How to Prepare for the NCT

 by Melanie May | 3 min read    September, 2023


Vehicles registered after 1980 must have a National Car Test (NCT). Being compulsory, it's just one of those unavoidable things that almost every car — and owner — must face.

If you drive a car without a valid NCT certificate, and the Gardaí stop you, they could issue you with a fine of up to €2000, and/or up to 5 penalty points and/or imprisonment for up to 3 months.

One of the most daunting things about the test for most car owners is the high failure rate. Roughly half of the cars that undergo the NCT fail the initial test.

But don’t worry. There are lots of things you can do to avoid the dreaded ‘fail’ certificate. You just need to prepare for your NCT ahead of time.

Book on time

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your NCT by booking your appointment before your NCT certificate expires and becomes invalid.

There is a handy website for checking when a car is due its NCT. Just enter the car’s registration into the box. Check your NCT due date here.

Cars younger than four years old do not need an NCT. The NCT for cars aged four to nine years old is every second year. Cars ten years and older need a test every year.

You can test your car up to 90 days before the due date. This won't affect the next certificate’s expiry date.

NCT pre-checks

The NCT inspects over 62 items but many of these you can check yourself before going to the test centre. We’ve put together an essential NCT Checklist, which could save you time and money!

  • Empty the boot and clear the car of clutter as the inspectors need to check the spare wheel if there is one and they need to be able to carry out each test without obstruction.
  • Bodywork – check boot and bonnet close securely, remove visible rust and make sure bumpers, bull guards and body strips are secure.
  • Brake pedal — check physical condition and operation.
  • Doors — check locks and anti-theft devices.
  • Fluids – check levels of brake fluid, oil and water coolant.
  • Glass – check there is no damage that could reduce visibility, make sure privacy glass meets legal requirements, make sure stickers don’t obscure your view and make sure all windows work.
  • Handbrake — check operation.
  • Horn — make sure it works. Beep beep!
  • Lights – check condition, brightness, aim and position of all lights. Brake lights, rear lights, indicators, side lamps, headlamps, auxiliary lamps, reflectors, registration plate lamp and rear fog lights and reverse light.
  • Mirrors – check condition, make sure they are clean and can be adjusted safely from the driver seat.
  • Registration plates — check for security, location, format, legibility, visibility and correct colour.
  • Seats — check all mechanical parts and seat belts.
  • Tyres — check inflation is to the required pressure, otherwise, NCT results may be misleading.
  • Wheels – check wheel nuts are visible, remove hubcaps if necessary and tighten all nuts and bolts.
  • Windscreen wipers and washers — check operation and condition.

If any of these items aren’t in tip-top condition or working as they should, give them some TLC.

What Documents Do I need?

You will need to bring your driving licence with you to present at the test centre, as failure to do so will result in the vehicle not being issued an NCT certificate at the time of testing.

You will also need your vehicle registration book, registration certificate or licensing certificate. If you are bringing your car for a re-test, it is a good idea to bring the Vehicle Inspection Report with you, so they know what they are re-testing your car for.

How Much Does an NCT Cost?

The NCT fee for a full test is €55 Euro and a re-test costs €28 Euro. Re-tests, which do not require the use of test equipment will be free (for example, replacement of windscreen wiper and registration plates.)

The test fee is only taken off your credit/debit card once the vehicle is checked in at the test centre.

If your car fails the NCT the first time around, don't worry. On average, over 90% of cars pass the re-test. However, doing some of these simple NCT pre-checks could help you pass the first time round!

This content is not regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. This guidance is for general information purposes only. Allianz accepts no responsibility or liability for any losses that may arise from any reliance upon the information contained in this guidance.

Melanie May
Journalist @thejournal_ie & @CompleteCar | Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager | Travel Blogger | Food Writer & Judge