Cars which undergo the National Car Test (NCT) over the coming weeks will be issued with a “fail” notice, regardless of the mechanical condition of their car.
In separate statements issued on Thursday night in response to potential difficulties with car-lifting equipment at the State’s 47 car test centres, both the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and centres manager Applus+ confirmed fail notices will be issued to all vehicles until the problem is resolved.
Grant Henderson of Applus+ said the extent of the problem may take weeks to quantify, while the AA said if the issue lasts for more than two months, a quarter of a million motorists could be affected.
If a motorist is prosecuted by the Garda and for not having a valid NCT they face a possible penalty of five penalty points, fines of up to €2,500 and/or a jail sentence.
On Wednesday, Applus+ suspended parts of the NCT which rely on the use of lifting equipment after some similar “scissors-style” lifting machines in use in car testing centres in Northern Ireland was found to have cracked.
The equipment is used by staff to examine underneath cars. During inspections in Northern Ireland, signs of cracking were identified in 48 out of the 55 lifts in operation across 15 testing centres. Testing was suspended across Northern Ireland.
In the Republic, however, only that part of the NCT which involves the use of the lifts has been suspended.
Motorists have been asked to turn up for their car tests as normal, and will receive a partial safety report, before returning at some point in the future to complete the remainder of the test.
The partial report will indicate the car has failed and will show that the full test was not completed.
Efforts were being made on Thursday to reach agreement between the Garda, the RSA and Applus+ on how to proceed.
However, there was no joint statement from the three bodies concerned.
In separate statements the RSA and Applus+ confirmed cars would receive a fail notice.
The RSA said: “As an interim measure, a Vehicle Inspection Report will be issued in the normal way following a test. While it will indicate the result as a ‘fail’ it will clearly indicate “no lift inspection done” in relation to Stage 3 of the test dealing with the visual inspection of the underbody. Motorists affected by the issue are advised to keep a copy of their vehicle inspection report with them in their vehicle.”
The RSA also advised motorists they would need to remedy any defects noted at stage one and two, before bringing the cars back at some time in the future for the remaining Stage 3 tests.
Applus+ made the same points adding: “While it will indicate the result as a ‘fail’ it will clearly indicate “No lift inspection done” in relation to Stage 3 of the test dealing with the visual inspection of the underbody.
The Garda also advised motorists to keep a copy of the vehicle inspection report they receive from the test centre in their vehicle at all times. “The report should be presented to a member of An Garda Síochána if required to do so,” the Garda said.
The director of government affairs with Insurance Ireland Declan Jackson said insurers would be pragmatic. “Insurers will not do anything to add to the inconvenience,” he said.
Mr Jackson called on motorists to make their NCT appointment in the usual way and to go ahead and get their vehicle partially tested, for which they will receive a vehicle inspection certificate.