Using Your Own Car For The Driving Test
One common question candidates always ask is, can you take your driving test in your own car? The short answer is yes, you can, and in this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know, from car requirements for the driving test to the pros of cons of using your own car versus your instructor’s.
Car requirements for driving test
You can use your own car for the driving test as long as the vehicle meets the rules set by the DVSA. The requirements ensure your car doesn’t break the law while also keeping you, the examiner, and other road users safe. All driving test vehicles must be;
- Insured for use by a learner driver on their driving test.
- Roadworthy or hold a valid MOT certificate if the car is more than 3-years old.
- Free of any dashboard warning lights.
- Free of any tyre damage and each tyre must have at least 1.6mm of tread depth.
- Free of any smoke residue – you should avoid smoking in your car just before your driving test.
- Fitted with a working speedometer and be able to reach a top speed of at least 62mph.
- Fitted with 4 wheels and have maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg.
If your car fails to meet these requirements, the driving examiner will have no choice but to cancel your driving test, and the DVSA will not issue a refund.
If you find out your car is untaxed or that it doesn’t have a valid MOT certificate after you’ve booked your test, you may have to change your driving test date to avoid losing your booking.
Insurance requirements for driving test cars
At the start of your driving test, the driving examiner will ask you to sign a declaration on the driving test marking sheet, confirming your vehicle has valid insurance. If you are taking your driving test with an instructor’s car, you can go ahead and sign this form without too much concern, as all driving instructors need to have valid insurance to teach. If you’re using your own car on the driving test, you’ll need to make sure you have a valid learner driver insurance policy.
A valid learner driver policy should cover you for your driving lessons and the driving test, but make sure you check that latter point as some policies might have an exception to this.
If you drive well enough to pass your driving test, you’ll need to update your insurance policy to drive home, as learner driver insurance does not cover full licence holders.
Additional requirements for driving test cars
Along with the rules listed above, there are some additional requirements that all driving test cars must meet. If you plan on using your own car, you must fit it with the following;
- An extra interior/centre mirror that the driving examiner will use.
- L-plates on the front and back of the car – you can also use D-plates if you’re taking your test in Wales.
- The passenger’s seat should have a working seatbelt and a fixed head restraint.
Where can you buy an extra mirror for your driving test?
Driving test mirrors are cheap and quite easy to find. You can pick one up for under £15 on Amazon, and we recommend fitting the mirror securely before the start of your test. The last thing you want to do is waste valuable time trying to secure the mirror once you’ve sat down with the examiner, as they can be fiddly.
If you forget to sort out the extra mirror, call the driving test centre before the day of your test, and find out if they have any spares. Some test centres do have the odd one lying around but try not to rely on this.
Pros and Cons of using your own car vs using an instructor’s car
If you’re struggling to choose between taking the driving test in your own car or using an instructor’s, we’ve put together a list of pros and cons for each option.
Using your own car for driving test
The comfort of your own car
If you’ve been able to practice in your own car – while supervised by an appropriate individual – you should feel very comfortable with your vehicle’s controls and handling. Feeling comfortable in the car you’re taking your driving test in is one of the main reasons candidates decide to take the test in their own cars.
Feeling comfortable in your own car will also reduce any driving test nerves you might have, and this will help you drive to the best of your ability.
Clarity about your vehicle
You know your car inside and out, and assuming nothing unexpected happens, you know it’s the car you’ll take your driving test in. If you plan on using your instructor’s vehicle, you might have to get used to a new car right before your test if your instructor has to switch vehicles for any reason.
Your instructor could pick you up in a replacement car if their original car breaks down. They also might turn up with a new car if they’ve recently upgraded their vehicle.
You’re responsible for the car
You need to ensure your vehicle meets the standard for driving test cars. If your car breaks a single rule, the driving examiner will cancel your test, and you won’t be entitled to a refund.
Lack of dual controls
Your car does not need dual controls for you to take your test in it. However, the examiner may feel the need to intervene quicker than they otherwise would because they don’t have the brake pedal as a fallback.
You could develop bad habits
Learning to drive with a family member or friend in your own car is good, but it’s really easy to pick up bad habits along the way. If you’re unaware of these habits or just a bit nervous during the drive, you could make a mistake and fail your driving test.
Using your instructor’s car for the driving test
You get to practice before your test
If you take your test with your instructor’s car, you can schedule a quick driving lesson just before your test starts. Practising just before your test will help settle your nerves, and it’s one of our top driving test tips.
The car should meet the DVSA’s requirements
If you’re taking your driving test in your instructor’s car, you don’t need to worry about the DVSA’s criteria for driving test vehicles. Your instructor will be well aware of the requirements, and it’s their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is suitable for the test.
You should be familiar with the vehicle
If you’ve had several driving lessons in your instructor’s car, you should be familiar with their vehicle and used to its controls and the way it handles.
Cost of hiring a driving test car
Hiring your instructor’s car for the driving test can be expensive. Generally speaking, you’ll need to hire your instructor’s car for around 3 hours. The first hour is to practice before the test, the second hour is for the actual test, and the third is for the drive home. If the standard cost of a lesson is £25, it could cost you upwards of £75 just to hire a vehicle for the day. That’s more than the cost of the test!
It’s also worth considering that some instructors charge their standard hourly rate, while others may charge a premium. Instructors normally charge a higher rate when they’ve had to move things around in their diary to fit your test in.
Remember to check with your instructor how much it costs to hire their car for the driving test before you agree to do so.
Your instructor could let you down
There’s nothing worse than your driving instructor letting you down right before your driving test. Your instructor could miss your test if they’re unwell on the day, their car breaks down, or they have to deal with some other unforeseen event.
It’s not something that happens all the time, but it occasionally does, so you will need to factor it in if you decide against using your own car for the driving test.
You’re relying on your instructor’s availability
If you’re using your instructor’s car, you need to make sure they’ll be available on the day of your test. If you book your test far in advance, it should be ok, but if you plan on booking a short notice driving test, your instructor may not be available on the desired date.
Driving instructors tend to be quite busy, and finding one that’s free at short notice can be challenging, so bear this in mind if you’re looking for cancelled driving tests.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, you don’t need a driving instructor to take your driving test. As long as you have passed your theory test and have a car that meets the DVSA’s requirements for driving test vehicles, you can take your driving test.
No, your car does not need dual controls for you to take your driving test in it. The examiner needs a working seatbelt, a proper head restraint and an internal mirror. Dual controls are helpful, but they’re not a requirement.
No, there’s no evidence to suggest that you’re more likely to fail if you take your driving test in your own car. However, examiners might be wary as they don’t have as much control as they would in a dual controlled car.
No, you don’t have to tell the test centre beforehand if you plan on using your own car. Just turn up on the day as you normally would if you were using your instructor’s car.
Yes, your driving instructor is allowed to sit with you, even if you decide to use your own car on the driving test. All candidates are allowed one observer, and you can choose whoever you want to accompany you on your test.
This rule applies whether your using your driving instructor’s car or taking the driving test in your own car. Make sure you let your instructor know that you would like them to attend your test and that you plan on taking it in your own vehicle as well. Although legal, some instructors may not be comfortable with it, so make sure you check beforehand.
If you’re using your own car, you will need to have someone supervise you on the way to the driving test centre. Whoever accompanies you will need to be over 21 and have had their driving licence for over three years.
If you pass your driving test and would like whoever accompanied you to drive home, you must make sure they are insured to drive your car.
You can use your car if it has parking sensors or a rearview camera. If your car is fitted with a sensor or rearview camera, avoid staring at the dashboard or relying solely on the senors.
You need to demonstrate to the examiner that you can use the technology without it hindering your ability to observe all around your vehicle effectively, during any of the driving test manoeuvers.