A Driving Instructor's Blog

Driving Tests

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TearsI saw a discussion about this on a forum. It was to do with terminated tests and “what happens next?”

On more than one occasion since I became an instructor, a pupil has done something which they know has resulted in a fail. And on more than one occasion, the examiner has persuaded them to continue with their test – even though the pupil wanted to stop – and carefully routed them back to the test centre. Also on more than one occasion, they haven’t actually failed (or if they have, it was for something else, and not what they originally thought).

Quite recently, a pupil of mine who is an excellent driver – but who is as mad as a bag of cats a lot of the time due to personal issues – had a meltdown and suddenly couldn’t even make the car move (she’s apparently taken her test six times previously).The examiner calmed her down, got her moving, and they came back to the test centre after about 20-25 minutes. I knew something was up, because when I’m at the test centre reading stuff online, I also monitor where the car is using my tracker, and I wondered why they were heading back so soon.

As an aside, that same pupil has recently exercised her mad as a bag of cats side by not turning up to a lesson she had arranged and confirmed, and not responded to my texts, or provided me with one of her immense range of carefully catalogued and indexed excuses. I suppose there’s only so many times you can lose your phone, or have it mysteriously not receive texts, or fall down the stairs, or off a chair, or into a hedge, and still have people believe you. She is now an ex-pupil, even though she doesn’t know it yet.

But back to the main thread. I do not give a flying f*** what the examiner writes on the test sheet in these cases. I don’t care if they tick the wrong box, apply the “incorrect” amount of pressure to their pen strokes, forget to flick their wrists properly as they mark a fault, add up the faults incorrectly, and so on. Some other instructors do, though, even where they acknowledge that the pupil was correctly failed.

Although examiners who abandon tests are supposed to stop the car, inform the candidate, then leave the car and make their way back to the test centre, many of them are human beings. This is especially true in Nottingham, and they will try as hard as possible to take the test to its natural conclusion back in the test centre car park. And yes, sometimes this may even happen if the test is effectively not completed for some reason.

I like it that way, and don’t need any arseholes trying to interfere with it.

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This article was originally posted in September, 2010, but it becomes quite popular every year when Ramadan comes around. I had a pupil on test a while back who failed, and she mentioned that Ramadan had started as I drove her home. She insisted that she felt OK, but I couldn’t help wonder if it might have had some effect on her concentration otherwise she wouldn’t have brought it up.Ramadan Mubarak

Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. During it, participants abstain from eating and drinking between the hours of sunrise and sunset. Technically, those fasting are not even supposed to drink water (there are exceptions for pregnant women or those with specific illnesses), and some participants take it more literally than others. At least one reader has had concerns that Ramadan has affected their driving, and in 2016 it was unusually long at 32 days. This year, it runs from 26 May to 24 June, so it is pretty much a whole month again.

Some years ago, I worked in Pakistan – in Karachi – for a short time and was there during Ramadan. Some people ate during the day, but very little, and some fasted properly – but in the main, whether they fasted or not, they just got on with things and worked normally. After sunset, though, the street vendors came out and it was scoff-out time (I have vivid memories of the sights and smells when I went to see Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s tomb one evening).

At the other end of the spectrum, when I worked in the rat race over here, Ramadan and other such religious festivals were used by some (not all, I must add) simply to avoid work. I remember some of my shop floor staff trying it on, and although we knew that they were doing so (having a smoke outside when you’re supposed to be praying is a bit of a giveaway), the employment and discrimination laws in this country pretty much tie the employer’s hands.

I used to have the (bad) habit of getting up at 8am or earlier, drinking only a cup of tea, not eating anything until I finished work in the late evening, then pigging out on kebabs or curries. Occasionally, during the day, my blood sugar would get so low that I’d crave something to eat there and then – at which point I could easily put away four Mars Bars and drink a litre of Lucozade! Someone who is very slight would probably not be able to get through the day without being affected at least partially – and this must also apply to those fasting during Ramadan.

If you are teaching Muslim pupils it’s worth discussing the subject with them – and just be open about it: they don’t mind talking about their religion – it’s people who think they do who have the problems. I’ve had several pupils in the past who were suffering during fasting, and in several cases we postponed lessons until it was over.

Irrespective of the reason for fasting, not eating could affect both lessons and driving tests because concentration could be impaired by low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). This would apply to anyone who hasn’t eaten properly (remember that it could also be due to an underlying health problem, like diabetes, so I’d advise anyone who is experiencing such symptoms to check with their GP). Not being able to concentrate on driving during lessons is a waste of the pupil’s money whether it’s due to a cold, hay fever… or fasting.

Advice I’d give to anyone fasting during Ramadan is to take lessons or tests in the morning, and to eat properly when not fasting the night before. And I suppose it makes sense that anyone who isn’t fasting eats and sleeps properly, otherwise their lessons (or tests) could also be affected. In extreme cases, just put the lessons on hold until Ramadan is over.

As for the question about whether they should be driving or not, I think you need to be realistic. I’d say that 99% of white, non-Muslim UK drivers drive when they’re not feeling 100%, and Ramadan hardly turns most participants into hospital cases. I can’t see any automatic reason why people who are fasting for Ramadan shouldn’t drive.

Can I take my test during Ramadan?

Of course you can. However, you should consider how fasting affects you and your concentration. It might be better to plan ahead and avoid booking a test during Ramadan altogether. Alternatively, try to book an early test at a time just after you have eaten – or rather, before you start to get hungry.

Fasting during Ramadan affects my driving to work

Honestly, someone found the blog on that search term! The answer is simple.

If you are having problems, either don’t drive or don’t fast. What other answer did you expect? Some Magic Pill that makes it all OK? If you don’t feel well, don’t drive. And that applies whether you’re ill, drunk, menstruating, or fasting.

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Seized school car (West Midlands Police)Here’s a demonstration of how you have to be careful when you choose an instructor. The BBC reports that a learner in Birmingham was on-course to pass her driving test (no faults had been recorded) when the police pulled the car over because it had no insurance and no MOT. It happened in Tile Cross on Saturday (6 May).

The instructor, a 46-year old woman, and the pupil were taken back to the test centre where the police questioned the instructor. They seized her Green Badge and reported her to DVSA.

Evidence of damage to rear bumperLooking at the photos, there is evidence that the car had been rear-ended at some point in its recent past.

I’m not going to speculate (I’m sure some people will do that on the forums), but I bet the pupil isn’t happy. Having a clean sheet up to the point the test was terminated is no guarantee of having the same next time around.

And as for the instructor, it’s a perfect display of how to throw a career away. In monetary terms alone it would have been cheaper to have MOTd and insured the car rather than pay the inevitable fine this is going to result in. Factor in lost Green Badge, lost income, and increased insurance premiums – and probably extra travel costs as a result of a likely ban – and the full cost is almost incalculable.

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Sat nav displayAn email alert has just come in from DVSA advising that the driving test will change from 4 December 2017. The changes are as follows:

  • Independent driving will now last for 20 minutes (instead of 10 minutes)
  • 4 out of every 5 tests will use a sat nav for the independent driving part
  • 1 out of every 5 tests will use traffic signs for the independent driving part (as often done now)
  • turn in the road and reversing around a corner will no longer be tested
  • 1 out of 3 possible manoeuvres will be tested – parallel park, bay park, or reversing in a straight line on the right-hand side of the road
  • one of the show me/tell me questions will be asked while you are driving

The bay park exercise could involve reversing in (as now) and driving out again, or driving in forwards, then reversing back out again. The straight reverse on the right will be for about two car lengths, then driving back out into the normal traffic flow.

The sat nav will be supplied by the examiner and won’t involve route setting. Going the wrong way won’t result in a fail as long as it is done properly (as now with independent driving).

The show me/tell question asked while driving will be of the “show me how you’d clean the windscreen if it was dirty” kind (not “show me how you’d adjust your head restraint”).

Although the changes are watered down a little from what was being discussed last year, I am totally opposed to the removal of the turn in the road and corner reverse exercises. These should have remained on the list of possible manoeuvres to make sure instructors were teaching people properly. DVSA says that “you should still be taught them by your instructor”, but that is bollocks – within 18 months the majority of ADIs won’t go anywhere near them (many won’t right from the off), and pupils are going to start kicking up a stink when they know they’re not going to be tested and yet are still being taught them on lessons (especially the ones who have trouble with them, or who can’t afford lessons as it is).

DVSA has only provided the most basic information showing response to the consultation. There is no detailed breakdown of who voted what – God only knows why you would want to ask “the public” how it should be tested on something it can’t do very well in the first place – and some obvious weasel words which amount to “well, even though people said ‘yes’, we decided it would be ‘no’”, and vice versa. I know that some weak-minded ADIs who were involved in the trials were gushing about the changes from the moment they had their first meeting with DVSA, but I can’t believe that those with a mind of their own were happy with everything.

I don’t have an issue with the other changes.

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I updated this again. I’m still getting hits on the same search terms so I thought I’d give examples when I get them:

  • 13/10/2015 – “bribe driving examiner uk”
  • 14/03/2016 – “how to tell if your driving examner is corputed [sic]”
  • 26/03/2017 – “driving test how does bribe work woth instructors [sic]”
  • 26/03/2017 – “bribing driving examiner”
  • 28/03/2017 – “how much to bribe a driving examiner”

I wrote this article back in 2011, but I’m still getting people finding the blog on the search term “how do I bribe driving examiner” or something equally lacking in good English.Bribery - it means handing over money

Look. If you are so stupid that you don’t know how to do this, ask yourself if you really should be driving a car unsupervised. Because you really shouldn’t. But since you obviously are that stupid, it means handing over money in return for a favour – in this case, a test pass even if you are a crap driver.

The simple fact that you’ve typed the question into a search engine means it can be traced back to you, and for all you know the agencies could be looking for people just like you. So well done for flagging yourself up to them as a cheat and a liar.

It’s hard to fathom how weak-minded someone needs to be to consider criminal acts and to ignore the consequences of those acts as a viable way of getting what they want.

Bribery of driving examiners has less than a 0.1% chance of succeeding. However, the risk of jail or deportation for trying it is pretty much guaranteed. It’s far easier – and cheaper – to learn to drive properly and take your driving test. Just look at some of the idiots who have been prosecuted – two morons in this story, lots of them in this one, two more here.

One thing that’s becoming apparent is that the people most likely to consider paying someone else to do their test for them are usually from countries where fraud and corruption are written into the constitution. It’s also apparent that those most likely to take money from these idiots and then to try to impersonate them (even though they look nothing like them) come from the same communities!

Let’s try this in big red letters to see if it helps some of the stupid ones out there understand it better:

IT IS EASIER AND CHEAPER TO PASS YOUR TEST LEGITIMATELY THAN IT IS TO TRY AND BRIBE THE EXAMINER OR TO PAY SOMEONE TO IMPERSONATE YOU.

IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY YOU MAY WELL FIND THAT EVERY ASPECT OF GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT, AND EVERYTHING CAN BE OBTAINED IF YOU PAY THE RIGHT MONEY TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE. IN THE UK IT IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE. THEREFORE YOU ARE TAKING A HUGE RISK.

YOU ARE PROBABLY DESPERATE TO DRIVE SO THAT YOU CAN GET A JOB. IF YOU GET CAUGHT TRYING TO CHEAT YOU’LL BE LUCKY IF YOU EVER WORK AGAIN IN THE UK.

EVEN IF YOU FOUND A CORRUPT EXAMINER (HIGHLY UNLIKELY IN THE UK), AND ASSUMING THAT YOU GOT AWAY WITH IT (EVEN LESS LIKELY), THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE YOU WILL END UP KILLING SOMEONE BECAUSE YOU STILL CAN’T DRIVE.

How can I tell if my examiner is corrupt?

Or, as it was asked to find the blog, “how to tell if your driving examner is corputed [sic]”.

Ask him. If you end up in handcuffs in the back of a police van, then he obviously wasn’t. Or you didn’t offer him enough.

It’s cheaper to learn to drive properly, you idiot.

Can I get done trying to bribe an examiner?

Or more accurately, “can I get done tryong [sic] to bribe a [sic] examiner”?

See above.

Is it easier if I get someone to take the test for me?

If you get away with it, yes. However, it will mean that you are still a crap driver and may well end up killing someone. However, paying someone to take the test for you is more expensive than learning properly. Your chances of  successfully gaining a licence this way in the UK are almost zero, and even if you initially get away with it, at some point they will catch the person you paid and take your false licence away. You will then be fined, perhaps imprisoned, or even deported if you are not a UK citizen.

If you’re still so stupid you want to try it, go ahead. And watch me laugh when you get caught.

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This article was originally published in February 2014. Updated in 2015, November 2016, and March 2017.A Clifton Test Route

I get frequent hits on the blog from people looking for test route information. Test routes are no longer published for Nottingham, or anywhere else – they stopped publishing them in 2010!

If you’re an instructor, it isn’t difficult to work out where the examiners go. To begin with, anywhere near the test centre is bound to be on most of the routes. If you know the examiners to look at, you’ll see them from time to time as you conduct your lessons, so you can add that location to your memory bank. You can also ask your pupils where they went after their tests – some of them will be able to give you some details, though many won’t. If they fail their test, find out where the mistakes occurred – the examiner will be more than happy to tell you – and if it crops up more than once, modify your lesson structure and deal with it going forward. Finally, if you’re desperate to know the exact routes you can sit in on tests and learn that way. If you know what you’re doing you can even log the routes for reference – the picture above shows one of the test routes for the now-closed Clifton Test Centre (the orange dot), which I recorded myself. Click on it for a larger image.

Conducting your lessons only on test routes is rather foolish. Apart from the fact that you’re cheating your pupils by not teaching them to drive properly, examiners can change routes or mix and match from several routes any time they need to. Pupils who try to memorise test routes are far more likely to fail because they’re prioritising the wrong things – worrying about forgetting the route instead of thinking about driving properly. Considering that there are dozens of official routes at any large test centre, it would require a considerable feat of memory to store all of them, and then to be able to recall just one as needed. Based on my own experience, many pupils have difficulty recognising a street we’ve been on a hundred times before, so memorising 20 or more complete routes is even less possible for them.

Having said that, it is important for an ADI to have some knowledge of the test routes so that special features can be covered. Every town or test centre has these – the tricky roundabout with the one-way street and No Entry sign, the unusually steep hill that can only be negotiated in second gear (and which may require a hill start if some jackass in a van doesn’t give way coming down it), the STOP junction immediately after an emerge on to a busy road with a bend, and so on. It doesn’t matter how good someone is at dealing with roundabouts, if they come face to face with ones like the Nottingham Knight or Nuthall roundabouts up my way, without prior practice there’s a high probability they’ll get it wrong. Someone’s first practical experience of such a roundabout shouldn’t be on their driving test.

I remember when I first became an ADI, and religiously downloading all the routes provided by DVSA (then, DSA). The documents consisted of tables of directions which were cryptic unless you knew roads by name and/or number, which I didn’t at that time. I made a single half-hearted attempt to plot a route before giving up – there just wasn’t time – and I quickly realised that it was pointless anyway. These days, I’d probably be able to interpret those route plans quite easily, but these days my pupils get to drive all over – sometimes on test route roads, sometimes not.

Hanging around test areas like a bad smell also gets you a bad reputation. You get in the way of real tests, if nothing else. But you’ll also end up struggling with all the other morons trying to do the same as you.

Where can I download test routes?

You can’t. Not unless some ADI has recorded them and is publishing them independently.

Should I pay for downloadable test routes?

My advice would be no. DVSA stopped publishing them for a reason, and if some smart aleck is trying to profit from selling them then he or she is behaving in an unprofessional manner. If you buy into that then you’re not much better. There’s a good chance you’re being sold old routes, anyway.

A desire to obtain detailed test routes for use on lessons seems to be something newly-qualified ADIs attach high importance to. Trust me: don’t waste your money.

Is it possible to record test routes?

Yes. There are free and paid for apps available for both Android and iPhone which use GPS to record journeys. Similarly, there are numerous GPS tracker devices available which do the same. I use a tracker and I know where every pupil goes on their test (and I can see where they are while I’m at the test centre, so I know when they are coming back). This is purely for my own information, and publishing my logged routes would be completely against DVSA’s original reason for stopping publication. If it wasn’t already apparent from the rest of this blog, I have absolutely no inclination or desire to go against DVSA.

I have provided an old Clifton test route in the image at the start of this article (Clifton is now closed). What is interesting from my logged routes is how they change over time. Sometimes, tests follow precisely the same route as previous ones, but other times new sub-sections of route are added. And knowing where a pupil went on their specific test is useful if they fail and you need to identify exactly what went wrong, and where.

You can also record routes using dashcams. I recently showed a pupil where she had failed after the examiner explained it in the debrief, but she didn’t know what he was talking about. I placed it online for her to look at less than an hour later.

How do I know the routes I’ve bought are correct and up to date?

You don’t – and they’re probably not. They might even be totally imaginary, or simply cobbled together to be reasonably close to actual routes in order that the unprofessional person selling them has some justification for the price they charged you. They may just be the original ones that they stopped publishing in 2010 and which are almost certainly out of date. As I said above, routes change with time.

Do I need to know the test routes for my test?

No. The examiner will give you directions as necessary, or ask you to follow road signs. However, if there are one or two awkward features – big roundabouts, steep hills, or so on – then your instructor should know about them and make sure you know how to handle them.

People fail tests because they can’t drive properly far more frequently than they do because they couldn’t recall a memorised route. However, not driving properly becomes much more likely when your brain is scrambling around thinking “now, what is it I have to do here?”

How many test routes are there?

It varies from test centre to test centre, but there could be 10, 20, or more. You couldn’t possibly memorise all of them – and to be honest, even if you drove down your own street on your test the chances are that you might not notice! You will be nervous, and you will be concentrating. The last thing you want is to have to try and remember a detailed list of directions, then to start fretting if you think you might have forgotten something.

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Originally published in 2012, previously updated in 2014. New update for 2017.


Melted chocolateI will never understand why driving instructors get themselves so wound up about mock tests. I mean, I know why they do, but I’ll never understand. The only test which matters is the actual driving test, and the outcome of any arbitrary pre-test conducted by the instructor (or one of his mates) is completely irrelevant as an indicator of how that real test will turn out. The best learner driver can make a silly mistake on the day of their test and fail, whereas the most nervous learner can put in a faultless performance against all the apparent odds. Mock driving tests are about as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to predicting how test-ready someone is!

I’ve mentioned before that some ADIs go to town with their little mock tests. They buy clipboards, hi-vis jackets, and wear a suit just so they can sit there pretending to be examiners. When I originally wrote this, some were already trying to use iPads (the DVSA had been carrying out trials with these at the time) to enhance their ‘mockability’ profile. Unfortunately, the problem with using tablets and computers is that when someone goes to test, for 40 minutes or so they’re not a learner but a candidate, and the examiner is not an instructor, and is not in charge of the vehicle in the same way an ADI is when he is teaching. For that reason, pissing about with gadgets during mock test performances (or at any other time) is right up there with using your mobile phone.

Comments often made on various forums suggest that some instructors spend the last few weeks before someone’s driving test just doing mock after mock after mock, gleefully reporting the “result” back to their “candidates”. At the time of the original article, some were even going public on forums when their pupil failed their real test, complaining that they had passed all their mocks and should have passed the test. It goes without saying that it was the examiners who were at fault in these instructors’ eyes.

The answer is quite simple. There is no way a mock test could ever be considered as “real”. The instructor isn’t a real examiner, even if he thinks he’s dressed like one, is armed with a colour copy of the DL25, and sits there all stern and serious (the last two Christmases, all of ours at one test centre have come out to tests in matching Reindeer sweaters). Even if he gets one of his mates to carry out the mock test, his mate is also not an examiner. The pupil knows this full well, and no matter how they score, they will more than likely still be shitting themselves on the day of their proper test. In fact, there’s every chance that the mock shenanigans will have made them even more nervous by gearing them up for an unpleasant experience, especially if they kept “failing”.Test Centre Sign

Mock tests seem to be of much more value to the instructor than to the pupil. ADIs start drooling over them even before they’ve got their green badges, and many seem to look forward to qualifying just so they can do the damned things. The chance to dress up and pretend to be important overrides all else.

A decent instructor will be highlighting what is and isn’t acceptable from very early in pupils’ training. If something is going well, there’s no need to say anything other than “well done”, etc. When problems arise, the change in approach is a “mock test” situation in itself. Instructors certainly should not be waiting until they start performing their “official mock tests” before relating driving skills to performance in the real test – by that stage they will be becoming habitual and will be much harder to rectify in the inevitably short time that remains,

I don’t routinely carry out mock tests for all the reasons I’ve given above. If a pupil or their parent asks me about them I explain how pointless I think they are, but that I’ll do one if they really want me to.

As an aside, some time ago I had a pupil whose father and sister used to invite themselves on to lessons. He had apparently had a lot of lessons already, and they were forever going on about the him taking his test (which they kept booking against my direct advice), and repeatedly demanded mock tests. The truth was that the young lad was special needs and was extremely slow picking things up. He’d only had a handful of lessons from me. He genuinely believed that if something in the mirror was moving further away from the car, it was actually getting nearer to it in reality,  and this prevented him from being able to carry out any reversing manoeuvre. I could not let him drive unaided without continuously having to intervene to prevent serious issues arising. On one occasion, he sailed into a busy junction where five roads intersect, then – right in the middle, after a red light on the periphery of his vision caught his attention – slammed on the brakes and attempted to come to a stop. In order to make a point, I gave in and attempted to “mock test” him – I think I had my hands on the steering wheel more than he did. Even after this, his father still wanted him to “have a go” at the test. I refused point blank and didn’t hear from them again.

I make it clear to all my pupils that I cannot possibly simulate a real test because I’m not an examiner. I absolutely cannot reproduce the circumstances that lead to the nerves they will experience on the day of the real test because those circumstances are an inherent part of the day of the real test. And I emphasise that if they can drive on lessons without me getting involved, they don’t need a mock test.

It’s not uncommon for me to stop a pupil from emerging at a junction as they attempt to pull out in front of oncoming traffic. It’s part of the job. Every so often, though, one of them will subsequently ask “but apart from that, was it all right?” They are incapable of understanding that purely because of “that”, the entire manoeuvre or procedure was non-existent, and the danger they had put themselves in was of infinitely greater importance than whether they were steering properly (even their MSM on approach is completely sunk if the final assessment resulting from it was so poor). The same mentality carries over to the subject of mock tests, and they use them to try and itemise things which they shouldn’t do on the real test. The worst ones for it are those who can’t afford lessons, or who want to pass quickly, and they end up with an ever-expanding list of things they shouldn’t do. Getting them to understand that if they could drive properly they wouldn’t have to be worrying about remembering what not to do is nigh on impossible (similar to how there are people who think that hiring impersonators and trying to bribe examiners are cheaper solutions compared with learning properly).

On the rare occasions I do mock tests, they’re usually the decider in an ongoing discussion about whether to move the test date, where the pupil is reluctant. I don’t think I have ever done one which lasts the same length of time as the real test – the necessary data is obtained much more quickly.

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Learner car recoveryI saw this story a few days ago about a man in Norfolk who failed his driving test “in just 5 seconds”.

It reminded me of something that happened to one of my pupils about 7 years ago. He drove back into the test centre and I made my way through the waiting room to go and listen to the debrief. With hindsight, I think I heard a loud clang as I did so, but it didn’t register at the time. When I reached the car the passenger door was open and the examiner had his head in his hands and was saying:

I can’t believe you did that. I just can’t believe it.

I asked what had happened, and the examiner told me he’d asked my pupil to pull forwards into a parking bay, but he didn’t stop in time and had driven into the crash barrier surrounding the car park. I went to the front of the car and saw that there was no damage – just a very slight scuff. When I got back to the passenger side the examiner was still repeating that he couldn’t believe it. I looked at the fault sheet and said:

Do my eyes deceive me, or did he only have two faults?

The examiner replied:

That’s the whole point! It was almost a perfect drive.

Then he said he couldn’t believe it a couple more times, and added:

I’ve got to fail you because there could have been someone standing there. You can obviously drive and we’ll see you again soon.

My pupil was a very good driver, but in spite of that it took him another five attempts to pass in the end, as he picked up a different single serious fault on the four more he failed. I used to rib him about how he’d managed to fail that first one literally less than one second from the end. And I use the example to emphasise to all my other pupils that they mustn’t switch off as they head back to the test centre (which is a common issue with learners).

I should add that I have no issue whatsoever with the examiner’s decision nor with his explanation. He was 100% right. Examiners have no way of knowing how someone drives the rest of the time, which is why candidates need to be squeaky clean on their tests when it comes to safety matters. If they aren’t, the examiners have to (or should) err on the side of caution.

As for the pupil, we are still in regular contact – though I have ignored him this last weekend. He is a Chelsea supporter whose smugness is currently off the scale. And I’m not.

As for the guy in King’s Lynn in that original article, it’s a similar situation. Yes, he had a brain fart – but what if he’d had a similar fart while driving alone just as a group of school kids started to walk across a road? The examiner had to fail him, no matter how good the rest of the drive was. If he hadn’t, there’d really be no point in having a driving test system in the first place.

With new pupils, and especially (though not exclusively) those who have driven in other countries, I often say “UK rules, UK rules” at some point, as they turn into a junction and aim for the right-hand side of the road. With some, it is a deliberate act, but very new drivers it is just a steering issue.

I saw another ADI end up on a pavement and nearly through a hedge earlier this week as his pupil over steered into a junction and then didn’t straighten up (probably with a bit of gas thrown in for good measure, followed by blind panic, which usually happens). I think we’ve all been there at least once in our careers. Indeed, it was such occurrences that led me to realise that the dual controls are a useful tool for teaching beginners, and not something to avoid using at all costs.

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Originally posted in 2009. Updated for 2017.

Further to a post about cancelled lessons due to weather, I noticed on one forum last year someone getting all excited about how there is a market for specialised snow lessons.Snow on road scene 1

Let’s have a reality check here.

  • Until February 2009, it hadn’t snowed to any appreciable extent in the UK for around 26 years!
  • We had two bad winters, but since then they have been relatively mild ones with almost no snow.
  • When it DOES snow a little it is usually gone inside a week or two.
  • Snow – and especially in the UK – is usually extremely localised. The media talks it up so it sounds like the whole country is blanketed in a metre of the stuff, especially if a few wet flakes fell in London.
  • This  is enough to have people cutting down each others trees for their yuppie wood-fired stoves, and panic buying Evian at the local Waitrose. It can keep the BBC news bulletins going for days at a time.

Admittedly, local councils’ incompetence and bureaucracy (Nottingham is certainly no exception here) means that every time there is any bad weather it is like they have never experienced it before. This – and the media hyping it to death – makes things seem a lot worse than they really are.

Will I be ditching my normal pupils and specialising in snow driving? Will I be buying a Ski-doo and offering lessons on that? I don’t think so.

You see, having a “specialised Snow Instructor” in the UK (particularly in England) would be like having a fleet of icebreakers sailing around the Mediterranean: bloody stupid! Which makes it an ideal venture for some clown to take on to Dragon’s Den, I suppose.

Those of us who remain here on Planet Earth will carry on doing things the way they do now: use whatever weather comes to hand as a teaching opportunity if it is appropriate, and charging normal lesson rates for it.

Here are some typical search terms people use to find the blog.

Will my driving lessons be cancelled due to snow?

It depends on how much snow there is, how far advanced you are with your training, and your instructor’s attitude to teaching in snow. There is no rule that says you mustn’t have lessons in snow. In fact, it makes sense to do them so you can get valuable experience. But beginners perhaps shouldn’t because it’s just too dangerous for them. It’s your instructor’s decision, even if you want to do it.Snow on road scene 2

Do driving lessons get cancelled when there is snow?

Yes. It depends on how much snow and how advanced you are as a learner driver. Your instructor will decide. You won’t get charged for it – if you do, find another instructor quickly. Remember that if the police are advising people not to travel unless it’s essential, having a driving lesson in those conditions is a bad idea.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re learning with the AA, BSM, Bill Plant, or any other driving school. The decision is down to your instructor.

Will my instructor tell me if my lesson is cancelled?

He or she should do. But why take the chance? Just call or text him and ask. Why make life so complicated when a simple text will sort it all out? If he just doesn’t turn up, get another instructor as soon as possible.

Do BSM cancel lessons due to bad weather?

Realistically, they should only cancel if there is too much snow on the ground, making driving dangerous. There is the remote possibility that thick fog, strong winds, and heavy rain might also provide a valid reason for cancelling – but in the UK, extreme occurrences of these are rare.

The decision to cancel a lesson due to bad weather lies solely with the instructor – not with BSM or any other school – so if yours is doing it when there is obviously no valid reason, you might want to look for another trainer.

Note that although DVSA will cancel driving tests due to fog there is absolutely no reason why your lessons can’t go ahead in it as long as it isn’t extreme.

Will I have to pay for my lesson if it’s cancelled due to snow?

Well, there’s no proper law which says your instructor can’t charge you. However, if he or she does (or tries to), find another one quickly because the Law Of Common Decency says that they should NOT charge you. Not in a million years!

However, if it’s you who wants to cancel – but your instructor wants to go ahead with the lesson – then it is a little more tricky. It all depends on whether the conditions really are too bad, and whether or not your ADI is making the right decision based on the right reasons. Unfortunately, this is between you and your instructor – but as I said above, if you aren’t happy then find another one.

If you want to do the lesson, but your instructor refuses, again – if you’re not happy with that (and you must be realistic about the conditions) – find another one. When I cancel lessons it’s usually with my newer pupils who I know can panic and brake too hard. All the others can handle it as long as conditions aren’t too bad. As a general rule, if the advice is not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary, or if the roads are gridlocked, then I will cancel a lesson no matter who it is.Snow on road scene 3

As an example, one day in 2016 it began snowing heavily about 30 minutes before I was due to pick someone up. The roads quickly got covered and traffic began to slow down. I made a choice there and then to cancel the lesson (we actually moved it back a few days) because I had no idea how long the conditions would last. With hindsight, it was the right decision because the snow continued for about an hour.

Do lessons in snow cost more?

No. If someone is trying to charge you extra for such lessons, find another instructor quickly. Any half-decent ADI will use snow as a chance to teach something many learners never get to experience, not as an excuse to screw more money out of them.

I want to do my lessons but my instructor says no

A tricky one. Although I can’t vouch for other instructors, if I decide it is too dangerous to take one of my pupils out, then it is dangerous enough for any argument over it to be completely moot. I will always do lessons if I can (especially after my first frozen winter in 2009, where I was perhaps a little over-cautious to begin with) so the issue has never really come up.

If you really do disagree with your instructor, you could phone around and ask a few more ADIs if they have been conducting lessons. If they have, and if you’re still convinced, change instructors.

I’m worried about driving lessons in snow

Don’t be. You’re going to have to do it when you’ve passed, and it makes sense to learn how to do it now while you have the chance. A lot of people never see snow until they’ve passed their tests, then they don’t know what to do and end up crashing (see the picture above – that orange car is being driven by someone with a full licence, and there isn’t much snow at all, yet they have skidded off the road).

Will my driving test be cancelled due to snow?

It is very likely. You need to phone up the test centre on the day using the number on your email confirmation and check. Otherwise, you MUST turn up – even if they cancel it at the last minute. If you don’t, you’ll probably lose your test fee – or end up having a drawn-out argument over it. Make life simple and follow the guidelines.

Tests do sometimes go out in Nottingham if there is still snow on the ground, but not if it’s on the roads. Most recently, I had a test cancelled in late 2016 because it was very frosty and the side roads were icy. I also had one cancelled due to fog.

If my test is cancelled, will I have to pay for another?

No. They will send you a new date within a few days (or you can phone them or look it up online). And it will not count as one of your six “lives” for moving your test.

Can I claim for out of pocket expenses if my test is cancelled?

No. Neither you, nor your instructor, can claim any money back – which is one reason some unscrupulous ADIs might try and charge you for the hire of the car on the day as if the test had gone ahead.Snow on road scene 4

Will snow stop a driving test?

YES. Snow can easily stop a test, or prevent it from going ahead. It doesn’t matter how you phrase the question, or who you ask, if there is snow then the test is likely to be affected. They tell you all this when you book it – it’s on the cover note that no one bothers to read which goes with the confirmation email.

Driving tests cancelled due to snow 2015 (or 2016, or 2017, etc.)

It doesn’t matter if it’s 1815, 1915, 2015, or any other date. They will probably cancel your test if there is snow on the roads and/or it is icy. And it doesn’t matter what you, your instructor, or your mum or dad says. It is up to the test centre to decide.

Why was my driving test cancelled because it snowed?

Use your common sense. Driving in snow is dangerous even for experienced drivers. The side streets are covered in sheet ice and compacted snow and you WILL skid if you even drive carefully on them. You could EASILY lose control. That’s why there are so many accidents in snow and icy conditions.

On top of all this, you are a new driver and you are NOT as experienced as you think – in fact, you may never even have driven on snow before. DVSA isn’t going to take the risk, so you have to accept it.

Incidentally, I keep seeing search terms like “cancelled driving test 23rd” from people located 300 miles away in my stats. The internet doesn’t work like that!

PHONE YOUR TEST CENTRE TO FIND OUT IF TESTS ARE CANCELLED NEAR YOU – YOU WON’T FIND IT ON THE WEB.

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Stalled in the wrong placeBased on search terms used to find the blog:

Do I fail if I stall on my test?

No. Not automatically. It depends on many things, like where you do it, how many times, and how you deal with it. Stalling is NOT automatically a serious (or “major”) fault.

If you stall once when moving away or stopping, then as long as you start the car safely and move away or stop correctly afterwards, the worst that will happen is that you’ll get a driver fault (and you may not even get one of those). However, if you repeatedly stall when moving away, as a rough guide you’ll get away with it maybe two or three times (a couple more if you’re lucky) until the examiner decides it is a real problem – then you’ll get a serious fault for it.

If you stall at a junction a lot depends on what is happening behind and in front of you, and the delay, danger, and inconvenience that results. For example, if you want to emerge from a junction, stall, and miss a gap in heavy traffic – which causes inconvenience to those behind you – then you can easily get a serious fault.

If you stall in the middle of a junction (i.e. when turning right), the risk of inconveniencing others and causing a dangerous hold-up increases dramatically. It is possible to recover completely from this and come out of it with only a driver fault (and maybe not even one of those), but a serious or dangerous fault is also possible.

Much depends on how you deal with it. Stay calm, and make sure you get going again quickly and safely.

Will I fail if I stall twice?

As I said above, it depends on how and where you do it. The short answer is no, not automatically. However, stalling is a control issue, and you’re being assessed on how you control the car as part of your driving test. Any stall is bad and should be avoided, but if it happens just deal with it as I’ve explained elsewhere in this article and keep your fingers crossed.

If you stall, you can’t undo the fact that you’ve done it. But you can prevent it snowballing into other faults or further stalls.

If you repeatedly stall in the same situation – when moving off, for example – then you really can’t control the car and are probably chasing down a fail. You can’t blame nerves – the examiner is marking you on what he or she sees. As I say, avoid stalling – but deal with it properly if it happens.

If you stall several times in different circumstances – let’s say once in a queue of traffic, once during a manoeuvre, and once right at the start of the test –you just need to keep your fingers crossed and not let it worry you. You might legitimately blame it on nerves in this case, and the examiner may interpret it that way, too.

Will I fail if I stall more than three times?

An examiner once told me he worked on the “five strikes and you’re out” principle. Not all examiners adopt the same approach, and it certainly isn’t written down anywhere that they have to. I tell my pupils to assume “three strikes and you’re out – if you’re lucky!”

As I’ve said above, you can fail for stalling just once if it happens in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if you deal with it inappropriately. Stalling occurs due to poor control of the clutch and gas pedals – you cannot just blame it on nerves, though this may be a contributing factor. So if it happens more than once it is definitely edging towards being marked as a serious fault. Three or more stalls is even further along the path.

I have seen people pass their tests with more than three stalls having been recorded. However, I’ve seen many more fail for less than that.

How many times can you stall on your test and still pass?

How long is a piece of string? You can fail for doing it once, or pass after doing it any number of times. It all depends on the situation(s) involved.

Simplest advice: don’t stall. If you do, deal with it and keep your fingers crossed.

I keep stalling on lessons and my test is next week

If stalling is normally a problem on your lessons, you simply aren’t ready for your test. You need to sort the problem out and not look for ways of “getting away” with it. You should take your test when you are properly trained, not just because you want to.

Is stalling twice on my driving lesson good or bad?

As I have said elsewhere in this article, stalling is a driving fault. If you do it even once on your test, it could easily lead to a situation resulting in a fail. Do it more than once and that risk increases, because the more you do it, the more it points to an underlying lack of control.

You shouldn’t be stalling on a regular basis on your lessons – if you are, then you’re not really ready for your test. Having said that, we all make mistakes (or have “off days”), and a couple of stalls as an isolated event doesn’t mean anything at all. Just remember that even if you never stall on lessons, if you do it on your test you still run the same risk of failing.

What is a stall?

It is when the engine can’t handle what it is being asked to do and stops. The car (usually) has an engine management system which will attempt to avoid stalls at low revs, but when you try to move off with too little gas set the weight of the car slows the engine down so much it just stops. This can happen even more readily on upward slopes and hills if you don’t set enough gas, or if you don’t accelerate away hard enough as you raise the clutch further.

Sometimes, the car can’t make up its mind whether it is going to stall or keep going, and that’s when you get the “kangaroo hop” everyone associates with learners. If this happens, put the clutch down quickly and you’ll probably rescue the situation. Then apply the gas and find the bite gently again.

What is “repeated stalling”?

Someone has recently been finding the blog on that precise term. I would have thought it obvious that if you stall once, then again, then stall again when you try to move off, you are stalling “repeatedly”. Likewise, if you stall every time you try to move off,  or at every junction, or set of traffic lights, you are also stalling “repeatedly”.

You shouldn’t stall at all, though it can happen to anyone. If you do stall – even once – then it is usually just a driver fault on your test. If you do it more than that – especially if you do it repeatedly – it becomes a serious fault.

Note that stalling even once can be marked as a serious (or even dangerous) fault if you do it in the wrong place or at the wrong time, as I have explained elsewhere in this article.

Why do learners stall so much?

Actually, if they’re being taught properly, most learners don’t stall much at all. The time when stalling is most likely to occur for a typical learner is when it comes to moving away promptly. Stalling occurs due to poor control of the clutch and gas pedals, as explained above, and early-stage learners have not developed this skill. So when in a stressful situation (or if they’re not prepared) then they can easily lift the clutch too quickly, resulting in a stall or a kangaroo hop.

Stalling when moving off is not the same as stalling after they’ve stopped – or rather, it does not occur for the same reasons. It is quite common in the early stages for new drivers to pull over and take their foot off the clutch before they’ve put the car in neutral (often, they’ve tried to put it in neutral and got it into another gear instead). So stalling after they’ve parked is a completely different situation to stalling when they’re in flowing traffic (something I’m always quick to point out to them).

Some learners find clutch control much more of a challenge, and these might stall a lot more than the majority do. It’s simply a case of working hard to correct the underlying cause, which varies from person to person.

What should I do if I stall?

Above all else, don’t panic! Your absolute main priorities are to get the car started safely and to move it promptly out of the way, maintaining control throughout.

Your priorities are NOT to automatically stamp on the footbrake, put the handbrake on, and get it into neutral. Sometimes, that’s what you will have to do – but other times it will just make the situation worse by causing a delay in getting going again. Remember that if you cause a hold up, that’s far more serious on test than a simple stall that you quickly and safely deal with. You have to decide at the time which is the best way to deal with it.

Start the car quickly, check that it’s safe, and move away.

Do I need to use the handbrake if I stall?

No. Not necessarily. Sometimes, putting the handbrake on (and/or selecting neutral) just adds to the delay. You must do what is appropriate for the particular situation you’re in.

If you’re likely to roll backwards or forwards into danger then use the handbrake. The examiner’s brief is that you deal with things safely and maintain control if you stall – not that you systematically use the handbrake every time.

Should I go into neutral if I stall?

No. Not necessarily. However, if you are going to start the engine with the car in gear, make bloody sure you have the clutch down. Some newer cars won’t start without the clutch down anyway, but if yours isn’t one of those the car will lurch forward if you start it in gear with the clutch up. That’s almost certainly a guaranteed serious or dangerous fault because you are not in control and you are not safe.

Should I put the handbrake on and go into neutral every time I stall?

As I explained above, this may add to the delay and allow a dangerous situation to develop, so the answer is no – not automatically, and not every time. Some instructors argue that because you might panic, then you should go through this laborious routine for every stall. That is a bit of a cop-out, though.

Every situation is different – and plenty of them are such that if you did go through the full handbrake/neutral routine then it would push you into a fail, whereas using another approach would not.

Should I stop if I stall?

No. Not necessarily. Slamming the brakes on when it isn’t necessary could quite easily cause someone to go into the back of you at a busy junction if they see you start to move. It’s hardly much consolation knowing it was technically their fault if they’ve written off your car and given you whiplash (and are probably blaming you anyway with their insurer). You have to decide whether you need to stop or not depending on the individual situation.

Why did I stall?

A lot of possible reasons, including:

  • not depressing the clutch before stopping
  • being in the wrong gear for the speed
  • not enough gas when moving off
  • bringing the clutch up too quickly
  • using the handbrake incorrectly (e.g. using it to stop or leaving it on when trying to move off) with the clutch up

It could be any combination of these. Before you try and move off again, make sure that you’re in the right gear. That eliminates one possible cause.

Remember that you need to calmly set the gas, find the bite, check all round, then release the handbrake. Keep your feet still once you have the bite, then after the handbrake is released apply more gas and gently raise the clutch all the way. The most common reasons that people stall when moving off are that they panic and keep lifting the clutch beyond the bite while the handbrake is still on, or they suddenly lift the clutch after they release the handbrake. It has to be a smooth action.

Keep all these stages absolutely separate. If they all start to merge together it is a recipe for disaster! There will be plenty of time to develop overlapping control once you gain experience – but as a learner you must work on the basics and keep everything structured so that you can develop good basic control skills.

Why does my car “kangaroo hop” when I change gear?

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that learners often bring the clutch up too quickly without having enough gas set. So the car lurches forward, then decelerates as it nears stalling point. However, sometimes there is just enough gas set for it not to stall, at which point it lurches again, and then the process repeats itself. That’s the “kangaroo hop” in action.

If you don’t change gear smoothly – and I mean bring the clutch up gently, then apply the gas – you can get the same effect. You may find that it’s more of a problem if you were taught in a diesel and are having problems in a petrol car (i.e. you’re not setting enough gas), and you may find that it’s also a problem in older cars (try having your car serviced if you really think there is a fault).Acceleration and gear changing

In the majority of cases, it is probably because you’re changing gear too soon so you’re in the wrong gear for the speed the car is moving at. The two graphs of speed against time show how an experienced driver will accelerate in 1st gear, and when the car is well into the 2nd gear speed range he will shift into 2nd gear, then repeat for subsequent gears. Learners (and new drivers) will often robotically shift from one gear to the next before they’ve built up enough speed. They will also sometimes compound the problem by taking too long to change the gear, so the car actually slows down during gear shift.

Is lurching forward a driving fault?

Yes, and it could be regarded as serious or even dangerous depending on when and where you do it.

Lurching happens when you bring the clutch up too quickly and is pretty much the same as the “kangaroo hop”, but without as many hops. It could be very dangerous if you did it when you were stopped behind another vehicle, if pedestrians were standing in front of you, or if you were waiting to emerge into traffic.

Lurching is a sign of poor pedal (clutch) control. If you only do it once and no one or nothing is close by you’ll probably get away with it, but if it is obvious that this is how you operate the pedals it is most likely going to be marked more seriously.

Can I fail if my gear change isn’t smooth?

You are unlikely to fail if you’re a bit rough a couple of times. But if every gear change is like a bag of spanners falling down the stairs then it IS a fault, and you may find yourself being marked down for it. After doing it a handful of times, it COULD end up becoming a serious fault. Read the article which explains your driving test report. You’re supposed to operate the controls and pedals smoothly, so if you don’t you are at fault and could be marked down accordingly.

Note that selecting the wrong gears also progresses in a similar way, with the possible exception of getting it into 1st instead of 3rd. If you do that, the car decelerates rapidly, and that’s extremely dangerous – it’s like braking hard for no reason, and cars behind could hit you. A lot would depend on only doing it once, and not having anyone behind you when you did.

What causes my car to “switch off” when I’m driving up a steep slope?

It’s stalling. You haven’t got enough gas set, you are in the wrong gear, or a combination of both. It can happen going forwards or backwards.

If you’re talking about something else when you say “switching off”, take it to a garage and get it looked at.

How should I handle a stall?

It really depends on the situation. You can use the full handbrake/neutral procedure sometimes, but there are many other cases where just restarting the car is going to be the quickest and safest way out of a stall.

In the middle of a busy junction, for example, if you start to move forward but then stall, you could quickly start the engine while the car is still moving as long as you don’t roll into a dangerous position. Keep the clutch down as you restart it.

How do the examiners assess a stall?

DSA SOP DT1 only gives only one example:

Assessment Criteria – (example)

Driving Fault

After stalling at a road junction, handbrake applied but attempts to start the engine whilst in gear.

Serious Fault

At a road junction, engine started whilst in gear, resulting in vehicle entering the new road with potential risk to other road users.

Dangerous Fault

Any situation brought about by a lack of ability to recognise the need to operate or being unable to operate the controls, which directly affects other traffic or pedestrians and causes actual danger.

This requires interpretation because it doesn’t cover every possible situation.

To start with, serious (S) and dangerous faults (D) are easy to identify. If the car moves into the new road – whether in gear or not – it is marked S or D. The division between a driver fault and a serious (S) fault isn’t as clear cut.

If you stall and restart the engine with the clutch down and still in 1st gear, as long as there is no risk to other road users, this is technically only a driver fault (but it may not be marked even as that). It is perfectly OK to do it, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t use the handbrake as long as you’re in control.

If you start the car in gear, but have the clutch up, the car will lurch. If it doesn’t enter the new road and there is no other risk or danger, it may only attract a driver fault, although it could easily be regarded as a serious (S) fault. If you’ve applied the handbrake when this happens then it may swing things in your favour. This is why some instructors end up blindly teaching the handbrake-neutral routine – albeit without realising why they’re doing it.

Of course, if you do the same thing twice or more – i.e. lurch forward without realising the clutch is up, or stall due to being in the wrong gear when trying to move off – then you’re moving deeply into serious (S) territory.

Hopefully, you can see the point here. If you are a competent driver then you can restart and continue as if nothing happened without using the handbrake or going into neutral. But if you stall and get any of the expected behaviour wrong, the meter starts to rise – how high depends on how much of a hash you make of it! And robotically applying handbrake/neutral creates its own problems because it takes time and causes longer delays in getting moving again.

It is important to stress once more that every situation is different and has to assessed at the time it happens. What is a driver fault one time could be a dangerous (D)  fault another, just because of who is on the road behind and in front of you.

Is stalling dangerous?

It depends on where you do it, but yes – it can easily be very dangerous.

Cars behind will see you start to move, and will expect you to move off normally and accelerate through the junction or crossing. If you stall they might not see you stop and could easily drive into the back of you. Rear-end shunts, as they’re called, are one of the most common bumps news drivers (and driving instructors on lessons) have to put up with. And even if the car behind you manages to stop, the one behind him might not – and it is all because you stalled.

Admittedly, from an insurance perspective it will almost certainly be considered as the fault of the driver behind who didn’t see you stop, but that’s no consolation if your car is all banged up (and your own insurance might still rise as a result, because you’re going to have to lodge a claim). Remember that even minor damage to an old vehicle might see it get written off by the insurers, and you’re not likely to get the same money you paid for it.

You might also cause serious problems if you stall in the middle of a junction as the lights change, and traffic starts moving towards you from the other roads.

Stalling when moving away from a parked position tends to get marked as only a driver fault (under “control” on the marking sheet). However, doing it repeatedly means that you can’t control the car and it usually becomes a serious fault once it is clear you cannot move off reliably.

Does stalling damage your car?

Or as the term used to find the blog went, “can stalling a diesel break ya car”?

Cars are tough, so the occasional stall is unlikely to do any harm. However, when you think about how the clutch works, if it wasn’t so tough – or if the stall was a bad one – the potential for damage is always there. Part of the problem is that a stall can vary from just asking a little too much from the car on a slope as you move away all the way up to lifting your left leg up at the same speed as a bullet whilst pushing the gas pedal to the floor with your right. And it doesn’t matter whether it is petrol or diesel.

It happened to me a couple of years ago. Without any warning whatsoever, a pupil who was otherwise a perfectly competent driver at that stage of his training somehow managed to put the clutch down and bring it up again twice in roughly the same time it takes to blink when he panicked in moderate traffic. As a direct result of hammering the clutch surfaces together like that, I needed a new clutch (£800).

Just face the fact that stalling is not good however you look at it, and that you should avoid doing it.

Can you stall in neutral?

No. Not unless there’s something wrong with your car. Learn how the clutch works, then you’ll understand.

Can you stall a diesel?

Yes. People who have reached test standard only have problems when they switch to a petrol car because they have been taught the finer points of control incorrectly. Simply because they didn’t stall in the diesel they learnt in doesn’t mean diesels can’t be stalled – they can.

It’s worth noting that some modern cars are “semi-stallproof”. If you stall them, then immediately put the clutch down, they will automatically restart. They still stall, but there’s no fiddling with the key and restarting and moving off again is much quicker. You still need to make sure you know why you stalled, though – otherwise you’ll just do it again.

Do petrol cars stall more than diesel ones?

They stall more easily. If driven properly – with enough gas and in the correct gear – petrol cars do not stall any more or less than diesels do.

I had my clutch replaced and now the biting point is completely different

Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt! And it’s horrible, isn’t it?

Don’t worry, though. When I bought an 18-month old Citroen Xantia many years ago, at its first MOT the garage told me the clutch was worn and would need replacing soon. Since I didn’t do many miles, I ended up driving it for at least another 4 years, but eventually the clutch began to slip and I had to bite the bullet. When I went to pick it up after the clutch was replaced I couldn’t move it out of the garage!

As time had gone by, the biting point had risen gradually and I had just gotten used to it. With the new clutch, the bite was now right back at the lower end of the pedal movement and my foot’s “memory” kept trying to go to the higher position – which meant stalling. A lot.

It took a few hours to get used to it, and a few minutes each day for about a week until my foot was re-trained. It’ll be the same for you, so just persevere and it’ll be all right.

I just bought a car but I keep stalling it

A lot of my learners tell me this. Again, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with it or you. All cars are different and whenever you get in a new one it will take time to get used to it.

My car has a weak biting point

Although this could mean a lot of things (it was a real search term used to find the blog), it most likely refers to the clutch slipping. That usually means the clutch is virtually gone and needs to be replaced. Trust me, if you try to drive your car it could easily just give up on you and leave you stranded (with expensive recovery charges).

Why do I keep stalling my diesel car?

Usually, diesels are harder to stall than petrol cars. If you are stalling your diesel – and you are absolutely certain that if you got in a petrol car then you wouldn’t stall – my first reaction would be to suggest you have a fault and need to get it looked at in a garage.

As I have explained, a stall is when the engine is asked to do too much and stops. It usually happens because you bring the clutch up too quickly, don’t have enough gas set, or a combination of both these things. Stalling is more likely when you’re moving off uphill, and it gets even more likely as the gradient increases (i.e. the steeper the hill).

Are you sure you’re putting gas on? Your instructor’s car – if it was a diesel – was likely to be new and properly serviced, and you may well have been taught (incorrectly) not to set any gas. It isn’t just petrol cars that become more temperamental as they get older, and it may be you are trying to drive your instructor’s way in a car that just cannot handle it.

Why do petrol cars stall?

All manual cars can stall. Diesel engines are less prone to stalling because they usually have more torque – or “turning power” – which means they’re harder to stop. People who have been taught inappropriately (i.e. not taught to set gas, or allowed to be clumsy with the clutch) will have problems if they drive a petrol car simply because its lower torque makes it easier to stop the engine when it has load applied to it.

Will a racing accelerator help me stop stalling in traffic?

This was actually used to find the blog.

If you mean fitting some kind of boy racer mod, then NO. Stalling happens because you aren’t controlling the pedals properly, not because of the kind of pedal you have.

If you mean applying some gas before you find the bite, then more gas before you raise the clutch further, YES. That’s what I have explained above.

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