Cars for the Driving Test Requirements Explained

Driving tests and test centres within the UK are run and maintained by the driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

A common question asked by learner drivers is ‘Do driving test centres supply cars?‘ The DVSA do not supply a car for you to use for the practical driving tests at any of the UK test centres. You must take along your own vehicle for use on the test.

There are various ways to obtain a car for the practical driving test although it is important that your vehicle meets the rules set by the DVSA. If your car doesn’t meet these rules, your driving test will be cancelled by the examiner and you will lose the practical driving test booking fee. If this happens, you’ll have to book another test and that make take several weeks ahead.

Discussed are the various methods that a car can be obtained for use on the driving test along with the rules that must be complied with in order to take the test.

Driving instructors car

The most frequent and ideal solution is to use the driving instructor’s car that you have been taking lessons in. When you start a course of driving lessons, it is often the case that you will take the practical test in the same vehicle as the lessons. This is beneficial as all cars feel different to drive and take a little time to get used to. Driving instructors often use many reference markers, especially for the manoeuvres.

Driving test Car

These reference markers are usually car specific, so using the same car for the test as you used on your lessons will help with confidence. Occasionally however, an instructor may become ill or their tuition car may breakdown making it necessary for you to source another car for the driving test. Ideally, try and source another driving instructors car.

Book a car for the driving test

Many individuals come to the UK with plenty of driving experience and look to book a car for the driving test. Booking a driving instructors car is ideal as it will have the appropriate car insurance, driving test mirrors, dual controls and L plates.

As soon as you have your driving test booked, find a local instructor to book their car. Driving instructors can get busy and can have diaries fully booked for several weeks ahead, so try and provide as much notice as possible. Ideally take a lesson or two before the day of the test with the instructor that you have booked the car with as this will enable you to get familiar with the car and its controls which you will need to know for the Show Me Tell Me section of the driving test. This will also give you the chance to minimise any bad habits you may have gained over the years.

A driving instructor may not allow you to book a car unless they have seen your ability to drive before the test. A driving instructor’s car is their livelihood and many instructors feel a responsibility in knowing that an individual is at test standard before allowing them to take the car for a test. Certain instructors may allow this however, especially if they have immediate access to another car in the event of any problems. A driving instructor is even less likely to allow you to use their car if it for an extended driving test. Many driving instructor’s car insurance will not cover them for previously disqualified drivers.

Can You Take the Driving test in own car?

Yes, you are permitted to use your own car for the driving test provided your car meets the requirements set out by the DVSA. It makes sense to take the driving test in a car that you’re used to driving. So if you’ve been taking private driving lessons in a family or friends car, you can use that to take the test in. If you take the driving test in an automatic car, you will be licensed to drive only automatics and will need to retake the driving test in a manual if you wish to drive one with manual transmission. See automatic licence to manual for further information.

Driving test car requirements

When you meet the examiner for the first time, they will ask you to sign a declaration form to state that the car is appropriately insured for the driving test. If you are unwilling to sign this form for any reason, the driving test will be cancelled and the test fee will likely be lost. Once at the car, before the driving examiner sits in the passenger seat, they will take a brief look at all four tyres to ensure they are road worthy. Other requirements that the examiner will check are any observable safety defects with the vehicle, including warning lights and seat belt faults.

DVSA requirements for the car you take on the practical driving test must:

  • have a valid tax (if applicable)
  • have current and appropriate insurance that covers the driving test
  • if your car is over 3 years of age, it must hold a valid MOT certificate
  • tyre must be in good condition with no cuts or bulges. Tread depth must reach the legal minimum requirement of at least 1.6 mm around the entire circumference of the tyre and across the central ¾ of the breadth of the tyre. Space-saver spare tyres are not permitted.
  • be capable of reaching at least 62.5 miles per hour (mph) or 100 kilometres per hour (km/h)
  • be fitted with a speedometer that measures speed in mph
  • have no warning or engine management lights showing – for example, the airbag warning light
  • display L-plates (‘L’ or ‘D’ plates in Wales) on the front and rear of the vehicle ensuring they do not interfere with yours or the examiners view
  • have 4 wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kilograms (kg)

MAM Explained

MAM is the maximum weight of the vehicle including the maximum load that can be carried safely while used on the road. This is also known as ‘gross vehicle weight’.

The vehicle must be fitted with:

  • a seat belt for the driving examiner
  • a passenger head restraint – it’s not necessary to be adjustable, but must be an integral part of the seat as ‘slip on’ types are not permitted
  • an interior rear-view mirror for the examiner to use. See driving test mirror for further information

Can You Borrow Someone’s Car for a Driving Test?

Yes you can borrow someone’s car to use on a driving test providing the vehicle complies with the rules and requirements set out by the DVSA. However, taking a driving test in a car that you’re unfamiliar with may prove more challenging.

Can You Take the Driving Test in a Rental Car?

Yes, you are permitted to use rental cars for the driving test. A rental / hire car must be fitted with dual controls if you wish to use it for the driving test. Typical hire cars however do not have dual controls and a specialised hire company may need to be located. Other than the lack of dual controls, it is unlikely that a car hire companies insurance will cover a learner driver taking the driving test.

If you are able to find a specialised car hire company, the hire price will likely amount to being significantly higher than an instructors car and may involve further travel. Along with dual controls, a hired car for the driving test must also meet the requirements above.

Driving Test and Electric Cars

Electric cars are becoming more common and will inevitably become increasingly involved with driving tests. Can you use an electric car on the driving test? Yes of course, but be advised that electric cars are classified as automatic, so if you pass the test in an electric car, you’ll only be licensed to drive vehicles with automatic transmission – this includes electric and traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. The rules set out by the DVSA for driving test cars are the same for electric cars.

The driving test and electric car range
Electric cars all come with different size batteries which affect the range of the vehicle. It’s important to ensure that your electric car has sufficient charge for the 40 minute driving test. How many miles you’ll travel during a 40 minute driving test will vary depending on test centre location, type of roads and time of day (congestion).

You could roughly estimate this at around 20 miles covered, though best to up this to 30 miles to be on the safe side. You’ll also need to consider the journey getting to the test centre and how far you need to drive once the test is complete.

Cars not permitted on driving test

Certain cars have space saver spare tyre. It is illegal to exceed 50 mph on a space saver tyre and these tyres are designed for temporary use only. The driving test is likely to involve higher speeds of up to 70 mph. Ensure your vehicles space saver tyre is not in use and that the tyres comply with current laws. Convertible cars are problematic due to reduced visibility. If you intend on taking your driving test in a convertible, ensure that it is permitted by the DVSA. DVSA contact details can be found on the How to start learning to drive information page.

Do You Need Dual Controls for a Driving Test?

Yes, dual controls are required for the driving test if you are using a hire car, however, if you are using your own car, or borrowing a car from a friend or family member, it does not require dual controls to be fitted.

Related information


64 thoughts on “Cars for the Driving Test Requirements Explained”

  1. paul ridgway.

    could i take my test if my father takes me to the test centre or have i got to have a instructor with me .

  2. Hi Paul,
    You do not need to have an instructor with you. Your father taking you to the test is fine.

  3. Roza

    I am a foreigner with international driving license. Can I drive to the DVSA on my international license and stick the L plates at the driving centre before the test? I don’t have anyone to accompany and I am taking the test on my own car.

  4. Hi Roza,
    The DVSA examiners have no concerns with how you get to the test centre. They will check your paperwork to ensure all is in order and will also check the car that you’re taking the test in to ensure it is road legal.

  5. Faz

    Does it have to have dual controls? Does not say anywhere

  6. Hello Faz,
    No, the car you use for the driving test does not have to have dual controls – unless it’s a hire car.

  7. Charmaine

    Hi can I use a family members car for my test ?
    If I hire a car must it be dual control?

  8. Hello Charmaine,
    Yes you can use a family members car for the driving test providing it meets with the rules outlined above. In terms of insurance, you might wish to consider checking with the insurance company to ensure it’s covered during the practical test. Yes, a hire car must have dual controls.

  9. Hello
    can I use my friend car for the practical test?
    I learn on that one, I have insurance on that car,extra mirror and L plates.

  10. Hi Cs,
    Providing that the car abides by the DVSA rules (as above), is legal for public road use, has L plates and an extra rear-view mirror, then yes, no problem at all.

  11. Antonella

    Does the emergency break need to be in the middle?

  12. Hello Antonella,
    There are no rules on where the emergency / parking brake should be located for the driving test car.

  13. Marius Tanase

    Can used my father in law for practical test ..not insured on my name

  14. Hello Marius,
    Not entirely sure I understand your comment, but you can use whichever car you like for the practical test, providing it falls within the DVSA rules as set above. You will need to get insurance cover for yourself. You can get 24 learner driver insurance for the test.

  15. Can i rent a car using my International Driving Licence from a usual rental place (SIXT, Europcar, etc…) Stick extra mirror and L-plates on it, and go do an exam on it?
    How exactly do examiners check if it’s insured for the test?
    It’s rather unclear on both sides (rental companies and DVSA) if it’s actually permitted or not…

  16. Hello DD,
    If you hire a car, it will need to have dual controls. It’s often easier to use a driving school’s car, but you can hire a vehicle using your international driving licence if you wish. The examiners do not check if it is insured. They have their own specific insurance, it’s up to you to ensure you meet the legal requirements for the vehicle.

  17. So theoretically i can just show up with any car as long as it has L plates, road legal and has extra mirror?

  18. Providing your car follows the DVSA rules set out of this page and it’s road legal, then yes, most cars will do for the driving test.

  19. Dewan

    I would suggest early morning like 7/7:30 am for driving test at Goodmayes as I have passed my one today was at 7:13am. The route was perfect, quite and low traffic, good start for you and the examiner.

  20. Emma

    Does the examiner have to be able to see the speedometer? My car is a yaris & the digital speedometer cannot be seen by passenger.
    Thanks

  21. Hi Emma,
    You can use any car providing it isn’t on the DVSA driving test exclusion list and complies with their regulations. The Toyota Yaris, certain models built between June 2005 and May 2010 might be on the exclusion list but this has nothing to do with the speedometer. See here.Just check that your car doesn’t require a recall or if so, has already been repaired. Other than that, your car will be fine for the test.

  22. Jane

    Hi…can I sit my test in a Citreon Dispatch paneled van? It has no internal viewing mirrors. Thanks

  23. Hi Jane, you would be unable to use this type of vehicle for a car driving test as the examiner requires vision from the rear window.

  24. Jack

    Can I drive to the dvsa centre on my own and even if I fail come back home in own/hired car even if I don’t have anyone to acompany me?

  25. Hello Jack,
    If you have a full driving licence from another country that is valid in the UK then yes. If you only have a provisional driving licence, then this would be illegal.

  26. Jonathan

    Can I use the reversing camera as well as the mirrors or is that not permitted and do I need to definitely buy the mirrors it says if i take my own vehicle?

  27. Hi Jonathan
    The DVSA do state that you need to supply your own mirrors, but in my experience, examiners usually have one anyway.
    When it comes to reversing, you can use what ever you like, camera, mirrors or both. But you must not rely on those alone. You need to consistently look around, including in the direction you’re traveling – which is out of the rear window. This includes looking in the direction of travel just as you begin to move off.

  28. Abigail

    Can I use my own car if the rear wipers and washer do not work. Will the car be considered not road worthy?

  29. Hello Abigail
    It’s not a legal requirement to have a working rear wiper / washer when driving a car on a public road, so that will be fine (probably best to not make a point of telling them though….) It’s important that the front wipers and washers are in good working order. Also, make sure all windows are clean.

  30. keith graham

    This is bad advice. Requirement is for car to have additional mirror for the examiner so car must have one. If you’re happy to recommend short cuts and bend the rules then that’s really not setting a good example and not ensuring learner is taking responsibility.

  31. Hello Keith,
    Please read properly before commenting. As commented, the DVSA state the you must bring your own mirror. But in my experience, the examiner generally takes their own. So yes, take a mirror, but if you happen to forget it, chances are the examiner will have their own.

  32. Andreas

    Hi Paul, I’m Andreas from Test Car 1, the quick answer is yes, although you will need the correct car insurance for the driving test.
    I would advise a driving instructor to take you as this would benefit you in regards to getting some final tips.
    Contact us if you need any help or advice as driving tests are our speciality.

  33. Andreas

    Hi Faz, no it does not, but think of it like this, would you feel more comfortable as a passenger with dual controls in or not?
    Although it’s not required unless it’s a hire car I would advise to take a test with dual controls fitted.
    Regards.
    Test Car 1

  34. Maria Diaz

    can I use a relatives care with New Mexico Plates on it

  35. Hi Maria,
    Providing it’s legal to use on UK roads, has all the requirements for taking the test and is not one of the DVSA prohibited vehicles which are BMW Mini convertible, Ford KA convertible, Toyota iQ and VW Beetle convertible, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

  36. Nikki Slater

    I need to use my own car for test as my instructor is ill but my electic windows and central locking has packed up would it be suitable

  37. Hi Nikki,
    Yes, it will be fine. Just make sure the temperature in the car is comfortable for both you and the examiner (due to the windows not opening).

  38. Nikki Slater

    Ok thanks

  39. Adriana

    Hello,
    Can I use my own car Renault Megane convertible 2006 for my practical test?
    Thank you

  40. Hi Adriana,
    Your car isn’t on the vehicles prohibited list, but the DVSA do state that you must contact them prior to your driving test if you wish to take the test in any convertible car.

  41. EMily

    hi, my left wing mirror electric is broken so it doesn’t stay in position, unless there is blue tack holding it up. is this okay or would i need to get it fixed?

  42. Hi Emily.
    In terms of legality, a driver is required by law to have a minimum of two rear view mirrors that are capable of providing a safe level of observation to the rear of the vehicle. One of these mirrors is obligatory and that’s the offside, or driver’s door mirror. So legally at least, you can drive the vehicle. In terms of the driving test, it would be unwise to use a car that has defective equipment that is fitted as standard, particularly if it concerns safety.

  43. John Hickie

    I have a 107 Peugeot, on some driving centre web page that kind of model is on there fault list, along with C1, Peugeot 108, toyata Aygo and Yaris. could i still use mine to take a test in, as technically it not on the list ?

  44. Sylv

    When I am renting a car for my test from my instructor, is it right for him to charge me £70 for renting a car???

  45. Hi Sylv,
    I’m not sure on the terms that your instructor is allowing you to hire the car on, but usually an instructor will base it on two hours of their normal hourly charge. This allows time for you to have a drive / practice / warm up before the test, then to take the test and then after the test, to get you home.

  46. Summer

    Hello i have a digital speedometer that measures in mph, it isnt a clock speedometer, it is a semi automatic Fiat 500 and meets all the requirements, this is my own car, will this be okay to use? Thank you

  47. Hello Summer,
    Yes, your car will be perfectly fine for taking an automatic driving test.

  48. thomas christopher

    Hi Can my test be taken in a mobility car

  49. Hi Thomas,
    Yes, you can take a driving test in a mobility car. It’s a good idea to talk to the DVSA to inform them of the type of vehicle that you would like to use just to ensure it’s acceptable. When you book a test, you can let them know you have a disability. Though you will have to take the same standard of test as everyone else, examiners can make adjustments.

  50. Tolumor Debafegha

    I am familiar with my friend’s car which i will be using my driving but can someone please point me in the direction as where to get a 24 hr insurance. Don’t know if i should get the insurance cover as it’s not my car. I mean i am using my friend’s car for my driving test. Do i need an insurance for the purpose of driving test

  51. Hi Tolumor,
    Yes you will need specific insurance for the driving test. If you do a search for ‘learner driver insurance’ you should see plenty of results. You can also use comparison sites. Some insurers will allow you to have insurance for the driving test only.

  52. Burhan

    Hello I have tomorrow test but I have problem warning lights tyres

  53. Hello Burhan,
    Have you checked that all the tyre pressures are set at their recommended values as stated on the tyre pressure placard inside the driver’s door? Failing that, I would try to get your car looked at or source another vehicle as there’s a good chance the examiner will refuse the car.

  54. Denise

    My cigarette socket doesn’t work do i need to get this fixed for examiners satnav to connect to?

  55. Hi Denise,
    The sat nav that the examiners use have their own power source (built in battery) so not not require power connections from your car.

  56. Fares Suhail Hakim

    Hi,
    I am an international student and my test is in September 2021 and most probably I will be using my friend’s car to give the test. I have a driving license from the middle east and I have held it for more than 5 years now.
    Since my friend is a working professional and won’t be able to accompany me on the test date. Is it fine if I get insurance on my international license and drive to and fro from the test centre? Is it allowed to do so?
    Thanks.

  57. Hello Fares Suhail Hakim,
    Providing that your international licence is valid and that you’re legally entitled to drive unaccompanied in Great Britain, then yes this isn’t a problem.

  58. Sugam

    I am driving on my international license and intend to use my own car, which is a 2010 Honda Jazz. My car cleared the MOT last month with an advisory:
    “Offside Rear Tyre slightly damaged/cracking or perishing”
    Do you think it can be a problem or since it’s an advisory, it should be OK?

  59. Hi Sugam,
    Examiners do briefly look at all four tyres before taking the car out on a test. Any obvious signs of damage or illegal wear on a tyre and they will terminate the test before you have a chance to drive. However, the fact that your car has been issued with a valid test certificate would suggest that the damage is minimal, so I would think that you’ll be fine. End of the day, it is the examiner’s call, so if you want to be on the safe side, it might be worth getting it replaced.

  60. Carly

    Would heavily tinted rear windows on a 3 door Corsa make it unsuitable for taking a test – vision through the extra rear-view mirror isn’t great

  61. Hi Carly,
    Personally, if it’s purely for cosmetic reasons, I wouldn’t recommend heavily tinted windows as they will obviously restrict your vision to the rear of the vehicle. However, it’s no less unsuitable for a driving test than it is once you’ve passed though. If it’s legal, then you can of course use the car on a test.

  62. Tania Carter

    Hi, can a test be taken in a sign written car?

  63. Hi Tania,
    I’ve never heard of any rule suggesting that a test cannot be taken in a sign written car. So I would assume it’s fine, yes.

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