Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
car check-up

5 of the most common NCT failures (and how to prevent against them)

These essential pre-test checks could save you time and money.

THE NCT, OR National Car Test, is one of those unavoidable things every driver – and car – must face.

No doubt you’d rather skip the country than watch your precious motor being hauled in and checked from every angle, but unfortunately the NCT is compulsory for all vehicles registered after 1980, usually every two years. If caught using a car without a valid NCT certificate you could get three to five penalty points and a €60 to €90 fine.

One of the most daunting things about the test for most car owners is the high failure rate. Last year, over 757,000 NCT failures were issued, equating to 51% of all tests carried out.

So how can you prepare your car ahead of time to avoid walking away with a ‘fail’ certificate and a re-test date? Read on for the top NCT failure points, plus advice on how to prevent against them…

1. Tyre tread depth and damage


If your tyre tread depth is below the legal 1.6mm limit, if there is damage like cuts or bulges to your tyres, or if your four tyres are of mis-matched sizes or types, you can be almost certain of failing the NCT.

Luckily, these issues are easy to fix. Just make sure the tyres are correctly inflated to the manufacturer’s guidelines, that they don’t have any visible damage, and that your tyres are the same type/size on each axle (front and back). Tyres also need to have a visible E-mark, denoting EU approval.

2. Front suspension damage or imbalance

shutterstock_321111413 Shutterstock / takoburito Shutterstock / takoburito / takoburito

Your car will fail the NCT if there is more than 30 per cent imbalance between left-hand and right-hand suspension. It’s not just imbalance though: loose, worn, corroded, cracked, damaged, worn or deformed parts will also catch testers’ attention. If you suspect a front suspension issue, it’s best to consult a professional.

3. Brake line or hose problems


The brake hose transmits brake fluid under hydraulic pressure to the brake callipers or wheel cylinder. It’s essential that your brake hose is in good working order, not just for the NCT but for brake function in general. Perished, kinked, damaged or rusted break hoses will fail the NCT. These can be checked and repaired by a mechanic if necessary.

4. Headlamp aim

why-kei-51455 Unsplash Unsplash

Depending on your car’s make and model, your headlamps will either be checked for main beam or dip beam. You can properly align the headlamps yourself, but if in doubt, have them aligned by a professional just to make sure they do pass the NCT. Yes, there’s a fee, but it’ll cost you more if you need to have the NCT re-done.

5. Faulty or missing stop lamps


If your car’s stop lamps are faulty, missing or not clearly visible, you could have an NCT failure on your hands. Luckily, this is a pretty easy problem to check yourself. Ensure your stop lights are brighter than your tail lights, that they shine red, that the dimensions match, that they are securely mounted, and that there are no lens cracks.

More:  Protecting your car’s exterior in winter >

More: 8 of the greatest motorsport documentaries ever filmed >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel