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What is a diagnostic test on a car?

October 18, 2023

If you have a car, you probably know the advantages and disadvantages of owning one. On the one hand, you have more freedom to move around; you can take your family with you, you can even travel with your pet. On the other hand, you need to find a parking space; you must have your insurance up to date (if you need some Spanish vocabulary about insurance, you can check this out: Spanish vocabulary to take out an insurance policy, and, also, you need to know a reliable garage to deal with possible technical problems.

So here we come to the point that interests us in today's article. Owning a car is not only about enjoying it, but also about taking care of it and keeping it in good condition. Have you ever wondered what is a diagnostic test on a car? Well, today we will see what it consists of and what the related regulations are in Spain.

What is a diagnostic test on a car?

Diagnostic test: what it is called in Spain

We could start by defining a diagnostic test on a car as a comprehensive examination of its systems in order to identify and troubleshoot any underlying issues, and also to ensure optimal performance and safety. This comprehensive check is what ensures that our vehicle does not have any problems that could lead to accidents. 

In Spain, this exhaustive test is popularly known as the ITV. Its full name in Spanish is Inspección técnica de vehículos. In Spanish, "pasar la ITV" (successfully passing the inspection) means that our car has the minimum safety conditions for driving on Spanish roads. And, in recent years, this has also included checking the vehicle's pollutant emissions.

The ITV is the Spanish Authorities’ way of controlling the good condition of its vehicle fleet. It is, therefore, a compulsory inspection in Spain, and moreover, it is an obligation that costs money.

When should we check our car?

In Spain, the periodic dates for this check-up vary depending on the age of the car. In general terms, we can say that the first check is compulsory before the fourth year of circulation. It should be noted that this term is counted from the date of the vehicle's first registration. 

After that first inspection, the inspection will be carried out every two years until the vehicle is ten years old. At that point, cars that are over ten years old will have to undergo the inspection every year. 

In order to be able to take the ITV, we must not forget the documentation which is to be presented to the inspectors: the ITV card and the car's registration certificate. Insurance issues are usually electronically checked, so it will not be necessary to produce our papers at the inspection centre.

How much does it cost to carry out this control?

We said earlier that this obligation costs money. But the money we spend on it will depend on where we go for the ITV, as there is no fixed price for the whole country, but it varies quite a lot from one autonomous community to another. At this point, there is an advantage to the Spanish system. 

As the owner of the car, you can have the ITV done anywhere in the country, regardless of where the car is registered or where the car owner lives. Thus, you will find that the price of the ITV will be between approximately 35 and 50 euros. This means that if, for example, you live in Galicia, but you want to do the ITV in Asturias because it is cheaper there, you can do it without any problem. However, you have to take into account the cost of travelling from one region to another to find out if the trip is worth it.

What do they check in a diagnostic test?

We could compare the diagnostic test on a car to the annual check-up we have with our doctor. During the ITV, all aspects of the car that involve the safety of its occupants will be checked. 

For example, they will check if the brakes are worn or if there are problems with the tyres. They will check that there are no problems with the functioning of the seat belts, the power steering or the lights. They will also pay attention to the interior and exterior condition of the car, in case there are any details that could affect driving safety.

It is worth noting that electric cars must also undergo an ITV to check their electric and mechanic systems. It is true that in the case of these vehicles, the check will take less time as they will not have to undergo noise and emissions tests. But all cars, whether they have hybrid, electric or combustion engines, will still have to pass the test.

What is a diagnostic test on a car?

How to minimise costs?

One way to avoid unnecessary costs is to take into account the timeframe for the ITV and not to run out of time. Don't forget that not passing the ITV on the corresponding date can lead to a fine of around €200.

It is also very important to have the sticker of the control stuck in a visible place on the car, because not having it visible is also a reason for a fine. It is usually affixed to the top right-hand corner of the windscreen, on the inside of the car.

Ideally, the car should pass the ITV satisfactorily, but this is not always the case. If a problem is found with the car, the driver will have some time to fix the problem and repeat the test. To avoid these delays and the expense of dealing with breakdowns, it is a good idea to have good, up-to-date insurance to ensure that the car is maintained throughout the year. If you haven't seen it yet, you can take a look at Caser Car Insurance, an insurance policy that adapts to your needs and your budget.

Of course, if you don't pass your ITV, you won't be able to drive your car, as this could result in a fine of approximately €500. And lastly, don't forget to carry your ITV card with you, as failure to do so is also grounds for a fine.

If until now you were wondering what is a diagnostic test on a car?”  I hope I may have solved some of your doubts, and that from now on you will have a clearer picture about how this control works in Spain. Remember that if you have any questions, you can contact us. We will be happy to help you.

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