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DGT issues V-16 breakdown light warning: Is yours legal?

The new V-16 breakdown warning light that become a requirement in 2026 are appearing in stores around the country, but the DGT says that many of these do not meet the required legal standards.

The reminder issued on July 5 by the DGT and N332 comes on the back of complaints that the lights available in Spain are not visible in the bright sunshine. Many others have also complained of being unsure who the law applies to, whether is just locally registered vehicles or whether foreign vehicles will also be required to keep the lights in the car.

Others like motorhome owners have said the roof of the vehicle is not necessarily accessible and as the side are often fibreglass or similar material, magnetic lights won’t stick.

What the law says

The DGT has said that they will issue more guidance closer to the time as it is possible that technical advances may change some of the requirements.

But for now, the law that comes into effect from January 1 2026 is designed to enable everyone, including those involved in an accident, to warn other drivers. Whereas triangles can only be activated by leaving the car, a V-16 breakdown warning light can be activated and placed on the roof of the vehicle without having to leave it.

Perhaps most importantly is that the lights must meet the brightness requirements, an orange light that can be seen up to one kilometre away and which is fitted with a geolocation device.

The latter is to allow emergency services to know your location, as well as to warn other road users that there is a possible obstruction in or alongside the road.

Who does the law apply to?

All vehicles travelling in or through Spain will be required to keep the warning lights in their car, and it is in the car that they should be kept – not the boot!

Owners of vehicles that do not have metal sides or with an inaccessible roof are advised to fit a holder high on the side of the vehicle. Most dealers and vehicle accessory fitment centres will be able to assist with the fitting of a suitable unit – this is not necessarily about the height but about the visibility.

Clarity is still awaited on the use of the lights with motorcycles, however, given that this is about visibility it is probably advisable to do so.

Other European countries have or are in the process of implementing similar regulations, with the expectation that this will become the standard throughout the EU in time.

Where can you buy a V-16 breakdown warning light?

V-16 breakdown warning lights are available from many stores however it is advised to buy from a reputable car accessories dealer that is able to confirm that the unit meets the legislation. Units are also available online but it is essential to check that they meet the standard, or you will find yourself having to replace the unit in time.

Should I get rid of my triangles?

The advice from the DGT is that triangles remain the current requirement, but that going forward it would be advisable to continue doing so even after the new legislation is enacted. Simply, they say, this is about creating as much visibility as possible to protect you, your passengers and other road users.

Whilst the law is quite prescriptive on what constitutes a legal V-16 breakdown warning light, this is also about common sense. Visibility is key, as is accessibility and location awareness.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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