How to Take Your Driving Test Using Your Own Car

So, you’ve been taking driving lessons with your instructor for some time and are now beginning to think about your practical driving test. Let’s say you have your own car and have also had the opportunity to take lessons in it with a relative or friend who meets the legal requirements. You might now be thinking about taking your practical test in your own car, but wondering if there are any advantages in doing so.

In this guide we will cover the pros and cons of using your own car to take your test, along with a handy checklist to ensure your car is legally compliant and ready for the test.

The Pros

  • You may feel more comfortable in your own car having driven it before and have become more familiar with the controls and where to find each function. You might already know how sensitive your brakes are and find it easier to gauge the body of the car when performing manoeuvres.
  • The experience of taking the practical driving test may feel a lot calmer if you thrive under familiarity. This can easily reflect in your own driving skills, although it doesn’t guarantee a greater chance of passing, it can boost your driving confidence. Staying calm under pressure can make all the difference when learning to drive and taking your test.
  • You will know where your mirrors and seats feel comfortable, allowing for suitable vision and pedal reach. You may already have these set before arriving for the test, allowing you to feel fully ready and in control.

The Cons

  • Your own car obviously won’t have dual controls to allow the examiner or instructor to step in if necessary. On taking your test however, the intention is for them not to have to take control of the car at any point, but it can be a reassurance to have them there.
  • You will need to prepare the vehicle so it is suitable for the examination, prior to arriving the test centre. This includes having a small detachable rear-view mirror for the examiner, magnetic L-plates, as well as performing a series of checks and making sure the car is legally road worthy. We will go into this more later on in the guide.
  • Some cars are prohibited from use during a practical driving test, so if you had planned to use your own car and weren’t aware of these rules, then you may not be able to carry out the test on the day if you own one of these vehicles.
  • BMW Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Smart Fortwo (2-door)
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

There might be other cars that you cannot use, so it’s best to check this with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) before taking your test.

Checklist Before Your Driving Test

So, as we mentioned earlier on, there are a series of checks you need to complete to ensure your car is ready to be used for your practical driving test. It can be a lot to remember! So it is handy to read through and refer to this list in preparation.

INSURANCE, TAX & MOT – In advance of the driving test, you must make sure your car is fully taxed and insured. You can check this online at gov.uk if unsure. The examiner will also check this prior to starting the test so you can print off your insurance details to make this easier. You can always purchase learner driver insurance specifically for the day of your test if needed. You will also need an up to date MOT certificate for the car you are using.

BEING ACCOMPANIED – You will need someone to accompany you to the test if you are planning to drive your own car there. They must be at least 21 years old and have had a full driving licence for at least 3 years. They will also need to be insured to be in that car with you. Plan the details with this person before the day of the test so you don’t have any last minute surprises.

CAR TYRES – You must check each tyre for any cuts or bulges, and that each have sufficient tread depth. You can check the air pressure at a petrol station and fill up if needed. Also ensure you have a spare tyre in the car. If the examiner sees any faults with any of the tyres, they won’t let you take the test.

BRAKE LIGHTS – Check these before you leave to go to your test and again on arrival. If you know how to change your bulbs correctly, quickly and safely, it could be a good idea to bring spare bulbs with you. The examiner will usually give you 5 minutes to correct a fault like this before they have to cancel the test.

WARNING LIGHTS – Start the car up and check for any warning lights on the dashboard before leaving for the test centre. You will have to make sure there are no faults in order to drive your own car.

MAGNETIC L PLATES – The examiner may have these, but if you are driving your own car you should be using them anyway. Fit these to the front and rear of your car if you are driving accompanied to the test and leave them in place.

MIRRORS – The examiner will require their own interior rear-view mirror to be fitted before the driving test starts. It can be useful to have one of these in the event they don’t have their own at the time.

DASHCAMS – These can be fitted to the car, but the driving test must not be recorded (film or audio).

SEATBELTS – They must be in good condition and pull out and retract easily. Check all seatbelts before leaving for the test centre to avoid any unwanted disruptions.

CLEAN CAR – As a standard, the car should be clean inside and out. The external lights and licence plates must be clean and clear of mud and debris. The examiner may refuse to go through with the test in your car if it is not in a good state.

FUEL – Don’t forget to put enough fuel in your car! With everything else you are checking for, failing to remember this detail is easily done. Make sure you have enough fuel for the outward and return journey as well as approximately 40 minutes of driving.

PROVISIONAL DRIVING LICENCE – This applies whether you are using your own car or the examiner’s, but it is always worth adding to the checklist as it can be the difference between taking your test as planned on the day if you bring it with you, and having to rearrange your test or wait for a cancellation if you accidently forget it!

So now you have all of your checks in place, you should hopefully feel a lot more relaxed about the idea of taking your practical driving test in your own car. Remember, this option does not guarantee you will perform better on the day but can certainly ease your nerves if you are more comfortable and calmer behind your own wheel.

No matter what car you choose to drive for your practical test, we wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see you out on the road!