Vehicles with the highest NCT fail rate for last year can be revealed in figures obtained by the Irish Independent.
n analysis of NCT test results on almost 1.42m vehicles last year reveals a majority of 79 of the 200 most popular car models on Irish roads failed the test.
Overall, the average failure rate of all vehicles tested during 2021 was 47.2pc – a significant drop on the failure rate of 56.3pc in 2020.
The failure rate had consistently ranged between 50pc and 51pc for the previous three years.
However, the 2020 figures were skewed by problems with lifting equipment at NCT test centres which meant checks on a vehicle bodies and suspension could not be carried out for a period.
The figures are published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) based on the results of all vehicles tested by the National Car Testing Service last year.
Preliminary figures for 2022 show the failure rate is continuing to fall and has averaged 45.8pc so far this year.
A spokesperson for the RSA said it was very difficult to draw any conclusions or trends from the figures as research had identified that around a third of all motorists consistently use the NCT as “a diagnostic tool”. “They get a list of failure items from the NCT and then go off to their mechanic to get them fixed,” the spokesperson observed.
“Our advice has always been that the NCT should not be used as a substitute for a full service as NCT testers can’t check a vehicle to the same level as a mechanic.
“The NCT results are just a snapshot of a vehicle at a particular point in time and there is an onus on motorists to ensure their cars are in a roadworthy condition at all times.”
The highest failure rate last year was with the Lexus IS200 with 72.3pc of such models not passing the NCT test at the first time of asking.
Other high failure rates among popular models were Volkswagen Bora (71.7pc); Vauxhall Vectra (71.3pc); Seat Cordoba (70.6pc) and Nissan Primera (68.5pc).
Other popular models with a failure rate in excess of 60pc included the Citroen C5, Opel Zafira, Ford Fusion, Nissan Almera, Peugeot 206 and Hyundai Accent.
As in previous years, the NCT test results for 2021 show a strong correlation between failure rates and the age of a car with vehicles registered in 2017 having a fail rate of just 17.4pc compared to 70.4pc for cars first registered in 1982.
They highlight how most models with high failure rates last year were older than the average years of registration of all vehicles which was 2010.
However, the average age of some models with relatively high failure rates – Renault Grand Scenic (63.2pc) and Peugeot Partner (60.5pc) were below the overall average at 2011 and 2014 respectively.
The RSA stressed that the results do not provide any information on factors such as the mileage, maintenance and service history of vehicles.
The figures relate only to the initial tests on cars and do not take into account the result of re-tests.
At the other end of the scale, low failure rates were recorded among several well-known models, with the Seat Ateca having the lowest fail rate among the top 200 models on Irish roads at just 13.7pc – or one in seven vehicles not passing the NCT.
The average age of Seat Ateca models tested last year was four years – 2017 was the latest year possible for new cars to be subject to a mandatory NCT in 2021.
Other models with below-average rates, which also were comparatively newer vehicles, were the Toyota C-HR (14.6pc); the Suzuki Vitara (18.2pc); the Renault Kadjar (19.1pc) and the Mercedes-Benz CLA (19.8pc).
The oldest cars tested last year dated back to 1982 with 19 of the 27 vehicles consisting of Ford Cortina, Volkswagen Golf and various Mercedes-Benz models failing their NCT.
Vintage cars, which are classified as any vehicle over 40 years old, do not have to be submitted for a NCT if used for non-commercial purposes.
However, the RSA said the owners of such vehicles are still obliged by law to ensure their cars are roadworthy.
Across all models, the car manufacturer with the highest NCT failure rate among the top 25 brands last year was Citroen at 57pc.
Other brands with above-average fail rates were Vauxhall (55.9pc); Fiat (53.2pc), Peugeot (52.2pc) and Renault (51pc).
Lexus had the lowest failure rate at 38.4pc, although the average age of its vehicles tested was the same as those with higher failure levels.
Dacia, whose vehicles were the newest tested on average in 2021, had the second lowest failure rate at 39.6pc.
The figures show the most common fault with vehicles last year related to lighting and electrical equipment with 16.5pc of all cars tested failing on that category – just ahead of steering and suspension (15.5pc) and the side slip test (12pc) – which examines how far the vehicle deviates to the left or the right if the steering wheel is untouched.
More than one in 10 vehicles failed the brake test with a similar proportion having problems with wheels or tyres.
Less than 4pc of all vehicles failed the emissions test.
The figures show 82,065 cars on the initial test last year were deemed to be in an unroadworthy condition, with 2,735 vehicles still categorised as dangerous after a re-test
More than 400,000 extra vehicles were tested during 2021 than the previous year when many of the 49 NCT test centres closed due to Covid-19. The test centre in Castlerea had the highest fail rate, at 61.9pc, while the lowest rate, at 39.8pc, was in Portlaoise, Co Laois.
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