Doing A Driving Test Using Your Own Car In March 2024

If you choose to use your own car for a driving test, there are a few factors to consider. This article aims to guide you through the process, offering expert advice and key information. The following points exemplify why this article is a must-read:

– It provides a comprehensive explanation of the process and regulations involved in using your own car for the driving test.

– It offers detailed advice on preparing your car for the test, in direct accordance with the requirements set by the test centre.

– It supports your comprehension of the potential outcomes and implications of failing the test using your own vehicle.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

Background to Driving Test with Personal Vehicle

It is common for learner drivers to use the vehicle provided by their driving instructor or driving school to complete their practical test. This is partially due to the convenience it offers, as these cars are equipped with dual controls and meet the stringent requirements set by the driving examiner.

However, an increasing number of learner drivers are now opting to use their own cars. This trend is driven by familiarity with the vehicle and comfort, as well as potentially increasing the chance of passing the test.

Learner driver insurance policies allow learners to practise in their own vehicles outside of driving lessons, consequently providing additional driving experience, Additionally, some learners find that driving their own vehicle during the test helps them to feel more confident.

It is important to note that the Financial Conduct Authority reports that choosing to use your own car for the driving test is a valid option, as long as the car meets certain requirements. These requirements are in place to guarantee the safety of the learner driver, driving test examiner, and other road users.

Driving Test Using Own Car

When you decide to take the driving test in your own car, there are several points to consider. First, and most importantly, you must ensure that your car is appropriately insured. 

This is because valid insurance, ideally temporary car insurance or learner driver insurance, is mandatory. Therefore, you must also check all the features of the car. For instance, you need to ensure that the passenger seat belt and head restraint are functioning properly.

As the driving test involves independent driving, you will be asked to drive by yourself for a portion of the test. Therefore, practising this in your own car can prove advantageous. 

However, it’s important to remember that the driving test examiner will be in the passenger seat, making it necessary to ensure their comfort and safety.

Finally, make sure that your car is suitable for the test. This is because some cars are not allowed in UK driving tests due to their size or lack of all-round vision. 

For example, the BMW Mini or the Toyota IQ. This means that you should check with the test centre before your test date, allowing you to confirm that your vehicle is suitable.

You can also watch this video on Youtube here.

Requirements and Regulations for Personal Cars

If you’re planning to use your own car for the driving test, it’s crucial to understand the requirements and regulations. These rules make sure that your car is safe to drive, complying with specific requirements. 

These include having valid insurance, L plates or D plates, and an extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner.

Furthermore, the vehicle shouldn’t have any warning lights showing, such as the airbag warning light. It should also be free of tyre damage, featuring legal tread depth. Whilst electronic parking brakes and parking sensors are allowed, you must demonstrate that you can park without them. 

In addition, you will need a passenger seat with an upright backrest and adjustable head restraint for the examiner.

It is also key to remember that not all car features are permitted within the test. For instance, convertibles are not permitted, and cars with light or zero emissions must have a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg.

Preparing Your Car for the Test

Whilst some learners may prioritise cleaning their car for the test, there are several other factors to consider. First, you must ensure that the car is roadworthy. 

Therefore, you should check the tyres, brakes, lights, and other key components. If your car has any fault or isn’t safe to drive, it won’t be allowed for the test.

On the day of the test, it is vital that your car has enough petrol. Although the test typically takes about 40 minutes, it can last longer if there are traffic issues. Additionally, check that the L plates or D plates are correctly positioned and secure.

The interior mirror for the examiner should be properly adjusted, and all the vehicle’s documents, including the insurance, should be provided.

Common Issues with Using Own Car

Outcomes and Implications of Failure

Whilst failing a driving test can prove disheartening, you should recognise it as an aspect of your learning experience. If you fail the test in your own car, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the car was the problem. 

Rather, it could be due to a lack of understanding of traffic signs, not following the test routes correctly, or simply nerves.

Examiners provide a debrief at the end of the test, outlining the areas where you made mistakes. This feedback will help you to recognise areas of improvement, meaning that you need to pay careful attention to it.

If you fail the test, remember that you can always retake it. Although there is no limit to the number of times you can retake the test, you will need to wait at least 10 working days before your next attempt. 

In addition, consider additional driving lessons or an intensive driving course to boost your skills and confidence.

"Learner driver insurance policies allow learners to practise in their own vehicles outside of driving lessons, consequently providing additional driving experience, Additionally, some learners find that driving their own vehicle during the test helps them to feel more confident."

Understanding the Practical Driving Test

The practical driving test is a crucial part of getting a driving licence in the UK, assessing your capability to drive a vehicle in accordance with traffic rules. 

The test is divided into several parts, including an eyesight check, ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions, general driving ability, reversing your vehicle, and independent driving.

The practical test typically lasts around 40 minutes. It is key to understand that the examiner is not trying to make the test unnecessarily difficult. 

Rather, they just want to ensure that you can drive safely and confidently. If you pass, you will receive a pass certificate and your full driving licence will be sent to you.

When using your own car for the practical driving test, it’s essential to be thoroughly familiar with all its controls and features. Regardless of whether your car is a manual, automatic or semi-automatic, it is necessary to be comfortable with its operation.

Benefits of Using Own Car

The Role of Driving Instructors and Lessons

Approved driving instructors are experienced professionals who are well-versed in the requirements of the practical driving test, meaning that they play a vital role in your driving test preparation. 

They provide driving lessons that cover all aspects of driving, ranging from basic controls to complex manoeuvres.

It is important to recognise that instructor training means that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to teach you how to drive. They can provide invaluable advice and guidance, helping you to improve your driving skills and prepare for the test. 

This includes understanding traffic signs, dealing with different road user categories, and navigating through varied test routes.

Choosing to attend driving lessons in your own car can be advantageous, as your instructor can identify any areas of concern specific to your vehicle. 

It also ensures that your car is suitable for the test, meeting all the necessary requirements such as dual controls, licence warning lights, and safety features.

Insurance Considerations for Learner Drivers

When using your own car for the driving test, insurance is a necessary consideration. It’s a legal requirement to have at least third-party insurance when you drive a vehicle on public roads in the UK. 

Learner drivers will need a specific type of insurance, which is known as learner driver insurance.

Learner driver insurance offers cover while you are learning to drive and can be arranged for your own car. It’s a short-term policy that sits alongside the car owner’s policy, consequently protecting their no-claims bonus if they have an accident.

Alternatively, provisional car insurance policies are another option. These policies often offer comprehensive cover, some even covering you for your driving test and driving home after you pass your test. 

To ensure your policy covers you for the driving test, it is always necessary to check with your insurance company. If it doesn’t, you may need to arrange additional cover.

Theory Test and Practical Test Interplay

Importance of the Theory Test

In order to get your driving licence in the UK, you need to pass your theory test. It is designed to test your understanding of the Highway Code and the rules of the road. The theory test is divided into two parts, which includes multiple-choice questions and a hazard perception test.

The multiple-choice section tests your understanding of road signs, driving laws, and safe driving practices. 

The hazard perception section assesses your ability to perceive and react to potential hazards on the road. It is also key to note that you need to pass your theory test before you can take your driving test.

When using your own car for the practical driving test, it’s vital to acknowledge the aspects learned from your theory test. 

For instance, understanding dual control features of driving instructors’ cars can help you to manage your vehicle better. This is specifically important to tackling challenging situations on the road.

Instructors’ Car vs. Own Car

Using an instructor’s car or your own car for the test is a decision that should be made after careful consideration. 

Driving instructors’ cars are typically fitted with dual controls, meaning that The instructor can take over control of the car if necessary. Consequently, this can provide a safety advantage during lessons.

However, using your own car comes with its own set of advantages. For instance, you may feel more comfortable and confident driving a familiar vehicle. 

Also, the driving test centre might be more familiar with local test vehicle requirements. This will allow them to provide specific guidance on preparing your car for the test.

When using your own car, it’s crucial to understand the technical differences compared to an instructor’s car. 

For example, the absence of dual controls means more reliance on your own judgement. This means that it is essential to recognise the nuances of operation if you are learning to drive an automatic or semi-automatic vehicle.

Regardless of whether you choose to use your own car or the instructor’s car, you should prioritise demonstrating your ability to safely and competently drive. Remember that the car is just a tool, and your driving skills are what truly matter.

Learner Insurance and Test Date

A Case Study On Driving Test Using Own Car

Here is a case study to illustrate using your own car for a driving test in a real-world scenario. This example should resonate with learner drivers planning to use their own car for their driving test.

Emily is a 24-year-old from Leeds who is looking to get her driving licence. She decided to use her own car, which is a compact city vehicle, for her driving test. 

Having taken lessons from an approved driving instructor in the instructor’s dual control car, she felt confident in her driving abilities. 

However, she felt more at ease in her own car. This is because she had been practising in it, making sure to be covered by her provisional car insurance policy. 

Emily’s instructor supported her decision, advising her to inform the test centre that she would be using her own car. 

Emily made sure her car met all the requirements set out by the DVSA. This means that she checked her car had L plates, an extra rear-view mirror for the examiner, and that her learner insurance was up to date. 

One unique challenge Emily faced was the lack of dual controls in her car, meaning that she solely had to rely on her own judgement during the test. In addition, Emily ensured that her car, which had a space-saver spare tyre, met all the other DVSA requirements.

Luckily, Emily passed her driving test on the first attempt. She felt that being able to use her own car, which she was comfortable and familiar with, played a significant role in her success. 

Emily’s story highlights that with the correct preparation and adherence to regulations, using your own car for a driving test can prove advantageous.

Key Takeaways and Learnings

We will now summarise the main points on completing your driving test using your own car. This will help to reinforce the key learnings from this article, highlighting the essential steps to should consider if you’re planning to use your own car for the driving test.

– Familiarise yourself with the practical driving test process and what it involves. For instance, understanding the role of the driving instructor’s car and how using your own car might differ from this.

– Ensure that you have the right insurance for taking the driving test in your own car. For this purpose, provisional car insurance policies or learner driver insurance policies are usually suitable.

– It is necessary that your car meets specific requirements set by the DVSA for the driving test. This includes having L plates, an extra interior mirror for the examiner, and ensuring all vehicle features are functioning correctly.

– When using your own car in the test, guarantee that you understand the rules and regulations for using your own car in the test. These rules are in place for safety and insurance purposes.

– Failing the test in your own car does not necessarily mean the car was the problem. Instead, utilise the feedback from the examiner to understand where improvements can be made.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to demonstrate safe and competent driving skills. Therefore, this is regardless of whether you choose to use your own car or the instructor’s car for the driving test.

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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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