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Car care and safety checks YOU need to know!

As part of your practical driving test you will need to demonstrate a basic knowledge of car maintenance and safety checks.

These range from checking and topping up your windscreen washer fluid to checking tyre pressure and tread.

I strongly believe that this knowledge is worth having and not simply to get you through the test!

Driving in bad conditions with no washer fluid can dramatically reduce your visibility but a badly worn or incorrectly inflated tyre could even be the cause of a fatal collision. Of course, this is not something you will be faced with when using our school car but will be very relevant when you have passed and are driving your own.

These checks can also help save you money! Low oil levels can result in hundreds of pounds in repair bills and can be prevented by spotting problems early so get to know these checks and continue them when your driving your own car for your peace of mind and bank balance!

Show me/Tell me

Your test begins with one Show Me question and one Tell Me question. These relate to the maintenance and operation of your car and failure to answer both correctly will result in a driver fault - remember you are only allowed 15 in total on your test report.


DVSA Videos

Click to view videos from the DVSA covering the Show me / tell me section of the test.


DSA Videos
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DSA Videos
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DSA Videos
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Below are the questions you could be asked and examples of how they could be responded to on your test day

'Tell me' questions


Q1 : Tell me how you would check the brakes are working before starting a journey

A1 : Brakes should be tested as you set off by applying gentle pressure at slow speed. Brakes should not feel spongy or slack and the vehicle should not pull to one side.

Q2 : Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked

A2 : Recommended pressures can be found In the manufacturer's guide. Use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don’t forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.

Q3 : Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road

A3 : Tyres should be checked to ensure there are no cuts or bulges. There should be 1.6mm of tread depth across the central ¾ of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference. This can be checked with a tyre depth guage or the depth markers in the tyres themselves.

Q4 : Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash

A4 : Adjust the rigid part of the restraint so that it is close to the back of your head and level with your eyes or top of your ears.

Q5 : Tell me how you would check that the headlights & tail lights are working

A5 : Turn on the relevant switch and walk around the car checking that they are working,

Q6 : Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system

A6 : The ABS warning light would become illuminated on the instrument panel if there is a fault.

Q7 : Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil

A7 : Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum/maximum markers.

Q8 : Open the bonnet, identify where the brake fluid reservoir is and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid

A8 : Identify reservoir, check fluid level is between high/low markings.

Q9 : Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine coolant level and tell me how you would check that the engine has the correct level

A9 : Identify high/low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap and describe how to top up to correct level.

Q10 : Tell me where the windscreen wash reservoir is and how you would check the level.

A10 : Explain how the washer fluid should be filled to a level between the min and max markers on the side of the reservoir. They can be checked by simply operating them.



'Show me' questions

Q11 : Show me/explain how you would check that the power assisted steering is working before starting a journey

A11 : If the steering becomes heavy the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey two simple checks can be made. Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained while the engine is started, should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.

Q12 : Show me how you would check the parking brake (handbrake) for excessive wear, make sure you keep control of the vehicle

A12 : Apply footbrake firmly. Demonstrate by applying parking brake so that when it is fully applied it secures itself and is not at the end of the working travel.

Q13 : Show me how you would check that the horn is working (off road only)

A13 : Check is carried out by pressing gently on the control (turn on ignition if necessary).

Q14 : Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working

A14 : Applying the indicators or hazard warning switch and check functioning of all indicators. You may need to switch the ignition on, however, you should not start the engine.

Q15 : Show me how you would check that the brake lights are working on this car (I can assist you, if you need to switch the ignition on, please don’t start the engine)

A15 : Operate brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows, garage doors, etc, or ask someone to help. As this is now a show me question the examiner may check the brake lights for you. You may need to switch the ignition on, however you should not start the engine.

Q16 : Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washers and wipers

A16 : Operate control to wash and wipe windscreen. You may need to switch the ignition on, however, you should not start the engine.

Q17 : Show me how you would set the demister controls to clear all the windows effectively, this should include both front and rear screens

A17 : Set all relevant controls including: fan, temperature, air direction/source and heated screen to clear windscreen and windows. Engine does not have to be started for this demonstration.

Q18 : Show me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use it/them (no need to exit the vehicle)

A18 : Operate the rear fog switch after switching on dipped headlights, check switch is illuminated and explain that they should only be used when visibility is reduced to 100 metres or less.

Q19 : Show me how you switch your headlights from dipped to main beam and explain how you know the main beam is on whilst inside the car.

A19 : Move the stalk attached to the steering column forwards which will illuminate a blue warning light on the instrument panel.

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Pupil comments


Tom from Esher passed his practical driving test 1ST time on 12/08/2014 at Morden Test Centre. He di ..

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