In Portugal the equivalent of a MOT is called an IPO (Inspecção Périodica Obrigatória). It’s an annual inspection for vehicles that are over 4 years old and it ensures your vehicle is roadworthy. They check similar things to the U.K like vehicle identification, lighting and visibility, direction alignment, breaks, suspension and tyres, CO2 emissions, vehicle condition (including cleanliness) and mandatory equipment (red warning triangle and neon reflective vests).

Here in Portugal all IPO’s are carried out at a test centre and you can find lists of locations on the IMT website. We booked ours in with Tavfer Inspection Centre in Tábua. The test only lasts around 15 minutes and you will be in and out within 30 minutes. You can book in advance online or just turn up, we booked in advance as due to Covid many places are by appointment only. You can also book up to 3 months before your IPO is due and they will add the months on. A lot of places are closed due to Covid and lockdown but inspection centres are staying open for now.

We had two options of taking our car to the inspection centre knowing it will fail and obtaining a list of the faults or we could take it to a garage and get a mechanic to give it a pre check. We knew that we needed new tyres so thought it was best to take it to the garage before the inspection. The garage also checked for break pads but ours are fine for now. The garage fitted 4 new tyres as the front tyres were verging on being illegal with low tread and the back ones were cracked. They also fitted a new indicator bulb, added windshield wash and fixed a few other minor faults. The total cost was €360. We also read that there are new rules meaning your car can fail if it’s dirty so we took it through the car wash, we got a free voucher from the garage and we vacuumed out the inside too. I purchased a second neon safety vest which only came in XL (one size fits all) and checked the red triangle was in working condition.

First you go into the small office and show your documents and pay the fee. The actual test was very nerve racking and you have to drive along different stations a bit like a conveyor belt and the staff member will ask you to perform certain tasks like rev your engine, beep your horn, turn on windscreen wipers and flash your bits (I mean lights) ha ha. All in Portuguese so best to learn these words in Portuguese if you can or get good at hand signalling. I let hubby take charge of this and I watched on from a safe distance laughing my head off. Most of the stations are computerised so there is no failing you because they have had a bad day, because your British or they take a disliking to you. To be honest our guy was not that friendly but it’s difficult to communicate with a face mask and with limited Portuguese. It was also after 5pm so he had probably had a long exhausting day. The other guy (the good looking one) seemed very friendly to his customers but ours (slightly balding man) was not too chirpy.

After the pre exam at the garage I was expecting it to pass but it bloody failed! I kind of knew it was going to fail when one of the machines kept going from green to red. I only had good things to say about José Miguel (that’s our car’s name, we named him after the salesman). I was not a happy bunny at all. Our car let me down, he let hubby down but most of all he let himself down! He’s 19 years old and should know better. Hubby walked out waving a red certificate instead of green. I was absolutely gutted and we had to google translate the document to find out what it failed on. This was a test in itself as the font is so small and it’s written on paper with funny lines on it making it very difficult to scan with a phone. After several attempts and a phone call to my ex to translate we found out that it failed on fog lights being out of alignment and Co2 emissions. I didn’t even know the car had fog lights! The Co2 emissions is a bit tricky as it could be a number of things like air filter, oil change, adding additives to fuel tank, catalytic converter etc.

Don’t forget to cut out the perforated little square from the test certificate and place it in your windshield. Our IPO ran out on 23rd January so on that date we replaced the old green one with the temporary red one which gives us a month to fix the issues. The only positive out of all this drama is the fact that my neon safety vest was only available in an XL so I could console myself with as much chocolate as I want to with the knowledge that I would still be able to fit into my safety vest in the event of a road traffic accident ha ha.

Hubby got up early the next day and took the car back to the garage who did the pre check for faults and apparently they don’t have the equipment to check the emissions and sent him down the road to another garage which was shut even though it was supposed to open at 8am and it was after 9am, welcome to Portugal! We had 30 days to rectify the faults but the length of time depends on if it’s a major fault or not. If you fail a second time you have less amount of days to fix the issues. It is quite annoying as in the U.K the garage who performs the MOT can phone you and inform you of what it’s failed on and the cost of repair and then it’s repaired and you collect it with the pass certificate. Here in Portugal you have to go away and take the car to a mechanic to fix the issues then take it back to the test centre for the re-test. The test centre is a 30 min drive from our home and so is the garage repair shop. Hubby decided to take the car to our local mechanic Fernando who lives down the road and previously fixed a new exhaust for us last year. Apologies if you are now singing the Abba song “Fernando” once I heard his name was Fernando I had that song on a loop in my head for about 2 weeks so good luck with that! ha ha.

Fernando had the car for 3 days and phoned hubby last night to say the car was ready for collection so we booked the re-test for Monday. Due to lockdown I decided to let hubby take the car for the re-inspection alone as it doesn’t warrant two people risking safety. I was so nervous that it was going to fail a second time. I couldn’t believe it failed on emissions as although it’s an old car it recently had a new exhaust and I’ve seen so many older cars on the road which look like they are about to fall apart. Our car is 19 years old and apparently cars that are over 25 years old are exempt for the emissions test which is pretty unfair. Fernando texted hubby the price of the work and it was just over €500. At this point I was a bit mad as one would assume that the mechanic would phone us to confirm the diagnosis and estimated cost. So at this point I had no clue what had been fixed but I knew it was a hefty bill.

This morning hubby collected the car and Fernando had also took the car back for the re-inspection and it passed second time. We didn’t know he was going to take it for the re-inspection too but this saved us a lot of hassle and I was overjoyed that it passed, I even did a little dance! A steady slow dance with medium twerking as my thighs still hurt form all the jogging ha ha. The total cost of the bill came to €503.59 and it was the Catalytic Converter which cost a lot, our old one was cracked so it needed replacing. Once I saw the invoice and breakdown of the costs they were actually really fair.

Repair costs

Diagnostic test €35

Catalytic Converter €280

Realign fog lights €10

Reinspection €6.42

X3 hours of labour at €26 per hour €78

Total of €409.42 + 23% IVA = €503.59

Documents you need to take

Registration document – these seem to change a lot. Ours was issued in 2019 so it is the Certificado de Matricula. In 2020 they are issuing this document in the form of a plastic card. Older documents may consist of a Booklet and Title of Property Registration or Single Car Document (DUA).

Last IPO Certificate unless it’s your first IPO – It is called the Inspeçõa Técnica Periódica.

Just for your info: The fluffy mass at the bottom of the photo is my jumper. I thought I should make this clear as I don’t want anyone thinking it’s my lady garden muff (ha ha). It’s too cold to be naked.

Inspection price

€31.49 for a car.

€7.90 for a reinspection.

This includes IVA.

Final comments

It cost us just over €860 to get it through the IPO. I am very glad that ordeal is over for another year. It was very stressful for me indeed. Let’s hope José Miguel lives for another year. Second hand cars are so expensive here. Our 19 year old car cost €3200 a year ago and we haggled it down €3400 and if I were to buy a similar vehicle in the U.K it would likely of cost £500 so you can see my point of wanting to keep it for as long as possible. I don’t have 10K to spend on a secondhand car. Our car is a great size for transporting around DIY materials and furniture. As it’s old we are not precious about it so it doesn’t matter if the car get’s dirty on the inside with compost or manure as for us it’s just a mode of transportation to get us from A to B. Living in a remote village with an irregular bus service it is vital that we have a car. I have rekindled my friendship and made friends with José Miguel and he promises he will do his very best to stay strong and healthy in 2021. Happy driving everyone and stay safe!

If your interested in how much we spend on keeping our old banger on the road, take a look at my post titled: Car maintenance costs.