The reality of the automobile fleet: increasingly older cars with maintenance problems

The Spanish vehicle fleet is increasingly older and has serious mechanical problems, something that significantly affects road safety. According to the Spanish Association of Collaborating Entities of the Administration in the Technical Inspection of Vehicles AECA-ITV, the age of the fleet, at the end of 2022, was 14.9 years, a figure that has increased by 10.4% in the last 5 years. “The really important thing is that, with the aging of the fleet we have, we must be sure that it is in a condition to circulate and interact with the rest of the vehicles,” he explains to this newspaper. Guillermo Magaz, managing director of AECA-ITV. And 34% of vehicles do not do so, or in other words, they do not go to the ITV stations.

«This means that at least 3 out of every 10 vehicles that circulate on Spanish roads could not meet the necessary conditions to do so. It does not have adequate maintenance and would not pass the inspection,” he details. In fact, “they do not go to the ITV because they know that their vehicle will not pass the inspection and they will have to face a repair that may be more expensive than the vehicle itself. Even the penalty for having the MOT up to date – from 200 to 500 euros, depending on the severity of the defect detected – is, in many cases, cheaper than having to pay for the repairs that the vehicle needs,” he adds.

This effect has a direct impact on road safety. The DGT data also speaks of the relationship that exists between the age of the vehicle involved in an accident and the status of its MOT. The older you are, the higher the percentage of vehicles with expired MOT at the time of the road accident. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of passenger cars involved in road accidents with deaths who were more than 10 years old and without a valid MOT increased by 24%. As for motorcycles, the figure reaches 26% and, in the case of commercial vehicles, it is very worrying since the growth was 163%.

«It is not a coincidence that the years with the highest absenteeism in the ITV are also those with the highest road accidents. It must be remembered that the state of a vehicle’s technical inspection has a direct relationship with its safety, since a vehicle with a defect is more likely to suffer or cause a road accident,” Magaz points out.

Thus, the percentages of highest volume defects detected at ITV stations, by vehicle safety system, are: lighting and signaling (24%), wheels and suspension (21%) and polluting emissions (19%). These 3 systems, together with the braking system (13%) account for 77% of the rejections in the inspection.

«There are many defects that are not detectable with the naked eye and that only through the verification carried out by the ITV stations can a road accident be detected and avoided. Some of these defects are those related to the tires, engine, transmission or brakes, among others,” emphasizes the managing director of AECA-ITV.

Electric vehicles

Although the percentage of pure electric cars is still small – 5% of total registrations at the end of October according to Anfac data – the ITVs carry out the same inspection procedures. The points to check are the same as a combustion vehicle: bodywork, lights, tires, suspensions and brakes; although the testing of noise emissions and polluting gases are exempt from inspection.

“Due to the differences between the electrical drive system and the conventional thermal system, there is a small adaptation of the engine test, and whenever possible, checks are made on the battery and wiring,” details Guillermo Magaz. «But for the latter it is necessary to develop a specific inspection procedure for this type of vehicles in which aspects such as the correct functioning of the car batteries are reviewed. A check that takes into account the entire useful life cycle of the electric car and for which special training of station personnel is necessary », he concludes.

Although practically eight out of every 10 Spanish citizens – 77% – are still not considering purchasing an electric vehicle. A fact that shows that the purchase intention on the part of Spaniards is still not enough to definitively boost the electric vehicle segment, since in addition only 9% would choose a 100% electric model while 30% of Spaniards They would opt for a hybrid.

According to the conclusions of the X-ray of the mobility habits of Spaniards that was presented in the latest edition of the Alphabet Mobility Forum, the reasons are the high economic cost – 84% of Spaniards are unaware that programs exist. of incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles–, followed by the scarce charging network and limited autonomy.

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