Thinking of doing it in your own car?

I don’t have a picture of Archie clutching his test pass certificate. I wasn’t there.

I taught him to drive, but after getting the basics, Archie started supplementing his lessons with me with private practice in his parents’ car. In the end, he was driving that car a lot more than he was driving mine.

I got a text from him, asking if I was available for a particular date, and I had to say no, because it conflicted with another driving test. Thing is though, Archie was well up to standard. He didn’t need me any more. I texted back advising him to book the test, and to do it in his own car. This he did, and in due course, I got another text from him letting me know he’d passed, with only two driving faults.

So here’s what you need if you plan to do your test in your own car:

  • L Plates! Stick on or full magnetic are best, as the type with narrow magnetic strips on the side are prone to being blown off, and there have been times when tests have had to be abandoned. Test centres usually have sets of L plates, so if you present yourself for a test, and you’ve forgotten to bring them, the examiner may be able to supply some for you. This is not something you should rely on though.
  • An interior mirror on the passenger side. These can be picked up, usually for about £5-6 from places like Halfords. Again, the examiner will often be able to bring a mirror if you turn up without one, but this is really a last resort. Arrive prepared. You’ll be more confident.
  • Valid insurance. You must be insured to drive your car on a driving test. Check the small print in your policy, and if it excludes use for a test, you will need to get an inclusion added to your policy.
  • A roadworthy vehicle. Make sure your tyres aren’t bald, that there is fluid in your screenwash bottle, that all your lights, seatbelts, etc all function properly, and that your car is taxed and MOT’d. The examiner will make visual checks at the beginning of the test, before you start your drive, and if your vehicle isn’t up to scratch, your test will not go ahead, and you will lose your test fee. The car you use mst also be fitted with head restraints, and must be able to accommodate at least two passengers in the rear seats.
  • Until you’ve passed, you are not allowed to drive unaccompanied. You must have someone with you when you drive to the test centre. That person must be at least 21 years old, and must have held a full UK driving license for at least three years.

You should aim to arrive at the test centre about 8-10 minutes before the test is due to start. Much earlier, and you will be getting in the way of people coming back from previous tests. Much later, and you will be pushing against the clock, and going into your test feeling unprepared and flustered.

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