Friday, April 30

Little Difference #23

**another break into real time. Must share this experience while it is still fresh in my mind.**

Controle Technique
Little Difference #23 - Controle Technique

This difference is fresh in my mind as I've just returned from it and thankfully, live to tell. For you Americans out there, Controle Technique is basically the Luxembourgish version of emissions testing. It is a test your car must pass once a year. Actually in Seattle I was only requred to have emissions testing every other year. Not sure if that was due to the age of our car or a change to State regulations. But here in Luxembourg it is once a year.

We had heard about Controle Technique from a colleague of Bryce's. He told horror stories of long lines, paper work and hassle. So when we received our letter, indicating that our car was due we heaved a collective groan. Funny enough, we were dreading it so much we forgot about it. Yup, just popped the letter into my pile of papers and went about my merry business. Last evening I remembered the letter, the summons, the impending dread. I fished out the letter and sure enough, we missed the date, our Controle Technique certificate had expired.

Today I marched myself into Controle Technique, expecting hassle, lots of disapproving looks for our lapse, tears, and to be told, it is not possible - those words that expats in this part of the world dread. I am pleased to report my experience was the complete opposite of that. The man at the reception desk couldn't care less that we were a few days late, he told me to get my car and get in the line. So I did. Tout de suite!

You're probably wondering about the little difference part, well, it involves the thoroughness of the tests and checks the car must pass. In Seattle, emissions testing consisted of a technician sticking a wand into the exhaust pipe to measure how much bad stuff the car gave off. Here in Luxembourg, it was much more involved.
2008 - Fashion King, Karl Lagerfeld advertising the (then) new law in France requiring yellow vests and orange triangles. In English it says, It's yellow, it's ugly, it doesn't go with anything but it can save your life.

There were 4 different stations that the car passed through. The whole experience could be thought of as an obstacle course for cars. Our indicators, break lights and high beams were checked. I had to show the florescent yellow safety vest and orange triangle that must be kept in the car for road side emergencies. The engine was checked as was the under side of the car. No joke, I drove the car over a pit that a technician stood in with a flash light to examine the belly of the car. At one point I had to get out of the car so the technician could drive it over an area designed to test the tires. Quite a work out for a car, no?
Controle Technique Certificate
I'm thrilled to report that our car passed. I'm even more thrilled that we don't have do this again until next year. Maybe we'll even do it on time next year, just for kicks. Honestly, I think it is a good thing that cars must pass these basic safety tests. It makes the roads safer for all of us. What do you think the chances are the U.S. would adopt such strict standards for all cars?

As always, I'd love to hear about how things are done in your neck of the woods.

All the Little Differences here.

Footnote: I think Controle Technique is an EU regulation. Does anyone know?


This Girl loves to Talk said...

oh dear.. I think we would be stuffed if that happened here in Australia :) I am currently driving my parents second (old old)car cause our van broke...
and australians are pretty environmentally friendly compared to the US (water restrictions, recycling carbon emissions etc)

Alex said...

Yes, the Controle Technique is pretty much standard around the EU. The only difference in Lux is that there are just three places you can take it (Sandweiler, Esch-sur-Alzette and Wiltz).

In other countries (like UK, Germany, Spain, France), independent garages are licensed by the government to carry out the checks and issue a certificate - which makes it a little less intimidating!

It's funny because it has such a bad reputation in Lux and yet I've always been pleasantly surprised by how nice everyone is.

Mariana said...

That's right! We do it here in Portugal but we call it simply a car inspection and the younger cars must go every two years and cars with more than 10 years (i'm not sure if it's 10 or 8) must go every year! And we do have a lot of independent garages that are certified by Portuguese state to make this inspections so it's not really bad! And the point is not to see our car emissions is to see if the car is safe enought to be on the street or if it's a danger to it's driver and the others. Well we do check our emissions too, but thats's not all!

Maria said...

That inspection sounds a little stricter but not a lot stricter than the ones my cars underwent in Massachusetts. They checked lights, brakes, body, tires, horn…

Nobody ever asked me to show them an emergency vest though ;-)

Lisa said...

Hmmm, referring to your comment about doing it again next year. Does that mean you are extending your time over there?

katy said...

Thanks for your comments! The independent garage method makes a lot of sense. Lux is so small, perhaps that is why they get away with only 3 controle stations and no licensed garages.

This Girl - Surprised about Australia - what kind of yearly checks do you all have if any?

Alex - Thanks for the information! You're the kind of gal an expat needs to know!

Mariana - thanks again for chiming in about Portugal! So intrigued by your country.

Maria - sounds like Mass. is a leader in emissions and safety checks. Maybe the rest of the country will follow suit.

Lisa - you don't miss a thing, do you? We'll chat :)

The Nomadic Ewings said...

Emissions check? Safety check??? Not in southern Italy! Wish I could say differently but it is not the case. Now, it may be on the books but it isn't enforced.

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