Learner drivers wasting £100,000s a year on driving tests they fail instantly

New research shows how many driving tests are instantly failed due to avoidable mistakes like the car not being suitable or learners forgetting their L plates

Learner driver taking driving test with clipboard

August 23, 2018

Nearly 5,000 learner drivers are needlessly failing their test each year – and wasting money in the process – because their car doesn’t meet the Government’s basic required standards. These provisional drivers instantly fail their driving tests, meaning they lose the minimum £62 fee they have paid for the test slot, without even getting behind the wheel.

The scale of the problem was uncovered by MoneySavingExpert, who analysed data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

If you decide to take your driving test in your own car, then it is imperative that you have read and understood all the regulations your car should meet in order to be eligible.

Below is a breakdown of the different reasons for test fails over the past five years:

Year Breakdowns Car not suitable No L plates
2013/14 2,816 1,877 54
2014/15 2,804 2,037 48
2015/16 2,797 1,352 56
2016/17 3,232 1,468 66
2017/18 3,427 1,425 64

The figures for breakdown fails includes problems such as the Engine Malfunction Indicator (EMI) being illuminated on the dashboard, while your car will be deemed ‘not suitable’ if it doesn’t have an MOT certificate, is not taxed to be on the road or if there is not an extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner to use.

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Booking a driving test for a weekday currently costs £62, but weekend tests and tests for drivers who have previous driving convictions can cost more. In total, 23.523 driving tests were failed for avoidable vehicle issues since the 2013/14 tax year – meaning learners have collectively wasted more than £1.4 million in fees.

Make sure your vehicle is suitable for a driving test

If you plan to take your test in your driving instructor’s car, you can expect it to already meet the required specifications to be test-worthy.

If you want to do your driving test in your own car, though, you need to make sure it is up to the required standard. Your car must:

  • Have road tax
  • Have a valid MOT and be roadworthy
  • Have no tyre damage and tyres must have the legal tread depth
  • Have the correct insurance
  • Have no dashboard warning lights showing
  • Be smoke-free – don’t smoke in it before or during the test
  • Be able to reach at least 62mph and have mph speedometer fitted
  • Have four wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg

As well as these basic requirements, your car must also have the following to be deemed test-worthy:

  • An extra rear-view mirror for the examiner to use
  • L plates on the front and rear
  • A working passenger seatbelt and headrest

It’s also worth noting that there are some cars, such as the Ford KA convertible and Toyota iQ, that are not suitable for driving tests as they do not offer all-round vision for the examiner.

To see a full list of the specifications visit the Government website.

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