As per the EU Directive that requires all vehicles in the member states to undergo testing to be eligible to run on roads, the National Car Test (NCT) was introduced in Ireland. Since January 2000, this is a compulsory test that all vehicles using the national roads must undertake.
In the event of driving without displaying the necessary NCT service disc, offending drivers will face Class C fines and penalty points. The test is carried out by an independent body called the National Car Testing Service Ltd (NCTS). They are authorized by the government and not linked to any motor trade companies. NCT has been brought about to increase road safety, ensure vehicles are roadworthy and for improving the environment. Either the vehicle is in relatively good condition or it will fail and be taken off the road.
NCT inspects all cars thoroughly with the normal testing time lasting 25 minutes. The mechanics check each and every part of the vehicle including smoke emissions and make sure it passes acceptable environmental levels.
Garages across the country can help drivers with a pre-NCT checkup, ensuring vehicles pass the main test without much hassles. When going for a NCT, make sure you double-check the whole car from the bottom up. Take care that the lights are coming on alright, they are focused and the car is clean and tidy. Remove the hub caps. It is recommended that you get the car serviced by a mechanic in particular for regions like under the hood which are best left in the hands of experienced professionals. A brake pipe or a suspension bushing which you might not generally notice is enough to fail the NCT.
You can get a complete list of things tested under the NCT from their website.
NCTs are notoriously difficult to pass with only a 50 percent success rate. Some common reasons for failing include:
- Wheel alignment is off.
- Accessories like bulbs are not working.
- Headlights’ out of focus.
- Tire issues like threading.
- No maintenance; the car is simply dirty with a fully stuffed boot or minor problems like the hub caps are on.
If you fail the test, you have 28 days to apply for a re-trial. This repeat will set you back 28 Euros. You’ll be given a list of things to be repaired. Take the list to a certified mechanic and finish the job thoroughly before re-applying for the test. Some items might be repaired while others replaced.
Problems that are hard to fix are structural damages that happen when you buy used cars involved in accidents. To prevent this from happening, buy from registered SIMI garages.
For any issues regarding the NCT, you may call up the hotline: 1890.928.580. The hotline was setup after some issues related to corruption within the organization cropped up couple of years ago.
The tests are getting harder by the year as the standards keep rising. Especially with the issue of tires, their wear and tear heavily affecting road safety. Take good care of your car and the test should not be a problem.
Sean Dunne is a freelance blogger who writes on cars. Sean is a keen sports player and plays rugby for his local club.