BEWARE WHEN YOU BUY A LEFT-HAND DRIVE VEHICLE IN THE UK or IRELAND.
11 June 2006
From E-mails I am receiving, some of the left-hand drive vehicles being bought in the UK, that is with the steering wheel on the left hand side of the car, have not been fitted with right-dipping headlights. If they have already been registered with UK or Irish plates, then they would not have passed the inspection for use in the UK or Ireland (if it was correctly carried out) because the headlights will dip in the wrong direction, thus tending to blind oncoming drivers, and also the head lights on main beam may have a right-side bias with the light spread.
This is important because when the vehicles are changed over to Spanish (or continental) plates, this is checked during the CEE / ITV inspections, and new headlights are quite expensive to buy.
So make sure if you are moving here and intend to buy a LH drive vehicle in the UK, that the headlights are correct. The manufacturer's part numbers will help you correctly identify them. Some vehicles though have the feature where the bulb-holder can be turned through about 40 degrees to change the dipping side, so check this also.
Another point is that the rear fog light, if only one is fitted, must be on the LH side of the vehicle.
From the DAILY MAIL - UK. 13 July 2005, but still good advice.
Your insurance policy automatically provides third party fire and theft cover when you drive in the EU, but even if you have fully comprehensive cover in the UK, this may not apply abroad.
Among insurers whose comprehensive policies do also apply abroad are the AA, Budget, Endsleigh and Motorquote Direct. Other insurers, such as Churchill and RIAS, will cover driving abroad for a certain number of days, ranging from three to 30, as standard in a fully comprehensive plan.
Some firms will refuse a claim if they are not informed of foreign trips. More Than offers up to five days' free cover up to four times a year if notified by policyholders. There is a minimum £10 charge for longer periods abroad.
Some companies charge extra to upgrade your foreign cover to fully comprehensive. For example, for a family of four driving a saloon car to France for two weeks, Direct Line would charge £21 and Norwich Union Direct £21.60.
While many people consider third party cover to be adequate for the UK, on the Continent the risks of having an accident or theft are increased.
Richard Mason, from independent quote finder insuresupermarket.com, says: 'Thieves target cars with foreign number plates because they often contain cameras, cash or other valuables.
'You are on the other side of the road, with different road signs in a foreign language, in a strange place so the risks of an accident are that much higher.'
For longer trips, it may also be advisable to add a second driver to the insurance. This can be done for a small premium depending on their age and status.
Be sure to carry a valid full driving licence - with the paper counterpart if you have a photo-card licence - plus the original vehicle registration document, your motor insurance certificate and passport.
Most EU countries require you to have a GB sticker (if no EU number plate), headlamp converters, spare bulbs and the tools to fit if needed, a fire extinguisher (not Spain), first aid kit (not Spain) and a warning triangle (two in Spain).
Taking a spare set of car keys can save time and hassle because key-rings can get misplaced in luggage. You'll also need breakdown cover and it is vital that the further from home you plan to travel, the better your cover.
If things go wrong, Direct Line and the AA will ensure that your car is returned home to be repaired and you get a replacement vehicle to continue your holiday.
Breakdown cover would be £24 with Direct Line for a family of four travelling to France for two weeks. Cover from the AA starts £10.90 for one day's cover. The RAC offers cover from £13.50 for two days abroad.
For more information about driving abroad, visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website on www.fco. gov.uk, the Association of British Insurers at www.abi.org.uk or the British Insurance Brokers' Association on www.biba.org.uk.
WINDOW TINTING - THE CAVEATS AND BENEFITS.
An article, written by the author, and first published in the local Press, the Costa Del Sol News and the Round Town News
Why tint vehicle windows? The film that is used contains chemicals including aluminium in it that allows light to pass through but not heat, the degree depending on the amount of the insulating and light transmission restriction materials used in the film. And less transmission usually means a darker film. Just like your sun-glasses. And many new cars now have this feature built into the glass at the manufacturing stage but never more than the minimum allowed in the territories that the vehicle is destined for because in many countries it is not a needed due to the climate or the preponderance of vehicles being sold now with air-conditioning as a “standard option”. Also, an important factor, the laws are different for each EU State as described below.
So when I received an E-mail form Mr Tom W. of Alicante complaining about the fine issued by the Guardia Civil for having illegal tinted windows in his Peugeot Boxer van, I decided to look into the legal side, and with the aid of Paul Pickford and Charles Laryea of “SOLTINT.Com”, which is an authorised business specialising in this service: They will also come to you from their workshop in Frigiliana, Malaga. With their help, Iam now able to supply this information that frankly, I had not really studied before.
What do the films do? They restrict to varying degrees the amount of heat, and coincidentally light, that can be transmitted through a glass panel (window). The film can be installed at manufacturing time which means it is usually sandwiched between the glass laminations depending which window it is, or by officially authorised installing companies who then also supply a certificate for the vehicle owner which in Spain, needs to be carried in the vehicle: or does it now as there seems to be some argument on this point? Also essential is a small homologation sticker which is put on the glass before the film is applied on each window. Certain films will also reduce glare.
The problem with the films is that they can restrict vision from inside the vehicle as well as into it, and for this reason specifications have been drawn up to make sure that the wrong films are not used so that, as with every walk of life today, the general public as well as the occupants of vehicles are safer. In other words, so drivers can see where they are going especially after dark. First of all, throughout the EU the specifications allowed are not standardised, and Spain has the tightest regulation of all. If you bring a vehicle from the UK to be re-registered here as Tom’s Peugeot has been, (and it passed through the inspection so the ITV station appears not to have been on the ball that day), and the film was fitted in the UK, there the standard is that you may use a 75% VLT (visible light transmitted) film on the windscreen and a 70% VLT film on the front side windows. So immediately we have a problem, because in Spain, vehicles are not allowed to have any percentage of restricted light transmission on these windows which basically means you cannot have a film fitted unless it is clear. The full specifications for most EU countries are in my web site, through the June 2006 update pages at www.spainvia.com. Just click on the book icon, and go to the menu on the Motoring in Spain page at the bottom.
The differences are being disputed in Brussels or wherever the “great unelected” do battle to ensure we are all the same in the new Europe so eventually, I guess we will all have the same specifications.
What are the benefits of window tinting? The first is that on a hot day, heat is restricted from passing through the glass, and most of the new buildings, the ones with dark windows everywhere especially skyscraper office blocks, have this feature otherwise the electricity bills for heating and air-conditioning would be eye watering when payment time comes. In a vehicle, the temperature is kept lower, the interior is less susceptable to fading, and the glass is less likely to shatter in the event of it being hit by a foreign object. You are allowed in Spain to install the film on all windows except for the windscreen and the two front side windows, as long as you have two side mirrors, withno VLT restrictions and that is why here in Spain you see some vehicles where you cannot see into the rear passenger section. The benefits also include the vehicle’s air-conditioning system having a much easier time thus saving fuel, as well as the vehicle being warmer in winter, and if you are still into that sort of thing as I am, you can sit in the back seat with your lover and have some degree of privacy. Just do not let your partner catch you as mine always does as she, my wife, is always the one with me. Would I lie to you?
More information on the laws in Europe, with the different standards for each EU State at (Click):
Another web site that explains what it is and the benefits is at (Click):
PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS AND EARPHONES.
The law here in Spain states that motorists are not allowed to drive with anything placed in their ear/s unless they are deaf and it helps their hearing. What about cyclists and pedestrians? They are road users too. We have just read about a 14-year old boy killed by a tractor in the UK as he cycled while listening to an iPod with the usual earphones plugged into his ears. Now a tractor, even the modern models, is loud enough for anyone to hear coming. But if the person's ears are full of whatever the latest pop music sensation is, what then?
Just a thought!
DRIVING LICENCES - A READER'S MAIL WITH ANSWERS. 21 June 2006
It is a bit confusing, isn't it? Part of the problem is that Trafico do not seem to have anything in place to ensure we know that we can know what we are doing. I have answered as below:
From: frank haywood
Date: 06/21/06 13:06:48
Bought your book yesterday and checked your updates, mainly to find out whether or not I need to register my licence here. The rest of the book looks very interesting but I obviously have not had time to read and absorb it all so far.
I am now resident here in Alhama de Granada and 62 years old (young) with a UK "EU"style licence.
From your information, I have come up, rightly or wrongly, with the following.
My reply -
- All other EU country drivers must register their licences on becoming resident. This is the point that most perplexes me - and on which the rest of this revolves!
Some readers report that when they have tried to register their licences, they have been told that it is not necessary, but EU laws state that all drivers with vocational licences must register them. "Vocational", as described by the DVLA, are those for HGVs, buses, taxis, etc. So in the meantime, I am saying that my opinion is if you have a non-vocational licence e g "B", then do not bother.
- When registered these drivers will be informed when they must have a medical exam.
No, this is not happening. But the letter from the Ministerio del Interio, copied in my web site Click here www.spainvia.com/drivelicenceletter.htm specifically states in para 3 that although foreign EU licences are legal here, the holders must have periodical medicals as the Spanish do. The Spanish licences expire when the medicals are due, so they have to get a medical to renew the licence. UK licences are until age 70 for non-vocational drivers, but the problem arises if you are involved in a serious accident and in Court, the opposition lawyer finds out and states that you had no legal licence at the time of the accident because you had not taken the medical for 6 (?) years (after age 45, it is every 5 years) so even if it was not your fault, you are guilty.
- All Spanish drivers must pass a medical examination.
Correct as on page 97 in my book. This is the law foreign EU licence holders must also obey as in the letter.
- All other EU drivers resident here must comply with the local laws.
- These other EU country drivers must, therefore, pass a medical exam upon becoming resident.
There is no time set in writing but I would play safe and take one so you are covered for five years after age 45 (before that it is every 10 years). It gives you peace of mind in being 100% legal. In 2012, Brussels has announced that a uniform d/licence will start being applied for all Europe, and you can bet that medicals will be included and they have been talking about them in the UK for some months now.
- After passing a medical exam one will be issued with a Spanish licence. How, therefore, can a new resident continue to drive on a foreign licence.
Readers tell me that in Alicante & Murcia, from age 55 to 65, when changing to a Spanish licence before last year when it was announced that foreign EU licences were now legal to use here by "new" residents, they were asked to take a medical. When I changed mine here in Malaga in 2004, I was not asked to take a medical, and I was aged 65, but last year I had to take a medical because of my 12 tonne vehicle classification. There does not appear to be a standard system.
Can you clarify this for me please?
I hope I have, and thank you for your E-mail.
Remember that UK ordinary (non-vocational) licences expire when you reach age 70. Residents here will then have to change to a Spanish licence and the procedure is explained in detail in my book.