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I am trying to understand which of the following two sentences is more appropriate to signify getting out of a car:

(1) Ich steige aus dem Auto aus. (Usage of aussteigen)

(2) Ich steige aus dem Auto. (Usage of steigen + aus etwas (dative) )

The only difference I can think of is that (1) refers to getting out of a car in the normal fashion – open the door and step out. (2) Can refer also to climbing out – i.e through the window if need be. Therefore aussteigen is the preferred option?

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Ich steige aus dem Auto aus.

Ich steige aus dem Auto.

None of these two is really preferred over the other. You are right steigen as the more general verb also covers climbing through the sunroof. But noone would assume that just by leaving out the final aus, because steigen is only used in a metaphorical sense here.

It does matter as soon there is some real climbing involved:

Der Dieb stieg aus der Dachluke.

The burglar climbed out of the skylight.

Der Dieb stieg aus der Dachluke aus.

The burglar left the building through the skylight.

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