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Taking your driving test in your own car

As a learner driver, if you spend a lot of time practising in your own car you might prefer to use it for your driving test. After all, comfort and familiarity are key to a calm, controlled drive. But are you allowed to take your driving test in your own car? Here’s what you need to know.

As a learner driver, if you spend a lot of time practising in your own car you might prefer to use it for your driving test. After all, comfort and familiarity are key to a calm, controlled drive. But are you allowed to take your driving test in your own car? Here’s what you need to know.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
Last Updated
4 JUNE 2024
7 min read
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Can I take my driving test in my own car?

Yes, you can take your driving test in your own car.

Most people have their driving lessons in their driving instructor’s car, but there’s no rule to say you need to take your test in that same car. You might simply feel more comfortable taking your driving test in your own car, or whichever car you learnt to drive in.

However, there are a few things to be aware of.

What are the rules on using your own car for a driving test?

If you do want to use your own car for your practical driving test, here’s what you need to be aware of:

  • Tax: your car tax will need to be valid and in date at the time of your test.
  • Insurance: your car will need to be insured for a driving test – you can check this with your car insurance provider.
  • Roadworthiness: your car must have a current MOT if it’s over three years old and no warning lights should be visible. You may also need proof of a valid MOT.
  • Tyres: all tyres must have the legal tyre tread depth, with no signs of tyre damage. And you must not have a space-saver spare tyre.
  • A clean, smoke-free car: you’re not allowed to smoke in your car before or during your test, and your car should be clean and free of clutter.
  • Speed: your car must be able to reach at least 62 mph – slightly faster than the 60 mph national speed limit on single carriageway roads. And your speedometer should display mph.
  • Wheels: cars must have four wheels and have a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 3,500kg.

If your car doesn’t meet the rules, the driving examiner will have to cancel the test and, unfortunately, you won’t be refunded.

Extra requirements for driving test cars 

Aside from the rules listed above, there are a few extra requirements for cars used in driving tests. If you’re planning on taking a driving test in your own car, it must be fitted with:

  • An extra interior rear-view mirror that the driving examiner will use (you can buy these online).
  • L plates on the front and back of the car or D plates if you’re taking your test in Wales.
  • A passenger seatbelt and a fixed head restraint for the examiner, which can’t be the slip-on kind.

It’s okay to use a dashcam or camera that’s fitted for insurance purposes, as long as it doesn’t film or record audio from the inside of the car.

Are some cars not allowed for a driving test?

Although most cars should meet the criteria for a driving test, there are a few car models you can’t use. That’s because they don’t provide the examiner with all-round vision.
They include: 

  • BMW Mini convertible
  • BMW 218 convertible
  • Ford KA convertible 
  • Smart Fortwo (two-door)
  • Toyota iQ 
  • VW Beetle convertible 

If you’re planning to use any convertible or coupe car, or a panel van, for your test, you should check with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) first.

And be aware that vehicles that have been recalled for safety reasons won’t be compatible with driving test regulations unless you can prove – with a receipt, for example – that any issues have been addressed.

Your car’s manufacturer will usually write to you to inform you of a safety recall. Or you can check if your car’s been recalled on the GOV.UK website.

Why use your own car for your driving test?

Driving tests can be nerve-wracking. If taking your test in your own car boosts your confidence because it’s familiar and makes you feel more at ease, it might make sense to do that. It all comes down to what you feel most comfortable driving.

Your car might also have more driver assistance features than your instructor’s car, such as hill-start assist, an electronic handbrake and parking sensors. Features like this can make you feel more confident in performing certain manoeuvres.

Finally, taking your driving test in your instructor’s car means you’re having to pay them for both their time and the use of their vehicle. This could cost the equivalent of a two or three-hour lesson, and your test date will be at the mercy of their diary.

What are the disadvantages of using my own car for my driving test?

Firstly, your instructor won’t be present to offer some final driving test tips.

Also, if you’ve been learning in an instructor’s car and using your own car for extra practice, you might have picked up some bad habits that have gone uncorrected. This could work against you in your driving test.

It’s also worth remembering that your own car won’t have dual controls. This means that only you can correct any slip-ups you make behind the wheel.

What insurance do I need to take my driving test in my own car?

Learner driver insurance gives you cover to practise driving in your own car, or a friend or family member’s vehicle. It should also cover you for a driving test. But make sure you check your insurance provider’s terms and conditions before you book the test.

You could also take out temporary car insurance. Policies are available from as little as an hour. Whichever you choose, make sure you organise your insurance well in advance to avoid any last-minute stress.

If you’re only planning to drive with a professional driving instructor or are taking your test through a driving school programme, you won’t need to worry about car insurance until after you pass your test. Once you’re no longer a learner, you can start comparing cheap car insurance for new drivers.

Will I have to take someone with me to the driving test?

Because you’re still a learner driver until you pass your test, you won’t be able to drive unsupervised – including to the test centre – until you get your driving test pass certificate. Whoever goes with you must be over 21 and have held a full driving licence for at least three years.

And, though it might sound odd, you’ll need to make arrangements to get home again if you do pass your test. That’s because you’ll no longer be insured to drive on a learner driver insurance policy. You’ll need to take out new cover as a qualified driver.

So if whoever accompanied you to the test centre is going to drive you home, make sure they’re insured to drive your car.

Compare car insurance for learner drivers 

A good learner driver policy will give you cover for third party damage or injury, and protect you against vehicle fire and theft. Start comparing learner driver insurance with Compare the Market today to look for cover that’s right for you.

Then, once you’ve passed your test, you can start looking for a new driver car insurance policy.

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to take my driving test in my own car?

As well as your theory test pass certificate and your UK provisional driving licence – or photocard and paper counterpart for Northern Ireland – you’ll need proof of valid car insurance and tax. You may also need proof of a current MOT if the car’s over three years old. And you’ll need to have L plates (D plates in Wales) on the front and back of your car.

If you’ve lost your theory test pass certificate, the examiner can check that you’ve passed before the driving test begins. And if you haven’t got your UK photocard licence yet, take your passport and paper licence.

Does my car need to have dual controls for the driving examiner?

No, you can take your driving test in your own car without dual controls. Although the examiner may feel safer with them, they’re not a legal requirement. However, the examiner does need a seatbelt, a fixed head restraint and an internal mirror.

Do I need to tell the test centre if I want to use my own car?

There’s no need to tell the test centre you’re planning to use your own car – unless you want to double check that your car has all the necessary requirements. You can simply turn up on the day as you would if you were using your instructor’s car.

Can I take my driving test in an automatic car?

Yes, you can take the test in an automatic or semi-automatic car that has two pedals. But bear in mind that if you take your test in a semi-automatic car, you’ll only be able to drive semi-automatic and automatic cars once you’ve passed. You will need to pass a manual car driving test in order to drive a manual car in future.

Can I take my driving test in a hire car?

Yes, you can take your driving test in a hire car, as long as it meets the test car requirements and has all the necessary features. However, a hire car must also have dual controls.

This might be a useful solution if your driving instructor isn’t available on the test date you’re aiming for, or you can’t borrow a car from a friend or family member.

Are you more likely to fail your driving test in your own car?

No. Although examiners might be wary about not having dual controls, they’ll be happy to pass you if you drive well enough, regardless of which car you’re driving.

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