Can you use your own car in the driving test? And would you want to?
Many learner drivers practise in a car that isn't their instructor's. But if you want to use your own car to take your driving test there are some requirements.
We look at the pros and cons of using your own car on your practical driving test.
Can you take a driving test in your own car?
In short, yes, you can take your driving test in your own car.
While most people choose to take the test in their instructor's car, there's no rule that says you must.
And if you're being taught to drive by a friend or family member, you might not have the option.
Doing the driving test in your own car does have its advantages.
For example, as a learner driver, if you have access to your own car, you might spend a lot of time practising in it outside official lessons.
Then when it comes to your test, you might feel more comfortable taking your practical test in your own car.
But there are a few restrictions that you should know about before you do.
You might even have to buy a couple of things to make your own car usable on your test.
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What are the rules on using your own car for a driving test?
If you want to use your own car to do your driving test then it must follow a few basic rules:
- Tax: your car must have valid car tax that is in date when you take the driving test
- Insurance: your car must be insured and you must be insured to drive it on your practical test (check with your insurer!)
- Roadworthiness: your car must have a valid MOT, no warning lights must be lit on the dashboard, and the tyres must have legal tyre tread depth
- Speed: your car must be able to achieve 62 mph
- Smoking: you must not smoke in your car before or during your driving test
- Wheels: your car must be a category B and must have 4 wheels (so no Reliant Robins!)
We'd also recommend moving any rubbish out of your car and giving it a good clean and tidy. It never hurts to create a good first impression.
Extra requirements for driving test cars
As well as the basics, you also need a few specific items:
- The car must have L plates on the front and back
- An extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner (you need to buy one of these)
- The car must have a passenger seat belt and fixed head restraint for the examiner
- If you've got a dashcam it must not record audio or video inside the car during the driving test
Are some cars not allowed for the driving test?
Certain cars aren't suitable for taking your driving test in. This is because the examiner doesn't have all-round vision from the passenger seat.
These cars include:
- BMW Mini convertible
- VW Beetle convertible
- Smart Fortwo (2-door)
- Ford KA convertible
- Toyota iQ
In fact, if you want to take your driving test in any car, you should check beforehand with the test centre or the DVSA that it is acceptable. This is especially the case with convertibles, panel vans and coupes.
You're also not permitted to use a car that has known safety faults unless you can provide proof that the problem is rectified and the car is now safe.
Why use your own car for the driving test?
There are a number of positives to using your own car on your driving test:
It's your car, so you're used to driving it. You know where all the controls are and you know exactly where the clutch bites.
You spent hours practising manoeuvres in it so you know exactly where the back end is when you're reversing.
Your seat and mirrors should be perfectly set for you.
Your car is always available so you can be more flexible with test dates
If you use your instructor's car you're probably going to be paying them for 3 hours of their time.
Reasons for using your driving instructor's car for your practical test
- Your instructor can give you some last minute advice and practice before the test.
- You don't have to worry about car insurance as they have this in place.
- Your instructor's car has dual controls. You don't need these for the test, but it does mean the examiner could take over in an emergency.
What driving aids can you use during the driving test?
Modern cars come with all sorts of technology to assist the driver. But there's no point testing your parallel-parking if the car is going to do it for you!
So what are and aren't you allowed to use on your driving test?
Using a sat nav on your driving test
Since 2017 there's been a sat nav section in the practical driving test.
But you can't use your phone or your own sat nav for this. The examiner should supply you with a standard sat nav unit that you must use on your test.
Using parking sensors on your driving test
You're also allowed to use parking sensors but not parking cameras. And any parking assist or automatic parking is definitely out.
The examiner is looking for you to be in control of the vehicle, maintaining a steady speed and having spatial awareness of where you are.
Using electronic handbrakes on your driving test
As more cars have them fitted as standard, electronic handbrakes have become permitted on the driving test.
E-handbrakes make hill starts much easier but the examiner is still looking for you to correctly use the e-handbrake to stop and pull away smoothly and at an appropriate speed.
Using other driving aids on your driving test
Most other driving technology isn't permitted on your driving test, so it's best to switch it off while you're learning or practising.
While features such as blind-spot technology were developed to keep you safer for example, it doesn't alter your responsibility to check your blind spot when you change lane.
What insurance do I need to take my driving test in my own car?
You must have valid insurance for the car you intend to use for your driving test.
If you've been learning to drive in a friend or family member's car then you probably have learner driver insurance.
Learner driver insurance covers you to practice in your friend or family members car while you learn and should also cover you for your driving test.
There's also the option of temporary learner driver insurance. Temporary car insurance gives you short-term cover for as little as 1 hour to 28 days.
But before you book your test it's always best to check the terms of your policy in case there are any restrictions.
Will I have to take someone with me to the driving test?
If you're using your instructor's car then your instructor is going with you to the test centre.
If you're driving yourself to the test centre, you need a qualified person in the car as you're still a learner until you pass your test.
And if you have learner driver insurance, even if you pass your test you can't drive yourself home because it doesn't cover qualified drivers.
The person you take with you must drive you home after your test, so make sure they're insured to drive your car.
Or you could get a car insurance quote on your smartphone in the car park of the driving test centre before setting off.
Does my car need to have dual controls for the driving examiner?
No, you don't need dual controls in your car to take your driving test unless you're using a hire car.
In fact, they aren't mandatory for driving lessons either, but most driving instructors choose to have them.
After all, their car is their livelihood, and dual controls probably give them a bit more peace of mind!
Do I need to tell the test centre if I want to use my own car?
No, you don't need to tell the test centre beforehand if you want to use your own car, but it must fulfil all the requirements for a driving test car.
If it fails to meet the standard, or is found to be unsuitable, your test is immediately cancelled and your money isn't refunded.
Can I take my driving test in an automatic car?
Yes. If you take your driving test in an automatic car you can only get a driving licence for automatic cars.
You aren't able to drive a manual car unless you take another driving test, this time in a car with a clutch and gearstick.
Can I take my driving test in a hire car?
Yes it's possible to take your test in a hire car. But as well as the usual requirements, a hire car must have dual controls.
And it's not always easy to find a hire car with dual controls.
Can I drive my car away if I pass my driving test?
Technically you're able to drive your car away independently straight after your test. But that might not be the best idea.
First, you're probably buzzing with adrenalin and emotion.
Second, if you had learner driver insurance previously you might not be covered and might need to arrange insurance first.
Third, whoever brought you to the driving test centre might appreciate getting home! If they're driving home make sure they're insured to drive your car.
So why not wait a bit and let it all sink in, before embracing your hard-won freedom.