driving test using own car

Driving Test Using Own Car In December 2023

Any learner driver’s journey towards passing their practical driving test marks a significant turning point. Choosing to take the test in your car adds a layer of personalisation. 

Driving in a familiar setting can be relaxing, but it also has its challenges and requirements.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

Preparing Your Car for the Test

Careful planning is the first step in using your vehicle for the practical driving test. To ensure safety, your vehicle must adhere to all requirements set by the driving test facility. Checking your car for flaws is the first step. It might only be a broken headlight or a severe engine problem.

Remember that even a minor error can result in a test cancellation. Next, aspiring drivers should consider taking one or more driving lessons in their vehicles. 

Licensed driving instructors frequently give lessons in their dual-control cars, but taking lessons in your car lets you get a feel for how it handles.

This is especially helpful if your vehicle for the test differs significantly from the instructor’s. The L or D plates required by law for any learner driver in Wales are essential to preparation. They should be prominently displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle.

The driving test examiner may decline to administer the test if the license plates are incorrectly displayed. And finally, it’s beneficial to simulate a driving test in a testing environment. 

This can assist in locating any potential car problems that might emerge during the test. In this regard, instructor training can be beneficial because qualified instructors can accurately simulate the test conditions.

Vehicle Requirements for Driving Tests

For the practical test, driving test centres in the UK have specific vehicle specifications. The first prerequisite is that the vehicle must be roadworthy and have a current MOT if it is older than three years.

Furthermore, the vehicle needs to be insured. For beginning drivers, temporary car insurance is frequently a good choice. 

A passenger seatbelt, a suitable passenger head restraint, and an interior rear-view mirror for the examiner’s use should all be present in the vehicle used for the test.

Additionally, smoking is not permitted anywhere, including with electronic cigarettes. The type of car can also be necessary. For instance, some models, like the Toyota iQ, are not accepted because of their small size. 

Checking your car against the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) list of unsuitable vehicles is an excellent general rule of thumb.

Additionally, there are guidelines for specific car features. For instance, the test vehicle cannot have any warning lights, such as the airbag warning light. Additionally, the vehicle cannot have additional reversing cameras or parking sensors unless turned off.

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Safety Checks Before the Test

Safety checks are crucial if you plan to take the test in your car. L plates should be installed on the test vehicle’s front and rear and be easily visible. 

The tread on the tires must be at least 1.6mm deep and in good condition. The brakes must function properly, and the mirrors must be tidy and in the right place.

The novice driver should ensure they are familiar with all the car controls. The candidate will be asked to demonstrate how they would conduct a vehicle safety check by the driving test examiner. You might ask how to inspect the tires, brakes, lights, and indicators.

Additionally, the examiner will seek knowledge of some fundamental maintenance procedures. These include demonstrating how to check the brake fluid, locating the windscreen washer reservoir, and checking the oil level.

Understanding traffic signs is another aspect of safety checks. During the independent driving portion of the test, the examiner may question the learner driver about various road signs and their definitions.

Insurance Implications for Using Own Car

Insurance is one of the most important factors when using your car for the driving test. Having the appropriate auto insurance is crucial. 

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, all vehicles used for driving tests must have current insurance, overseeing the UK insurance sector.

Many insurance providers provide learner driver insurance specifically created for students who use their vehicles for lessons and tests. This kind of insurance frequently offers comprehensive coverage, but it’s essential to review the specifics of the contract.

Temporary automobile insurance is an alternative. This covers a limited time frame, typically lasting between one and 28 days. Although it is a flexible option that can be quickly arranged, it might provide a different level of coverage than a typical policy.

Last but not least, learner driver needs to make sure they can drive other cars on their insurance policy if they use a car that belongs to a family member or friend.

Common Issues with Using Own Car

Common Issues with Using Own Car

While using your vehicle for the driving test has some benefits, there are a few common problems. One is the potential for mechanical or car faults on test day. The test might be cancelled, and you’d lose your test fee if the car had a problem.

Controls in cars are another frequent source of trouble. New drivers become accustomed to features like dual control in school vehicles. However, these features might not be available in their vehicle. The learner driver must therefore feel completely comfortable operating their car.

Another area for improvement is a need for familiarity with the test routes. The local test routes are frequently well-known to driving instructors, who prepare their students accordingly. 

Without the assistance of a qualified driving instructor with local knowledge, some routes when driving your car might be unfamiliar.

Finally, insurance is a complex subject. Although learner driver and short-term auto insurance are options, they may incur additional costs. Reading the terms and conditions is essential because some policies have limitations.

"Using your vehicle for the driving test has several advantages despite the difficulties. The first one stands out: familiarity. You are familiar with your car’s controls, handling characteristics, and how it reacts to your inputs."

Navigating UK Driving Test Rules

It’s essential to comprehend the driving test regulations in the UK. According to the regulations, the test vehicle must be roadworthy and appropriate. L plates and current proofs of insurance, MOT, and tax are required.

A friend or relative who is at least 21 years old and has had their license for at least three years and an authorised driving instructor must ride along with the learner driver. A passenger seatbelt and an examiner-only interior mirror are also required in the vehicle.

During the driving test in the UK, the applicant will be required to perform several manoeuvres. The test also includes “show me, tell me” questions requiring candidates to provide evidence of their familiarity with the vehicle and its controls.

The candidate will also be required to drive independently for about 20 minutes during the test. To do this, one must follow a satnav’s instructions, traffic signs, or both.

Benefits of Using Own Car

Benefits of Using Own Car

Using your vehicle for the driving test has several advantages despite the difficulties. The first one stands out: familiarity. You are familiar with your car’s controls, handling characteristics, and how it reacts to your inputs.

The assurance that comes with operating a vehicle that is familiar to you is another advantage. When you’re in a car you’re familiar with, the test’s stress can be lessened. Your performance on the test might be enhanced as a result.

Using your vehicle can be helpful if it differs significantly from the standard driving school vehicle. Using a larger car for the test can be advantageous, for instance, if you have been studying in a small car but will be taking the test in a larger one.

Lastly, taking the test in your car might be more practical. You don’t need to coordinate schedules with your driving instructor because you can practice whenever.

Overcoming Potential Challenges

While using your vehicle for the driving test can present some difficulties, these can be avoided with careful planning and preparation. 

By making sure the car is serviced and inspected before the test, mechanical problems can be avoided. Learn how to operate every car control and practice driving in test situations.

If you’re concerned that you won’t be familiar with the test routes, consider taking a few driving lessons in your neighbourhood. An experienced driving instructor can also help you feel more confident about the test.

By comparing prices and reading the policy details carefully, insurance problems can be resolved. Investigating whether adding a learner driver to an existing policy is more affordable or practical is also essential.

The most crucial factor is feeling at ease and secure in the vehicle you’ll use for the test. You can pass the practical driving test in your car if you are well-prepared and have a positive outlook.

Theory Test and Practical Test Interplay

Theory Test and Practical Test Interplay

The theory and practical driving tests are essential in obtaining a full driving license in the UK. You must pass the theory test before you can schedule your practical test. 

It guarantees that you comprehend the Highway Code thoroughly, read road signs, and know your duties as a road user.

On the other hand, the practical test measures how well you can use this knowledge in actual driving situations. Not only must you be able to control the vehicle, but you must also be able to communicate safely with other road users if you want to pass the practical test. 

In the practical test, the driving examiner is critical. They evaluate your vehicle operation ability, make decisions, and follow traffic laws. Remember that the examiner’s main responsibility is to ensure you can drive safely, not simply to pass or fail you.

Importance of the Provisional Licence

Before beginning any driving lessons, whether in your vehicle or that of a driving instructor, you must have a provisional driving license. 

If you have this license and are under the supervision of an adult who is at least 21 years old and has had a full driving license for at least three years, you may practice driving on UK public roads.

Booking your theory test and the practical test requires that you have a provisional license. Additionally, it’s required when setting up learner auto insurance. Remember to bring your provisional license on the day of the test since the driving examiner will require you to do so.

Learner Insurance and Test Date

Learner Insurance and Test Date

To fully prepare for the practical test, you must arrange learner insurance for your vehicle. 

This insurance protects you while you learn to drive and, more importantly, throughout the practical test. Review your learner insurance’s terms and conditions because some policies might not cover the practical test.

Consider the validity of your theory test pass certificate when choosing a test date. After passing the theory test, you have two years to take the practical test. If you fail, you must retake and pass the theory test before moving on to the practical test.

Intensive Driving Course and Instructor’s Car

Enrolling in an intensive driving course for your vehicle may be advantageous. You can quickly gain a lot of driving experience thanks to it. This is especially helpful if your test date is quickly approaching.

However, learning in a driving instructor’s car also has benefits. Most instructor cars have dual controls, enabling the instructor to take over if necessary. These vehicles are typically small and simple to manoeuvre, which is advantageous for novice drivers.

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Meet the author

Rob Atherton

Rob Atherton

Rob writes and edits the content produced by the rest of the team. He has a degree in History from Leeds University and has producing, reviewing and editing the site since 2016

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my driving instructor’s car for the practical driving test?

You may use your driving instructor’s vehicle for the practical driving test. This is a typical procedure because many students get used to the instructor’s car during their lessons. All of the test centre’s specifications must be met by the vehicle.

What are the advantages of using the driving instructor’s car for the test?

The fact that you will probably be using the car your driving instructor drives is one of the main benefits of doing so. Dual controls on the vehicle may help some students feel safer during the test. Furthermore, expert driving instructors frequently drive cars that are simple to manoeuvre, which can be helpful when taking the test.

Is it necessary to have a passenger seat in my car for the driving test?

A passenger seat in your car is required for the practical driving test. During your test, the driving examiner will ride in the passenger seat. Both a passenger seatbelt and an appropriate passenger head restraint are required. It should also have an interior rearview mirror the examiner can use.

What should I consider when deciding between using my or the instructor’s car for the driving test?

Consider factors like familiarity with the vehicle, insurance coverage, vehicle requirements imposed by the test centre, and your comfort and confidence in operating the chosen vehicle when deciding whether to use your car or the instructor for the driving test.


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