A customer mentioned the other day that she enjoyed reading my articles; great food for my ego, but gently mentioned that I could get onto my high horse. Ah, ego deflated. She is right of course and the line between being a source of knowledge, sharing it and being an arrogant know-all is a thin one and I’m sure that I don’t get it right all the time even though we blokes have a reputation for always being right, don’t we ladies?

It may sound corny, but I really enjoy my work. The biggest buzz is from the thanks that I and my colleague Leigh receive both verbally and in writing. It makes the head banging with the Spanish bureaucrats worth the while. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I have recently been upset and disturbed by a customer who thinks that we paid to have a hooky ITV inspection. What made him think this?


His car had been inspected in the normal way which I’ll come onto shortly, but the next day his handbrake failed and his car rolled backwards, he also mentioned that his headlights were out of balance (The customer had had them fitted before we met him) and that the windscreen washer didn’t work. We put the car through in case there were any other issues and it passed with nothing being brought to our attention, so thought all was OK as we have complete confidence in the inspectors. When the handbrake failed, he took the car to a local garage where the staff opined that the car could not possibly have been ITV’d. I do not blame him in the least for phoning me at this point to complain

The ITV inspection

So what happens at an ITV inspection? This inspection as you know is nothing to do with watching the telly, but is the Spanish equivalent of the MOT. The exact sequence varies but the following are covered

1/ Checking that all of the lights work. For cars from the UK and Ireland, this specifically includes ensuring that the headlights conform to Continental standards. Daily I see Spanish cars pass through the station with defective lights and almost always the driver is told to change the bulb and given a pass. High intensity rear fog lights are compulsory even if rarely used. A car with two rear fog lights is fine; where only one is fitted, it must be on the left side

2/ Wipers, washers and horn are checked, though this is often hit and miss, especially as the condition of the wipers does not seem to be checked only that they move!

3/ All brakes are checked on a rolling road. The functionality of the brakes must not only be acceptable, but operate within a tolerance of 30 % of each other.

4/ The front wheels and in some cases the rear are placed over “shakers”. This is where the customer starts to shake too as his car is violently rattled around; the purpose being to check for loose ball joints etc

4/ Underneath the car, there should be no leaks, the exhaust cannot look like a colander and any rust cannot affect the body strength. Where a car has an acceptable tow bar, this is checked over too

5/ Tyres are inspected for wear, cuts, bubbles and tread depth. The depth must be above the wear bars that you can see inside each groove which are set at 1.6 mm. Although not many cars that I take for inspection fail (because the customer has checked it over first) the biggest single cause of failure is tyres. There are two principle reasons for this

The first is that a car must have identical tyres on the same axle and often there is an odd one. The spare isn’t inspected, so this problem may be overcome by swapping. The second is that each tyre has a speed rating, the last letter in the descriptor such as 195/65 R15 91H where “H” means that the car can be driven up to 210 KPH. The rating is set by the car manufacturer but this seems to be widely ignored in the UK and Ireland, but is rigidly enforced here in Spain

6/ The car width is measured to ensure that spacers etc. have not been put onto the wheels and a “brass rubbing” is taken of the chassis number for comparison with the paperwork to ensure that the car is not a “ringer”

7/ There is a basic tracking inspection and the emissions are checked to ensure that they are within tolerance for the specification of the vehicle. Additionally, bikes have the noise level checked

Pass or fail

Pretty thorough eh? The great thing that I like about the ITV compared to the MOT is that the inspectors are independent of any garages and are not permitted to undertake any remedial work, so their examination is totally impartial This is a far cry from some garages in the UK where a pass will be given “once the brake linings have been changed” As with any inspection anywhere it is a report of the condition on the day only

Why would I want to pay for a hooky ITV inspection? How can that be in my interest or that of the customer who wants reassurance that his car is safe? I offered my customer to come to the ITV station where I would introduce him to the manager so that his grievances could be aired. He refused, so I suggested that he make out a “denuncia” to the Guardia Civil; I wanted my reputation to remain intact. He still owes me some money for the re-registration, but in the end, it was agreed to let it all drop

My high horse is now back in the stable and hopefully will remain there for some time