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9 Simple tips to prepare for the NCT

Nine simple tips on preparing for the NCT.


Remember the time when being caught without a valid NCT involved a nod and a nudge plus a promise to get the car tested was sufficient, times have changed over the last four years though.  Since December 2014, taking the road without a valid NCT cert automatically means a fixed charge penalty and three penalty points.  People’s attitudes weren’t long changing then.   


Currently figures tell us that just under 50 percent of cars going in to the NCT result in a fail.   - It’s a Scary thought, but really if you think about it, it’s not the NCT itself that’s scary, it only gets scary when you haven’t prepared for it.  Think of it like going in to an exam you have not studied for.  There’s a few simple steps that even those of us who can barely change a wheel can follow.


So let’s begin!



1. Remember your Dates


It is law for cars more than three years old to go through the NCT.  For cars between four and ten years old, you only have to test it every two years.  Once your car hits the decade though, it must then undergo an annual test.  Take note of your dates though because, unlike Motor Tax, the National Car Testing Centres do not Auto Notify you when your NCT is due for renewal.  You have to book that test yourself.  This can be done up to 90 days before your cert is due to expire.  Also, fun facet, if a booking cannot be provided within a four week period, your car will be tested free of charge.  This also is the case if NCTS cancels a prearranged booking without providing five days noticed.  The new booking will be provided free of charge.



2.  Clean that car 


Declutter the interior, empty the boot, remove anything that might get in the way of the tester, this includes car seat.  If a childs car seat is present, the tester is obliged to ensure they are fitted properly! Check that your lights and registration plates are clear and undamaged.  If possible, give the underside of the car a cleaning.


3.  Check all your lights


Rocking up to the NCT centre with blown lights is an instant failure, they are easy to replace so there really isn’t an excuse.  Turn on the engine, check all Dipped and High Beam headlights, indicator bulbs, parking lights front and rear, number plate lights, fog lights and brake lights.  You can check the latter in a window or getting a friend to check for you.


4. Top up fluids


Check all fluids in the car are topped up properly.  This includes oil, engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and windscreen wash.  Give a look under the bonnet, most of them are clearly labelled and pretty easy to top up yourself.  But if in doubt, contact a mechanic.


5. Do not ignore warning signs


A lot of cars fail the NCT because of suspension issues.  Sometimes it is nothing more complicated than a CV joint and getting it addressed ahead of time will save you the €28 re-test fee.  Also, if theres any illuminated warning lights on the dash, it’s time to visit the mechanic! NCTS may not even conduct the test if an engine management light or Airbag light is showing.


6. Give a walk around and inspect your tyres.


Inspect your tyres for signs of wearing, damage or bulging and replace if necessary.  Remember though, when replacing all tyres must be the same size across the front or back axles.  The rear tyres can be a different size, but the front must match up.  Legal thread depth across the middle of the tyre by law has to be 1.6mm across the middle of the tyre.  But if they are that low, then it’s time to change them anyway. Always check thread depth when the tyres have been properly inflated.  You’ll find out what the manufacturer recommends on the inside of the drivers door frame.


7.  The Final Car Check


NCTS demand that all wheel nuts are visable.  If you have hubcaps remove them before bringing your car for the test, same goes for alloy wheel centre caps.  Give a look at your wipers, replace the blades if necessary.  Arrive in plenty of time for your test.


8. The Paperwork


Bring your vehicle registration book, registration certificate or licencing certificate with you.  You’ll also need your own drivers licence.  It doesn’t matter if you are the registered owner or not, identification will be needed.



9.  Money

Finally, make sure you have the money to pay. The NCT fee is currently €55 for the full test and €28 for a retest.  NCTS centres accept cash, credit/debit cards but not cheques.


Check out this video for more:



If you want help preparing your car for the NCT,  book in with our service team today, they'll be happy to help. or call  066 7121555 

For more on the NCT visit