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Don't Dread NCT - Be Ready

NCT, the dreaded word that rolls around every year. Somehow always managing to forget when it’s due, the realisation is an annual unpleasant surprise. Despite pushing this to the back of your thoughts, unfortunately, it is unavoidable.

As a car owner, booking a yearly NCT is just a given when buying a car. While some may fully understand the ins and outs of what a NCT involves, and why we have them, the majority of us simply know it as a way to ensure your safety within the vehicle.

So, what is a NCT, what does it involve, and how can you make a NCT a little less costly?

What is the NCT?

The NCT is a compulsory vehicle inspection programme in Ireland. The primary aim of this programme which falls under the EU Directive 2014/45, is to improve road safety and enhance environmental protection by reducing harmful vehicles emissions in Ireland.

The National Car Testing Service operates under the Road Traffic (National Car Test) Regulations 2017, S.I. Regulations 415 of 2017

When should your car get its first NCT?

The NCT is conducted every 2 years for vehicles younger than 10 years and vehicles that are being presented for their 10th anniversary inspection or older than 10 years must undergo an annual inspection. This regular evaluation of cars will result in a more frequent car servicing culture, which will provide better fuel economy, reduce overall repair costs and lower the risk of breakdowns and hence could result in potentially lower insurance premiums.

What is tested in a NCT?

A NCT is an extensive test of your vehicle, covering roadworthiness aspects and vehicle safety.

Over time, various features put in place for vehicles to enhance our safety can go wrong, without us even knowing or realising the importance of the situation. We can often ignore many signs that our car has a fault, putting them on a backburner. However, this can clock up the pennies and land you with a large sum after a NCT if not fixed prior.

Format of the National Car Test

NCTS has a network of operating centres nationwide. You must bring your car to one of these test centres to take the test.

The test looks at:


Exhaust emissions

Wheels and tyres


Steering and suspension

Chassis and underbody

Electrical systems

Glass and mirrors



Fuel system

The NCTS recommends that you prepare for the test by ensuring that:

Your car has adequate oil and water

The boot is empty and seats are clear of personal belongings such as removable baby seats

Your glove compartment is unlocked and clear of personal belongings (allow for OBD testing)

Any devices using the OBD port in the vehicle are removed in advance

The vehicle is reasonably clean (especially the underbody)

The wheel hubcaps are removed and the tyres are inflated to the correct pressure

Seat belts and clips are fully visible

Your vehicle registration plates comply with current regulations

The timing belt has been replaced in a diesel vehicle within the timeframe specified by the vehicle manufacturer

Your lights have been checked and set prior to the test.

The NCTS has a complete checklist of what to check before your NCT to help you prepare for your test.

If you get your car serviced before the NCT, the NCTS advises that special attention is paid to the most common failure points:

Headlights: alignment and condition

Suspension and steering

Brakes: front, rear and hand brake

If your car does fail its NCT, you will not be able to drive your vehicle until this has been rectified.

In hindsight, NCTs don’t always have to be a stressful and costly time. Servicing your car each year before a NCT will help to not only ensure your safety but can also help to save you money in the long run and prevent your car from failing.

Before your NCT, make sure to run your own tests. Such things as keeping an eye on your oil levels, that your tyres are in a good condition, and making sure that your windscreen has no damage or cracks should be checked regularly by the owner to keep the vehicle running smoothly.

Particularly easy checks involve honking your horn to ensure it’s working and checking your brake lights and headlights.

Carrying out these simple self-checks can help to prevent a failed test or unexpected costs. Above all, they should provide you peace of mind that your vehicle is safe to drive.

If you feel like your car could benefit from a simple service or you require your annual NCT soon, call our team on 01 6911281today to book an appointment.


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