‘When I tried to stop the car, the brakes failed’ – over 200 people officially complain about NCT issues

One motorist said the test centre had recorded the wrong mileage. Picture posed

Ken Foxe

More than two hundred people made formal complaints about their NCT last year including their brakes failing immediately after a test, “spurious” results, and a wheel that fell off just two weeks after a car was passed as roadworthy.

There were an average of around 17 official complaints a month last year, with frustration also growing about recent delays in scheduling a test, the Road Safety Authority said.

In one case a motorist said their car had successfully passed its NCT — yet two weeks later “the wheel broke off my car while driving.”

Another person said they had taken their wife’s car for a test and immediately after they left the centre, the brakes of the car would not work.

“We travelled 400 metres up the road to a crossroads and when I tried to stop the car, the brakes failed,” they said.

“Fortunately, I managed to bring the car to a halt without hitting anyone. I returned to the NCT centre where the car was inspected. The technician was baffled and could only offer the explanation that the emergency brake test had broken the brake calliper.”​

In one complaint, a person explained how the NCT centre had recorded the wrong mileage on their car, which could have caused issues for its resale.

“I want to get this right as there is a difference of 90,000km,” they said, “I can prove the mileage with all the previous NCT certificates. I never would have drove that much in this short space of time.”

Another said there was a problem with certain types of car, which could fail a suspension imbalance test because of the vehicle’s specialised suspension.

“I was informed by the Mercedes dealer that this was a regular issue,” they wrote. “To reiterate, the result is I cannot get an NCT certificate in a car that there are actually no problems with.”

One motorist explained how they had very specifically tried to book a test well in advance because they so desperately needed their car for work.

However, they were told there would be no dates available until January this year.

“According to Citizen’s Information, the penalty for driving without an NCT certificate is a fine of up to €2,000, and/or up to five penalty points, and/or imprisonment for up to three months,” they wrote.

“As it is next to impossible for me to book an NCT before January 2023, I am leaving myself open to being penalised and possibly imprisoned.”

Another driver claimed a test had caused one of their tyres to puncture. They complained: “I drove my car out of the test centre’s gates to find the car was behaving strangely. I returned straight away and was shown my flat tyre.

“They refused to help me in any way and I had to get a [company] to change to my spare as I have torn ligaments in my knee, and get a new tyre thereafter.”

A spokesman for the RSA said there had been more than two million tests carried out by the NCT service last year.

“The average waiting time for a NCT appointment to date in March is 27.3 days. Before the pandemic the waiting time would have been less than 12 days,” he said.

The spokesman said the service was facing challenges with high demand and particular difficulties in recruiting qualified motor mechanics.

However, steps including extending operational work hours, paid overtime, further recruitment from outside the EU, other recruitment drives, and night shifts at a busy centre in Dublin had all been taken.