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Can I take a driving test in my own car?

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Your driving test is usually a nerve-wracking experience, so it helps if you’re driving a car you feel comfortable in. Many learner drivers feel happier taking the driving test in their own car rather than the instructor’s.

Find out the rules on using your own car for your driving test, including any car insurance considerations, and work out whether it could help ease your way to a pass with our comprehensive guide.

Is using my own car for a driving test allowed?

You can use your own car for your driving test if you prefer, although most people sit it in the instructor’s car.

The key is that your car meets certain criteria. You might also need to make a few accommodations before the test to make it easier for the examiner to assess your driving.

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

To use your own car in the practical driving test, it must:

  • Have four wheels (three-wheelers are a no-go)
  • Have no tyre damage
  • Have no warning lights on
  • Be able to achieve a speed of 62mph (and have a mph speedometer)
  • Be smoke-free (no sneaky cigarettes before the test)
  • Be taxed
  • Have a valid MOT (unless it’s under three years old or otherwise exempt) and be roadworthy
  • Be insured – you’ll need to check with your insurer that you’re covered for the test

Before the test, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve done the following:

  • Fitted L plates
  • Added an extra rear view mirror for the examiner
  • Ensured there’s a proper seat belt and head restraint for the examiner
  • Removed or switched off any in-car cameras, such as dash cams that record video or audio inside the car

It’s essential to ensure your car meets all the requirements before you book your test. If your examiner says it doesn’t meet the criteria on the day, your test will be cancelled, and you’ll need to rebook. Your test fee won’t be refunded.

Even though you might have learned in a car with dual controls, that’s not a requirement for the test.

What are the benefits of taking the driving test in your own car?

You might want to consider taking your driving test in your car rather than your instructor’s for several reasons, such as the following:

  • It’ll feel more familiar and comfortable, since you’ve racked up more practice miles in your own car
  • If you drive a manual, you’ll know where the biting point is
  • Your seat and mirrors will be positioned in the right place
  • You’ll know where all the relevant controls are, such as lights and windscreen wipers
  • You’ll know your car’s size and reference points, which is helpful when you do manoeuvres in the test

These factors could help you feel more relaxed and confident during the test.

From a logistics point of view, you might find that you’ll get a greater choice of test times if you don’t need to use your instructor’s car. You also won’t need to pay for using their car either.

What to consider before taking your driving test in your own car

Whether you take your driving test in your own car or your instructor’s shouldn’t make you more or less likely to pass or fail. The examiner will be assessing your driving, not your car.

Before you decide to take your driving test in your own car, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your car reliable enough? You don’t want to be worried about your car breaking down on test day
  • Does it meet the required criteria? You’ll need to ensure your car meets all the requirements set by the DVSA (see list above)
  • Do you have the necessary documentation? You’ll need to confirm your car is taxed, has an up-to-date MOT and that you’re insured to drive it for the test
  • Do you need dual controls? These shouldn’t be needed on test day, but consider whether their presence would reassure you on the big day
  • Has your instructor seen you drive your own car? A lesson in your car might be a worthwhile investment in case you’ve picked up any bad habits in it

You should also remember that if your car is automatic, you’ll only get a licence to drive an automatic. If your instructor’s car is a manual, you can drive both car types once you’ve passed your test.

The process for using your own car for the driving test

You don’t need to let the test centre know in advance that you’ll be taking your driving test in your own car. You simply need to book your driving test as usual.

That means you can change your mind about your vehicle choice before test day. The most important thing is to make sure your car meets the required criteria, is taxed, insured and has a valid MOT. Always call your insurer in advance to double-check that your insurance covers you for the test itself. At this point, it’s a good idea to think about how you’ll get home from the test and find out whether you’ll be insured for the drive home.

Some learner driver policies will carry on covering you once you’ve passed your test, but others will be invalidated straightaway. In these cases, it might be helpful to have somebody who’s insured to come with you to drive your car.

When you take your test in your instructor’s car, they’ll typically drive you home whether you pass or fail.

Preparing your car for the driving test

Before your test, you should be confident that your car meets the criteria and that you have all the necessary paperwork.

To reduce the risk of a hiccup on the day, it also makes sense to do all the due diligence you would do before a long journey. The last thing you need is to discover that your wipers aren’t up to the job if the weather turns.

  • Make sure you have enough petrol in the tank
  • Check your tyres’ depth and pressure
  • Ensure your lights work properly
  • Check your wipers and top-up your screen wash
  • Check your engine’s oil
  • Top up your coolant if your car needs it
  • Check your brake fluid

Remember, you’ll need to fit an additional interior rear view mirror for the examiner – these can easily be purchased online for less than £10.

Legal requirements aside, you’ll make a better impression if you’ve de-cluttered your car and run it through the car wash before your test. It certainly won’t count in your favour if the windscreens or mirrors are dirty or there’s junk at the examiner’s feet.

Tips for a successful driving test in your own car

Whether you’re taking your first or third driving test, the following tips can increase your chance of a pass:

  • It’s a good idea to have some lessons in it, especially in the time prior to your test
  • Get as much practice as possible – there’s no such thing as too much parallel parking. Make sure you’re aware of your car’s reference points for parking manoeuvres and that you’re comfortable driving it in various weather conditions
  • Familiarise yourself with all the test routes for your test centre – this is especially important if lengthy waits mean you’re taking your test further afield
  • Be aware of what typically causes drivers to fail – while we all worry about manoeuvres, the top three causes of failure are observation at junctions, checking mirrors and steering control
  • Even though you’ve passed your theory test, make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the road and understand what road signs mean
  • Book a driving lesson before the test, even if you’re taking it in your own car and don’t need your instructor to come with you. Once you’re warmed up, you’re less likely to make silly mistakes
  • Don’t drink the night before and get an early night
  • Get some fresh air before your test, and go easy on the caffeine
  • If you’re feeling anxious, focus on your breathing. Long, deep breaths will lower your heart rate, relax your muscles and reduce surging adrenaline levels.

Key takeaways

  • Consider whether you’ll be more confident and comfortable taking your test in your own car or your instructor’s
  • If you want to take your driving test in your own car, make sure it meets DVSA criteria
  • Your car must be taxed, insured, roadworthy and have a valid MOT. You’ll need to check whether you’re insured for the test and the drive home if you pass
  • Get as much practice in your car ahead of the test as possible. A few lessons in your own car will be helpful too

Taking a driving test in my own car FAQs

Terms and conditions vary between car insurance policies, so you must check whether you’re insured for the test and the drive home if you pass. Don’t assume you’ll be covered because you have learner driver insurance.

If you’re comfortable driving in your own car and have had lots of practice in it, it shouldn’t be any harder to pass your driving test.

However, if you’ve just got it and have more experience in the type of vehicle your instructor drives, it might create more of a challenge.

You can take your driving test in your parents’ car (or a friend’s or family member’s) so long as it meets the DVSA criteria, you have their permission and you’re insured to drive it for the test.

The DVSA criteria for taking your driving test in your own car focuses more on the condition of your car and less on the make and model. However, there are a handful of cars that you cannot take your test in because they don’t give the examiner a good enough view of the road.

These include the following:

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

If you have any concerns, contacting the DVSA before your test is best. This is particularly important if you want to take your driving test in a convertible, panel van or coupe.

No. If you’re old enough to take your driving test, you’re old enough to take it in your own car.

To learn to drive a car in the UK, you must be at least 17 years old.

If your car has broken down and can’t be repaired in time, your only option is to ask your driving instructor, a parent or a family member if you can use theirs, so long as you’re insured to drive it.

If you can’t find an alternative car that meets the requirements, you’ll have to cancel your test and rebook for another time.


This is why it’s crucial to think about the reliability of your car if you plan to take your driving test in it.

Molly Dyson


After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.