At the start of your driving test the examiner will carry out a number of checks. They will check your driving licence and ensure that your signature matches that on the photo card. They will also check your eyesight by asking you to read a registration number at a distance of 20.5 meters. Then they will ask you a tell me question.

There are 14 questions in total, though if you present to test in an Electric Vehicle, you can only answer 12 or 13 of them using the car you are using. 3 of the questions require you to show them how you would open the bonnet first.

This article covers all the questions and the correct answers. Below each answer, where appropriate, there is a drop down menu which will give additional information on why you need to do these things.

1) Please SHOW ME how you would open the bonnet and then TELL ME how you would check the vehicle has sufficient engine oil?

This is the one question you cannot answer with most electric vehicles as they don’t use engine oil. However, you can either ask for a different question or you can tell them what you would do if the car did take oil.

Opening the bonnet is simple. Locate the bonnet release which is going to be either in the drivers or front passengers footwell. Pull on that then head to the front of the car. The bonnet will have popped open but you still need to release the safety catch. On the Hyundai Kona it is to the right of the Hyundai badge. Once you’ve released the safety catch, lift the bonnet and if it doesn’t have hydraulic lifter, find the supporting prod and locate it in the hole on the underside of the bonnet.

A photo of a Vauxhall Corsa’s engine bay showing where the dip stick is.

NOTE: The correct hole with have a little arrow pointing at it, there will be many holes under the bonnet, don’t pick the wrong one, it’s not safe.

If your car has oil, find the dip stick, point to it and then tell the examiner what you would do.

What you should do is remove the dip stick and wipe it clean, then put it back all the way and withdraw it again. Check the oil mark on the dip stick sits between the minimum and maximum markers. Replace the dipstick when you’ve done.

NOTE: Some cars have an electronic dipstick so you have to access the menus to check the oil. This is also true of many modern trucks.

Combustion engines require oil to lubricate the pistons in the engine block. If there isn’t any oil available, the heat of the engine causes the pistons to swell and they get squeezed by the block. This firstly increases drag in the engine and increases fuel consumption. If you keep running without oil, the engine can seize up and then you have a very expensive repair bill.

Running with too much oil is equally bad for the engine. The oil system is pressurised while the engine is running and too much oil can cause over-pressure. This can cause seals and gaskets to fail which again, can result in some eye-watering bills from your local mechanic.

2) Please SHOW ME how you would open the bonnet and then TELL ME how you would check the vehicle has sufficient coolant?

Check the answer above for instructions on how to open the bonnet. Also check before you get to the test centre if your car has coolant because some early EVs don’t. Most modern EVs do, in fact the latest cars from Renault and Nissan, the Megane E-Tech and Nissan Aryia have two coolant systems!

Locate the coolant reservoir, it will probably have a warning on the lid telling you not to open it when it’s hot. Point it out to the examiner and tell them:

The engine bay of a Hyundai Kona Electric.

You would look for the coolant level to be between the minimum and maximum markers. You will check the coolant on level ground and when the engine is cold.

The coolant system is a pressurised system. Liquids in pressurised systems which get hot are under greater pressure than when they are cold. This has two problems for us checking coolant.

Firstly, if the system is under increased pressure, the pressure will push the liquid down in the bottle so it will read as artificially low and you may top up when it doesn’t need it.

Also, and much more importantly, when you release the cap on the reservoir, you release the pressure. Take a can of coke and shake it to increase the pressure, then open the can and see what happens. Do you really want that happening with hot coolant?

3) Please SHOW ME how you would open the bonnet then TELL ME how you would check your vehicle has sufficient hydraulic brake fluid?

Check the first answer for instructions on how to open the bonnet.

Locate the brake fluid reservoir, look for the symbol opposite. In the Hyundai it is directly in line with the brake pedal which makes it easier to find. Check that the fluid sits between the minimum and maximum levels.

NOTE: If you find your brake fluid is low, but above the minimum, don’t top it up until you’ve had your brakes checked. As your brake pads wear, more fluid sits in the pipes rather than the reservoir in normal use and when you get the pads replaced you can then find you have too much fluid.

If you have to top up, make sure you use the correct grade of brake fluid, usually either DOT 3 or DOT4.

The engine bay of a Hyundai Kona Electric.

A couple of reasons why you should check this on a regular basis. Firstly, a drop in fluid level can indicate brake wear or a leak in the system. Either will result in reduced braking performance and the last thing you want in an emergency is brakes that aren’t up to the task.

The other reason to check your brake fluid on a regular basis relates to manual and combustion automatic vehicles. Most manuals use the same reservoir for the clutch so dropping brake fluid levels can also be a sign of clutch wear. You cant visually check the clutch because of where it lives so if you are ‘losing’ brake fluid and there are no leaks and the brakes are good, its a sign that you need to get the clutch looked at.

4) Please TELL ME how you would ensure your head restraint is correctly adjusted to provide maximum protection in the event of a crash?

The head restraint should be positioned so the firm part of the head restraint is level with your eyes or the top of your ears and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.

NOTE: Some cars, particularly performance models, do not have adjustable head restraints.

The head restraint is a vital part of your car’s safety systems and is key to reducing the risk of whiplash injuries in an accident. In a crash, the car slows down very quickly but your body wants to carry on at the speed you’ve been travelling at. So as the car decellerates rapidly you move forward.

The seatbelt comes in here, maybe assisted by the airbags, to pull you back into your seat. Most cars these days also have seatbelt pre-tensioners which are little explosives that pull your seatbelt tight. This brings you back towards your seat.

As you come back you don’t come back straight, you roll back up the seat, starting at your bum and rolling the spine up the seat back. It means that the fastest moving part of your body is your head. If the head restraint is correctly adjusted it will catch your head in line with your spine. It won’t be comfortable but it probably won’t hurt that much.

If the head restraint isn’t correctly adjusted, your head will continue backwards at speed and whip back past the straight line of your spine. This is what causes whiplash and whiplash, in a very technical way of putting it, hurts like hell.

5) Please TELL ME how you would check your power assisted steering is working before starting a journey?

Apply gentle pressure to the steering wheel before you start the car and maintain it while the engine or motor starts. You should feel the steering get much lighter during the start up, the wheel will probably move with just your little finger.

While driving, if the steering becomes heavy it can indicate a fault with the power assisted steering.

Cars that are designed to have power steering have an electro-hydraulic or a hydraulic steering rack. If the system isn’t functioning correctly you have to put enough force through the wheel to over-power the resistance of the hydraulic fluid as well as the grip of the tyres on the road.

PAS cars which have a fault with the system are much harder to steer than even a non power steering car. It can get very tiring very quickly and your attention to the road around you will not be as good as if the system is working correctly. It’s also much harder to take evasive action in the event of a near miss or an accident.

6) Please TELL ME how you would ensure your headlights and tail lights are working before starting a journey?

Turn on your dipped beam headlights. (Click here to see the show me questions which cover this.) You can now either:

  1. Get out and have a walk around and check the lights are working.
  2. Use reflections in windows or vehicles to check the lights are working.
  3. Ask someone to assist you.
The light switch on a Hyundai Kona Electric.

This is going to seem a bit obvious, but driving in the dark without working lights is hard. It’s also very dangerous.

You need to ensure that all of your lights are working. This includes two headlights, two Main Beam headlights, two front side lights and if your vehicle has them, your daytime running lights. At the rear of the car you need to make sure the marker lights are working and extend to the end of the light cluster as these are marker lights which show where the edge of your car is so other road users don’t hit you.

At the rear of the car you need to ensure the same lights are lit on each side of the car. Lots of cars these days are quite clever and can tell a bulb has blown so use an alternative bulb in the cluster to mark the edge of the vehicle. These bulbs have their own function though, brake lights are brighter and can dazzle. Seeing amber lights implies turning and it takes a while for a driver to realise the light is constant not a turn signal.

7) Please TELL ME how you would ensure your indicators are working before starting a journey?

Use the hazard warning light switch to turn on all the indicators. You can now either:

  1. Get out and have a walk around and check the lights are working.
  2. Use reflections in windows or vehicles to check the lights are working.
  3. Ask someone to assist you.

NOTE: If a bulb has blown the audible indicator in the car will tick faster so you’ll probably know about it in advance.

The light switch on a Hyundai Kona Electric.

Dont forget you are looking for at least six lights. Two indicator bulbs at the front, two at the rear and one on each side of the car.

This one is very obvious. If you don’t have a working indicator bulb you can’t tell other road users what you are doing. The other concern is that rapid flashing can cause some people to have seizures, it’s a small risk but how bad would you feel if you put someone in the hospital because of a blown bulb?

8) Please TELL ME how you would check your brake lights are working before starting a journey?

Put your foot on the brake pedal to light up the brake lights. You can then:

  1. Use reflections in windows or other cars.
  2. Ask someone to help you.

NOTE: This is the different lights question. You need your foot on the brake so you cant get out and check yourself.

Brake lights let people know you are slowing down. Simple enough!

Remember you are looking for three lights at the back of the car. One on each side and a high mounted stop lamp. If you are towing a trailer you also need to check both the car and the trailer lights.

9) Please TELL ME how you would switch from dipped to main beam headlights?

To switch from dipped to main beam headlights in a Hyundai Kona you push the indicator stalk away from you towards the dash board. The green dipped beam light will go out on the dash board and be replaced by the blue main beam indicator. To turn them off you pull the indicator stalk back towards you and the dipped beam lights will return.


10) Please TELL ME how you would switch on your rear fog lights, how you would know they are on and when you would use them?

With your dipped beam headlights on, move the switch in the middle of the indicator stalk downwards. The rear fog light will come on and you will see the amber rear fog light symbol illuminate on the instrument cluster.

You would use rear fog lights when visibility is significantly reduced BY FOG.

Significantly reduced is anywhere below 100 meters. This can be judged as roughly two street lights ahead. 100 meters is also enough space for three well spaced lorries, so you can estimate that.

NOTE: Rear fog lights are very bright and can dazzle other road users. This is even more true when it’s raining. Don’t use rear fogs because of spray on a fast road, they are for FOG only.

The light switch on a Hyundai Kona Electric.

11) Please TELL ME how you would find the correct tyre pressures for this vehicle and how you would check them?

You can find the correct pressures in the vehicle owners manual or manufacturers guide. In the Hyundai, they are also on a sticker on the inside of the drivers side door frame.

Use a reliable pressure gauge, such as the tyre pumps at a petrol station. Remove the tyre dust caps, apply the hose and check the pressure, add or remove air as necessary. This is automatically done at most petrol stations. Keep the hose on until you hear the beep. Then replace the dust cap and move on to the next tyre, repeat until you have done all the tyres.

If your car has a spare wheel remember to check the pressure on that.

Also remember to check the tyres when they are cold. Warm tyres give a false high read on pressure.

Incorrect tyre pressures cause a number of issues.

  1. If the pressure is too high, you will have increased wear on the middle of the tyre and a smaller tyre contact patch. This means that the car will take longer to stop and you will need to replace your tyres sooner.
  2. If the pressure is too low the tyres will wear more on the sides, with the same smaller contact patch and increased costs. The tyre will also be floppy on the wheel, (even if you cant feel it by pushing) so the car will not handle as well, it will roll more.
  3. Many modern cars have tyre pressure monitoring systems. If your tyre pressures are too low or too high it can put a warning light up on your dashboard which can mean the examiner refuses your car for test.

Make sure you check the spare, there is no point carrying it if it cant be used.

Most modern cars, (after about 2010) don’t have a spare wheel as standard. They have a can of foam and a pump instead. You don’t have to carry a spare, but if you do it must be legal.

12) Please TELL ME how you would check your tyres have sufficient tread depth and are in generally good condition for use on the road?

Your car tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread covering the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around it’s entire circumference. There should be no cuts or bulges to the side wall of the tyre.

Use a tyre tread depth gauge to check the tread of the tyre or you can use the wear indicators that are moulded into the tread of the tyre at regular points around the circumference. Check all the tread grooves at regular points around the wheel.

The tread of the tyre is what allows you to drive your car in all weather conditions. In the rain, the tread of the tyre cuts through the water standing on the road to get to the tarmac to give you grip. If the depth of the tread is less than the depth of the water you risk your wheel floating across the surface of the water. This is called aqua planing.

Checking the sidewall for damage is also important. If there are cuts or bulges it means the structure of the tyre has been compromised. Tyres hold back at least two atmospheres of pressure. If you have damage already, then put a shock through the tyre like hitting a pothole or bumping a kerbstone, it can cause the tyre to fail explosively. This is called a blowout.

13) Please TELL ME how you would check your brakes are working before starting a journey?

Apply pressure to the brake pedal. It shouldn’t feel spongy or slack. (NOTE: There will be a very little bit of free play in the pedal but its less than a millimetre of travel when the brakes are in good condition) When you set off, try your brakes, the car shouldn’t pull to either side.

Spongy or slack brakes could indicate water in the brake fluid or an air bubble. Both will result in less braking force and unpredictable braking. Neither is particularly welcome, especially in an emergency.

If your vehicle pulls to either side when you brake it means that you have a brake imbalance. This is probably down to uneven wear but whatever the reason, if you have to stop in a hurry, you don’t want the car veering off in an unexpected direction. It’s very dangerous.

14) Please TELL ME how you would know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system?

When you first turn the car on the ABS light should come on for about five seconds then go out. If it doesn’t come on the bulb may have blown. If it doesn’t go out the system has detected a fault. If the light comes on while you are driving the system has detected a fault and you should get your brakes checked urgently.

ABS or Anti-Lock Braking System helps you retain control in emergency braking by pulsing the brakes for you. This prevents the wheels from locking up by given the tyres the chance to rotate briefly before braking as hard as the car can, several times a second.

If the system has a fault, it can kick in too soon and give you an unexpected ABS activation which will surprise you. Even worse, it may not kick in at all and you end up locking up your wheels and sliding towards an accident with no control at all.



Nick Smith is an Approved Driving Instructor working in south Sheffield. Along with automatic driving lessons, Nick is a driving test nerves specialist and offers theory support to learners. A former truck driver, Nick also presents Driver CPC periodic training courses to professional drivers.

Write A Comment

WhatsApp Us
💬 Chat with Steel City Driver Training
Hello 👋

Welcome to Steel City Driver Training. Please let us know how we can help.

Please understand that if you message during a lesson, we won't be able to respond straight away but we will get back to you.