VEHICLE INSPECTIONS in Portugal, which are routine periodical inspections, equivalent to the British MOT, are allegedly being carried out without due care and attention, with staff at many inspection centres failing to detect serious faults in the vehicles that they inspect.
This is the conclusion that has been drawn by Pro Teste, the magazine published by Portugal’s leading consumer rights association Deco, following an investigation spanning 30 vehicle inspection centres in the districts of Aveiro, Coimbra, Faro, Leiria, Porto, Santarém and Setúbal. Deco has described the results of the study as alarming. They describe the service that is being offered as careless, lax and not strict enough.
In order to arrive at these conclusions, Deco anonymously sent 30 vehicles for inspection with six technical faults each that had been caused on purpose: two less serious (type one) and four which were considered to be more serious (type two). None of the cars were in a condition to pass an inspection.
The idea behind this study was to test the efficiency of the inspection centres and to detect and register any failings. The study found that the examinations carried out by the inspection centres were inefficient and not strict enough. None of the centres spotted all six faults and, scandalously, nine cars actually passed, without a single fault being identified. Deco claims that the inspectors were not careful, lacked concentration and some forgot to examine one or two items, “turning a blind eye to the problems”. The faults classified as being ‘type one’ included Deco damaging the windscreen wiper on the driver’s side and unscrewing the vehicle’s battery.
The faults described as being ‘type two’ included Deco blocking the seatbelt fastener on the front passenger side so that it would not lock, placing different tyres on the rear axels and altering their alignment, and reducing the power of the fog lights. Many of these faults, which are on the official vehicle inspection list to be checked, were not detected. A spokesperson from Deco explained: “The condition and efficient operation of the windscreen wipers was only fully checked at eight centres. Only one identified the problem with the wiper, the Inspecentro in Faro. No check was made with regard to the seatbelts in over half the cars and only nine inspectors noticed that the seatbelt fastener had been obstructed on the passenger side. Only 18 centres checked all four tyres, while at others, the inspectors looked at just one or two.”
The most blatant case of inefficiency, according to the report in Pro Teste, was found when a car was inspected at the Numil centre in Azambuja, Lisbon. Despite an inspection being carried out at the centre by the Direcção-Geral de Viação (department of transport), the inspection carried out on the car sent by Deco was not well done. Of the six faults, only one was detected.
The Associação Nacional de Centros de Inspecção Automóvel, the association that represents the interests of inspection centres in Portugal, has issued a statement saying that it believes the Deco report is alarmist and justifies the comment by saying that, during an inspection, the inspector “pays more attention to the vehicle’s key systems (steering, suspension and brakes) than on bureaucratic matters”.