The copper pulls you over and demands papers: you pass him various Permissos and Fichas to frown over. He points at the red “09” sticker on your windscreen. Your “Ee Tay Oo-Bay” (I.T.V.) is out of date. The ITV is the MOT of Spain: not having one gets you fined €130. Your Permisso de Circulacción is also confiscated: the replacement only valid for getting the test done.
Four-year-old+ cars need an annual ITV, and should carry the certificate and display the sticker. In Málaga there are five test centres ( see end of the article for details) you can call for an appointment. Alternatively, call the automated service on 902 221222 or try on-line at http://www.itvcita.es/ Your appointment time relates not to inspection time but to when you join the booking-in queue. Take previous ITV papers and your Permiso de Circulacción into the office. At the desk hand them in and pay: it's about €35 cash (they don't accept cards). You'll be given new blank forms for your mechanic. Now you wait to hear your car called.
At Algarrobo this is a pain. The license and line number are called in full, so MA 8659 BD, line one becomes “em-may aah ocho mil seiscientos cinquenta y nueve bay-day, Linea Uno”, which isn't easy to catch, especially over a bad tannoy. You hang about outside the office (no seats) to watch while you listen: if no one scurries to move a car perhaps it was your call. You get three chances and if you miss the 'ultimo llamada' you have to start from scratch. And occasionally the mechanic will ad-lib with a description of your car instead of the license, just to confuse!
Once called get your car round to the specified garage 'line' and hand your papers to the mechanic. He mutters something and taps the bonnet for you to open. After 30 seconds he shuts it and waves you forward. Then, instructing through grunts and gestures, he has you work the lights (full beam, hazards, indicators, brake and reversing), wipers and water jet, and horn. He reaches in and checks the seatbelts. He looks at the wheels. He measures emissions by putting a device in the exhaust and getting you to rev. He waves you slowly forward 'til the car the front tyres drop heavily onto mobile rollers: it's instinctive to brake as you jog down, but don't, just wait for instructions. Once he's happy with your front brakes you have to come forward to test the rear brakes the same way.
You're nearly done now. You edge forward 'til you're above a vent from the basement. This allows him to get underneath your car; he'll (hopefully) leave a walkie-talkie on your dashboard to give the instructions through. You feel the car judder as he tests the suspension.
And that's it: you hand back the walkie-talkie, drive out and wait for your papers. If you've passed you get a new certificate confirming the details and a windscreen date sticker. If you've failed the faults are detailed. Get them done at a convenient garage, a.s.a.p., both to be legally secure and because if you return within 15 days you'll get a discount on the retake.
The ITV isn't like UK MOTs of my experience, which were much longer (half a day minimum), much more thorough (the tyres passing here would be binned there), much more expensive and always found faults. But, while you can avoid it by paying a garage (around €80), it's really relatively straight forward. Most of the mechanics know key English words: if you bone up on the relevant Spanish, you'll be fine.