Can you take a 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 use your own car when you take your driving test? 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 use your own car when you take your driving test? Here’s what you need to know.

Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 23 MARCH 2022

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

While most people choose to use their driving instructor’s car for their test, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use your own set of wheels – and there are plenty of advantages of doing so.

If you do want to use your own car for your practical driving test, it will need to satisfy a few basic rules. 

  • 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 – check this with your insurance provider.
  • Roadworthiness: your car must have a valid MOT if it’s over three years old, no warning lights should be showing and all its tyres must have the legal tyre tread depth.
  • Smoking: you’re not allowed to smoke in your car before or during your test.
  • Speed: your car must be able to reach at least 62mph – slightly faster than the national speed limit on single carriageway roads (which is 60mph).
  • Wheels: cars must have four wheels and have a maximum authorised mass 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) driving test safety

Many coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in the UK, but your examiner may personally request you do the following before you set off:

  • Clean the inside of your car. Remove any rubbish or unnecessary items from the dashboard, footwells, door pockets, cup holders and seat. You should also clean and wipe down the dashboard and car controls before your test. The examiner will also clean some surfaces too.
  • Open windows. Have at least one window open on each side of the car throughout the test. Any combination of windows is allowed – for example, both front or one at the front and one at the back.

Extra requirements for driving test cars 

Bear with us – we’re not quite done with the rules yet. Along with those listed above, there are some further requirements for all cars used in driving tests. If you’re planning to use 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 for under £15).
  • L plates on the front and back of the car – you can also use D plates if you’re taking your test in Wales.
  • A passenger seatbelt and a fixed head restraint for the examiner.

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 the driving test?

There are a few car models you can’t use for a driving test. That’s because they don’t provide the examiner with all-round vision from the passenger seat.
 
They include: 

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

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

There may also be issues with cars that have been recalled because of safety faults. If you have one of these, you’ll need to show proof (such as a receipt) that work has been carried out on your car to rectify the problem so it’s safe to drive. You can find the full list of recalled cars on the GOV.UK website.

Why use your own car for the driving test?

While some learner drivers only ever get behind the wheel of their instructor’s car, others are lucky enough to get extra practice in their own or a parent’s vehicle.

If you feel more at ease in your own car than your instructor’s car, it makes sense to use your own car for your test.

Sitting your driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience. Anything that makes you feel more relaxed on the day could put you in a better position to pass.

Your car might have more driver assistance features than an instructor’s car. For instance, hill-start assist or an electronic handbrake may make it easier to perform hill starts or parking manoeuvres. 

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

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 your instructor hasn’t noticed and corrected. This could work against you in your driving test.

It’s also worth remembering that your own car won’t have dual controls. If you were to slip up at the wheel, you’d be the only one in control of the car.

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

You’ll need to have valid insurance for the car you’re taking your test in. Learner driver insurance gives you cover to practise in a friend or family member’s car while you learn. It should also cover you for a driving test, but make sure you check the terms and conditions before you book the test. 

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.

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

Whichever car you use to drive to the test centre, someone will need to accompany you because you’re still a learner until you pass and will need to be supervised. Whoever goes with you must be over 21 and have held a full driving licence for at least three years.

And you’ll need to make arrangements to get home again if you drive well enough to pass your test. While that might sound illogical, it’s because you’ll no longer be insured to drive if you only have learner driver insurance as this doesn’t cover qualified drivers.

If you’d like whoever went with you to the test centre 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 provide you with 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 find the cover that’s right for you.

Once you’ve passed your test, look for a new driver car insurance policy.

Frequently asked questions

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

No, it’s not necessary for a car to have dual controls to take your driving test in it. The rules are that an examiner needs a seatbelt, a fixed head restraint and an internal mirror. Although the examiner may feel safer in a car with dual controls, they’re not a legal requirement.

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

There’s no need to give the test centre advance notice if 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.

Is the examiner more likely to fail me if I take the test in my own car?

Although examiners might be more wary about not having dual controls, they’ll be happy to pass you if you drive well enough.

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