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MOTORING IN SPAIN

UPDATE PAGE - January 2006

ARE YOU BEING SERVICED? 

Before you get excited dear sir or madam, this refers to your motor vehicles, especially cars, not what you may be thinking! 

One of Trafico’s latest reports shows that (after a big EU survey) workshops are not obeying the EU Directive in Spain (as well as elsewhere) on the subjects of: -

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Displaying the costs of basic servicing for motor vehicles on a board in the customer reception area.  For example, in a tyre shop, the costs of the different types of wheel alignments, balancing, etc.  In a garage it would be for standard services    55% of workshops were not doing this.

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Not displaying the times of opening and closing.   40% were found at fault.

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Not advertising the complaints book availability as in all establishments that the public buy at.  62% at fault.

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No giving the work guarantee (warranty) on the invoice.  64% at fault.

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Offering fairly accurate estimates for work as requested by customers, and these estimates must apply for a minimum of 12 days, but preferably 30 days.  The quotes must be written and include the vehicle details and be broken down into labour parts and consumables such as oils.  IVA must also be stated as a favourite trick is to give an estimate that a normal customer (not a company) would expect to include IVA (VAT), and then when the bill arrives after the work has been completed, IVA has been added inflating the estimate cost by 16%.     70% were at fault.

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New parts fitted are, under EU law, warranted (guaranteed) for 2 years and this should be stated in the terms on the invoice, usually the reverse side in the small print.

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Charging much higher hourly rates than those laid down nationally, often by charging for more hours than the work took to complete, not the vehicle manufacturers’ published job times.  Most manufactures have a manual for each of their vehicles where the time that each task can be properly and economically completed in is laid down.   Often, a good mechanic will better those times while still doing a good job, but the customer will pay the stated times and there is nothing wrong with this because the times are fair anyway and the estimate cost is the charge cost.  But unscrupulous dealers will disregard these laid down times and charge what they think they can get away with, and most of the public do not know about these stated times.  Generally, manufacturers’ main dealers stick to the laid down manual times as customer complaints could lose them the franchise.

The EU wide Law, since 1986 is, in simple terms, that all workshops dealing with the public must obey the above conditions as a part of “fair trading”.  The differences found in actual charges were extreme.  For example, hourly labour rates varied from €20 to €57: to change a car battery varied from €44 to €114: a basic service from €15 to €147.  In all, in 2004, the Spanish Organisacion de Consumadores y Usarios (Consumers and Users Organisation) received over 6.600 complaints in 2004 about the problem, but most people (but not me) usually just say, “Not going there again!”, and that is if you know that you have been cheated.  How many of us do complain strenuously?    It is a question really of shopping around and listening to trusted friends who have used the best (or the worst) and making sure that you are not cheated.   In my experience, a good sign of a workshop that is probably in good order and managed well is one that is always clean and tidy: and carries out the dictates of the law as detailed above. 

For the readers who write to me for advice that is covered in my new book, please do not be disappointed if I point this out as I wrote the book for this purpose.  The new Second Edition of Motoring in Spain, ISBN No. 84-609-7295-X, has been available since October 2005, only costs €16,50 (£11,95 in the UK, from WHSmith, Waterstones and Gardners) for 216 pages (50% more than the earlier edition) and details are on myweb site at www.spainvia.com along with the list of bookshops known to be selling it, or, if you live way out in the campo here in Spain, you can send me,

  1. A post office giro chequeo (postal order) for €16,50  or/
  2. A bank cheque for €20 (My bank takes €3,50 to pay it in!) to: -

B J Deller, Urb. Playas de Arenal, Casa 94, C/ Cervantes, Las Chapas, Marbella 29604, Malaga, and I will send you a copy, postage included in Spain, in a padded envelope. 

Keep watching out for the road blocks.

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Update on Fixed Radar Traps in Spain.

This link (click) http://www.dgt.es/trafico/radares/radares.htmwill take you through the Trafico web site map for Spain where the Provinces are shown.  Click on each Province as required and you will see locations of the fixed radar traps now in operation since the map was updated on 21 December 2005.  You will also see the number of the roads on which the traps are located and a "km signpost" reading e.g. "Punto kilomιtrico 204.800".  This indicates the km. 204 market sign, and the number of metres past that sign, in this example, 800 where the trap machine is located.     The direction of travel is indicated by "Sentido de circulatiσn" with underneath in the column, "Descendente" and "Ascendente".  These mean descending and ascending, indicating which way the km are going.  For example, "ascendente" means you are travelling in the direction of 200, 201,203, etc. and "descendente", 106, 104, 103, etc.

"Bookmark" this site page for quick reference when you are going on a journey though roads not used for some time.  In fact, I would mark them on your map before you go.  

Please remember that the Guardia Civil also has a reported 300 mobile speed traps at this time, and in the towns, the Policia Locales also have speed traps.

Safe driving....

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Please Wear Your Seat Belt.

Trafico reports that in 2005, 3.329 people lost their lives on the roads in Spain.  Although this is the best statistic since 1980, it is very upsetting to record that 30,5% of them werenot wearing a set belt. That is 1.015 lives that could have been potentially saved.   So please belt up every trip!  What was the slogan? 

Clunk, Click, Every Trip!

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Searching Amazon for the Second Edition of my book.  7 Jan. 2006

Although I have advised Amazon (.com and .co.uk) about the new Second Edition, if you search using just the title, "Motoring in Spain", you will still arrive at the first edition.  Please search using the ISBN N0 only and you will arrive at the new book details and order page. 

To remind you, the new ISBN (International Book Numbering System) is 84 609 7295 X

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The Extreme way to Eliminate Accidents?  (9 Jan. 2006)

We have just had a report that in Seville, a driver who collided with a young girl while she was crossing the road with her family, received a hail of eleven bullets fired at him by a relative, three of which hit him and he subsequently died.  Meanwhile, the little girl was taken to hospital for observation, but is reported to not be too badly hurt.   The report mentioned that the family were "gypsies". 

Just think that if someone is injured or killed by someone's bad driving, it is sorted out at the spot or soon after summarily by relatives or friends, maybe people would be much more careful with their driving, especially drinking excessively, speeding in towns and driving recklessly.  Not that I am advocating this, of course, but there are far too many people who still have no respect for other's' lives and property on the roads.

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The real cost of running your car. 

Most of us agree that having your own car is a must as we welcome the independence, the convenience and for many of us, the fun it can be on empty winding roads with beautiful scenery as well as just using it to get shopping from the supermarket.  However, how many of us really know how much our cars cost us over the ownership period?   Below is an example of our own Ford Focus which was bought new 4-1/2 years ago, and for which I have kept accurate records. 

There are basically five components in the owning and running costs of a car: -

  1. Depreciation.  This is the difference of what you pay for a car and what you sell it for.  Without doubt, especially for a new motor vehicle, this can be by far the highest cost.  It is often better to buy a good condition three year old car (not ex-rental or driving school, etc.) and avoid most of this cost.  
  2. Finance costs.   While not as heavy here as in some countries.  If possible, save up and avoid this cost, even if it means buying a good used vehicle.
  3. Fuel cost.    There is no doubt that this cost is going to stay high for the foreseeable future, so a light, comfortable and streamlined diesel vehicle is the sensible choice.  Not a heavy vehicle shaped like a brick.
  4. Insurance.  This obviously depends on the owner’s age and record, but if you are young, this cost will be quite high. 
  5. Servicing and replacement parts such as tyres, etc.  The modern car costs far less in this area than the older models that needed regular attention, but the costs of spares especially needed after an accident has risen to provide a high profit income to replace the marginally lost profits caused by an over crowded and very competitive market.  This cost also affects your insurance premiums.

So here goes with the average total monthly costs.  Since buying the car in July 2001, we have now covered 96.000 km (1st January).   That works out at 54 months or 1.777 kilometres per month.

  1. Depreciation.  Price new on the road was €16.228.  The expected selling price, privately sold at this time would be say €7.500. That is 46,22% in 4-1/2 years.  It is in prime condition, and the engine uses no oil.  It has also been serviced well every 7.500 km.  So the cost of depreciation is € (16.228 – 7.500) = €8.728 and this works out at € (8,728 / 54 months) = € 161,63 per month.
  2. Finance.  Not used, but it is easy for you to work that out for yours by the repayments.
  3. Fuel cost.  Being a diesel car, the cost is about 30 to 40% less than a similar vehicle with a petrol engine.  It has cost a total of €4.635,82 and this works out at an average of €85,85 per month.
  4. Insurance. Fully comprehensive, minimum excess, etc.  The total paid over the five year period is €2.454, or €45,44 per month.
  5. Servicing and spares.   I have included here the €300 for the extended Ford Azul three year “mechanical insurance” and I have used the Ford agents only for the major services as I am fortunate in being able to do most myself.   The total cost even for everything, tyres, oil, locking wheel nuts, even car washes, seat covers, etc. is €3.651,31 so that works out at €67,62 a month.

It also works out at 3,8 cents per kilometre.  Now that really makes you think, remembering that the more kilometres you use the car for, the lower the rate per kilometre if you need no major repairs.  It does however make the decision to drive or fly to Madrid easier especially if there are two or more to travel.

Add these all up and the total cost of running the car to date is €360,54 per month.

 Do you know what your car costs to run: the real costs?

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NAVIGATION SYSTEMS AND RADAR TRAPS.

As we all should know now, as noted above, there is an increasing network of fixed radar cameras around Spain, and the location of each one is recorded in the Trafico web site, where we can all go and note down before our journeys.   

We also should know that it is illegal in Spain to have a device that receives and warns drivers of a radar traps ahead where the information is purely by the receipt of the radar gun signal, but it is not illegal to have a navigation device in your car where the places where the radar traps are situated are noted in the software and then warn the driver that he/she is about to approach that zone by using Global Positioning Systems.   When you think about it, why should it be illegal because not only are the traps noted in the Trafico web site, but large signs are set up on the approach in good time so it would  be very difficult to justify banning the warning of these traps in this manner.  Buy shares in the companies making these systems?  Maybe not because although it is illegal to use a "held to the ear" mobile phone in Spain, by far the most drivers have not bought hands free kits for their vehicles, especially delivery vans, and can be seen daily in large numbers still using them illegally.

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ORGANISING VEHICLE INSURANCE IN SPAIN  25 January 2006.

For those of us with Spanish registered cars here insurance is a relatively simple matter to obtain, but what of the foreign registered cars used by people who live here less that the 183 days a year that qualifies them for legally having to take out residencia?  In other words, Spain is their principal place of residence.  Much of the information on this is in my book, but the following also applies to update that information.

The name has been changed as a courtesy to the reader who contacted me with this problem.  Fred and his wife retired to Spain in 2003, and took out residencia.  Fred has a very nice UK registered Ford Transit van, and like many others continued to use it when needed.  Now we all know the law on this matter, or if you do not and need to know, it is in my book.   

After a some time, Fred' wife decided that she missed the kids and wanted to go back to the UK, so they closed up the home they had bought, and went back to the UK, coming out to their home here for a few weeks/months at a time as a break.  Finally, in late 2005, they decided to sell up and move back to the UK for good, so using their van, they came back to collect their personal belongings at their home which was about to be sold.   In January, Fred was stopped by the local police, and his van was impounded as it was not legal.  Why was it not legal?  Fred had a residencia and was driving a UK registered van that he owned.  With these two factors, he should have had the van put onto Spanish plates.  Fred and his wife wrote to me in despair as they were trying to get back to the UK, so I offered advice and they were able to get the van released.

But if Fred had been aware of the law this would not have happened, and as it is a panel van, he could not have re-registered it anyway due to the safety law for RH steering wheel (UK, etc.) commercial vehicles and motor-homes.  (All in the book).

Anyway, all's well, ends well, apart from the few days of high stress for Fred and his wife.

For those of you who keep UK registered vehicles here in Spain, apart from the book's advice, you may get the vehicle insured here by some insurance companies based outside of Spain that have a tie-in with an international grouping such as Lloyds of London (who are registered both there and in Spain), but make sure you use a good broker, and read the policy agreement carefully so you understand the rules and do not end up uninsured due to not following a policy condition.

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 Foreign registered vehicles in Spain (and the EU).  25 January 2006

I have been advised that from some time in 2007, it is possible that foreign registered vehicles that are owned by residents here, will not have to be re-registered onto Spanish plates.  The problems that are being caused at present are under discussion in Brussels, and a solution may be on the horizon.   Using logic, I would assume that the vehicles will keep their foreign registration, but pay local taxes and have the MOT (ITV) done here.  At present, a foreign registered vehicle can have an ITV test here, but it is only legal here as far as satisfying the police at the side of the road that it is most likely mechanically sound.  I say that because I have seen older vehicles that have just returned from the ITV still with major defaults that were not picked up because they do not lift the vehicle off the ground to check suspension wear, etc.   One vehicle was soon to have the front wheels fall off the bottom suspension pivot bearing it was so badly worn, and you usually see this problem at the side of the road where one front wheel is laying flat on the road while still bolted to the axle.  The owner, declined the garage owner's suggestion to have it repaired as it was only used to go to the shops.  Pull the other one, please!  So the car that suddenly swerves across the road causing a head-on collision with your vehicle, with one front wheel collapsed is OK because it is only being use for shopping.

Now while many see the ITV/MOT as a test to be passed as cheaply as possible, especially if they are  unscrupulous dealers, most us see it as a check that we are not going to be involved in a serious accident due to the mechanical failure of another vehicle at the unfortunate time when you are passing it, especially in the opposite direction.

Look after your vehicle and it will look after you!

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 Dear Tom,

  

 Any vehicle being imported into Spain from another EU state by an EU citizen is tax free subject to the following:-

  

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You must have have owned the (new) car for 6 months or 6.000 km. Being new, you will have the original invoice.    You bought second-hand and have a  receipt to prove it.  It sounds like it is a private receipt, not a dealer's one.  If you had the original receipt it would smooth the path through the system

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You need to have advised the DVLA that you are exporting it.  There is a page in the Form V5c for this purpose and more info. is on the www.dvlka.gov.uk web site.   Fine up to GBPounds 1.000 for not doing so, plus automatic fines for not paying road fund taxes etc.

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You need a certificate of non-residence in the UK, a baja de residencia and this can be obtained from the British Consulates.  (You could also make this declaration to the Spanish Consulate in in England before you leave).

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The transfer must be done within 30 days of your date of residencia, not the receipt of it, and this is a problem because at present, it can take months to receive the card, and the date may be weeks or months before.  I suggest that you start now using the receipt for the application.

 

 I have not heard of any changes to the procedures yet by April, but my legal contact has verbally advised that changes may occur in late 2006 or early 2007 including not having to get new Spanish plates and a number, but simply by registering the existing number with Trafico. I can see problems there though if the computer system cannot cope as they cannot cope now with the foreign driving licences.  I will know more when the Spanish authorities publish the details and I have a meeting in February with my legal contact. 

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 NEW SPEED CAMERAS CATCH 44.000 in THREE WEEKS28 January 2006

Reported in the Costa Blanca based Round Town News this week, from the 21st December 2005 and the 15th of January 2006, over 44.000 drivers in Alicante Province have been fined for speeding by being clocked by the new radar trap cameras.  On average, 1.760 per day were issued with tickets, and the highest concentration is on the A7 motorway near Alicante Airport.  It is going to be worth buying a computerised navigation system with GPS soon if you travel a lot, as they will advise you where they are, or just go to Trafico's web site and look them up there.  But still watch out for the local mobile traps.   Or just stop speeding!

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UPDATE FEB2006

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