Wondering if you can, or if you should take your driving test in your own car? Our guide can help
If you’re looking for the quick, TL:DR (too long: didn’t read) answer to the question ‘can I use my own car for my driving test?’, that answer is a resounding “yes”.
After all, driving examiners don’t provide a car for your test, so any car they examine you in will be someone other than theirs – most likely your own, or using your driving instructor’s car.
But there are some very important things you need to know before heading to the test centre in your own car, and if you run the risk of your test being cancelled if you don’t know the following and act on it.
What are the legal requirements for taking a driving test in your own car?
The car must:
- Be fitted with ‘L’ plates
- Be fitted with an extra rear-view mirror for the examiner to use.
- Be roadworthy and have a valid MOT
- Be taxed
- Have no warning lights showing on the dashboard
- Have no damage to the tyres, which must also have the legal minimum tread depth
- Have a passenger seat, head restraint and seatbelt
- Be able to reach 62mph
Note your car does not need to have dual controls, unless you are using a hire car, which requires them.
You can buy an extra rear view mirror with a suction cup online for little more than £5, but be warned that if any of the above conditions are not met, the test is likely to be cancelled.
You must also be insured to drive the car, so check with your provider that they will cover you if you take the test in your car.
The car should also be clean and tidy, and you must not smoke in it either during the test, or shortly before it.
Your car can have a manual or automatic gearbox, though (as you’re probably well aware) if you take your test in an automatic or semi-automatic car, you will not be able to drive a car with a manual gearbox unless you retake the test in a manual car.
Are there any cars you can’t take your test in?
Yes. Some cars do not offer the visibility a driving examiner requires.
The cars singled out for exclusion on this basis are:
- BMW Mini convertible
- Ford KA convertible
- Smart Fortwo (2-door)
- Toyota iQ
- VW Beetle convertible
Although the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which administers the test, warns that there may be other cars that do not give a good enough view, and that if you want to take your test in a convertible, a coupe or a van, you email (email@example.com) or telephone (0300 200 1122) the DVSA in advance.
There are also cars that have been subject to significant safety recalls, and you must be able to show proof that the faults have been remedies, bringing this with you on the day of the test.
For example, if you have a Citroen C1 built between 9 Sep 2014 and 15 Oct 2014, it may have had a fault with its steering that must have been repaired. Head to the DVSA’s website for a full list of cars with recalls serious enough to require proof they have been remedied of their faults.
As an aside, regardless of whether you’re taking your driving test in your own car, be sure to pop its registration into the Government’s recall checker tool if you haven’t done so already, as this will tell you if the vehicle requires recall work (manufacturers will attend to such work for free, by the way.)
Are you able to use your car’s driving aids in the test?
Modern cars come with all manner of assistive technology – everything from driver fatigue detection to self parking systems.
But while you can’t use a self-parking system (IE one that steers the car into a space), you can use parking sensors, front and rear, and a parking camera, to help you, though you will need to not just rely on these, looking through the windows and at the mirrors as well.
You can also use the car’s electronic handbrake, if it has one, as well as hill-hold assist, which, in order to prevent a car rolling back, keeps the brakes applied for a couple of seconds after you take your foot off the brake pedal if you are stopped on an incline.
Should you take a driving test in your own car?
Only you can answer this question: assuming your car meets all the above criteria, if you would be more comfortable taking the driving test in it, you should do so.
However, you should be very familiar with your car, having driven it on several occasions previously. You should also have practised mock driving tests in your car so you know how it handles under emergency braking, for example.
It may also be that your driving instructor’s car is more modern than your own, so may have lighter controls and driver aids that could make it easier to perform the manoeuvres that will be required of you on test day. Either way, be sure to make the decision with your head, rather than your heart.
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