Four-year-old cars failing NCT due to Kerry's bad roads

Richard Doyle, Arnold Sirka, Tom Lonergan and Phil Thomas of R&A Autos in Tralee
Richard Doyle, Arnold Sirka, Tom Lonergan and Phil Thomas of R&A Autos in Tralee

Simon Brouder

A QUARTER of all newer cars that go through the NCT are failing the test due to very minor problems, which are often caused by Kerry's bad roads.

Statistics provided by the NCT Service show that an average of 73 per cent of four year old cars that are put through the test pass first time with 96 per cent passing the second time out.

These newer cars, which in the vast majority of cases are viewed as safe and roadworthy by mechanics, typically fail because of front suspension problems caused by bad, potholed roads or due to the condition of the tyres and minor problems with headlights and brake lamps.

Unsurprisingly, as cars age the pass rates fall off significantly. While two thirds of six year old cars will pass first time just over a third of ten year old vehicles, which must be tested every year, pass on their first run through the test centre. Of all the cars that fail the test a tiny 0.4 per cent are deemed too dangerous to be taken back out onto the road.

Pass rates also vary depending on the test centre. The most recent figures available for Kerry show that in 2012, 66 per cent of vehicles passed first time compared with 56 per cent at NCT centres in both Tralee and Listowel.

Mechanic Richard Doyle, who owns and runs R&A Autos at the Listowel Road on the outskirts of Tralee, said the most common problem for cars in Kerry appears to be their suspension.

"By far the biggest cause of test failures we see here is suspension which is definitely associated with the condition of the roads in the county. Failure rates because of bad suspension would be far lower in Dublin," he said.

"A four year old car should be in good condition but it all depends on the mileage and the roads it is being driven on," said Mr Doyle.

"Passing the test all depends on the condition of the car. A big problem now is that people are struggling financially and as a result they aren't looking after their cars they way they used to. It's false economy because you might save money in the short term but you could end up with a big problem that's expensive to fix," he said.

Mr Doyle was highly critical of legislation that requires cars aged ten years or older to be tested every year.

"Testing them every year is nothing more than a money making racket," he said.