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Vehicle Inspection, Maintenance, Repairs and Breakdown Recovery

Switzerland - Vehicle Inspection, Maintenance, Repairs and Breakdown Recovery

The technical motor vehicle inspection test in Switzerland is known as the MFK (Motorfahrzeugkontrollen) or in French as the 'contrôle technique' or simply as the 'expertise'. This is similar to the British MOT and similar vehicle checks in other countries. It is performed at certain intervals according to the age of the vehicle. For cars, motorcycles and motorhomes, the first test takes place when the vehicle has been on the road for 4 years. The next inspection will be 3 years later, and then subsequently every 2 years. Costs vary according to canton. In Zurich you currently pay CHF 56 but in other cantons you should allow up to CHF 150.

The test is rigorous and official advice for the first-time inspection includes cleaning the vehicle inside and out, if dirty, and checking the lights, brakes, steering and suspension are all in order. Advice for older cars includes assessing whether it is even worthwhile to pay repair costs for significant faults and to undergo the test. The Swiss Touring Club recommends that an older vehicle should appear clean and well cared for when presented for testing, but that it is not necessary to subject it to an expensive clean or to use harsh cleaning products. They also advise to take your motor vehicle for a pre-test check (prüfung) at an official centre. You will then have the opportunity to have the garage repair any faults prior to testing. Some garages will offer a service where they pre-test and carry out repairs and then take the vehicle to be tested. This will not be cheap but may offer you more peace of mind.

Every 2 years a car with a catalytic converter or a diesel engine must also undergo an anti-pollution test. This is increased to every year for vehicles without a catalytic converter. It can be conducted at garages or the official test centres. Fines apply if the test is overdue, increasing with each month of delay.

For motorcycles and scooters the same rules apply as for cars with regard to the inspection, however there is no anti-pollution test.

The main motoring organisation in Switzerland is the Swiss Touring Club (G: Touring Club Schweiz, F: Le Touring Club Suisse), commonly known simply as the TCS. They are a reliable source of information on motoring, including travel advice, vehicle testing, the purchase of the Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) customs documentation for vehicle entry from certain non-European countries, and also have an online used car marketplace. The TCS website also has information for disabled drivers, including outlining the physical requirements of the driving licence.

You will frequently find your motor insurance policy with any of the Swiss insurers will include breakdown cover although this is likely to only cover you within Switzerland. The TCS also offer breakdown and recovery cover direct to customers which will insure you while abroad. Some other insurers may also be able to offer European breakdown cover.

Standards of service for car maintenance and repairs are generally high but charges are expensive, especially for labour. It pays to shop around and ask for recommendations as some garages are more reasonable than others when charging for standard maintenance and exhaust emission texts. Some expats who live near the border drive to French or German garages to save on parts and maintenance costs.

Useful Resources

Swiss Touring Club (motorists association)
Chemin de Blandonnet 4, CP 820, CH 1214 Vernier
Tel: 0844 888 111
Breakdown: 140

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