Yesterday, I had my first experience with the ITV, the mandatory test of the roadworthiness of your vehicle, required by the Spanish government. It is required for all vehicles, and the frequency depends on the age of your vehicle. A new vehicle is exempt for 4 years, after which the test needs to be administered every 2 years until it reaches 10 years of age. All vehicles 10 years or older, need to be tested annually.
In our case, the test cost c. € 40. The price depends on the type of vehicle. Since the test is not exactly cheap, it is in your best interest to ensure that your vehicle is well maintained and up to the mark. If you fail the test, you need to go back to your auto repair store, have the problem fixed, and pay once again to have the ITV test re-administered. Hence, many repair shops now offer pre-ITV inspections to get your car up to standard.
Upon passing the test, an ITV sticker is issued with a validity date. Any vehicle found without a valid sticker is subject to a fine ranging from € 200 – € 500, in addition to disciplinary sanctions.
There are a few select authorized private companies that administer this test. To get an appointment, I simply visited the website, found the closest center, selected a date and time, provided some personal information and confirmed my appointment. On the chosen day, I headed to the center. After checking in at the front office with my paperwork, I waited a few minutes until my name was called. At that time, all of the car’s paperwork was checked and the fee collected. I was then instructed to take my car and join the queue outside. There were 2 parallel queues. After waiting about 15 minutes, we (the car and I) entered the first brightly lit workshop.
Like a perfectly oiled machine, 2 employees worked feverishly and quickly to check everything. The first opened and physically inspected all the doors, locks, seatbelts, internal lights, engine, wipers, horn, and emergency equipment, to ensure they were in proper working condition. The second checked all the external lights while instructing me to turn each on and off. They also connected a hose to the exhaust outlet and ran tests to ensure the car met pollution standards. Less than 5 minutes later, I was done here. I was instructed to drive to a second workshop next door.
We queued up outside the second workshop which seemed to be taking longer. There were 3 parallel queues here. After waiting another 20 minutes, I was asked to drive in. The car was made to park on a sort of rotating barrel that first tested the movement of the front and back tires. Then, I was asked to apply the brakes gradually while the barrels continued to move. This tested the effectiveness and efficiency of the car’s breaking system. They also tested the hand brake.
Next, I was asked to park over a car inspection pit, through which the undercarriage of the car was thoroughly inspected. I was also told to vigorously steer left and right, brake hard, and perform other such maneuvers while the car was parked. This allowed the mechanic underneath the car to physically check all these moving parts. Then, the pads on which the wheels were resting moved vigorously to test the suspension and the steering system.
15 minutes later, I drove out of the second workshop with a fresh ITV sticker valid for 2 years, and a sense of comfort and confidence in knowing that all the essential systems of my car had been physically inspected and tested by professionals in front of my eyes. In exchange, I really didn’t mind having to pay the € 40 fee and take an hour out of my day. In fact, it made me wonder why inspections like this are not mandatory around the world.
I know for a fact that there is annual pollution check (Pollution Under Control-P.U.C.) required in India, but that’s really more of a joke than anything else. It isn’t uncommon to see people walk up, pay a bribe, and walk away with the sticker without so much as even showing the car. To be fair, the government has taken a number of initiatives to boost the program, but for a country whose capital is currently suffocating under a thick blanket of smog, a lot still remains to be accomplished. Annual inspections in the US vary by state, but a number of states don’t require any kind of test, and of the ones that do, few require such an in-depth inspection.
Before I wrap up, I would also like to mention something else I really liked about the process. A number of precautions are taken to avoid any kind of fraud or corruption. For one thing, upon passing the test, the sticker is not handed to you, but directly pasted onto your windshield. Also, the vehicle’s VIN number, which is inscribed on the chassis, is checked against its registration. Lastly, the entire process is also video recorded to ensure there is a trail and that there is no fraud.