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Driving Test 'Show Me, Tell Me' Information

Thanks for visiting. This page has information about vehicle familiarization and basic maintenance that will help you understand and learn what is required to answer the "show me, tell me" questions that you can be asked in a driving test. The questions you can be asked are listed in our 'Show me, tell me' handouts that your trainer has given you. It is very important that you are able to answer the questions for the vehicle you are using for your driving test. This will demonstrate that you 'know your car'.

‘Tell Me’ questions are asked at the start of your test, before you start driving. You will be asked to explain how you’d carry out a safety task.


Q: Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
A: Adjust so that the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable (you can demonstrate as you explain).

The head restraint is designed to protect your neck from 'whiplash' injury in the event of a collision. If your car is struck from behind, your head will be flung backwards so it is important that the head restraint is correctly positioned to protect you. When you are carrying passengers it is sensible to check that they have adjusted their head restraints correctly and if necessary show them how to make the adjustment. Note that in some vehicles the head restraint may not be adjustable. 



Q: Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey

A: Explain that, when you push down on the brake pedal, it should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. The vehicle should not pull to one side when you use the brakes.
Get used to the how your car brake pedal feels in normal use so that you know when something doesn't feel right. To test the brakes as you set off, drive forwards slowly and apply the brake as normal. If the brakes are not working properly you should not drive the car - seek qualified assistance straight away!

Q: Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system (ABS).

A: Explain that a warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system. 
 The Anti-lock Braking System is designed to help prevent skidding due to wheels locking when you press the brake pedal. This will help you if you ave to brake harshly in an emergency or if you don't judge surface conditions correctly and brake too hard on a slippery surface. A fault with the ABS might mean it could take you longer to stop the car or that you might need to recover from a skid. If a warning light tells you there is a fault, you should get your car to the nearest manufacturer's recommended service centre as soon as practical to have the fault checked out and repaired.


Q: Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked. 

A: Explain you’d refer to the manufacturer’s guide. Use a reliable pressure gauge. Check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold. Don’t forget
the spare tyre! Remember to refit valve caps after checking.

Try to get into the habit of checking your tyre condition and pressures once a week. It is quite common to find tyre pressure information displayed on the access hatch to the fuel cap - a convenient reminder when you are filling up! Different tyre pressures may be recommended for carrying a heavier load than normal or driving at higher speed for longer journeys. Going on holiday - be sure to check your tyres are inflated for the journey you have planned! Tyres warm up as you travel and this can affect tyre pressure readings. That is why it is recommended that tyre pressures are checked when they are cold. Some digital tyre pressure gauges can compensate for this error - it is worth investing in a quality pressure gauge. Some cars have a 'space saver' spare tyre which is intended only for use until you can get a puncture repaired. These tyres are supplied when a full size spare would be difficult to fit in your car and will display a warning about recommended maximum speed when they are being used. The tyre pressure for a space saver may be different from the other tyres - check the owners handbook for details. Some cars carry no spare tyre but have a temporary puncture repair kit instead. These inject a sealant into the tyre and re-inflate it. Make sure you understand how they should be used and remember that they will not repair a badly damaged tyre so you may need to call out a tyre replacement service to get you back on the road!

Q: Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road. 

A: Explain that tyres should have no cuts or bulges. There should be 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.  

Good tyres with adequate tread are essential for safety and road holding. Tyres which show excessive wear on one edge can indicate a problem with the vehicle 'tracking' which can be checked  and corrected by a specialist garage. Tyres which seem more worn in the middle of the tread have probably been over-inflated. Excess wear on both edges may mean the tyres have been run under-inflated. A good quality depth gauge will give you an accurate measure of your tyre tread but as a guide you can measure against the outer rim of a 20p coin. If you see a problem with your tyres or realise they are getting close to the minimum tread depth, get them replaced promptly. It isn't worth the risk to you or others on the road to have bald or faulty tyres on your car. 


Q: Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

A: Explain that if the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey; maintaining gentle pressure on the steering wheel while the engine is started should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate; alternatively, turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.

Power steering is a hydraulic system. The fluid pump relies on engine power so you can only test the power steering with the    engine running. If a fault develops when you are driving, you will notice the steering will feel much heavier, especially when turning at slow speed. You will still be able to steer but it will take more effort and you should get your car to the nearest manufacturer's recommended service centre as soon as practical to have the fault checked out and repaired.


Q: Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

A: Explain that you’d operate the switch (after turning on the ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle to check the lights.

It is best to get into the habit of checking lights and indicators every day! If a vehicle sensor indicates a fault with one of the lights you should stop and investigate at the first safe opportunity. It a good idea to carry spare bulbs and fuses in your car. 

Q: Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
A: Explain that you’d operate the indicator switch (after turning on the 
ignition if necessary) or turn on the hazard warning lights, then walk 
round the
vehicle to check the lights.

Operating the hazard warning lights switch should cause left and right indicator symbols on you instrument panel to flash at the same time. Using the indicators also causes an audible warning that should be constant. A change in frequency of the ticking sound tells you that an indicator bulb may have failed.

Q: Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.

A: Explain that you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.

Driving with defective brake lights is dangerous - following drivers will get no warning that you are slowing and this could cause an accident if you had to brake sharply. If brake lights or indicators fail during a journey you will need to use hand signals and get the fault repaired as soon as you can.

Q: Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.

A: Explain how to operate the switch (ignition or engine on if necessary) and check that the main beam warning light comes on. If safe, you can
demonstrate as you explain - remember to switch off the headlights when no longer needed.

You should know that the dipped beam warning light symbol shows green and that the main beam warning light symbol shows blue. You should use dipped headlights at night and in daylight in poor weather when visibility is reduced. Use main beam at night on unlit roads but only when they will not dazzle drivers ahead that you are following or the drivers of approaching vehicles. Remember that dipped or main beam lights are not going to be effective if the glass lenses are dirty - keep them clean and in conditions where salt spray and mud are a problem be prepared to stop when safe and clean the lights.

Many vehicles are now fitted with 'Automatic' lighting assistance that switches on the dipped beam as it gets dark. Your instrument panel might only show the 'Parking Light' symbol when the switch is set to automatic. Some cars also have an automatic dim/dip feature which work by detecting lights from an approaching vehicle to dip the headlights. These can sometimes be fooled by reflections from warning signs so you should always be ready to override this feature by operating the switch yourself.

Q: Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
A: Explain you’d operate the switch (after turning on dipped headlights if necessary) and check the instrument warning light comes on. Explain
when fog lights should be used.

You may only use fog lights when visibility is seriously reduced (this means that you can see less than 100 meters or 330 feet ahead). Fog lights are very bright and can confuse or dazzle other drivers. Rear fog lights can make it almost impossible to see your brake lights come on! Fog lights can only be used with dipped headlights. Note that using full beam headlights in fog can make visibility worse as fog reflects the light back to the driver. You should know that fog lamp instrument warning lights show a wavy line over parallel lines. The front fog lamp symbol will show downward pointing straight lines. Unlike dipped/main beam there is no colour convention for front and rear fog lamp warning lights so they may vary from car to car.

UNDER BONNET CHECKS:   The following ‘Tell me’ questions require you to open the bonnet. You need to know where the bonnet release catch is and how to operate it. If your car has a bonnet prop, be sure to locate it correctly before making any checks. After making under bonnet checks, take care to stow any prop correctly and close the bonnet securely. Your trainer will advise you how to make these checks safely on your driving test vehicle. During your test you will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

In modern vehicles when you look under the bonnet, the filling points for fluids to be made regularly by the driver are usually easily located by brightly coloured caps with easily understood symbols. If you have an older car you might need to refer to the owners handbook to identify relevant fluid reservoirs. Wear disposable gloves for under-bonnet checks and a high-visibility vest when making safety checks outside the vehicle on the public highway.

Q: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil. 

A: Open the bonnet and secure it as necessary. Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against minimum and maximum markers. Close the bonnet securely before driving.

Engine oil is vital to lubricate moving parts when the engine is running and also helps prevent corrosion. The oil system pressurizes when the engine is running so it is important not to overfill the oil otherwise it may leak into compartments it shouldn't. This can result in damage to other engine and transmission parts.  Some cars don't have a dipstick - instead the oil level is checked electronically by use of controls on the car's steering
column or multi-function steering wheel. If your car has this system, make sure you know how to use it properly. Refer to the owners handbook to find out what grade of engine oil you should use to top up if needed.

Q: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.

A: Open the bonnet and secure it as necessary. Identify high and low level markings on the header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap and describe how to top up to correct level.

You should only top up the coolant when the engine is cold. This is because the coolant is pressurised and opening the radiator cap can result in release of steam with the risk of scalding. Engine coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze. Check the owners handbook to find out what proportions you need to top up. Note that antifreeze is poisonous - wear gloves when handling and wash hands thoroughly after use. 


Q: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

A: Open the bonnet and secure it as necessary. Identify the brake fluid reservoir and describe how to top up to the correct level.

Check the owners handbook to find out what type of brake fluid is best for your car. Be very careful not to contaminate the fluid reservoir with dust, grit or water. These could cause corrosion or damage to the hydraulic braking systems and cause the brakes to fail. 


‘Show Me’ questions are asked whilst you are driving. You will be asked to perform a safety task when it safe to do so. 


Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?

A: Operate the switch. Check that the relevant instrument panel warning 
light illuminates. Remember to switch off the dipped headlights when 
no longer needed.

See above for answers to supplementary questions.


Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen? 

A: Operate the rear washer and wiper control. Remember to switch off the wiper when it is no longer needed.

Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?

A: Operate the front washer and wiper control. Remember to switch off the wiper when it is no longer needed.
You should get into the habit of checking that washers and wipers are working on a daily basis. Top up the washer reservoir regularly. It is against the law to be unable to clear your windscreen with washers and wipers. In winter use a screen-wash mixture which prevents freezing. These are available from garages, car accessory stores and other retail outlets. If glass is heavily marked you might need to manually wash and degrease it before your washers and wipers can be effective. Don't drive if you can't see clearly through the glass. If this happens during a journey, stop at the first safe opportunity to resolve the problem. Avoid using wipers on a dry screen as this can result in scratched glass. If glass seems streaky when you use the wipers check the blades for contamination (e.g. dead leaves) or tears/deterioration of the rubber. If the wiper blades are damaged, replace as soon as practical. 


Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how how you’d set the rear demister?

A: Operate the switch and check that it or the relevant instrument panel light illuminates. Remember to switch off the demister when it is no longer needed.

Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?

A: Set the controls to maximise warm air flow to the windscreen. Remember to reset the controls when no longer needed.

Screen misting is caused by moisture in the air condensing on cold glass. Rear screens have a heating element operated by a switch on the dashboard. Front screens may also have a heating element but are more commonly demisted by adjusting the heating and ventilation controls to direct warm air over the screen. For safety you must be able to see clearly both ahead and behind so be sure to know how to demist the front and rear screens. An open window will help by allowing moist air to escape the car. Note that having air conditioning set to cool the interior in damp or humid conditions can cause screens to mist up. 

Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

A: Operate the switch or mechanism as appropriate to open and then close the window.

Opening a window can help with demisting; may help at junctions in fog when sound can be deadened; will be essential if you need to make a hand signal. So it is important to know your car and know where the handle or electric switch is located! You should be ale to operate the window mechanism without taking your eyes from the road.


Q: When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?

A: Check that you will not cause alarm or confusion to other road users. Operate the horn briefly.

The horn is a warning instrument and should only be used while your vehicle is moving to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn while stationary on the road unless there is danger from another vehicle moving nearby. You must not use the horn at night when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 am. Flashing your headlights can also serve as a warning of your presence to others. 


The 'Show me, tell me' handout is a training aid approved by the Driving Instructors Association. The supplementary information and typographical arrangement of the vehicle safety questions are G6S copyright © 2017. This work may not be reproduced or copied by any means without prior written consent from the publisher. Vehicle safety questions are valid from 04/12/17 and sourced from the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency. Check with your trainer or our website for any recent changes and make sure that you understand how the safety questions apply to the vehicle used for your driving test.