Over 2,000 'dangerous' vehicles taken off road after failing NCT

Wed, Aug 8, 2012, 01:00

MORE THAN 2,000 vehicles that failed the National Car Test (NCT) this year have been taken off the road because they did not meet basic safety standards.

Figures from the National Car Testing Service show 2,349 vehicles (0.4 per cent of those tested) failed between January and July because they were classed as “dangerous”.

Almost 300,000 vehicles, more than half of those tested, failed the first test and had to return for a retest. Nine out of every 10 cars passed the retest.

Vehicles are considered dangerous by the testing service if they have a defect that constitutes a “direct and immediate risk to road safety”.

This means the person cannot drive the car away from the test centre and cannot drive the vehicle unless they get it repaired and retested.

A “fail dangerous” sticker is attached to such cars and anyone driving it is liable to a fine of up to €2,000 and five penalty points.

Almost 600,000 cars were tested last year at a cost of €55 (some €33 million). Retests cost €28, except for those which do not need equipment requiring a test (such as a blown light bulb).

Cars registered in 2008, 2006 and 2004 are due for testing this year as well as cars 10 years and older.

AA Ireland director of policy Conor Faughnan said that while the failure rate of 50.4 per cent seemed high, there was “no real cause for alarm” as the vast majority of cars pass the test on the second attempt.

“Motorists seem to be using the test as a diagnostic. This is understandable behaviour for motorists in recessionary times, but we would discourage people from looking at the test this way,” he said. “The NCT is in place to ensure cars are maintained to standard on a continual basis and it will be cheaper in the long run for motorists to keep their vehicles maintained regularly.”

Mr Faughnan said the number of cars found to be “dangerous” by the NCT was more serious. However, many of the faults that make cars unroadworthy could be easily and cheaply repaired.

“We shouldn’t necessarily conclude that the NCT has found 2,000 death traps,” he said.

“A car whose brake lights don’t work may just need a new fuse, but that car is not deemed roadworthy until it is fixed.”

The figures for 2012 are similar to last year.In 2011 more than 4,000 cars failed the test because they were dangerous. Almost 100,000 cars took the test with half of them passing. Nine out of 10 cars also passed the retest last year.

The main failure items for 2011 were front suspension, headlamp aim, tyre condition, brake line/hoses and wheels.

In 2010, Applus, the company that operates the test, reported €43.2 million revenue for car testing and inspecting vehicles.