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Basic car maintenance and checks

Knowing how to perform basic checks and maintenance is not just required as part of your test but it also very useful once you are driving on your own. You can see the questions that could be put to you below.

Show me/Tell me

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Below are the questions you could be asked. Click a question to show how it could be responded to on your test day

'Tell me' questions

Q1 : Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil

A1 : Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe how you would remove the dipstick, wipe with a clean cloth, re-insert dipstick and remove it for a true reading checking the level of oil against the minimum/maximum markings on the dipstick. Identify oil filler cap for top up if required.


Q2 : Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine coolant level and tell me how you would check that the engine has the correct level of coolant.

A2 : Open the bonnet, identify the coolant tank and describe how you would check the coolant level against the minimum/maximum markings on the coolant tank. If top up is required it is advisable to leave the engine to cool for at least 10 minutes and then unscrew the lid carefully allowing any remaining pressure to escape slowly.


Q3 : Open the bonnet, identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell me how you would check the windscreen washer level.

A3 : Identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and describe how it should be topped up frequently and particularly before a long journey.


Q4 : Open the bonnet, identify where the brake fluid reservoir is and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic fluid.

A4 : Identify the brake fluid reservoir and describe how you would check the brake fluid level against the minimum/maximum markings on the reservoir and that if top up is required then it is important that hygiene is observed in order to prevent any dirt entering the brake system that may lead to loss of brake performance.


Q5 : Tell me how you would check that the brake lights are working on this car.

A5 : Describe how you would need to turn the ignition on and operate the brake pedal, make use of any reflections in windows/garage doors etc or if none are available then ask someone to help.


Q6 : Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

A6 : The brake pedal should not feel spongy or slack and should be tested as you set off. The vehicle should not pull to one side when the brake is applied.


Q7 : Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this vehicle and how tyre pressures should be checked.

A7 : Recommended tyre pressures can be found in the manufacturers guide and a reliable pressure gauge should be used. Pressures should be checked/adjusted when the tyres are cold, not forgetting to check the spare wheel and to replace the valve caps.


Q8 : Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

A8 : There should be no cuts or bulges and 1.6mm of tread depth across the central ¾ of the tyres breadth and around the entire outer circumference.


Q9 : Tell me how you would check that the head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

A9 : The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as eye level or the tops of your ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. Some restraints may not be adjustable.


Q10 : Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti locking brake system.

A10 : The warning light should illuminated if there is a fault with the anti locking braking system.




'Show me' questions

Q11 : Show me how you would check that the horn is working.

A11 : Check to be careful not to startle other road users and apply pressure on the horn control.


Q12 : Show me how you would check that the directional indicators are working correctly.

A12 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and apply the indicators ensuring that both left and right indicators are working at the front, side and rear of the vehicle.


Q13 : Show me how you would check that the headlights and tail lights are working.

A13 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and turn on the headlights checking all lights are working, remembering to check front and rear.


Q14 : Show me / tell me how you would check that the power assisted steering is working correctly before starting a journey.

A14 : If the steering becomes heavy then the system may not be working correctly. Apply and maintain gentle pressure on the steering wheel while at the same time start the engine. This should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively, turning the wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication if the power assistance is working correctly.


Q15 : Show me how you would check the parking brake for excessive wear.

A15 : Demonstrate by applying the brake pedal, releasing and immediately reapplying the parking brake checking that when fully applied it locks in place, is not at the end of its working travel and secures the car.


Q16 : Show me how you would switch your headlights from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know when the main beam is on whilst inside the car.

A16 : Turn the ignition on (if necessary) and turn on the headlights. Move the control stalk that is attached to the steering column towards you which will illuminate a blue waring light on the instrument panel.


Q17 : Show me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use it/them (no need to exit the vehicle).

A17 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and switch on dipped headlights then switch on the fog light control and check the warning light is illuminated and explain that fog lights should only be used when visibility is reduced to a distance of 100 metres or less.


Q18 : Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washers and wipers.

A18 : Turn on the ignition (if necessary) and operate the windscreen washer control.


Q19 : Show me how you set the de-mister controls to clear all the windows effectively, this should include front, side and rear windows.

A19 : Set all the relevant controls including air vents at both sides to point towards the side windows, use the control switch to direct hot air onto the windscreen, then operate the fan. Turn on the heated rear window control to clear the rear window.


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