- National Car Test
The National Car Test (Irish: An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Tástála Carranna; abbreviated NCT) is a roadworthiness test, which all cars in Ireland must undergo. It was introduced in 2000 The test must first be taken when the car is between 3½ and 4 years old and then once every two years after that. There are exemptions for certain categories of vehicles such as vintage cars (more than thirty years since date of first registration) and vehicles based permanently on some offshore Islands.
The NCT is available in 42 centres around Ireland and tests various aspects of cars for safety, including tyres, brakes and shock absorbers which are vigorously tested. It also tests the exhaust fumes for compliance with EU emissions standards. Other safety features, such as the spare tyre, seat belts and lights are also checked.
Cars which pass receive an official certificate, which is valid for two years as of the latest date the car should have been tested. For example, if a car was first registered on 2000-05-01, it would do its first NCT between 2003-11-01 and 2004-04-30, but the certificate would expire on 2006-05-01 irrespective of when the test was actually taken.
As of 2009[update], the fee for the NCT is €50 for a full test, and €28 for a re-test that requires testing equipment (e.g. emission levels, aiming of headlights, etc.) Re-tests that do not need testing equipment (e.g. obscured registration plate, faulty windscreen wiper) are free of charge. However, missing an appointment or cancelling less than 5 days before the scheduled test results in a penalty charge of €22.
There is no fixed penalty for not displaying an NCT disc or producing an NCT certificate on inspection by the Gardaí — the offence must be dealt with by way of a court summons, and carries up to three penalty points. Local authorities can (in theory) refuse to issue a tax disc to a vehicle not having an NCT certificate and insurance companies could (in theory) declare cover for an untested (or failed) vehicle invalid.
In May 2011, a television programme featured footage filmed with hidden cameras showing NCT personnel passing taxis which had previously been found to have serious defects, apparently in return for bribes. In a follow up statement NCT's management said it would vigorously investigate the matter until all issues raised by the programme, in relation to vehicle inspections, had been fully addressed. It has also reported the matter to the gardaí.
Days later it emerged that the Department of Transport would launch an investigation into car testing following compliants from employees who wrote months earlier that "there are major problems with the testing equipment in all the centres and incorrect results are being given to customers," the letter claims. "We have complained to the managers, but they are afraid of head office and just trying to push as many cars through as possible. There is a real fear." The letter advises that the testing system "needs to be stopped for a couple of weeks" so that experts can sort the situation out. The complaints allege that trade cars that fail tests are retested on certain "reliable" lanes, making them more likely to pass if someone complains. One of the problems highlighted by the concerned testers relates to brake examinations. They claim these tests can produce "any result" depending on the time a brake pedal is pushed or the handbrake is pulled.
- ^ http://www.ncts.ie/faq.html
- ^ http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0517/taxi.html
- ^ http://www.independent.ie/national-news/major-probe-into-car-test-centres-2651403.html
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