What BCAR could learn from the NCT

by Bregs Blog admin team


The following opinion piece was received from a registered architect on October 20th 2014

What BCAR could learn from the NCT

Ireland had a problem with safety standards in cars. There were too many older cars, they weren’t being maintained properly. Rural roads and bad weather compounded the problems and “something had to be done”.

In 2000 the NCT (National Car Test) was established and now all cars over 4 years old are tested regularly. I recently visited a test centre: in less than 25 minutes and for the cost of €55. I was back on the road. The testing centre ran like clockwork because the mechanics are trained, the equipment is calibrated and the testing standardised. It works and it’s very efficient. They can fully test a car for €55 without making a loss. All centres work to the same system and the standard of card on our roads has improved.

If the NCT was run on the BCAR (Building Control Amendment Regulations) model, testing would be carried out in every filling station in the country- all of them would have to train staff and buy in equipment. They’d have to continually upgrade machinery and keep it operational, devise their own computer record system, bring in an emissions expert, keep oil samples, file forms and issue reports. It wouldn’t cost €55.

Problems might arise when different garages worked to different standards- word would get around about who would turn a blind eye to bald tyres, who didn’t even check the wipers. Inevitably the cheapest garages would attract a lot of business.

The powers that be might find it difficult to keep track of thousands of operators. It might prove impossible to police the system effectively or to tackle the cowboy operators.  Perhaps the diligent operators would be priced out of the market in a race to the bottom.

Some of the mid-range garages might find it hard to keep up: a staff member who is selling cars, ordering parts and meeting customers might find it very hard to stay on top of a raft of ever changing technical requirements, to manage the administration and reporting.

Some operators might stop offering the service altogether, referring their customers on to specialist garages who have dedicated staff and equipment.

In time, dedicated centres of excellence might develop in every county where specially trained staff could do the job better and faster. These specialist operators wouldn’t be distracted by other tasks, they could work more efficiently and develop greater expertise. In time, as their systems improved and the volume of business grew, they might be able to offer a good service for as little as €55. Just like the NCT.

Perhaps BCAR has something to learn from this? Dedicated specialist staff and standardised systems are more cost-effective and easier to quality control.