NCT every year for older cars

Wed, Dec 16, 2009, 00:00

CARS OVER 10 years old will have to be tested every year under changes to the National Car Test approved by the Minister for Transport. Noel Dempsey has also effectively banned excessively tinted car windows and noisy exhausts under the changes due to come into effect in January.

The Minister has accepted a range of additional checks in the NCT proposed by the Road Safety Authority.

The requirement for cars over 10 years old to be tested annually, rather than the current biennial test, is expected to lead to around 120,000 additional tests a year. The pass rate for cars aged 10 and over in 2007 was about 32 per cent.

The switch to an annual test should bring in about €6 million extra annual revenue for the test provider, although the new scrappage scheme is likely to see the number of cars in this age group fall.

Under the new rules, a car will fail the test if it has tinted windscreens or front-side windows with a light transmission level of less than 65 per cent. Car exhausts generating over 99 decibels will also fail. The NCT will also start testing rear fog lamps, reversing lights and rear registration-plate lamps.

Tyres will also have to have an “E” mark, certifying that their grip and performance meets international standards. This follows moves by the department to restrict the sale and supply of retreaded tyres.

The final change to the car test is that malfunction warning lights for airbags, electronic and anti-lock braking systems and electronic stability control will be checked. The vehicle will fail if these don’t work properly.

The RSA said the additional test items will improve vehicle safety and reduce road deaths and injuries.

But the authority has not suggested that vintage cars aged over 30 years should be included in the testing regime. Mr Dempsey has ruled out an increase in the €50 car test, and €28 retest, fees for 2010. The changes also make no mention of the car test being used to collect odometer readings.

Two new test centres will open early next year, in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, and in Greenhills, Dublin 24.

The changes come just weeks before Applus+ takes over car testing on January 4th after winning a 10-year contract, worth an estimated €400 million, and beating the current provider, NCTS Ltd, into second place. Applus+ operates car road-worthiness testing in Spain.

In May the Minister introduced penalty points for drivers without an NCT certificate, leading to a surge in applications.