The key to safer driving not only lies in the hands of those on the roads, but also in the hands of those responsible for carrying out work on our vehicles.

Although the authorities do everything they can to close them down, there are still many garages and workshops that are not authorised to carry out any form of vehicle repair, and although many of them do a good job perhaps for less money, there are many who put all road users at risk.

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An illegal workshop is a fraudulent business model, often conducted on unlicensed premises, and often without the requisite regulatory permits, access to technical information on vehicles or the approval from vehicle manufactures to carry out repairs. They often also fail to comply with health and safety and environmental legislation and often carry out work without issuing invoices and without any form of guarantee.

The frightening fact is that according to official sources, although no official figures exist, it is estimated that 20% of workshops across Spain are currently operating without the relevant licenses. A situation exacerbated by the economic crisis, which has led many consumers to turn to these fraudulent workshops, attracted by lower prices, without being fully aware of the consequences.

Inferior work, low price and unofficial parts, cheap labour and a lack of guarantee all undermine the rights of a consumer, and is a practice punishable by law.

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On the other hand, legal and approved workshops have the necessary machinery and the right tools for repairs, access to the most up to date technical information for vehicle, they only use approved and traceable spare parts, guarantee repairs through the production of an invoice and provide continuous training for their employees.

Therefore, only the legal establishments can ensure proper handling of the vehicle, resulting in increased road safety by reducing the risk of accidents.

The technical information of the vehicle provides the guidelines set by the manufacturer to ensure proper handling and repair, minimizing risks, ensuring optimal performance and extending its life. Only legally established workshops have access to this guide to ensure proper repairs of each model vehicle.

The traceability of parts refers to garages being able to ensure the origin. In a legally established workshop the consumer can be sure that the piece is approved, which is required for that type of car that has all manufacturer warranties. In illegal workshops where it is not traceable, installed parts can have very varied origins including from crashed or scrapped vehicles and sometimes through theft.

Due to the increasing complexity of vehicles it is essential that mechanics attend training courses that are held periodically that provide the guidelines for the proper repair of all types of vehicles. The mechanics are quickly outdated if they do not receive these courses, which only legal workers can have access to.

The question of course is how does one identify an illegal workshop? Unfortunately, they are not always easy to recognise, but there are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

A legal workshop will always provide a printed quote for work in advance, and will also provide an invoice and guarantee afterwards.

Illegal workshops are usually in places where they work behind closed doors, sometimes in garages of private homes, sometimes even in the street.

The most important clue of all is that official and legally approved workshops have a nameplate granted by the Ministry of Industry and are required to display this plate at the property entrance. Illegal workshops will have no such accreditation displayed.

The nameplate will display a variety of information relating to the work that can be done at the workshop. For example, the top part of the plate will display the type of work which can be done on the premises. A picture of a wrench indicates mechanics, a jagged arrow indicates electrics, a hammer is for bodywork and a spray gun for painting.

Halfway up, on the left are icons which indicate areas of expertise, such as wheels and tyres, radiators or injection engines for example. To the right, an image will be displayed if the workshop is authorised to repair motorcycles.

Finally, at the bottom of the plate, there is a space which will display the provincial hallmark and the official registration number of the workshop as provided by the Ministry of Industry.

20150531 - Choosing Workshops and Garages

Although it will be difficult to ensure your complaints are heard in the event of using an illegal workshop, there is a way of reporting your suspicions to the authorities to investigate and take action against illegal operators. This can be done on the website of the confederation of Spanish workshops. CETRAA, at

In 2014, CETRAA dealt with more than 340 complaints received through the website, ensuring a safer practice for all in the future.

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