Car Maintenance and Safety Checks: Q & A

The examiner will ask you two questions.  One from each section.  There is a maximum penalty of one driving fault.


Windscreen washer level

Open bonnet and identify where to top up with water and screen wash.

Headlights and tail lights are working

Turn the dipped beam on and say you'd walk around the car checking bulbs.

Brakes are working properly

Press the brake pedal and say it should feel firm, not slack or spongy.  When you move off make sure it is safe and try the brakes, the car should not pull to the side.

Tyres have sufficient tread depth and are safe for use

Tyre should have no cuts or bulges.  The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference.  Explain that tyres below 3mm tread depth have much longer wet weather braking distances.  Tyres should be replaced when they reach 3mm.

Head restraint is correctly adjusted to give the best protection in the event of a collision

Rigid part must be level with eye level and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.

Anti-lock braking system is working

Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault.

The recommended tyre pressures

Tyres should be checked when cold.  Correct pressures are in Car Manual.  Use a reliable pressure gauge.  Remember the spare and refit valve caps.


Power Assisted Steering is working

Left hand on steering wheel at 10 o'clock position.  Start engine.  There should be a slight but noticeable movement of the steering wheel as the system begins to operate.

Parking Brake for excessive wear

Put your foot on the brake, release the handbrake.   Show the handbrake is tight and when you release the button that it secures itself.

Horn is working correctly

Only press if asked to do so and off road.  Point to the horn in the centre of steering wheel.  Explain you'd just give it a short light press.

Direction indicators are working correctly

Press the hazard warning light (red double triangle on dash).  This turns all the indicators on.  Walk around the car checking all are on.

Brake lights are working correctly

Press brake pedal and check in a reflection in a window or ask someone (the examiner) to check that all three brake lights are on.

Engine oil is at the correct level

Note engine should be run first.  Turn engine off before opening bonnet.  Identify dipstick.  Describe what you do.  Take dipstick out, wipe clean, replace dipstick, remove dipstick, check level against high/ low markers.  If low, remove oil cap, top up a little at a time, allow to settle and check dipstick again.

Engine coolant level

Open bonnet.  Identify high/low markings on header tank and level of coolant in system.  Note that coolant is water mixed with antifreeze to prevent the radiator bursting in freezing temperatures.

Brake fluid level

Open bonnet, identify level, check level against high/low markings.

Clean the windscreen using the windscreen washer and wipers.

Operate control to wash and wipe windscreen at front and rear windows.

Set the demister controls to clear all the windows effectively, including front and rear windows.

No need to start engine to demonstrate.  Set fan speed, temperature, air direction and source. Remember heated window at rear.

Switch on the rear fog light and explain when you'd use.

Operate switch and check warning light is on.  Explain you MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced below 100m and that you may use the fog light in these conditions.  When visibility improves you MUST TURN OFF fog light because it can dazzle other road users and may obscure your brake lights.

Switch your headlights from dipped to main been and explain how you would know from inside the car.

Operate switch and check main beam warning is blue for high beam, green for dipped beam.

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