NCT Advice

Guides on the NCT process
The following section is designed to give you an idea which items are tested during an NCT test and how this is done.

  • All lights are tested for OPERATION, CONDITION and SECURITY.
  • Are of the correct type
  • Are correctly aimed (headlights)
  • Operate dip & full beam (headlights)
  • Are of the correct type
  • Do not interact with each other’s operation
  • Indicator tell tale or audible warning works
  • Must be fitted to the center or offside of the vehicle
  • Tell tale must work
  • Must not interact with other lights
  • Must not be obscured
  • Must be red
  • All original lights must be present and working
  • Two reflectors must be fitted fairly symmetrically be secure and not obscured
  • Upper Suspension Joints and any other suspension components which can be inspected from under the bonnet.
  • Security of steering rack or box and mountings
  • Excessive play in steering rack or box
  • Play in steering joints

Any other parts of the steering system that can be seen from under the bonnet

  • Front & Rear Suspension
  • No split pins, nuts etc missing.
  • No bent or broken components.
  • Condition of road springs
  • Condition of suspension joints for excessive play etc
  • Shock absorbers for leakage & security
  • Shock absorbers for damping action
  • Excessive play in rack/steering joints under load test
  • Excessive lift/play in steering box
  • Power steering for leaks etc
  • Security of Rack/Box and mounting areas for corrosion or cracking
  • Wheels and tyres for fouling vehicle body/hoses etc on lock to lock
  • Condition of front and rear wheel bearings regarding play and noise
  • Steering rack gaiters for splits, leakage, security etc
  • Front outer C V boots for splits, leakage, security etc
  • Metal/Rubber bushes for excess play or wear
  • Locking or retaining devices
  • Front drive shafts and C V joints (if applicable)
  • Steering wheel in good condition
  • Steering wheel securely attached to column
  • Upper column bearings/bush for excess play
  • Steering column for excess end float
  • Clamping bolts checked for security
  • Locking nuts and split pins
  • Free play in steering
  • Flexible couplings/universal joints for excess play
  • Anti-lock brake warning light (if fitted), is checked for operation and correct operating sequence
  • Reserve travel on foot brake so that it does not reach the floor
  • Excess wear of brake pedal rubber
  • Correct operation of brake servo
  • Parking brake for reserve travel so that it does not reach it’s end stop
  • Parking brake mountings for corrosion and security
  • Master cylinder/servo checked for leaks under load Servo unit for correct operation
  • Visible metal brake pipes for damage, corrosion, leakage or breakages
  • With load applied to foot brake
  • All visible metal brake pipes for condition and corrosion
  • Brake discs and drums checked for external condition and contamination
  • Security and condition of back plates and caliper mounting devices
  • Condition of brake pads (if visible)
  • Condition and operation of handbrake linkages and cables
  • Leaks from brake compensator (if fitted)
  • The efficiency and balance of the front and rear brakes using a rolling road.

The reason for failure with respect to tyre wear is “The grooves of the tread pattern are not at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread around the entire outer circumference of the tyre”

  • Tyres on any axle must be matched with regard to type, size and structure
  • Also general condition of tyres, condition of valves serious cuts, bulges or other damage.
  • Damage, distortion, cracks, distorted bead rim securely attached to vehicle, missing wheel nuts or studs.
  • The security of any externally fitted spare wheel or spare wheel carrier.
    Most vehicles after 1965 must have seat belts. Irrespective of this requirement, all seat belts fitted to a vehicle are inspected for:
  • Security of seat belt mountings and locking stalks.
  • Security and operation of locking/release mechanism.
  • Condition of webbing.
  • Operation of retraction mechanism.

notes: The inertia locking mechanism is not checked on some vehicles where the belt is attached to the seat the security of the seat to the vehicle would also be part of the seat belt check. With regard to the retraction mechanism it is allowed to manually feed the belt back in.

  • Chips or cracks in the windscreen directly in front of the driver, in the area swept by the wiper blades, are acceptable if they are less than 10mm in diameter. In the rest of the swept area up to 40mm damage is acceptable.
  • Official stickers (parking permits, tax disc etc) in the swept area in front of the driver will fail if they are more than 10mm in diameter (40mm elsewhere).
  • Part of the system missing will result in failure.
  • Excessive deterioration.
  • Support mountings are missing or broken.
  • Excessive noise.

This check is carried out using special equipment. The exact details will depend on the age and model of the vehicle. Excessive smoke is a visual check. Diesel smoke is tested using a smoke meter.

  • Operation.
  • Extent of area swept by wipers.
  • Condition of wiper blades.
  • Operation.
  • Control is easily reached by driver.
  • Loud enough.
  • Cannot be multi-tone sequential type.
  • The body must not be so insecure or displaced that it could cause the loss of control of the vehicle when driven or cause a danger to other road users.
  • Corrosion is a complicated and wide ranging topic. It can be used as a reason for failure in many of the previous sections. A brief explanation follows:
  • A vehicle will fail for excessive corrosion in a ‘prescribed area’ ie within 30cms of various components such as brakes, steering, suspension, seat belt mounts etc. Also excessive corrosion not in a ‘prescribed area’ which is likely to adversely affect the vehicles steering or brakes. Excessive corrosion can mean a hole or significantly weakened structure.
  • The front seats must be secure.
  • All seat backs must be securable in the upright position.
  • Not all mirrors on all vehicles are subject to the test. This depends on the age of the vehicle but those which are must be:
  • Secure.
  • Visible from the drivers seat.
  • Not distorted or damaged so as to seriously impair the driver’s view of the rear.

Any fuel leak or defect which will allow fuel to leak out will fail the test.
Fuel filler cap must fasten securely and seal must be in place and in good condition.

    For any registered vehicle number plates must be:
  • Present.
  • Secure.
  • Not faded dirty or obscured.
  • Be composed of correctly formed letters, correctly spaced.
VIN plates are required on all vehicles firstly used on or after 1st August 1980 and must be:
  • Permanently displayed.
  • Consistent.
  • Legible.

Thousands of cars fail their NCT due to simple things such as faulty bulbs, too little tyre tread, or even empty windscreen washer fluid bottles. It’s possible to anticipate most of these issues with a quick check of your vehicle. It can take only a few minutes.
If you find any fault that you’re unable to fix yourself, you can contact so we can complete the work required before the test is carried out.

Quick Check:

1. Headlights and indicators
Check that all of your car’s lights function properly – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.

2. Brake lights
Press the brake pedal and ask a friend to check that the rear brake lights come on – including any supplementary brake strip light. Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a reflective surface (window, wall or garage door) and look behind to see for yourself.

3. Number plate
Make sure that the number plate is clean and legible – even a quick wipe with a cloth can make a difference. The font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements to be passed by the NCT test.

4. Wheels and tyres
Check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and any tyres with less than this will be marked as an NCT ‘fail’ (though it’s recommended that tyres are changed when tread reaches 3mm). If you’re in doubt about how much tread is left on a tyre, we can check it for you. can also advise on the type of tyre that is right for your car if a replacement is required.

5. Seats and seatbelts
The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards and all seatbelts should be in good, working order. Test movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt’s full length for damage. Tug sharply on all seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to brake severely.

6. Windscreen
Check the view out of the front of the car for damage – any damage larger than 40mm will cause a ‘fail’, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen in front of the driver.

7. Windscreen wipers
Make sure your wipers are able to keep your windscreen clean – any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can be an NCT fail.

8. Screenwash
Top up the washer bottle before taking the car in for a test – something as simple as an empty container can cause an NCT fail.

9. Horn
Give a short blast of the horn – if it doesn’t work, then it needs to be repaired or replaced.

10. Fuel and engine oil
Make sure your car is filled with enough fuel and engine oil – you can be turned away from the NCT centre without suitable levels of either, both of which are required by the NCT inspector when running the car to test its emissions levels. If you are unsure about the type of oil that should be used, give us a call, text or ask for a call back 085-77-77-888.

Note: When checking fluid levels and handling parts that could be hot to touch (e.g. bulbs), it’s always best to ensure that the vehicle has had an opportunity to cool down fully.


Stress free NCT tips:

Tip 1:
Put your NCT date in your diary to make tip 2 possible. Book your NCT here if you don’t know how.

Tip 2:
Book a test date 6-8 weeks before your current NCT expires. If you need repairs, it gives you time and options. Think about time slots, collection, replacement car etc.

Tip 3:
You can renew your NCT 3 months before it expires. If your NCT test is 90 days early, the new certificate will have the 90 days added, so you don’t lose out.

Tip 4:
NCT results might disappoint you – there’s approx. 600 ways to fail. If the list of fails seems to be big-take the car home and then shop around.

Tip 5:
Ask garages to get special parts before you take car in for repairs. Waiting for some parts can mean no car for days.

Tip 6:
Before you take your vehicle for its annual or bi-annual NCT test, we recommend that you carry out a number of quick and easy visual checks to give your car the best chance of passing the test – saving you time and money.