Nct Prep, Prepping for the NCT

Is your NCT just around the corner? Not sure what you need to do to prep for it? Here’s some tips to help you get your car ready for its NCT.

Gone are the days where you could charm your way out of not having a valid NCT. Since December 2014, if you are caught driving without a valid certificate you now face a fixed charge penalty notice and three penalty points.

The main failure items for 2016 were:

  • Tyres
  • Front Suspension.
  • Brake Line / Hoses
  • Headlamp Aim
  • Stop Lamps
  • (Source National Car Test)

The NCT is a simply test that checks the roadworthiness of your car. Follow our simple steps to prepare your car for its NCT test and it should be stress free.

Know the dates

The NCT test is mandatory for cars more than three years old. Cars aged between four and ten years old requiring testing every two years. Cars older than ten must undergo an annual test.

With the average age of cars in Ireland being 8.83 years it is likely your car will be tested every second year. Unlike Motor Tax however, National Car Testing Centres (NCTS) do not auto-notify you when your NCT is due to be renewed; you have to book the test yourself. This can be done up to 90 days before your certificate is due to expire. So make a note of your next NCT renewal date so that you aren’t caught short. Remember also that NCT centres are always busy. You will need to book your test in advance, as you maybe be waiting a few weeks for it.

It is also worth noting that there are certain circumstances, related to dates, when NCTS will provide a test for free. If a booking cannot be provided within a four-week period your car will be tested free of charge. (Subject to certain terms and conditions) and if NCT cancels a prearranged booking without providing five days’ notice a new booking will be provided free of charge.

Clean your car

This is more than just a case of removing the day to day dirt on your car and giving the inside a quick hoover. It is about ensuring that the items to be tested are clean.

Make sure the lights, windows, mirrors and registration plates in particular are clear and undamaged.
If possible, clean the underside of the car too – most brush washes offer this option.
De-clutter the interior.

Empty the boot and remove anything that is likely to get in the way of the tester – and that includes child seats. If you have a child seat in your car the tester is obliged to check it is fitted properly.

Check your lights

Checking your lights is probably the easiest thing to do before the NCT. Switch them on, if there is no light, the bulb is blown. A blown bulb is an instant failure so there really is no excuse. With the engine running, check all indicator bulbs, dipped and high beam headlights, parking lights front and rear, lighting of the rear number plate, fog lights and even brake lights. Ask a friend to help with the with your brake lights or check them in the reflection of a window. If you don’t know how to change a bulb the best bet is a friendly motor factors, who will probably do it without charging for their time.

Adjusting headlight alignment isn’t particularly taxing either, all you need is a level surface and a flat wall/fence with some sort of horizontal lines that you can use as a guide. Not everyone will be confident enough to do the work themselves though so a five-minute visit to your local mechanic might be in order.

Top up fluids

Check that all the fluids are topped up properly. That includes oil, engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windscreen wash. Most of these are clearly labelled under the bonnet and easy to top up.

Don’t ignore warning signs

If there are any warning lights coming on, on the dashboard it is time to visit the mechanic. Warning lights for the likes of airbags are an instant failure while NCTS may not even conduct the test if the engine management light is showing.

Inspect your tyres

Since April 2010 all cars presenting for NCT must have ‘E’ stamped tyres. These have been certified to comply with EU and other international tyre safety certification standards. Due to this rule finding non ‘E’ stamped tyres in Ireland is difficult. But if you have purchased part worn tyres they may have come from outside of the EU and therefore not be stamped.

Inspect your tyres for damage or bulging and replace if necessary. When replacing remember that you must be the same size across the front and back. Check the tread depth on your tyres. The legal limit is 1.6mm depth across the middle of the tyre, but really, if they are that low, it is time to change them anyway. The tread depth should only be measured when the tyres have been properly inflated. Find out the pressure the manufacturer recommends (usually there’s a plaque showing that on the inside of the driver’s door frame) and pump.

When going for you NCT the wheel nuts must be visible, so remove hubcaps or alloy wheel centre caps before bringing your car for test.

Final car checks

Have a look at the state of your wipers and replace the blades if necessary. Give the car a good run beforehand as well so the engine is up to operating temperature. Arrive in plenty of time for your test.

The paperwork

Make sure you have all of your car’s documentation with you. NCTS won’t even look at your car unless you have the vehicle registration book, registration certificate or licencing certificate with you. You will also need documentation for yourself. It does not matter if you are the car’s registered owner or not but you must have identification. Since May 2012 the rules state that an NCT certificate will not be issued unless the person presenting the car for test has identification.

The Cost

Finally, don’t forget you have to pay for the NCT. The current fee is €55 for a full test of €28 for a retest and NCTS centres accept cash, debit cards and most credit cards, but not cheques.

If you cancel your confirmed appointment with less than five working days’ notice (Mon. – Fri., not including the day of the test) or fail to show up for the test, a €22.00 surcharge will be applied when you next bring your car for testing. A similar surcharge of €11.50 will apply in the case of a re-test.

At The Garage Auto Repair we will run a PRE-NCT check your car. To make sure it passes first time around.