THE number of cars failing the National Car Test (NCT) is on the rise as the fleet ages and motorists cut back on essential maintenance.
More than half (53pc) of all vehicles have failed the test so far this year, continuing a steady increase seen over the past four years. But many failures could have been avoided had motorists carried out basic visual checks, including lights, tyres and headlamps.
The NCT fee for a full test is €55 and a re-test costs €28. However, if equipment is not needed for the re-test, for example to check that faulty windscreen wipers have been replaced, there is no fee.
"The main reasons for failing remain consistent each year," a spokeswoman said.
"But there's items the customer can check themselves. There's visual items like windscreen washers and lights. Customers might fail for a brake light not working, which can also be checked, saving the inconvenience of having to have the car re-checked within 30 days. These checks will save the customer time and money."
The average age of the national fleet now stands at 8.25 years, following the collapse of the new car market. Cuts in funding for road maintenance are also having an impact with damage being caused to vehicles because of potholed roads, while motorists spend less today than five years ago on basic maintenance.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the average spend on servicing is €262.08 per household, compared with €279.24 five years ago. Motoring experts said that as the fleet ages, the failure rate would also increase.
The statistics from the NCT show that between January and August 1 this year, some 855,982 cars underwent the test. Of those, 455,586 (53.2pc) failed. This compares with 51.3pc last year; 49pc in 2011; 47.8pc in 2010 and 47.7pc in 2009.
The most common reasons for failure are front suspension, tyre condition, headlamp aim, brake line/hoses, stop lamps and wheels.
The Road Safety Authority warned that vehicles needed to be properly maintained and is planning national advertising campaigns to educate drivers about the importance of maintaining vehicles later this year.