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Cars waiting to go into "inspection booths"

An ITV is the Spanish equivalent of an MOT for all motor vehicles. In Spain a car is required by law to be tested once it is 4 years old - every two years then once it is 10 years old it has to be tested every year. In the UK vehicles have to be tested every year when they reach 3 years.
The rates for a test vary depending on fuel and whether they have a catalytic converter - cheapest rate is 44.13€ for a non catalyzed car, 50.94€ with and  rising to 65.25€ for a diesel car.
You can actually book the ITV inspection yourself online at www.applusiteuve.com - there is even a language button in the top right hand corner to change it into English. Click on "Online ITV appointment" and it takes you through to the next screen where you choose your vehicle type: car and whether gasoline (petrol) or diesel and  the relevant testing station for your area. For the Benidorm area click on "Autonomous Region of Valencia". Then click on Benidorm and all available appointments show up in dark grey for the following 3 weeks. Tick the day and time you would like - first appointment is at 8am, and you need to fill out the car registration, your name, contact number and email - where a confirmation email will be sent which you have to reply to, to confirm the appointment. Then you're all set.

Queue starts building quickly - long wait for those on end

The ITV testing station is on the N332 going into Benidorm .... aprox. 400 metres before the Avd Europa. When you arrive you have to go into the office with your green "Tarjeta Inspeccion Tecnica de Vehiculos" (log book) and payment - they do take credit & debit cards. They then print off the paperwork for the mechanic, hand you a number which you place on your dashboard and tell you which line to go to - either 1, 2 or 3.
You drive around to the back and wait. If you have a relatively early appointment, before 9.30am then you are fairly likely to be seen within 15 minutes of your allotted slot. My appointment was for 9am and I was called at 9.10am - there was only 1 car in front of me. However, as I was leaving just after 9.30am then there must have been at least 8 cars waiting in each row. The main difference between testing here in Spain and the UK is that you are involved in the testing - in the UK you wait in a viewing/waiting room due to health and safety regulations.
You are called forward by one of the mechanics .... all of them are quite young and good looking so I was wondering which one I'd get - just my luck that I got the "Jefe" who must have been at least 10 years past his retirement age by the looks of him! They take the paperwork and the first thing they test are all the lights - inc reverse,fog and hazards, indicators, horn, wipers and check there is water in them.Next he will look under the bonnet where he had a poke around and lastly he checks the tyre tread. You then drive the front wheels onto rollers where they check the brakes and then the same with the back tyres. Next the emissions - I had to rev the engine up to 3 and keep my foot on the gas (obviously it was in neutral) whilst he stuck something up the backside ... I mean exhaust !

Sticker which you receive - assuming your car has passed

Lastly you have to drive the car over an inspection pit and the mechanic goes underneath. I had to move the steering wheel from side to side and press the brake pedal a few times when he shouted..... which was most of the time.
I was finished at 9.28am - I waited no more than 3 minutes whilst he printed off the inspection report and handed me a green sticker to place on the inside of the windscreen - every year the sticker is a different colour - I wonder if they'll do a nice baby pink one soon, maybe I can put in a request.
If your car fails the test then you are issued with a paper listing all the faults - Infracciones Graves & Leves. Any faults listed as Graves (serious) must be repaired before an ITV can be issued.The repairs must be completed within two months of the test. The charges can vary from 6€ for an emissions re-test to the full fee if your vehicle has numerous faults. Faults listed as Leves (small faults), which will not require a re-test should be repaired promptly - a fine can be issued by the police if you are pulled over and it comes to light that the fault has not been repaired since the testing took place.
The beauty of making the appointment online is that next year you will automatically be notified about 2 weeks before your ITV is due.

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