Show Me Tell Me Questions: The external checks

Remember, your practical driving test isn’t just about the physical act of driving. Before you even get in the car you’ll be asked some questions which we call Tell Me questions. You’ll be asked one Tell Me question before you start driving and one Show Me questions when you’re in the car.

Knowing the answers to all these questions isn’t just important to pass your test but it’s important for your everyday driving.

We’ve broken down the questions for you, so read on to prepare yourself for the official Tell Me questions and answers.

car lights front

Quick tips

  1. The external checks are about your lights and tyres
  2. When checking, start from the bottom and work up
  3. If there are puddles under the car that shouldn’t be there, you might have a leak
  4. Make sure your tyres are not flat, a quick look will tell you if you have a slow puncture
  5. Be careful if you’re anywhere near builders or building sites, the possibility that you’ll drive over a nail or screw is high!
  6. Remember to make sure your wing mirrors are out before driving off
  7. Make sure your windows are clean and clear, out and in
  8. Check that the roof of your car is clear. You don’t want whatever’s up there to come off when you’re driving and stop you from seeing


Remember: Every car is different so get to know yours. If you’re unsure, that’s what your car handbook is for!


1. Examiner: Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working.

SMTM Indicator light working

Pupil: Explain to your examiner that you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary) and then you’d walk around the vehicle checking that they were working.

Top tip: If your indicator lights are flashing too quickly on the dashboard, your bulb has probably gone. Check and replace if needed.

2. Examiner: Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working.

Tail light working

Pupil: Explain you’d operate the necessary switches (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk around vehicle checking that they were working.

3. Examiner: How would you check your brake light is working?

brake light working

Pupil: Explain that you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or by asking someone to help.

Top tip: On your driving test, ask your examiner to stand behind the car to help you check.

Be safe: Your brake lights should be checked routinely, if it doesn’t work how does the car behind you know you are stopping?

Save Time: When practicing and checking your lights you can do them all at the same time. Turn on your ignition so the dashboard lights up (do NOT turn the engine on) this how you can check all your warning lights are working. Then stick the car into reverse, put your hazards on, lights on full beam and turn the fog lights on. With that, a quick walk round the car shows you all lights are working. Always carry a spare set of bulbs. And know how to change them. It has got me out of trouble before. Remember the lights are so people can see them


Remember: Your tyres are more important than you might realise. If you look after them, they’ll look after you.

1. Examiner: Where would you find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how should you you check the pressure in your tyres?

Adding air to your tyre

Pupil: You can find the information in the manufacturer’s guide and you’d check the pressure by using a reliable pressure gauge when tyres are cold.

2. Examiner: How would you check the tyres to ensure they have sufficient tread depth and that they are road worthy?

Lady checking her tyre pressure
Pupil: You are looking for 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre as well as, around the entire outer circumference of the tyre. You’d also check to make sure there are no cuts or bulges.

The 1.6 mm limit was set years ago and since then, cars have become bigger and faster. The brakes have improved too but if you’re tyres aren’t right then these things don’t matter. Make sure you have good tread. Enough tread to cover the edge of a 20 Pence piece.

Be a driving pro: The more tread you have, the better. You can stop more efficiently and be much safer on the roads.

Top tip: All tyres have wear bars in the groves which will help you see when you’re near the limit.