By Tiernan Cannon
The National Car Test (NCT) is a compulsory vehicle inspection programme in Ireland which aims to improve road safety and contribute to environmental protection by reducing harmful vehicles emissions. Though it does make a positive contribution, it is another financial burden on motorists, albeit one that is unavoidable – the costs of getting caught without a valid NCT far outweigh the cost of the test.
The NCT applies to all cars over four years old, and it must be passed every two years. Once a car reaches its tenth year, it must pass its NCT each year. Driving a car without a valid NCT is a serious offence – if you’re caught you’ll receive a fine and three penalty points, which in turn can and possibly will drive up the price of your insurance premium.
So, what exactly are the costs involved, and how can you best prepare your car for the test?
How much does it cost?
The NCT fee for a full test is €55 and a re-test costs €28. Re-tests that don’t require the use of test equipment will be free; for example, a visual inspection to check that faulty windscreen wipers have been replaced will not incur any additional costs. If the vehicle fails, it must be retested again within 21 days.
Don’t forget to budget for other costs Of course there are other costs
How should I prepare?
In order to ensure that your vehicle passes its NCT the first time around, ensure that it has adequate liquids such as water, oil and coolant, that you have checked the vehicle’s lights (front and back) and engine prior to the test.
You should also make sure that seat belts and vehicle registration are visible and comply with current regulations, and give it a clean inside and out – NCT officials can refuse to test a car they deem to be unduly dirty.
Follow their handy pre-NCT checklist to ensure that everything is in order before the test.
Outside NCT help
If you’re not feeling particularly confident about your car’s condition, it might be best to book a pre-NCT test to ensure your vehicle passes the NCT first time, especially if you don’t feel confident about conducting your own exam.
For example, Advance Pitstop offers a free pre-NCT test in its branches based around the country, and though they cannot guarantee that your car will pass first time, it can offer a pretty good indication of how it will fare. The test takes about an hour or so to complete, checking items like lights, seat belts, tyres and brake hoses.