Taking the Practical Test in Your Own Car

Taking the practical test in your own car

Many drivers wonder if they can take the driving practical test in their own car. After all, you want to try and make the experience of your driving test as predictable as possible.

However, information on whether you actually can use your own car in the driving practical test is notoriously unreliable. Rumours about this are everywhere! Does the car need to have dual controls? Does the car have to have a certain sized engine? Can I take the test in a tank?

However, taking the practical test in your own car doesn’t need to be difficult. We’ve clarified everything you need to know in this handy article.

Fancy testing out your theory test skills? Find out if you could pass your theory test now!

What type of car can I take the test in?

The Mystery Machine
Photo © Michel Curi (cc-by/2.0)

You can actually take your test in any suitable car—whether it’s your own, a parent’s, or your instructor’s. However, there are several conditions that you need to be aware of.

Firstly, your car needs to be properly taxed and insured. It’s important to double check with your insurer that you’ll be covered for the driving test itself, as even if you’re insured for normal practice, some insurance policies for learners don’t include driving in a test situation.

If you’re unable to prove that your car’s properly insured, you won’t be able to take your test, and you may lose the fee—you won’t be able to get any compensation for the test cancellation either. That’s not even the worst of it—think of the unnecessary setback you’d experience on your way to driving success! As such, the small print is your friend here. You don’t want to be caught out!

Secondly, your car needs to be completely sound mechanically.

This means it needs to:

  • Have a current MOT (make sure you’re updated on the new MOT changes)
  • Have no tyre damage, and at least 1.6mm of tread on each tyre. You can’t take your test if you have a space-save spare tyre fitted.
  • Have no warning lights showing on the dashboard (for instance, the ABS warning light)
  • Have 4 wheels
  • Have a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg. If you don’t know this, you will be able to find it in the car’s handbook.
  • Be able to reach at least 62mph, and have a speedometer that measures in miles per hour
  • Be smoke-free. This means that you can’t smoke in it either during or directly before your test.

Thirdly, you need to make sure that certain things are present, so that your car is test-ready.

These are:

  • An extra interior rear-view mirror so that the examiner has as much visibility as possible
  • L plates (make sure these are properly secured—there should be no risk of them flying off)
  • A passenger seatbelt (we’re sure your car probably has one of these already!)

For full details, you should take a look at the official DVSA advice.

What are the advantages of taking the practical test in your own car?

The major advantage of taking the test in your own car is that it’s likely to be very familiar to you, provided you’ve done plenty of practice in it.

This particularly applies to learners who have spent a lot of time outside of lessons honing their skills. We would definitely advise against taking the test in your own car unless you’re completely sure that you’ll be more comfortable in it than your instructor’s. If, however, you’ve primarily been learning to drive in your own car, then this may be an option you want to consider.

When’s the best time to take your driving test? Learn all about weekend tests and the 8am test to find out!

What are the complications of taking the test in your own car?

This should go without saying, but you’ll need someone who’s insured to drive the car to take you to the test. Make sure that someone who can drive the car is available on your test day, before you book your test. You don’t want to run the risk of being without a driver!

Another obvious thing you need to be aware of is that the car you use needs to correspond to the type of licence you want. For example, if you want a licence that allows you to drive both manual and automatic cars, you’ll need to take the test in a car with a manual gearbox.

There are also certain models of car that you can’t use to take your test in, because they don’t give the examiner sufficient visibility.

These are:

  • BMW Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

On a similar note, you should check with the DVSA if you want to take the test in any type of convertible car, or a panel van.

Why we’d always recommend prioritising learning with a qualified driving instructor

PassMeFast instructors
Some of our qualified driving instructors

We’re sure the reason you’re reading this article is because you’ve supplemented your driving lessons with additional practice in another car, which is great. This allows you to work on what you’ve learned with your instructor.

However, as valuable as private practice is, we’d always recommend prioritising the time you spend with a qualified instructor over the time you spend practising with a family member or friend.

This is because, as helpful as private practice can be, it’s very easy to pick up bad habits when you’re not under the watchful eye of an expert. Only an instructor will be able to teach you exactly the correct way to pass your test, so it’s important that the majority of your teaching comes from them.

We hope that’s everything covered! It’s not as difficult to take your driving test in your own car as some people would have you believe. That said, the advice of your instructor in the minutes leading up to your test can be invaluable, so make sure you give the decision some serious thought. Remember, if you do take the test in your own car and pass, you won’t be able to drive it unless you’ve got the right insurance cover. Find out everything you need to know about this in our guides to young driver insurance and black box (telematics) insurance.

For further information, take a look at our article on taking your instructor on your test with you. Or, perhaps you’re interested in the different types of pedestrian crossing, or driverless cars? Whatever your driving needs, the PassMeFast blog is here to steer you in the right direction.

By Ben Scott

Ben's had a keen interest in all things driving from a very early age, so is perfectly placed to offer you all the advice you need. When he's not behind the wheel you'll either find him stuck deep into a novel or riding his bike.

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