MORE than half of all cars tested failed the National Car Test (NCT) on the first attempt this year.
Up until the end of November more than a million vehicles were assessed under NCT criteria, with 592,452 cars failing.
The top five failure items were: front suspension, tyre condition, brake lines/hoses, brake lights and steering linkage.
Figures also show almost two-thirds of cars aged 10 years or older failed on the first attempt, compared with just one-quarter of cars bought in the last five years. Around 11pc of cars aged a decade or older also failed their re-test.
However, the majority of re-tests were successful. In total, out of the 527,730 cars tested this year, just under 10pc failed again.
Meanwhile, AA Ireland attended to 120,000 car breakdown call-outs this year.
Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs for AA Ireland, said people are forgoing regular car maintenance to save money, and only fixing what's necessary to pass the NCT. "It is absolutely evident to us that people are putting repairs on the long finger.
"That is one of the reasons why deteriorating tyres, for example, are turning up more often in the NCT test because people are putting off replacing them.
"The type of breakdowns we're attending to are associated with people not maintaining their cars properly. Obviously that has to do with the tightening of purse strings and because there isn't too much money to spare.
"It's an unwelcome trend," he added.
"We certainly would rather people didn't do that. People shouldn't think of car maintenance in terms of a test which you have to pass every two years. It's far better to service the car at regular intervals and keep it in generally good condition and then it will probably pass the NCT anyway."
Due for inspection next year are all 2010-registered vehicles, which are in for their first NCT, with 2008 and 2006-registered vehicles in for their second and third NCT. Since Applus took over the NCTS contract in 2010 it has increased staff employment by over 20pc and now employs 660 staff, an increase of 120 since 2010.