The examiner will take a quick visual look over the car as he/she approaches just to see if there are any obvious defects and this will usually be a general look rather than an MOT level check up, mainly to ensure that nothing is hanging off the car such as trims or sharp objects.
They will look to see that a L-plate (D-plate in Wales) is clearly visible from the front and rear of the car and will decide that it is unacceptable to have plates fixed to the windscreen or angled on some modern bonnets so that they are not visible from the front of the vehicle.
The examiner will also check to see that a rear view mirror has been positioned in front of the passenger seat for the examiners use and although some test centres will carry spare L-plates, and spare mirrors, but it is wise not to rely on others!
Your tax disc must show the vehicle’s correct details, be in date and currently valid, with registration plates needing to be the same at the front and rear of the car, and sufficiently clean and dirt free that they can be read by other road users and traffic cameras.
Quite a lot comes up for scrutiny during the Show Me, Tell Me questions.
The head, tail and brake lights must be functioning, without defective bulbs or broken lenses. If the fault is sufficiently serious but can be readily fixed, the examiner may allow sufficient time for you to sort it, so it is worth keeping spares to hand and being familiar with the repair/replacement procedure. If it takes too much time or is too significant a fault then the test may be cancelled.
Staying with the Show Me, Tell Me questions, these include questions where the condition of the tyres is called into question. It is a wise car owner who checks the condition of his/her own car in terms of tread depth, cuts, bulges and correct tyre pressure all round! You must not have a space saver wheel fitted to the car, but as a spare, the Examiner will not look in the boot.
Head restraints must be in position for both the front seats, and available for the rear seats should you wish your Instructor to sit in on the exam or a should a supervising examiner accompany the test. Have them at the ready just in case.
The airbags will be checked, in that nothing should be located on them should they inflate… store the sat nav out of harm’s way, along with nodding dogs and other potential missiles!
Controversial I know, but quite a lot of publicity has been given recently to the amount of space in the back of small cars on the practical test. Some super minis have been refused due to lack of space at the back of the vehicle, and the size of the supervising examiner. Choose your vehicle carefully!
Finally, it is essential that all warning lights (red and amber) go out appropriately on the dash board. If they continue to remain illuminated, then the test may be called to a halt by the examiner.
It is likely that more issues will arise in the future that may cause a test to be cancelled, but for the time being make sure your car is test worthy to avoid the inconvenience and upset that test cancellation may cause.
Maybe better still, book your test through your Driving Instructor who will shoulder the burden of vehicle test worthiness, and offer the examiner the reassurance of dual controls should he need them! You probably have enough to worry about on the day of the test then the reliability of your car!