Want to know how to impress your driving test examiner with thorough and confident knowledge of your vehicle?

The ‘show me, tell me’ questions are only a simple part of your driving test but they’re a great way to show your examiner that you’re confident about the vehicle you’re driving and you can explain how to ensure it’s safety and that of other road users. These simple, almost common-sense questions help you demonstrate your commitment to understanding the controls in order to remain safe on the roads.

Learning the correct answers and how to demonstrate these questions is also a great way to start building one of the most important habits of your driving career. Maintaining your car on a regular basis helps ensure that it is in good working order, preventing wear and also ensuring safety at all times. You will quickly get used to your vehicle and how all of the controls and features work but preparing for these questions is a great way to get an understanding of how to maintain a car, especially as you will soon be driving different vehicles to your instructor’s and must be responsible for making these checks yourself.

Guide to mastering the driving test ‘show me, tell me’ questions

Preparing for the questions

Your instructor will take you through each of these questions and show you the best way to carry them out and explain when it’s safe to do so. As every vehicle is different, this will be very helpful for your to understand your instructor’s car, even if you have already been through these questions with a friend or family member. It’s worth learning and practicing the answers to each of these questions as well as having a thorough understanding so that you feel confident when answering them.

The ‘Show Me’ Questions

For all of these questions, the instructor will ask you to complete the task ‘when it is safe to do so.’ They will ask you to do these on a straight, quiet road and all you have to do is ensure that the road is clear ahead and no hazards are immediately in front of you, or developing further down the road so that you can safely perform the task. We advise that you practice using these controls so that you can avoid looking at them when you are driving. It’s also a good idea to explain to the examiner what you’re doing as you do it if this will help you remember and feel confident.

  1. Can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
    Answer: The windscreen controls are usually on a stalk (your instructor will show you how this works for their vehicle.) It is important to only do this when it would be acceptable to have your view impaired for a few seconds whilst the fluid and wipers clear.
  2. Can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
    Answer: This will be similar to the rear windscreen but it is even more imperative that you ensure it is safe to have the view impaired for a few seconds. Especially ensure that there is a safe distance between you and the car in front.
  3. Can you show me how you would switch on your dipped headlights?
    Answer: The headlights will also be on a stalk around your steering wheel. Your instructor will show you how you turn these on and you can then see your headlight symbol on the dashboard. Don’t forget to turn these off once you have demonstrated them.
  4. Can you show me how you would set the rear demister?
    Answer: This control is usually on the panel in front on the gear stick. Your instructor will show you how to turn this on, and then you can turn it off after you have demonstrated how to use it.
  5. Can you show me how you would demist the front windscreen?
    Answer: This could be similar to the rear windscreen, depending on your car’s controls. Some cars have a demist front screen button others may have fan speed and fan direction controls. Again, don’t forget to turn them off.
  6. Can you show me how you would operate the horn?
    Answer: Horns are on the steering wheel, press it when there are no other road users around,
  7. Can you show me how you would open and close the side window?
    Answer: Controls are usually on the driver’s door. You should open and close fully the window (your instructor will show you how for the vehicle.)

The ‘Tell Me’ Questions

These questions will be asked before you set off from the test centre. They involve explaining to the examiner what you should do for each question, using the relevant vehicle area (dashboard and controls or under the bonnet) to point to and indicate where you would find the feedback from the car. It’s worth practicing explaining these questions in your own words (you don’t have to answer it exactly as they are here or as your instructor explains it.)

  1. Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.
    Explain that you would drive off slowly and press the brake pedal. The brakes should not feel spongy or slack and the car should not pull to either side.
  2. Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.
    Explain to the examiner that you’d check the vehicle handbook (your instructor may keep this in the glove box) or it may be printed somewhere on the vehicle.  To check the tyre pressure, explain you would use a reliable pressure gauge, making sure the tyres are cold to get an accurate reading. You should also say that you would check that the valve caps are all replaced.
  3. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
    This is something that you will usually be used to doing as it is highly customised for each driver. You should say that the rigid part should be in line with your eyes (not the top of your head or any lower than your eyes).
  4. 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.
    Explain that the centre 3/4 of the tyre should have a tread depth of 1.6mm all the way around. The tyre should also not have any cuts, punctures or bulges.
  5. Tell me how you would check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
    Explain that you would turn on the lights and then either walk around the vehicle, use reflections or ask someone else to check for you.
  6. Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.
    Very simply, explain that there would be an ‘ABS’ light that shows up on the dashboard if the anti-lock braking system had failed.
  7. Tell me how you would check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
    Explain that you would either switch the ignition (but not turn the engine on) and set the indicator and get out and check it or alternatively, switch your hazard lights on and get out and check all of the indicator lights.
  8. Tell me how you would check the brake lights are working on this car.
    Explain that you would press the foot brake pedal and get someone to check that the lights were working or use reflections to check.
  9. Tell me how you would check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.
    Explain that you would try turning the steering wheel without turning the engine on (this should be very heavy) and then switch the engine on (steering should become much lighter when you try turning the wheel. You could also say that when moving off you could try turning the wheel slightly and you would notice if it felt heavy.
  10. Tell me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
    Explain that you would turn on your ignition, switch on the fog lights and then see the fog light come on the dashboard. You should explain that you would us the fog light when you can see less than 100 metres ahead.,
  11. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know the main beam is on.
    Explain how you would do this using the headlight controls (your instructor will show you how) and that you would know these are on due to a main beam light on your dashboard.
  12. Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil.
    You should open the bonnet (your instructor will show you how) and then prop it up. Point out the dipstick to your examiner and explain that you would take it out, wipe it and replace it to get an accurate reading of the level. You should also say that you would only do this when the car has not been running to ensure the oil has settled and is not warm.
  13. Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.
    Find the coolant tank and show the examiner how you would check it against the minimum and maximum levels. You should also tell them how you would unscrew the cap and refill it if you needed to. It’s also worth mentioning that you would only do this when the car is cold and the engine has not been running for safety.
  14. Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
    You should point to the brake fluid reservoir and indicate the minimum and maximum levels and explain that if the levels were below the minimum you would take the car to a mechanic to be filled.

Answering the questions on your test

You must not stress or get flustered with these questions, they are not designed to confuse or trip you up and they’re only a very small part of the driving test, if you get one or two of the questions wrong, you will only receive one minor, so you can’t fail your test on the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

Take your time and use it as an opportunity to become comfortable and confident with your examiner and communicating with them on the test.

How your knowledge will help as a new driver

Here at Awards Driving School, we are committed to ensuring that you not only pass your test with confidence but are equipped for a safe and successful driving career. In helping you with the ‘show me, tell me’ questions of the driving test, your instructor will help you to identify how to safely carry out all of these checks and controls.

Once you are equipped with the knowledge and understanding, carrying out a full check of your own vehicle is a valuable activity to carry out and helps you ensure you’re always road-ready, especially before long journeys. We advise always keeping a supply of brake light and indicator bulbs as well as windscreen fluid for when you do need to top these up. It’s also worth having engine oil and coolant so that you can fill these up when necessary.

At Awards, we’re always here to answer any questions you might have about driving and vehicle maintenance. If you would like to know more about the driving test questions or wish to book your lessons, then get in touch with us today by calling 0800 955 3800 or through our Contact Us Page.