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Preparing For Your NCT

Preparing for your NCT

The NCT or National Car Test, is an intimidating time for all drivers. It doesn’t matter whether your car is relatively new or a trusty older vehicle, the mere idea of the test is worrying and it can be costly.   On the plus side, the NCT gives us a sense of security and the knowledge that our car, and others, are safe and reliable as we go about our daily business.  On the negative side, there are dozens of urban myths providing bizarre reasons why cars fail and many anecdotes about costly modifications needed in order to pass the NCT.  The NCT is a thorough test and we must always prepare for it. Some drivers do not.   In the first six months of 2017, only 48% of cars passed the NCT first time (NCT Statistics).  Drivers without a valid NCT certificate face fines and penalty point.

At Vendor Finance we are pleased to offer some sound sensible advice for preparing for the NCT.

Clean the car:

A clean car gives a good impression. It is also an actual requirement of the NCT.  Most car wash outlets offer a pre-test wash which includes washing the underside of the car.  Clean and de-clutter inside the car too. Remove the baby seats, unless you want the tester to check that they are correctly fitted. The seat belts should be easily accessed for examination. Take care not to leave anything in the boot.

Top-up Fluids:

Check the water, oil, coolant and brake fluid levels prior to the test. Changing oil and air filters is very do-able for the average car owner. Don’t forget the windscreen wash too! If you are unsure about how to top up oil etc., here is a helpful tutorial

Check your Lights:   

Make sure that all your bulbs are working and that the headlights are aligned properly.  The cost of new bulbs is much cheaper than the inconvenience of having to go back for a visual re-test. If you are unsure about the alignment, pop into your local garage. If you can fit them yourself you may avoid being charged for the cost and the labour in a garage.  Your number plate light and front light should be white in colour, indicator light should be amber and stop light should be red. The stop lights should also be brighter than the tail lights.


Substandard tyres are a major reason for NCT failures. The tyres should not be worn or damaged, there should be no bulges and the thread depth should not be less than 1.6mm at the middle of the tyre. Consult the manual for your car and ensure that the tyres are at the correct pressure.

Obvious problems and warning signs:

So many people drop their cars into the test centre knowing that there are faults and defects and yet somehow hoping that the car will pass.  There is blind hope that issues will not flag up. They will!  This does not make good, economic sense.  If there are warning lights on the dashboard, or the suspension is not feeling right, it makes more sense to have a mechanic look at the car prior to the test. Warning lights for airbags etc. are an instant failure while the tester may not even proceed with the test if the engine light is showing.  Many garages are offering pre-NCT tests at good value, which will fix issues and eliminate the cost of retesting.

On the Day:

Remove the hubcaps or alloy wheel centre caps. Check the wipers. Drive the car before the test so that it is at good operating temperature. Bring the vehicle registration, the correct fee and some proof of Identification.  Be early and be calm.

No one likes to take a test. The very name, ‘test’ automatically makes us nervous, but the NCT ensures a certain standard among all cars on the road.  This can only be good for motorists in general. Regular servicing and good car maintenance reduces fuel costs and keeps us all safer on the road.

Prepare for your NCT and drive legally and safely.

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