Why You Will Fail the NCT (Part 1)

03 Jun 2015

Why You Will Fail the NCT (Part 1)

The same 4 items keep coming top of the list for failing cars at the NCT each year. These are; the front Suspension, tyres, headlights and brake lines/hoses.

So let’s see if we can improve your chance of passing the test first time by making sure you have them in tip-top shape. Not alone will they make your car much safer on the road – which is what the NCT is designed to do – they will save you both time and money in having to do re-tests.

Front Suspension


As you are aware, this helps maintain a reasonably comfortable balance on the road so your car is not bounced all over the place.

If you drive 20,000km a year, it has been calculated, that a shock absorber will do 15 million to 20 million ‘cycles of movement’ – that’s a lot of wear and tear.

How will you know if something is wrong?

There are several indications that your shock absorbers, for example, are in trouble. Here’s just a few you can check out yourself:

  1. You might notice one side of the car is a little higher/lower than the other
  2. The car may feel it is straying a bit to one side (other factors can cause this too)
  3. You notice the car jars more over rougher surfaces
  4. Your tyres are wearing unevenly (again, other factors can contribute to that too but it is an indication of trouble)

TIP! Push down on the front corners of the car. If the car rises and steadies, the shock absorbers are likely to be okay. If it rises and dips a second or third time you need to get help.

Please remember that suspensions are complicated with many parts and links so if you notice a problem you need to get a properly trained mechanic to take a look.



It is a cliché that tyres are our only contact with the road but that doesn’t seem to improve our treatment of them. Worn tyres are the second most common reason for failing the NCT.  Just a few quick checks can not alone save you a re-test but also cut fuel consumption and the length of time it takes to stop when braking.

How will you know if something is wrong?

Unless you check them on a regular basis you won’t know if there is a problem and that is part of the reason tyres fail at the NCT.

  1. Check them for bulges, uneven wear, cuts, scrapes etc. It only takes a few minutes but could save lives if you have to brake suddenly.
  2. Check the air pressure at least once a week. Over-inflated tyres will affect steering, handling and stopping distances. Under-inflated tyres will do the same as well as soaking up more fuel.
  3. Rotate your tyres to get the most from them but make sure you don’t use this as an excuse to put those in bad condition on the rear axle.
  4. If you need new tyres, always buy from a reputable dealer. Be wary of secondhand ‘bargains’.
  5. Don’t forget to also check that your spare tyre is in good condition.

TIP! Don’t let your tyres go to the bare legal minimum depth of 1.6mm. Extensive research has shown you will need a much shorter distance to stop, especially in the wet, if your tyres have a minimum of 3mm. Makes a lot of sense. And it greatly improves your chances of passing the NCT. 

NEXT WEEK – we look at headlights and brake lines/hoses – two more ‘certs’ to cause your car to fail the NCT if you don’t take care.


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