Brake Check!

Check your brakes periodically, at low speed on a road which is wide and with no traffic or pedestrians and dry and free of obstacles where you can try the brakes by applying various different pressures, including an emergency stop. Listen and watch for anything unusual and if something doesn’t seem right, trust your instinct and get them checked immediately.

It is important to check your brakes before driving anywhere after heavy rainfall. Water is an enemy of the braking systems as it can get into the hydraulic systems and can reduce the friction needed for the brakes to be efficient. It can also cause decay to some of the parts of the system. If you drive through a body of water, such as a ford or a deep puddle, check your brakes straight away, but this time apply them gently to avoid any sudden movements that can cause skidding or locking of the wheels.

Modern vehicles are fitted with all kinds of intelligent systems, including things like ABS, (Anti-Locking Braking Systems), but do not rely too much on the technology. We must maintain some responsibility of awareness ourselves as drivers.

The general brakes on a car are composed of two different systems; disk and drum brakes, which are the brakes that we operate with our foot pedal and the hand-operated or parking brake. The systems are very different, but they both work by pressure and friction, reducing momentum. Some vehicles provide warnings on the dashboard if the onboard computers detect a fault and if this happens, it is crucial you seek help from a qualified mechanic immediately.

We can also use our senses to detect brake problems, which is also as important as the computerised warnings. A few things we can look out for include listening when we apply the footbrake:
Do you hear anything unusual like a grinding or clattering sound? Does the vehicle pull to one side or the other when you apply the brake?
Is there an unusual smell when you apply the brakes?

These might suggest a problem with the braking system and must be checked immediately. Similarly if you have noticed a reduction in the efficiency of the brakes. This is one of the most difficult to detect though as the wear is normally gradual.

When you apply the handbrake or parking brake, does it apply firmly and keep the vehicle secure from moving?
Is it difficult to apply, or release?

These issues could indicate a problem with the parking brakes.
Check the brake lights regularly and if not working, get them fixed straight away. The braking system forms part of the ITV test, so it is essential keeping them in optimum operating order.

Documents in Cars

It is mandatory to carry certain documents with the vehicle and a common concern is that these documents might be lost or stolen. The good news is that there is an alternative.

Documents which must be carried:
Permiso de Circulacion – this is effectively the log book. It contains lots of information about the vehicle, including the registration and vehicle numbers and the information of the registered owner.
ITV Card – the document which is issued with the vehicle and must be presented for the mandatory vehicle inspection. The Inspección Técnica de Vehículos will show the different characteristics of the vehicle and will determine the frequency with which the test must be carried out.
ITV Report – if your vehicle has undergone an ITV test then you will have been issued with a sticker to place in the upper right hand side of the windscreen and a report of the test. The latest report must be carried with the vehicle.

It is recommended that you carry:
Insurance Policy – the information is on a central computer for law enforcement officers to check, but if you are involved in an incident that requires the sharing of information, then you will need to know your insurance details.
European Accident Form – is available in a variety of languages and, irrespective of the language, the layout of the form is exactly the same. That means that you and another driver of a different nationality are able to complete the form in your own language and agree on the content.

Although it is compulsory to carry these documents, you can take your original documents to a Notary and they will take a copy for you and add their original stamp, confirming their validity and originality. You cannot photocopy them yourself, even if you copy them in colour and laminate them, they are still copies which are not valid as they are not certified by a Notary.

ITV Questions Answered

Two of the most common questions about the ITV test are when it is needed and where it can be carried out.

Here is the official information provided by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of the Spanish Government. You can find this information on the FAQ page of their website

Which vehicles are required to undergo periodic ITV?
All vehicles registered, or that are going to be registered in Spain that are older than 4 years and using public roads, must have a technical inspection in an ITV station.

What frequency of ITV corresponds to my vehicle?
This depends on the type of vehicle. Variations are established for certain vehicles such as ambulances, taxis, private hire vehicles, school transport vehicles, hire cars and certain historical vehicles.
Where do I have to take my vehicle for the ITV?
The law clearly states that the inspection can be carried out anywhere in the country.
If my vehicle has deficiencies detected in the ITV, once corrected do I have to return to the same ITV station where the original inspection took place?
The tests which the vehicle must undergo to verify the rectification of the deficiencies found can be made at any ITV station. 
Do I have to wait for the exact expiry date before I submit my vehicle to a new ITV?
No, vehicles subject to inspection up to 30 days before the date on which the deadline for re-inspection is met keep the original date and have an extension added to the new term.

What are the general periods for the ITV of private cars?
The first inspection – 4 years after registration.
Up to 10 years old – every 2 years.
Over 10 years old – every year.
Exceptions – even if the vehicle has not turned 4 years old, if it has undergone modifications or replacement of elements before or after registration, that do not appear on the ITV card or the defined safety conditions, an inspection of these reforms must be carried out.
If a vehicle has suffered noticeable damage in an accident.

Drugs and Driving

Prescription medications can cause problems and drinking alcohol before driving is still one of the biggest contributors to road traffic incidents, despite the warnings and knowledge of the effects and consequences, however consuming drugs before driving is also continually increasing.

There is an increasing number of people whose driving is affected by drug use, as prescription and ‘over the counter’ medication can also have an effect on our driving ability. They include those that are used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, psychosis, depression, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, pain, migraines, dementia, allergies, and even a common cold or flu cure can reduce our ability to drive.
Before taking any medication you should advise your doctor or the pharmacist that you are a driver and ask if the medication will play any part in reducing your driving ability.