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Drivers in France warned over contrôle technique bottleneck

Car-owners in France are being advised to book their contrôle technique vehicle checks well in advance this year, to avoid a bottleneck caused by changes to the rules during lockdown.

A mechanic performs a contrôle technique on a car in France. Garages warn of a backlog at the beginning of summer.
A mechanic performs a contrôle technique on a car in France. Garages warn of a backlog at the beginning of summer. (Photo by MYCHELE DANIAU / AFP)

Back in spring 2020, with the country in lockdown and garages closed, the French government granted an automatic extension to any contrôle techniques that were about to expire.

This lead to a surge of bookings when things re-opened in May, and now as those two-year certificates are set to expire, garages are warning that they are likely to be extremely booked up in the spring and early summer of this year too. 

Sébastien Danvel is the president of Auto Sécurité, which runs 931 contrôle technique centres in France. He told Le Parisien that a significant bottleneck was expected at the beginning of summer. 

“Knowing that contrôles techniques are required every two years, we expect that we will need to test 500,000 to 600,000 more cars than normal in May,” he said. 

Like many other garage owners, he is calling on drivers to book their test well in advance. 

“We invite drivers not to wait until May and to book their appointment six to eight weeks before,” he said. 

Contrôle technique

From time to time, all car owners in France are required to pay for a contrôle technique, in which a certified garage checks the vehicle for technical faults. It is the equivalent of an MOT in the UK. 

The first contrôle technique is required in the six months leading up to the four-year anniversary of the vehicle’s first registration. 

READ MORE: What you need to know about the French ‘contrôle technique’ 

If no major or critical faults are identified, the test remains valid for two years, after which you must get your car checked again. If the technician identifies problems with the vehicle, you may not be allowed to drive it at all until the issues are resolved, or for less serious issues, be given a two month limit within to get your car fixed. 

Practical info 

The contrôle technique assesses 133 elements of your vehicle including: identification (number plate, registration documents); brakes; steering; visibility; electrical equipment; wheels; chassis; emissions and seatbelts. 

If you are unsure when you need to take your car for a contrôle technique, you can check the sticker attached to your windscreen, which should clearly indicate the deadline. 

Some garages will send you a reminder to get a contrôle technique, but this is not guaranteed or required by law. 

Driving without a valid contrôle technique certificate typically results in a €135 fine – but this amount can stretch up to €750 in certain cases. 

You can find a garage to book a contrôle technique here

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