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'Show me, tell me'

Beginners’ guide to ‘show me, tell me’ safety checks

Beginners’ guide to ‘show me, tell me’ safety checks

On the day of your driving test, after the initial eyesight check, your examiner will ask you two safety questions, known as ‘show me, tell me’. As the name suggests, one answer requires a demonstration, the other an explanation.

Each of the questions focuses on a basic car safety check, and there are no trick questions. Here we’ll go into a bit more detail regarding these questions. You can also read a more general overview of what to expect in the practical driving test here.

What is a ‘show me, tell me’ question?

The driving test comprises five parts, and the ‘show me, tell me’ questions are the second part. The name is actually the wrong way round, as you’ll be asked to explain a safety check first (‘tell me’), and then demonstrate a basic check while driving afterwards (‘show me’).

Getting one or both of the questions wrong will count as a minor fault on your test.

What are the ‘tell me’ safety questions?

While parked up at the test centre, the examiner will ask you a ‘tell me’ question. This is to show you know the theory behind certain basic car safety features and checks. Most simply require a verbal answer, although a few will require you to pop the bonnet.

There are 14 possible questions:

1. Before starting a journey, how do you check the brakes are working? You should test the brakes as you set off. They shouldn’t feel spongy or slack, and you shouldn’t pull to one side.

2. Where can you find the recommended tyre pressures? How do you check the pressure? You can find the recommended pressure in the manufacturer’s guide. While the tyres are cold, check using a pressure gauge, and check and adjust the pressure while the tyres are cold. Don’t forget to refit the valve caps, or to check the spare tyre.

3. How do you adjust the head restraint to provide the best protection in the event of an accident? The head restraint has a rigid part, which should be at least as high as your eyes. It needs to be close to the back of the head, while still comfortable. Not all head restraints are adjustable, so it’s worth mentioning that.

4. How do you check the tyres have a sufficient tread depth, and that they’re road-safe? For the middle three-quarters of the tyres’s breadth, you need at least 1.6mm of tread depth. You also need this around the whole of the outer circumference. Also, the tyre must not have any bulges or tears.

5. How do you check the headlights and taillights are working? You might need to turn the ignition on first, but you turn these on with a switch. To check they’re working properly, explain that you’d walk around the vehicle to see for yourself.

6. How do you check if there’s anything wrong with the anti-lock braking system (ABS)? You’ll get a warning light on the dashboard if there’s any problem with the ABS.

7. How do you check the indicators are functioning? You turn these on each way with the indicator switch. You’d get out of the vehicle and check for yourself to see if they’re working properly.

8. How do you check the brake lights are working? You need to press down on the brake pedal, which means you can’t exit the vehicle to check for yourself. You could either ask somebody else to confirm they’re working for you, or check against a reflective surface such as glass.

9. How do you check the power-assisted steering is working before you set off? Steering tends to become heavy if the system isn’t working as it should. There are two possible check here. One: Put some pressure on the steering wheel, and keep this up while turning the engine on. When the system starts, you should feel a slight yet noticeable movement. Two: Immediately after moving off, turn the steering wheel. You should be given an indication that the power assistance has turned on.

10. How do you switch the rear fog light on? When would you use it? You’d use this when visibility is limited due to fog. There’s a fog light switch, which you may only be able to turn on with the ignition and dipped headlights on. You can tell when it’s on because there’s a fog light symbol which lights up on the dash.

11. How do you switch your headlights from dipped to main beam? How do you know the main beam is on? You may need to turn on the ignition or engine, but you do this with a switch. Again, there’s a symbol for your main beams on the dash, which will light up.

12. Open the bonnet. How do you check the engine has sufficient oil? For this, you identify the oil level indicator or dipstick. You then explain how to check the oil level, which is measured against minimum and maximum markers.

13. Open the bonnet. How do you check the engine has sufficient coolant? There are high and low level markings on the radiator filler cap or header tank. You then talk the examiner through how to fill it up if the coolant is too low.

14. Open the bonnet. How do you check there’s a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid? You point out the reservoir, which has high and low markings for checking the fluid level.

What are the ‘show me’ safety questions?

After answering the ‘tell me’ question, you’ll start to drive. Next, when it’s safe to do so, the examiner will ask you a ‘show me’ question. You’ll then demonstrate to how to perform another safety check.

You’ll be asked one of the following:

● How do you wash and clean the rear windscreen?

● How do you wash and clean the front windscreen?

● How do you switch on dipped headlights?

● How do you sound the horn?

● How do you set the rear demister?

● How do you demist the front windscreen?

● How do you open and close the side window?

You should still concentrate on the road while answering. If your driving is potentially dangerous or actually dangerous during this check, you will fail the driving test.

Don’t fret though… We’re confident that, given you will have practised all of these things, you’ll be fine.

All of the questions here were correct at the time of writing. Please bear in mind that the questions do change from time to time. For an up-to-date list of questions, you can always check the ‘show me, tell me’ list on GOV.UK.