Show Me, Tell Me

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During the driving test, your examiner will ask you to answer two ‘show me tell me” questions or as it’s more formally known, vehicle safety questions. Normally, these questions are asked at the very start of the practical and test your knowledge and understanding of routine vehicle maintenance and essential checks; checks which must be learnt and carried out regularly in order to keep your vehicle in a roadworthy state, ensuring your safety and the safety of any passengers you may be carrying.

You will be asked one ‘show me’ question and one ‘tell me’ question:

  • ‘show me’– you will be required to carry out the requested check / action in response to the question asked by the examiner
  • ‘tell me’ – you will be required to explain how to carry out the vehicle safety check required by the examiner

Tell me questions

Tell me questions will test your knowledge of necessary safety and road-readiness checks and routine vehicle maintenance. The goal is to ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy and safe to drive.

Note: These questions are asked before the actual driving test.

1. Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

Explain that before you switch on the ignition, press down on the brake pedal to check if they feel spongy or if they go down too far. Once you set off, find a quiet stretch of road to try out the brakes to check if the car stops quickly and doesn’t pull to one side or the other.

2. Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressure for this car and how tyre pressure should be checked.

This information is in the vehicle manual, or sometimes on a label inside the fuel filter lid or inside a front door frame. You would check each tyre, using a pump with a gauge, to add or reduce the pressure to the desired level. If your pump does not have its own gauge, you will need to use one that stands alone. Then you would replace the valve caps.

3. Tell me how to make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

For adjustable head restraints, set it at eye level or at the level of the top of your ears. That setting should put the restraint as close to the back of your head as is comfortable.

Note: Some restraints might not be adjustable

4. Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

You would examine each tyre, on sides and on tread, looking for cuts and bulges. Using a depth gauge, you would verify a minimum of 1.6 mm of tread depth across the central ¾ of the breadth and around the entire circumference.

5. Tell me how you’d check the headlights and tail lights are working.

Explain that you would flick the switch, turning on the ignition first if necessary. Then you would walk around the vehicle in order to inspect the lights.

Note: Since this is a ‘tell me’ question, there is no need to physically leave the vehicle and check the lights.

6. Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.

Explain that a warning light would show on the dashboard should the anti-lock braking system have a fault.

7. Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working.

Explain that after turning on the ignition you would turn on the emergency warning lights. You would then walk around the car to verify the indicator bulbs are working. You would repeat this process with the left and right turn signals.

Note: Since this is a ‘tell me’ question, there is no need to physically leave the vehicle and check the lights.

8. Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.

Explain that you’d first turn on the ignition and then press down on the brake pedal. If possible, you would check the reflection of the brake lights in windows or doors behind you, or have someone stand behind and check.

9. Tell me how you’d check if the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

Explain that if a warning light is illuminated or if the steering is heavy, there may be a problem. There are a couple other ways to check.

  • While starting the ignition, keep a gentle pressure on the steering wheel. If the system is working correctly, there should be a slight but noticeable movement.
  • You can also turn the steering wheel just after moving off. If there is resistance to the turn, there is a problem.

10. Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Explain that you would operate the fog light switch. If necessary you would start the engine and set the low beam headlights first. You would check that the emergency warning lights are on. Explain that you would activate the rear fog lights when visibility drops below 100 metres (about 325 feet), to allow traffic to see you better. You would turn them off with improved visibility, as they might otherwise blind the cars behind and obscure your brake lights.

11. Tell me how you switch your headlights from dipped to main beam and how you’d know the main beam is on.

Explain that you would operate the switch, after turning on the ignition if necessary. Once the main beams are on, the blue full-beam warning light will appear on the dashboard.

12. Open the bonnet and tell how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.

Explain that prior to carry out the check, the car needs to be on level ground and the car needs to be idle for a short period of time in order to give the oil sufficient time to settle. You would then open the bonnet and use a strut to hold it open. Take out the dipstick and wipe it clean with a cloth. Reinsert it and remove it again. The markings on the dipstick tells you if more oil is needed or if there is too much. This procedure should be carried out with gloves on, if possible. Otherwise, wash your hands after, to avoid making controls in the car oily.

13. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.

Explain that you would open and secure the bonnet with the strut. When the engine is cool, top up with water or properly diluted radiator coolant. You will find the correct level by markings on the header tank or on the radiator filler cap.

14. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

Explain that you would open and secure the bonnet with the strut. You will then need to identify the brake fluid reservoir, the location of which depends on the make of your vehicle. In most cases, it is a small plastic cylinder attached to the engine bulkhead, containing a fluid that is oil-coloured. You would then check the fluid level by ensuring it’s within the markings on the side of the translucent bottle.

Show me questions

Show me questions will examine your ability to carry out vehicle safety checks or actions. You will be called upon to demonstrate safe and legal use of vehicle controls such as lights, horn, demisters, and window winders. Practice these with your driving instructor so that you know were these are and can use them safely when driving.

Note: These questions are asked during the driving test, whilst you’re driving.

1. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how to wash and clean the rear windscreen?

Prior to using the rear washer/wiper controls, ensure you’re on a straight stretch of road and you can see clearly in front of you. Make sure there are no hazards in your vicinity. Turn the rear windscreen washer on and then turn on the wiper. (On some cars, the rear wiper comes on automatically.) If you have to look to see where the controls are, take a quick glance so that you don’t take your eyes off the road for longer than necessary. Be sure to be in full control of the car at all times.

2. When it is safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?

Before using the front washer/wiper controls, ensure you’re on a straight road and you can see clearly in front of you. Make sure there are no potential hazardous situations developing. When you’re ready, turn the front windscreen washer on, then the wiper. (On most modern cars, the front wipers come on automatically with the washer.) If you have to look to see where the controls are, take a quick glance so that you don’t take your eyes off the road for longer than necessary. Be sure to be in full control of the car at all times.

Note: when you spray washer fluid on to the windscreen shortly before sunset, glare may block your view until the screen is cleaned. If the windscreen is also very dirty, the spray may turn milky and temporarily block your view. These two situations call for extra caution.

3. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?

Before switching on your dripped headlights, ensure your lights aren’t set to full beam before you switch them on. Like the previous scenario, make sure you’re on a straight road on which you can clearly see ahead.

Operate the headlight control and ensure the full beam warning light is not illuminated on the dashboard by taking a quick look. If the blue full beam warning light is showing, revert to dipped beams quickly so you don’t dazzle other drivers coming towards you.

Remember: You MUST NOT operate your lights in such a way which would dazzle other drivers coming towards you

4. When it is safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?

Before using the rear window demister control, make every effort to be on a straight stretch of road. Ensure that you can see the road clearly and make sure there are no developing hazards up ahead. Once you’re ready, operate the rear window demister control.

5. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?

Providing it is safe and legal to do so, sound your horn. In an emergency situation, you might need to sound your horn without looking, so be sure you can do this blind before the test. If the examiner sees you looking for the horn when you are requested to use it, you may be penalised during the test.

Note: This will be asked only if the examiner feels that sounding the horn at that particular time and location will not cause confusion for other drivers on the road.

Remember: The horn is only to be used to alert others to your presence. You mustn’t use it when stopped on the road, unless you need to let another road user know where you are.

6. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?

Prior to using the front window demister / fan controls, make sure you’re on a straight road with no developing hazards up ahead. Once you’re ready, operate the front window demister control.

7. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

Before opening and closing the side window, make sure that you’re on a straight stretch of road, that you can see clearly ahead and that there are no developing hazards ahead of you. Open and close the window by using the control switch or the winder.