a car was produced without airbags, nobody cars about it as long as it was first registered close to the time it was built. The TÜV doesn’t care about it. There is simply one rule: everything that was on the car when it left the factory has to work during the safety check. And there are parts where they do not accept any minor issues. For example in the shocks and springs there cannot be any problem, or you will fail instantly. For the brakes there are also strict rules.

      From my German point if view, it the way it works with the safety inspections is perfectly alright. From my point of view there have to be strict rules if you have so much individuals driving around everyday. Our roads are packed with millions of car and especially as long as you can travel with rather high speeds (it’s just the theory, in reality you often don’t exceed more than 100km/h in average on a longer drive) cars have to be in a technical good state.

      By the way it’s not the TÜV that does it’s best to get old cars of the road. It’s our government which for example banned older diesels from many cities which results in people needing to buy newer cars. My 2008 bmw 525d for example cannot be used in some city’s anymore. Still i never had issues with the safety check, or just minor things that were remarked but didn’t cause my car to fail the inspection.

      1. Oh get out of here with your commie-liberal state-mandated concern for public safety!
        We Americans have God-given rights(*) to needlessly endanger those around us!

        (*) In some states, these God-given rights do not apply to women, minorities, Jews, Muslims, LBGTQ+, hippies, college-educated,…

        1. Max, nice, but generally speaking college-educated is not a good description for your asterisk. Last I checked lawyers (college-educated by default) run the country, it’s the college educated, engineers, computer scientists etc.etc. who do not have rights (sort of like Dilbert)

      2. I wasn’t referring to Germany, I saw a UK car fail because it didn’t meet the standards of modern cars for passenger deflection if someone was hit. The car was from the 60s. It failed unless they changed the front end. Same with air bags. Must of gotten a MOT person on a bad day who hates classic cars. 🙂

        I agree that a car should be safe to drive and have all parts from the year of Manufacture in working order. Meaning wipers, horn, seatbelts, brakes, steering etc. I don’t want to be hit by an unguided missile of a beater.

        I spend quite a bit keeping my fleet in the best shape it can be in, address all safety issues, emissions, etc. Then I see the blue smoke rust mobile next to me that passed and I failed because a headlight clip was missing (the headlight was aligned, just didn’t have clip). I was once told “Well you drive this car and are rich so can afford to fix it. That guy is poor.” I am not rich by a long shot, I just spend my money keeping up the car vs a new 65′ TV 🙂

        The only part I find odd is the headlights. If they weren’t bright from the start, is the expectation you spend hundreds of dollars on aftermarket solutions.

    2. Ah, I see we have a case of “tell me you’re an ignorant American xenophobe who doesn’t know shit without saying that you’re an ignorant American don’t know shit.”

      Hint: you’re the one who doesn’t know shit. The laws have always specifically said that a motor vehicle cannot be held to any standards other than those in force at the time of manufacture. With extremely narrow exceptions. i.e. You can’t put freshly vulcanized bias-ply radials on your 1965 BMW in the year 2022.

          1. We love you, rootwyrm, but personal attacks won’t fly here. 98Z28’s comment was just a misunderstanding, and in fact, it’s really not unheard of. In Hong Kong, for example, you must retrofit your old vehicles with various safety devices (you have to convert to RHD, too).

      1. I see we have a case of “tell me you’re new to Autopian without saying that you’re new to Autopian”.

        DT has several issues, yes, but xenophobia is not one of them. You might want to back the fuck off.

        1. I certainly wouldn’t describe David that way. Nor did I. Because he’s not the one making completely bogus claims about ‘OH THEY MAKE OLD CARS RETROFIT AIRBAGS!!’
          That would be 98Z28.

          1. Calm down and have some dip.

            It was just a comment based on a show I watched from the UK a few years ago.

            I thought this was supposed to be a site to have fun and shoot the breeze. Not jump down someone’s throat because they may have misquoted something.

            This is why I left the other site. I made one comment and became a serial mass murder Trump Supporter driving drunk because I dared go against the hive mind.

            Side note: I lived in Germany for awhile as well, so I am not a xenophobe.

            If the admins want a social media free for all where people don’t want to make a post because people are looking for a reason to blast them, I will probably leave this one as well. I don’t have time for that in my life.

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