Taking a driving test in own car

Last updated: Wednesday, 3rd July 2024

For many learner drivers, taking the DVSA driving test is daunting enough, especially if you use a car you're not used to. But can you use your own car for a driving test?

This article explains everything you need to know about using your own car for driving tests, including car requirements, driving test cancellations, and the benefits of using your own vehicle over your driving instructor's car.

Can I use my own car for driving tests?

Yes. Although most candidates use their driving instructor's car to take their driving test, you can take your driving test in your own car.

Taking your driving test in your own car or a family member's car may be a great option, especially if you've been using it to practise in addition to your driving lessons or simply feel more confident and comfortable driving that car.

The driving test costs the same whether you take the practical driving test in your instructor's car or your own. You must be at least 17 years old and have a valid provisional driving licence before booking your driving test. You must also have passed your theory test.

Do you need an instructor for your driving test? It's entirely up to you, but you do not need to bring your driving instructor to your driving test.

So you've passed your theory test and decided to take your driving test in your own car. What now? You must ensure your car meets some safety and legal rules, or the DVSA will cancel your driving test, and you'll have to pay again to rebook.

Are you ready to pass your driving test? Check out our comprehensive driving test centre guides to get everything you need to know about every test in England, Scotland and Wales.

What happens in a driving test?

Check out our driving test tips to help you pass first time

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

The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has set out a few basic rules your car must meet when using it to take your practical driving test. To take your driving test in your own car, you need to have the following:

Tax

Your vehicle must have valid tax on the date and time you take your practical test.

Insurance

You need to insure your car for driving tests. You can check this with your car insurance/learner driver insurance provider.

Roadworthy condition

As a learner driver, you are responsible for ensuring that the car is in a roadworthy condition, fault-free, and safe to drive. This includes checking the brakes, tyres, and headlights are all working as intended before your test.

Current MOT

Your car must have a valid MOT certificate if it's over three years old.

No warning lights

Your car must not have any warning lights showing on the dashboard. For example, you cannot take your practical test if the airbag warning light is displayed.

Tyres

Your tyres should be in good condition, free from tyre damage and meet the legal minimum tread depth. The legal minimum depth of tread for car tyres is 1.6 mm. You cannot take your test if you have a space-saver spare tyre fitted.

Wheels

The car you use for your driving test must have four wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) limit of 3,500kg.

Clean and tidy

Your car must be clean and tidy inside and outside before you take your test. For example, you should keep footwells, seats, and the dashboard clear of items you do not require for your test.

Smoke-free

You must not smoke in your car before or during your practical driving test.

Speed

Your car must have the ability to reach at least 62 mph and have a speedometer fitted. The national speed limit on a single-carriageway road is 60 mph.

Extra driving test car requirements if you're using your own car for driving tests

We're nearly there with the rules (we promise!), but there are just a few more driving test car requirements you need to be aware of if you plan on using your car or a family member's car for your DVSA practical test.

Make sure your car is fitted with:

  • An extra interior rear-view mirror for the driving test examiner
  • L-plates (or D-plates in Wales). Ensure the plates are securely attached to the front and rear of your car and can easily be seen.
  • A working passenger seatbelt, and a fixed head restraint for the examiner. You will not be allowed to take your test if your car has a slip-on head restraint instead of a proper head restraint.

If the car does not meet these driving test car requirements, you will not be able to take the driving test, and you will have to book a new test date.

What about other car features?

You can take your driving test in a manual, automatic or semi-automatic car, which can be petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric. A manual car has three pedals, whereas semi-automatic and automatic cars have two pedals.

If you pass your driving test in a manual car, your licence will allow you to drive semi-automatic, automatic and manual cars. However, passing in a semi-automatic car will only qualify you to drive semi-automatic and automatic cars.

Does your car have an electronic parking brake or hill-start assist? No problem. You can take your practical test in a car fitted with either of these features.

Want to film your driving test? You can fit your car with a dashcam and other cameras but only for insurance purposes. The cameras must face outside and not film or record audio inside the vehicle.

Do you need dual controls for a driving test?

No. It is not a requirement for your own car to be fitted with dual car controls. However, if you decide to take your test in a hire car, it will need to be fitted with dual controls and meet all other DVSA requirements.

Cars you cannot use for your driving test

You can't use some cars for the DVSA driving test because they do not give the examiner all-round vision from the passenger seat. While it may be frustrating not to take your driving test in your own car, the DVSA has to ensure the test is as safe as possible and all candidates have an equal chance of passing.

Here are the car models that cannot be used in the driving test:

  • BMW Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Smart Fortwo (2-door)
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

There may be other cars you can't use in your test, so we recommend checking with the DVSA before booking your driving test if you want to take the test in any convertible car, panel van or coupe.

Recalled cars

Some cars have been recalled because they have known safety faults. You cannot take a test in a car that has been recalled unless you have proof that the problem has been fixed and the vehicle is safe to drive. Check the GOV.UK website for a list of recalled cars and the proof you need to bring to your test if your vehicle has been recalled but repaired.

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

To take your driving test with your own car, you need to ensure you have a valid insurance policy for whichever car you use for your driving test. In addition, your learner driver insurance must also cover you to take a driving test.

You won't need to arrange provisional car insurance policies if you're using your driving instructor's car to take your driving test.

What are the benefits of using your own car for driving tests?

There are many benefits of using your own car for the DVSA practical driving test over your driving instructor's car, especially if you're used to practising with it.

Driving tests can be nerve-wracking, so perhaps the greatest benefit of using your own car for your driving test is that it can help reduce stress and anxiety on the day of your test if you feel more familiar and confident with your car and its controls. Being calm during your test can help improve your driving and your chances of passing your test.

Additionally, using your own car for driving tests can save you money as you won't incur additional lesson costs for using an instructor's car.

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

No, you are not more likely to fail if you use your own car to take your driving test. However, using a driving instructor's car can have several advantages over using your own vehicle.

One of the main reasons is that driving instructor cars are fitted with dual controls, which can help improve safety during the driving test. This ensures that both the driving examiner and the learner driver have access to brakes and acceleration, allowing them to take control of the car if needed.

Looking for driving test cancellations?

We know it can be frustrating if you're ready to pass your driving test and can't find any available driving test dates. Once you've booked your practical driving test, our driving test cancellation checker can search for cancellations on your behalf so you can get an earlier driving test.

Find driving test cancellations now

Try our driving test cancellation checker for FREE

Frequently asked questions about taking the driving test in your own car

Yes, you can do a driving test in your own as long as it meets all of the driving test car requirements.

No, it is not mandatory for cars taking the driving test to have dual controls fitted. However, if you choose to use a hire vehicle for your driving test, then this must be equipped with dual controls.

No, you don't need to inform the driving test centre before the day of your driving test if you want to use your own car.

Yes, you can take the driving test without an instructor. If you are using your own car, the car of a family member or someone else's car, you need to ensure that it meets all of the driving test car requirements and have a valid insurance policy for it.

Yes, you can take the driving test in a car with an automatic or semi-automatic transmission.

Yes, you can take a driving test in a hire car as long as it has dual controls and meets all of the necessary driving test car requirements.

Final thoughts

Whether you choose to use your own car or a driving instructor's car for your driving test is ultimately a personal choice. Taking a driving test in your own car can help reduce stress and save you money on additional lesson costs, but it doesn't come with the safety of a driving instructor car equipped with dual controls. Consider your options carefully before deciding what will work best for you.

Whatever you decide, we wish you the best of luck with your driving test! And if you need to find driving test cancellations once you've booked your driving test, our driving test cancellation app can help you with that too. Finding available driving test dates can be a struggle, but Driving Test Cancellations 4 All can search and book driving test cancellation appointments for you, so you don't have to spend time and effort checking for cancellations.

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