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How To Pass The National Car Test

Updated November 22, 2013

In Europe, compulsory car testing in member states aims to keep people safe on European roads by demanding that all vehicles on the road meet certain basic safety requirements. This was introduced in Ireland in 2000 and the test is known as the National Car Test or the NCT on our shores. In line with the European Directive, the NCT aims to improve road safety on Irish roads and reduce accidents caused by vehicles with faulty parts or other compromising problems. As well as that, the NCT tests cars’ exhaust emissions to ensure they are below a certain level. This serves to reduce the negative impact of cars on the environment.

Frequency of NCT Testing

The regularity of testing depends on a vehicle’s age. Cars that are less than 3 years old do not need to be tested, cars that are 4 to 9 years old must be tested once every two years and, since 2011, cars that are more than 10 years old must be tested on an annual basis, so it’s important to know your car’s age and to be aware of how often it needs to be tested.

What The NCT Tests

The NCT is a comprehensive test and all aspects of your car will be examined, including brakes, lights, tyres, suspension, steering, the electrical systems and the fuel system, so it’s important that you have your car looked at by a mechanic who knows the NCT requirements and is familiar with your car make. For example, if you drive a BMW, you should have your car examined and serviced by someone who has experience of BMW service.

The Pass Rate and Reasons for Failing

The NCT pass rate depends on a car’s age. Cars that are four years old pass about 70% of the time, a figure that decreases the older a car is. The five most common reasons for a car failing are faulty brake lines, the condition of its tyres, the tyre specification, the indicators and the condition of the car’s headlights.

What To Do If You Fail

If you keep your car in good condition and get it checked prior to the NCT, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t pass. However, failing does not mean the car will be taken off the road. Usually when a car fails the test, its owner will be given details of what needs to be fixed in order for it to pass. Plus, a retest does not cost as much as the original test as long as you book it within 21 days of your failed test.

Although the National Car Test may seem like a bother, it’s for your own good as it keeps dangerous cars off the road. Without it, road accidents would be more frequent and road fatalities would certainly rise. So be responsible, keep your car in good condition and don’t drive vehicles that put you and other road users at risk.

This article was written by mechanic Michael Guiney who has years of experience working in BMW service.

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