Car maintenanceTechnical

Time for the NCT

The time has come for my XF to undergo it’s NCT.  Because the Jag has not reached the ripe old age of ten yet, she has to go through the NCT every two years.  For those not in the know, the age rules are as follows:

  • Once a car is four years old, it must start going for NCT tests and must take this test every two years.
  • Once a car is ten years old, it must then start going for NCT tests every year.  
  • Once a car is then thirty years old, it must go for NCT tests every two years.
  • Once a car is forty years old, the car is then NCT exempt.
  • The test date is the anniversary of its initial registration date.
  • You can submit your car for an NCT test up to 90 days before the test is due – I don’t think this is well known , actually, and is handy if you decide to sell your car but the NCT test is almost due.  I personally would not buy a car that is near its NCT due date and hasn’t had the test yet … 

Test preparation

What do I need to do to get the car ready for its NCT?  There are two schools of thought prevalent around this.  The majority of people seem to just put the car through the NCT and then fix whatever is flagged as needing to be repaired.  I am not a fan of this approach, and as a rule keep my cars in very good working order.  

Why do I keep my car in almost perfect working order?  Because I just don’t know what I will encounter on the road during my next trip, and I don’t want to end up smeared across the back of a truck because my brake pads were in need of replacement or stuck in a ditch because my tyres were really low on tread.  This approach actually reaped rewards a few weeks ago during a drive to Donegal, as the beat up delivery truck in front suddenly slammed the brakes on and I had to react rapidly to avoid being impaled on his tow bar. 

But back to the NCT – recently I replaced all the brake pads and discs.  The XF also has new tyres (see the post about winter maintenance here), and new front wishbones.  We discovered the wishbones needed replacement when the car was tracked to fix a pull to the left, and then pulled to the left again the following day.  Frustrating!

I also adjusted the headlight aim on the XF myself shortly after I bought her, simply because she was great at illuminating the road one meter ahead of the bumper, but not much else.  There is a screw that controls range adjustment on all Xenon lights for just this purpose and is something I check as soon as I get a new motor with Xenons.  Not many people are aware of the ability to do this as they think the sensor on the rear suspension is responsible solely for the range and height of Xenon lamps … I must put together a HowTo on this actually!

Car presentation at the NCT centre

On the day of the test, if your car’s wheel nuts are obscured by alloy caps or hub caps, you must remove the offending cover so that the tester can see you have the correct amount of wheel nuts on each wheel.  It would be stupid to fail on hidden wheel nuts, so watch out for this!  

The number plates must also be regulation – the NCT testers tell stories of regularly testing modified cars that have non-regulation plates in the boot and standard plates bolted to the car.  Look here to see the regulations and scroll down past all the small print to see sample registration plates that conform to regulations … and, by the way, you can be stopped by the gardaí if you are running non-reg plates.  Watch out!

In my case, I just need to wash the motor and show up on the day.  Or actually, maybe I don’t even need to do that, as the washing is so the tester can see underneath the car to ensure the chassis isn’t entirely composed of rust.  With the current NCT lifts being unable to lift cars because they all cracked with the weight of the cars being lifted, I expect that I can only go with a partial test on Tuesday and have to return at some unspecified future date to get the underneath inspected.   

Click here to see how I got on.

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