Buying a Used Car in Spain - Caveats.
I have previously given advice on what to check for about when you buy a LH drive car in the UK or Ireland (or any country where the headlights dip left by law) with the intention of re-registering it here. I have just had a phone call from an expat. who lives in San Miguel, Alicante who bought a car 18 months ago, a Spanish-registered Renault Megane that was advised as being one-year old when purchased, from a general motor dealer, not a franchised Renault agency, and now it needs an ITV which means that it was either a rental or driving school car as they have the first ITV after two years as opposed to the normal four. I asked and was assured that the buyer has a proper receipt for the vehicle on the garage's invoice, and this is very important. It has been registered in his name at Trafico.
He took the car into the Renault agents to have it checked prior to the inspection and they took it to the ITV station where it failed because it had LH dipping headlights fitted. I have advised the gentleman what to do, but he has left the car back with the selling garage who have had it for three weeks now with no progress other than for them to tell him (they are Spanish) that they were selling it on behalf of another garage and that garage is sorting out the problem (or words to that effect).
1. The selling garage (or commercial sellers generally) is always responsible under EU laws for any fault with their items that they sell. The excuse offered that another garage, etc, is not a legal reason for the car being delayed in this case, especially as the Renault agency must have new headlights in stock (accident spares), albeit at a reported €400. The buyer needs to take along a Spanish friend who will explain this to the selling garage.
2. The buyer must ask for the complaints book kept by all businesses, especially retail outlets, and write in the brief details of the problem. These books are examined by the local consumer affairs departments usually attached to the ayuntamiento or local council. They are taken very seriously in most areas and if the dispute is taken to Court, it can mean that the seller has a weak legal case if nothing is quickly done to resolve the problem satisfactorily.
3. The question is still to be answered as to how a Spanish registered car came to have LH drive headlights, and I suggested the following which includes several possibilities to think about in similar cases as well:
The car was originally imported from the UK as a LH drive-car, where it was delivered correctly by the factory with LH dip headlights as required by EU / UK Law. It was re-registered here but the ITV / CEE missed the incorrect specifications for the lights.
Someone with a LH drive Megane who wanted to put it onto Spanish plates, asked the garage (whichever one?) to convert it to Spanish Specifications. The garage swapped the headlights from a Spanish registered similar model car in the workshop and charged for new ones.
The factory fitted the wrong headlights. Unlikely, but it is a suggestion.
By applying to Trafico and paying a small fee, the history of the vehicle can be obtained, including any outstanding fines or debts. The way to do it without going to Trafico is detailed in the book, Motoring in Spain.
The above is offered as an experience to help you make sure that you are not cheated when buying a used car here. many dealers are honest and this one probably is as usually, no one would expect a Spanish registered LH drive car to have RH dipping headlights. Always get an official receipt / invoice when buying a car from a dealer, whoever they are and make sure that the invoice has the vehicle's basic specifications on it such as model, engine-size, etc. as noted in theTarjeta de inspèccion technica de vehiculos that all cars in Spain must have, to be carried in the car at all times. I say this because another reader reports buying a small car that was supposed to have a 4-cylinder 1.000 cc engine, but when he looked later, it had the 800 cc three cylinder engine. The invoice stated "car as is" (or words to that effect) and the dealer was reported as later, when approached, ignoring any complaints from the expat buyer.
If any reader has any other suggestions to add to the above please E-mail me so I can pass them on to others.
I regret to advise that there was a printing error on page 120 of the second printing of the Second Edition of the book. If your book has copies of the road signs missing, pleaseclick here to see those signs. I have a reprinted page for those who have bought the book, and it has been supplied to all book shops who have had the later copies delivered.