Before setting off on a drive, your Tutor or Examiner will expect you to undertake a series of pre-drive checks. These are in three stages:

The external checks need to be carried out before you get in the car; you would not want top drive a car with flat tyres, or start the engine if there was insufficient oil, They are ordered so that the most difficult external checks are performed first. First come the boot /bonnet checks. A useful acronym to remember for checking under the bonnet is P.O.W.E.R. – Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber, (tyres and wipers). Then comes a walk-round inspection of the tyres, windows, lights, etc.

The cockpit drill is an essential pre-requisite to driving, especially with an unfamiliar car: you would not want to get halfway down the road before realising you didn't know how to operate the controls, or the seat adjustment meant you couldn't fully depress the clutch or brake pedal. The stages are in a strict sequence, certain things like brake pedal pressure cannot be tested until the engine is running, and it's best to make sure the vehicle is not in gear before starting the engine.

Finally the moving brake test has to be performed when the engine is running. This is an essential safety check: much better to find out the brakes don't work in the service station car park when traveling at 20mph than further on down the motorway! The only time it is NOT recommended you do a moving brake test is when you are pulling away on a busy road.

External Vehicle Check

  • Check fluids: water coolant, engine oil, and washer fluid.
  • Check all tyre pressures, including the spare.
  • Light lenses are intact and clean. (walk round the car).
  • Windscreen wipers are in good condition.
  • Front nearside tyre tread and wall are OK.
  • The nearside mirror is intact and clean.
  • Rear nearside tyre tread and wall are OK.
  • The rear wiper (if applicable) is in good condition.
  • Rear offside tyre tread and wall are OK.
  • The off side mirror is intact and clean.
  • Front offside tyre tread and wall are OK.
  • The windscreens of the vehicle are clear inside and out.

Cockpit Drill

  • Hand brake on. Gear in neutral.
  • The seat and mirrors are adjusted to my satisfaction.
  • I am aware of the layout and position of the controls (Point to the horn and switch on the ignition).
  • All the warning lights are on (Declutch and start the engine).
  • All warning lights are out.
  • Check there is sufficient fuel for the journey.
  • There is good firm pressure on the foot brake.
  • Seat belts on? Doors closed?
  • Checking round the vehicle – all clear.
  • Selecting first gear and moving off.

Moving Brake Test

  • At first available opportunity I will carry out a moving brake test.
  • This is normally carried out at 20-25mph (on a straight section of road).
  • Mirror check – nothing about. Applying brakes now.
  • The vehicle is braking quite evenly with no adverse effect on the steering.
  • Braking in a straight line.
  • Moving on.