Around 40% of cars and 50% of vans fail their NCT on the first attempt – often for something trivial like a worn out wiper blade or blown light bulb. Even if you don’t have to pay for a retest, it’s inconvenient to have to bring the vehicle back. Here are some handy hints on how to pass first time, without the need for mechanical skills or experience. Even a wash can make a difference.
l Check the lights. Make sure all the bulbs work the day before the test and renew any failed bulbs. Make a final check just before the test – Sod’s law says that another bulb will have failed, so carry a bulb kit.
l Check the tyres for damage. Use a tread depth gauge to check the amount of tread remaining. The legal minimum is 1.6mm, although it is better to fit new tyres well before that depth is reached.
l Fit new wiper blades. If they’ve been on for a year they’re past it anyway. Wipers are much cheaper from an accessory shop than a garage. Top up the screen wash reservoir too.
l Take a good look at the windscreen and mirrors. There must be no cracks or large chips in the windscreen in the driver’s field of view (small stone chips are OK). Rear view mirrors must be adjustable and in good condition.
l Check the horn sounds loud and clear.
l Don’t wait until the last minute. You can submit your car for test up to a month before the old certificate runs out; the new certificate will run for 12 months from the expiry of the old one.
l Clean your car inside and out. The tester can refuse to accept a really dirty car.
l Watch and learn. You are entitled by law to watch the test being carried out. This is particularly useful if you’re having a test done as a pre-purchase (or even post-purchase) check.
l Read the comments. Pass or fail, there may be an ‘advisory notice’ listing items likely to need attention in the near future. If you don’t understand what a comment means, ask.