Why anti-freeze is an ‘all year round thing’.

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Anti-freeze does more than ‘what is says on the tin’. It’s an anti-corrosive too. Get it wrong and trouble is around the corner.

Traditional blue ethylene glycol is toxic but a highly effective antifreeze; it contains silicates as an inhibitor to help prevent corrosion in engines with mixed metals in their makeup. Bluecol and Blue Star are well known brand names, both are declared suitable for ‘classic cars’ on their company websites.

Propylene glycol is another well-known and less toxic antifreeze formula and usually contains silicates.

Recently, problems have been reported concerning the use of antifreeze mixtures using organic acid technology (OAT). OAT was introduced in the mid-1990s and the products are biodegradable, recyclable, do not contain either silicates or phosphates and are designed to be longer lasting. However, these products do seem to cause problems in older engines.

Over and above the ability of antifreeze to find the smallest crevice and leak, OAT antifreezes have been accused of destroying seals and gaskets and causing a great deal of damage in ‘old’ engines. For this reason, the manufacturers do not recommend their use in historic vehicles. These products are usually coloured red, pink or orange.

Another category is HOAT. These products use hybrid organic acid technology in an ethylene glycol base with some silicates in the formulation alongside the organic corrosion inhibitors. The product is usually coloured green and is not recommended for use in historic vehicles. FBHVC is still researching this problem but its current advice is:

Only use blue coloured IAT antifreeze in historic vehicles. Only use OAT products (‘advanced’ or ‘long life’ antifreeze) if the vehicle used it when new and if specifically directed by the vehicle’s manufacturer

Never mix different types of antifreeze without thoroughly flushing out the system

The above article is courtesy of Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC).

See Classic Chat, November 2016 for more information.

Paul Gough

Car Auction Update

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Car Auctions
The first car auction at SRS will be held on Saturday 25th March 2017. We hope

Driving with a UK Licence.

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Hi, before I go onto pastures new and leave the blog in other capable hands. I thought I would post this, that I came across on the NN32 site. Self Explanatory-and informative. Thank you to all that contributed to the blog over the last year.




We are constantly being asked to clarify the situation regarding driving with a UK licence whilst in Spain, amid conflicting reports and rumour, and so we thought it prudent to share with you the official guidelines as dictated by the DGT.

Firstly, let us say that if you are a resident in Spain, that is to say you spend more time living in this country than another, it makes sense to change your licence to a Spanish one anyway, as this then links to your personal details on the computers accessed by traffic police, and so, in the event of getting stopped, you can be on your way far quicker. Similarly, if you happen to have been fined, you don´t have to pay the fine on the spot if you have a valid Spanish licence.Secondly, it is a lot easier to exchange your licence these days.

Many clinics which handle the medical examination will also do the administration for you at the same time. All you have to do is present yourself for your appointment, with your licence, and they will complete all of the paper work, sending it to the traffic department, and even chasing it on your behalf if it doesn´t arrive back in time. They even issue the temporary driving permit.
However, we still need to answer your questions, such as “can I be fined if I have a valid UK driving licence?”
The answer is YES, if you are RESIDENT and your licence complies with one of these two cases:
The holder of a European driving licence with an INDEFINITE DURATION or GREATER than 15 YEARS (or five years in the case of group permissions 2) with legal residence in Spain acquired on January 19, 2013 or before that date – You must renew your driving licence from January 19, 2015.
The holder of a European driving licence with an INDEFINITE DURATION or GREATER than 15 YEARS (or five years in the case of group permissions 2) with legal residence in Spain obtained dated after January 19, 2013 – You must renew your driving licence from the moment two years of residence in Spain has been met.

In order to check this, you must look at the BACK of the licence, where you will see the expiration dates for each of the categories.

If you are not a resident, on holiday for example, you cannot be fined for driving with a valid UK licence, however there are some circumstances where an officer might doubt that you are in fact on holiday. For example, if is perfectly legal for you to own a holiday home in Spain, and even a Spanish car to use whilst you are here, but that might make it appear that you are a resident driving on a UK licence. The solution to this is simple, you can get an EX-15 form from the National Police, also available to download from, complete the form and take it to be certified by the police and that then serves as a certificate of non-residency.

January Tech Tip

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rad cap

It may seem cold at the moment, but now is a good time to start preparing our cars for the coming months of increasing temperatures. The cooling system is a good place to start.

The poor ol’ radiator cap is often forgotten and sometimes considered just a simple part of the cooling system. But it’s not that simple and does a lot of work.

If one of your engine cooling hoses seems ‘squashed’ or flattened when the engine is cold, check the small centre valve on the underside of the radiator cap. This is the low pressure valve which allows air into the radiator as the water cools and contracts. It should be easily pulled down against its spring pressure with your finger and snap back. If all okay here, the hose in question is likely to be faulty and its structure breaking down.

Check the main rubber seal. It should be free from cracks and be flexible. The seal together with the main spring keeps the system pressurised. Any faults here and you will lose water and overheat. Also check the upper seal, which prevents water escaping past the radiator filler neck, particularly important if an expansion bottle is fitted. Remember, only remove the radiator cap when the engine is cold

Any doubts…fit new a new cap!

Next time: coolants and air locks.

Paul Gough

Requirements for Tourist’s Driving in Spain.

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Tourist’s Driving in Spain

As an EU citizen and a tourist, to drive a foreign registered vehicle in Spain you must have with you, and you can be fined for not obeying the following:

  1. your passport, current until after your return home
  2. Current driving licence, preferably the EU type with the ring of stars
  3. Two EU approved, red warning triangles
  4. Approved reflective jackets that must be worn by all outside the car at anytime, day or night, outside the vehicle at the side of any highway not in an urban (street lights?) area. The jackets must be kept inside the car so they can be put on before getting out and also must be visible from outside the car. The pocket in the back of the front seat is a good place. The jackets are inexpensive and can be bought at most supermarkets if you do not have them already
  5. A set of spare lamps/bulbs for your car and the tool/s to change them
  6. If you wear corrective glasses for driving, a spare pair
  7. Your number plate should be an EU one with the ring of stars containing your country code, or a small plate/sticker with your country code (GB, etc) should secured to the rear of the car
  8. Valid insurance
  9. All vehicle documents relating to the car (legally certified copies are OK)

Recommended, but not mandatory is a First Aid kit and a fire extinguisher

It used to be that you had to carry a set of bulbs with you but this has now changed. The law has realised that with most new vehicles, changing a bulb is impossible anyway as they are sealed units. Therefore, it would be unreasonable to insist on carrying spare bulbs.


Outside the EU

If you are from outside the EU, (Most of us soon) you will need an International Driving Licence issued by the correct authority in your home country. It must have one page of information in Spanish.

Remember that your “tourist status” in a foreign country usually applies for only three months as far as insurance is concerned, so for any longer periods, do not forget to discuss this with your broker. The roads in Spain vary from very poor to very good, the latter especially since Spain joined the EU and has benefited from the funding from other countries over the last 20 years.



Spanish Car Registration Plates & Historic Plates

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Vehicle registration plates are the mandatory number plates used to display the registration mark of a vehicle, and have existed in Spain since 1900. Most motor vehicles which are used on public roads are required by law to display them. The government agency responsible for the registration and numbering of vehicles is the Directorate General of Traffic.

Colour plates

There are other plates with different background colours for trailers and the so-called “touristic plates”, provisory plates that allow foreigners to use a vehicle bought in Spain before registering it in their country. The trailer plates begin with the prefix R signifying remolque, the Spanish word for trailer, caravan or literally “on tow”. The tourist plates begin with the prefix P signifying provisional, usually issued to vehicles for export or until the registration process has been completed. They are sometimes seen on manufacturer’s prototypes. An additional series exists for historic vehicles with the prefix H followed by four numbers and four letters, making a nine-digit plate which can be difficult to fit onto some historic vehicles. Mopeds and microcars with cylinders under 50 cc were not required to have a national plate and town and city administration tax them and issued their own yellow plates.

Code Signified as Colour
C Mopeds and microcars Black on yellow
E Agricultural Red on white
H Historical Black on white
P Provisional White on green
R Remolque Black on red
S Temporary plates White on red
T Tourist plates Black on white
V Vehicle dealers White on red


Historic Plates


  1. Exemption from road tax
  2. ITV based on the characteristics of the vehicle. Inspection period adjusted for the age of the vehicle.
  3. The ability to keep the vehicle as manufactured by applying exemptions (Control emissions, noise etc.)
  4. Keep both the original registration and new Spanish plates.
  5. Low cost Insurance.

Car Requirements

  1. Cars that are 25 years old (From date of manufacture) Their components must be original (or as close as possible)]
  2. NIE/DNI
  3. Certificate of ‘Empadronamiento.’
  4. Money and lots of patience- (especially in August)


Limitations: – There are not limitations for a car registered after 40´s or 50´s. Some people think that historical plates may limit the use of a vehicle in Spain. That´s not correct. A classic or vintage car is limited only when it´s not able to be driven following traffic regulations. For example- “Imagine a vintage auto from the 20´s era with wood wheels and 50 kilometres per hour maximum speed. This kind of car is not ready to be driven in a highway, and if it hasn´t lights it´s not qualified to drive at night”.

If your car meets any of these requirements you may request the following documentation:

1.The previous inspection in an official laboratory accredited by the competent engineer appointed from the Junta (de Andalucía-or equivalent)

  1. Favourable resolution of the vehicle as historical documentation, issued by same relevant authority.
  2. Technical inspection prior to registration at a vehicle inspection station of the province of domicile of the applicant.
  3. And historic vehicle registration in the Provincial Traffic domiciled.






Driving In Spain-The Do’s & Dont’s.

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Driving in Spain


Right of way – Priority

Unless otherwise indicated, the person on the right ALWAYS has priority. This is important not only at junctions but also on roundabouts.



Most drivers seem blissfully unaware of the rules regarding roundabouts and many people seem to think that it is OK to exit the roundabout from the inside lane: it is not. Learner drivers are taught to go around the entire roundabout on the outside lane, as long as they signal to indicate that they are not intending to leave the roundabout and this is permitted. You should choose which lane to use according to the exit you are going to take, but remember:

  1. You must drive anti-clockwise around a roundabout
  2. Traffic already on the roundabout has priority
  3. You must only leave the roundabout from the outside lane

The last point is very important and the DGT website (Department of Traffic) recommends that if you are not able to get into the outside lane, then you should go round the roundabout again. For an illustration showing how to drive round roundabouts, see the DGT website (revista tráfico)



Even during the day, you must use your dipped headlights when going through a tunnel.

If there is an accident or if you break down inside the tunnel, you should turn off your engine, put on your hazard warning lights and your side lights.


Parking / Waiting

It is forbidden to tow another vehicle. If you have Spanish insurance, breakdown cover is included and they will tow your car to the garage of your choice and take you by taxi to your specified destination. If you have foreign insurance you must make sure that you are covered for breakdown cover.



Speed restrictions are being strictly enforced. Previously there was a 10% margin but this was reduced to 5% for fixed radars and 7% for mobile radars in September 2014. It is a good idea, therefore, to follow speed limits exactly.



You must use your dipped headlights between sunset and sunrise.

You must also use your headlights in a contraflow system.



It is forbidden to tow another vehicle. If you have Spanish insurance, breakdown cover is included and they will tow your car to the garage of your choice and take you by taxi to your specified destination. If you have foreign insurance you must make sure that you are covered.


Blind spot

Spanish drivers are taught to drive using their mirrors without checking their blind spots. You should bear this mind and be particularly careful on motorways. You might find drivers just pull out onto the motorway from the slip road.



If you have a minor accident with another car, you should complete the accident claim form. No one should admit responsibility: that will be decided at a later stage by the insurance companies but you should include a diagram of the position of the cars on the road, damage, etc.


Minimum speeds

On each type of road there is a minimum speed. If you are unable to drive at that speed, you should use the outside lane and put on your hazard warning lights.



It is forbidden to tow another vehicle. If you have Spanish insurance, breakdown cover is included and they will tow your car to the garage of your choice and take you by taxi to your specified destination. If you have foreign insurance you must make sure that you are covered



The minimum distance for overtaking is 1.5 metres. This applies regardless of whether you are overtaking a car or bicycle or passing pedestrians. Similarly, you must not overtake if there are cyclists coming towards you on the other side, even if they are on the hard shoulder.



You must carry the following current documents with you in your car:

  • ITV (MOT) certificate
  • impuesto de circulación receipt (road tax paid to the Town Hall)
  • permiso de circulación (car licence issued when the car was originally registered)
  • driving licence
  • proof of insurance

You can be fined for having previous year MOT (ITV) certificates so you should only keep the current certificate with the car papers.


Fog lights

You should use your fog lights if you are driving through fog but you MUST NOT use your back-fog light except in the case of very heavy fog.



The maximum permitted level of alcohol is 0.5g/litre in the blood and 0.25mg/litre in an exhaled breath. For drivers with less than two years’ experience this drops to 0.3g/litre in the blood and 0.15mg/litre in an exhaled breath

Warning triangles / Reflexive jackets

You must carry 2 warning triangles and reflexive jackets. If you break down, you must put one hazard warning triangle 50 metres behind your car and another in front. As it’s obligatory to wear your reflexive jacket as soon as you get out of the car, it’s a good idea to put it on in the car itself.


Seat belts

You must wear seatbelts in the front and back.


Mobile phones

Mobile phones must not be used while driving. You can use hands-free kits but not if these have an earpiece attachment.


Some of the more unknown fines

  1. Putting on make-up, eating or setting a GPS while driving: 100-euro fine
  2. Using a mobile phone: 200 euro fine and 3 points off your licence
  3. Driving with your elbow out of the window: 100-euro fine
  4. Driving bare-chested or barefoot: 200-euro fine
  5. Driving on the inside or middle lane of a motorway when the outside lane is free: 200-euro fine
  6. Needlessly sounding your horn: 80 euro fine (the horn should only be used to avoid an accident)
  7. Having a “For sale” or “Se vende” sign on the window: 200-euro fine
  8. Listening to excessively loud music: 80-euro fine
  9. Out-of-date driving licence or no MOT certificate: 200-euro fine
  10. Going through an amber traffic light: 80 euro fine (this is only permitted when it is impossible to brake)
  11. Not having a spare of glasses if you need glasses for driving: 90-euro fine


Do I need a Spanish Driving Licence?

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Over the years,  I have read conflicting reports on this subject-some people say yes you do-others say no you don’t. So I thought it best to go straight to the horses mouth and ask the Spanish DGT. (Trafico). The law changed in January 2015, and this is what is now required.

Who needs to renew their driver’s licence?

According to Article 15, paragraph 4 of the Spanish Regulation General Drivers, it is compulsory for drivers to renew their EU/EEA driving licences whose validity is:

  • permanent (never expires);
  • 15 years or more on date of issue for Group 1 (AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE);
  • five years or more on date of issue for the Group 2 (BTP, C1, C1E, C, CE D1, D1E, D, DE).

In addition, the EU/EEA citizen must be living in Spain for more than two years. Therefore, there are two different scenarios to which the new law applies:

  1. Holder of an EU/EEA driving licence that never expires or with a validity of 15 years or more for Group 1 (or five years or more for Group 2) and having Spanish residency since 19 January 2013 or before. In this case, you must renew your driving license.
  2. Holder of an EU/EEA driving licence that never expires or with a validity of 15 or more for Group 1 (or five years or more for Group 2) and having Spanish residency after 19 January 2013. In this case, you must renew your driving licence after having Spanish residency for two years or more.
  3. Do you have Spanish residency? Or do you intend living here permanently? You must have Spanish Residency to renew / exchange your EU licence. Whether you’ve been living here simply on a NIE number, this does not allow you to exchange your EU licence for a Spanish driving licence. In addition, holders of EU/EEA driving licences who have Spanish residency must also renew their driving licence if it’s already expired or close to the expiry date.
  4. You must make an appointment online to renew / exchange your EU driving licence. Here is the link:
  5. Stolen or lost original EU licence. In this case you must request a certificate from your country’s driving licence office to prove you hold a valid driving licence. A deteriorated or a partially damaged original document may not be accepted.
  6. You cannot pay in cash. Tax at Spanish driving licence offices (Dirección General de Tráfico) must be paid either with a credit or debit card, at the bank or online.
  7. The medical certificate is not extensive. Basically, it is just a sight test, a questionnaire and driving test on a computer, (but I am told that it could vary from area to area.)
  8. Your final driving licence is sent by post.  
  9. Driving on an expired driving licence incurs a 200 euro fine.

Cat services (Albox) have put a detailed leaflet of the costs and procedures involved with obtaining a Spanish Driving Licence. A great service and good value.


Obtaining a Spanish Licence

Please find below the necessary information in order to bring you in line with the Spanish/EU requirements.

Medical – carried out by an authorised centre – there are 2 in Albox and both have someone who speaks English.  They are both equally as good as each other – Virgin de Saliente in Calle Ramón y Cajal or the other formally known as Checkbox which is now called Doctors Check, which is in the next street and virtually backs on to the other. They each have a picture of a driving licence in the window. Take your driving licence and residencia with you.  If you have any extra categories (other than car) on your licence that you want to retain please make sure they know to include on the certificate.

Photo – although there will be a photo on the medical certificate Trafico require us to take one to Almeria.  The required size is 32 x 26 (smaller than passport). Tell the photographer what it is for and they should provide correct size. I recommend the photographer next door to Caja Granada just over the old green bridge by the ´Lady’s´statue.

Passport and Residencia – Trafico need to see the originals or certified copies of both documents – if you can take the originals & photocopies into your town hall and ask them to stamp, sign and print their name on the copies that would be better for us to take.

Driving Licence – The plastic part is surrendered in Almeria – whilst at the town hall get them to certify a copy of your plastic licence (both sides) as you will carry this until the new licence comes in the post.


Medical – approx 45€ per person

Trafico – 23.50€ per person or 27.70€ if you have had your Residencia for less than two years

C.A.T. Services – 45€ per person or 75€ per couple – includes forms, appointments and trips to Almeria (we go on your behalf)

For your information our office is open Monday to Friday 09.00-17.00 and Saturday 09.00-14.00 – no appointment necessary.



Update-Matriculation -The importance of putting your car on Spanish plates.

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Hi Everyone,

Just to update everyone on this. Whilst we are still waiting for the fines to reach us. We understand that the fines will be in the region of eight hundred euro. Five hundred of this is a fine from the DVLA . (As the car was Sorn) The Spanish Police both Local & Guardia have access to the records held by the DVLA. So please do not wait to be stopped, matriculate your car as soon as you can. 

In our case-the car was just our old runabout , but had it have been our Morris then we would have been mortified.

Matriculation -The importance of putting your car on Spanish plates.

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Last week, Paul and I took our two granddaughters shopping to Lorca shopping centre. We drove there in our 2004 VW Passat. We were going to take the Morris Minor but, decided against it at the last minute. Which as it turned out was a good decision. Paul returned to the car several times to put shopping in the boot, while me and the girls trailed around the shops. On his third visit to the car park, he was astonished to find that the car was not there. Thinking to himself ‘who in their right mind wants to steal an old VW estate?’ until he saw the yellow triangle on the floor Grua (recovery company) had towed the car away. We were horrified. What could be the reason why? Had someone bumped into it? We did not know. Eventually, we found a security guard who rang the number for us and advised us to go to the Local Police station in Lorca, where they wanted to talk to us. (Not Guardia.)

Nervous, we went to the police station, when an officer told us that they had towed it away as they had checked with the DVLA (they do this instantly) and found that the MOT had expired. Therefore, the car was not legal to be driven on the road in Spain. (By three days) However, this is the law applicable to all. The Police were very sympathetic and accommodating and advised us to ‘put the car on Spanish plates.’ Which, is not an easy thing to do with a car stuck in a Police compound. I will update you on developments on what happened with this shortly.

However, the tale does not end there. Last Sunday morning, Paul was on his way to Alicante airport when at 8am he was stopped by a Police roadblock. Again, because he was driving a UK plated car. (This time an MGF) This car was legal, had an up to date Mot, Insurance etc. However, the Police were not happy. Advising, that there was a crackdown on all UK plated cars  with no exceptions. So now we have to matriculate this second vehicle. So be careful out there. The last thing you want is for your treasured classic car to be impounded, but if it does not abide to Spanish law then it will be. For the record, this is the requirements of the law on UK imported cars.

EU law states that when you first move to Spain from another EU country, you must re-register your car onto Spanish plates within 6 months of your arrival. If you are a Spanish Resident, then the time frame allowed is just 30 days and you will have to pay the Matriculation (registration) Taxes of up to 16% of the cars Spanish Fiscal Book Value.

A person automatically assumes ‘Resident Status’ in Spain if they stay here longer than 183 days. It is also illegal for a Spanish resident to drive a non-Spanish registered vehicle too and it’s also illegal for a non-resident to keep a car here for longer than 6 months. Understanding all the technicalities and laws can be a minefield. You will hear many conflicting stories from so called ‘registration experts’ and you won’t know who to trust, what to do or where to go and the ball of confusion can blinker your thoughts. There will always be some people who don’t care what the laws are. That is until they get stopped by the Police or Guardia Civil and asked to produce their documents. And driving an illegal car becomes a huge liability if you are ever involved in an accident and try to make a claim to your insurance company. There are big problems facing anyone who gets caught driving an illegal car in Spain, as they can be impounded by the Police through lack of compliance with Spanish laws and may face a heavy fine too.

Looks like Paul and I are going to be counting the pennies for a while to come yet. So just be careful and abide by the law.