From May 21st 2018 there were a number of major changes introduced at the ITV (MOT) testing stations. You would expect that such changes would be specific, giving clear instructions of how the changes are to be implemented and monitored. Thankfully no!
The most consistent practice in Spain is in its inconsistency, which may explain why we expats are given such contradictory information. The same applies to the natives who grumble as much as we do about the mind-numbing bureaucracy and the proliferation of jobsworths
No joke, but when gathering information for this article, one of the ITV managers that I spoke to said, “well it is 5 o’clock on Thursday, so I can tell you what I think now, but ask me again in the morning and I may have a different answer!”

So, what are the changes?
The principle change is that vehicles will have a diagnostics computer plugged into them; these devices are presently used by mechanics to detect a problem. One of the main reasons for their introduction is that drivers try to hide faults. As if……
If your air-bag or engine management warning light won’t go off, why not remove the warning bulb? The computer will detect this and the car will fail. Ever bought a car which has had one owner, the local vicar who used it only to drive to the church once a week, explaining the very low mileage. “Del Boy” or “Honest John” always had a forecourt filled with such cars and we were suckered into believing him as he was so well dressed, his gold tooth giving a charming smile
Not many of us know that our car’s on-board computer records the mileage that our vehicles have completed. So, when the ITV inspector moves the previous owner’s bible to one side, plugs his kit in the socket and says, “madre mia, que va”, or “got a problem here mate” you come to realise that Honest John was not living up to his name. Mmmmm. I suspect that the dodgy dealer brigade is now in contact with VW, the experts on data manipulation, to discuss how to hide the true mileage rather than just winding the clock back

By pure coincidence I sold my high-mileage Mercedes to a friend a while ago. The instrument panel was showing non-existent faults, so I agreed to get it changed and bought a replacement from the local “scrappy” which showed about half the correct mileage on the clock. Not wishing to upset my mate who is a big lad from the Badlands of London I enquired of the ITV station as to what to do. A certificate from the workshop that exchanged it, listing the differences will suffice. Phew!

When these changes were announced, much was made in the press that older cars would not pass the more stringent emissions tests that were also to be introduced, so drivers would have to replace their cars for newer ones. Such statements flew like an Exocet into the face of common sense. By now, if true, Pedro, Paco and Pilar would be congesting the roads in Madrid demanding massive subsidies to replace their cherished old bangers. No government in its right mind- and I am not suggesting that the present one fits into this category- would introduce such a massive change
Engines were made that met the emissions standards demanded at the time of manufacture (VW excepted!). Legislation drives the desire to reduce emissions and the manufacturers have complied; just in my few years of vehicle re-registration where Co2 emissions form part of the registration tax calculation, they have plummeted. It has always been the case and will continue to be so, that a vehicle’s emissions will be tested at the ITV station against the data expected of that vehicle, irrespective of age or the amount of pollution generated. Glad about that as my present car is a 12-year-old diesel

Acceptance of MOT certificates
Until now it has been mandatory for foreign vehicles to undergo an ITV inspection as part of the re-registration process. This will no longer be the case. On presentation of an MOT certificate from the UK, or an NCT from Ireland, for example, the car will not need a full ITV inspection. Stations will access a programme specific to them to see if the test certificate is valid in the country of issue and will issue a “ficha tecnica”, (ITV card), which will allow the vehicle to be re-registered at Trafico
The vehicle, as now, will need a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) from the manufacturer or a “ficha reducida” (engineer’s report) which shows the vehicles characteristics to be copied onto the ITV card. The vehicle will subsequently be fully inspected on the date that the MOT expires

So, will the car be inspected if it has an MOT?
This is where the notorious inconsistency reaches its peak. One station said that they do not need to see the car, only the documents; another that a partial examination will be undertaken including weighing, measuring and checking for bolt-ons such as tow bars that are not on the original spec’. All said that headlights would not be checked at this time, but would be at the first full ITV
Whilst there may be cases when this system would be useful to allow time for any modifications to the car to be made, personally I see no advantage in putting off the full ITV test in most of cases
There will be a bedding-in period of three months, after which is it hoped that all will become clearer. Whist I mock the inconsistency, it works to our advantage as we have always known which station will and will not accept certain aspects in order to achieve a successful inspection. This will always be the case as my successor knows, so as always, expert advice from experienced professionals is vital