The ITV test has become stricter with checks on vehicle computer systems

OBD computers are now being used in the ITV test.
OBD computers are now being used in the ITV test. / Salvador Salas
  • The measure, which has just come into force, detects faults in the anti-contamination systems but the test only applies to vehicles registered from 2011 onwards

The most-feared measure in the new Inspección Técnica de Vehículos (equivalent to an MOT test) has just come into force. Some drivers who took their vehicles for the ITV this week were told an extra test had to be carried out: the inspectors checked the cars' central computers, using OBD (On Board Diagnostics). From now on vehicles will have to be connected to a computer such as the one used by mechanics, to detect internal breakdowns in the anti-contamination systems, the poor functioning of the central computer system itself or the deliberate switching-off of warning lights, which some owners do to get the car through its obligatory ITV test.

It is important to point out that these tests only apply to cars and motorcycles registered from 2011 onwards, in other words under the Euro 5 and Euro 6 regulations; and heavy Euro 6 vehicles (from 2015 onwards). This has been stressed by sources at Veiasa, the public company which is part of the regional government's Ministry of Employment, Companies and Business. Older vehicles do not have to undergo this test, because of the difficulty in homogenising the inspections of these features among all the makes of vehicle registered before Euro 5 came into force. The sources also say that for the moment, the sensors of the anticontamination mechanisms are being checked, for example the valve for the recirculation of exhaust gases (EGR) and the particle filter, but they still can't access other features such as the ABS, stability control or brakes.

On the first day of the new test, some faults were indeed detected. Technical sources explained that the test doesn't show a fault with the engine, just that there is a fault or has been manipulation with regard to gas emissions, or even a malfunction in the on-board computer. Also, which is something new, it is now possible to tell if the mileometer has been tampered with electronically; this type of fraud occurs sometimes when a second-hand vehicle is to be sold, especially with top-of-the-range cars.

No change to exhaust tests

This phase is done just before the gases from the exhaust are tested and if the result is positive they go ahead with that, as before. On the other hand, if the result is negative they don't bother testing the exhaust gases. It is automatically considered a serious defect so the vehicle will fail and have to be repaired before re-taking the test.

The reason for this part of the test is that some owners cancel the warning light when it is related to a fault with the EGR valve, the catalytic converter or particle filter, because repairs are expensive and the fault doesn't affect engine performance. At times it is even done deliberately, because that can generate more power. Now, although the light on the dashboard may not be on, the hidden fault will still be detected.