Every two years cars in France that are over four years old have to undergo a 133-point test - similar to an MoT in the UK - to ensure they are roadworthy.
The first contrôle technique test, commonly referred to as a CT, needs to be carried out during the six months before the 4th anniversary of the car’s mise en circulation (date when it was authorised to be used on the road). No reminder is sent so it is up to you to organise this.
Drivers should be alerted to subsequent tests by the test centre that carried out the original or most recent one, so once the first test is out of the way, there is no reason to 'forget'.
Brakes, tyres, suspension, emissions, exhaust pipes, and windscreens and windscreen wipers are all checked as part of each test, which is carried out at dedicated centres found in towns and cities across the country.
CT test standards
Any faults found that affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle are picked up and highlighted. They may be marked as 'minor' - with no obligation to repair - 'major', which requires rectifying and a check-up tests, known as a contre-visite, within two months, or 'critical', which means the fault is so serious it needs to be repaired immediately.
In ‘critical’ cases, the car cannot be driven on a French road after midnight on the day of the CT, if it has not been repaired. Reasons could include, for example, leaking brake fluid, very worn, smooth tyres or a crack in the windscreen obscuring the driver’s vision.
For more information on what the test centres look for and the requirements for a contre-visite, check the government website here.
How much does a CT test cost?
Each contrôle technique takes around 45 minutes and costs in the region of €80. But prices vary from CT centre to CT centre so it can often be worth shopping around.
To save you the job of ringing round test centres in your area, the government website prix-controle-technique.gouv.fr allows drivers to search for CT centres near you and compare the price of tests and contre-visite tests - which can be booked, if required, on the day the vehicle has its initial test.
The information on the website comes from openly available data, so it is possible it may be slightly out of date, but it is a useful starting point for anyone new to a particular area, or who has a car that is just reaching its four-year anniversary and is due for its first test.