Department of State GrowthTransport

Unit 1 Operate the Car

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The basic skills you need to safely operate a car. The 5 elements are -

  1. Make sure the car is safe
  2. Get ready to drive
  3. Move off
  4. Use instruments and switches
  5. Stop the car

1.  Make Sure the Car is Safe

to do this you must -
1.1.1  Check that the car is legal to drive

Check that-

  • your vehicle is registered - you can check online - Registration Status
  • all of the tyres are inflated and valves capped
  • all lights are in working order
  • the windscreen wipers are in working order
  • the horn works
  • the car's bodywork is sound

1.1.2  Check the car's basic maintenance

Check that -

  • the windscreen is clear
  • there is enough air pressure in the tyres (look at the tyre sticker in the car to find out the correct amount)
  • there is enough fuel
  • the fluids under the bonnet are at their correct levels (engine oil, radiator coolant, brake fluid, steering fluid and windscreen washer bottle)
  • the electrical connections under the bonnet are secure
  • fan belt lot stand is in good condition and correctly tensioned
  • there are no oil leaks of fluid

1.1.3  Check that you leave the car safely parked

Check that -

  • the handbrake is holding the car
  • a manual car is in first gear (if it is on the flat or facing uphill) or reverse gear (if it faces downhill)
  • the tyres are turned towards the kerb
  • an automatic is in park
  • the ignition is locked
  • the windows are closed
  • the key is removed
  • all the doors are locked
  • the car is legally and safely parked (read The Learner Driver Handbook)
  • the parking position is safe

1.2  Get Ready to Drive

to do this you must-
1.2.1  Check your legal requirements

Check that -

  • you have a current driver licence with you
  • if appropriate, L or P plates are on the car
  • you are following any conditions on your driver licence (like glasses)

1.2.2  Check how your car controls work

    Check the -

  • security system and steering lock
  • handbrake - find it, put it on and make sure it feels firm
  • footbrake - it should feel firm
  • gears - where they are, and how many there are
  • clutch - how its feels to move the pedal
  • position of accelerator
  • instruments, switches and controls - where they are and how they work

1.2.3  Adjust the driver's seat so you have control and can operate the car effectively

    Check that -

  • your legs are apart, and your right foot can operate the brake
  • the seat supports your legs, and you can fully press the clutch pedal with your left foot
  • your knees are slightly bent and will not lock into a straight position if you fully stretch them
  • your hands can make a full turn of the steering wheel, and there is a slight bend in the elbows when your shoulders are against the seat
  • the head restraint suits the height of your head (about level with the top of your ear
  • the seat height, and its base and back supports, suits you
  • the steering wheel suits you - make sure it doesn?t block the instruments or cramp your legs

1.2.4  Adjust the mirrors so that you can see as much as possible

    Check that -

  • the rear window is in the centre mirror
  • the side mirrors allow you to just see a small part of the side of the car and a level view of the road behind (? land, ? sky)

1.2.5  Put on your seatbelt and adjust it

    Check that -

  • the lower part of the belt fits below the stomach (hip to hip)
  • there are no twists in the belt
  • the belt is firm - pull out any slack between the belt and your body
  • the shoulder height is adjusted, if available

1.2.6  Make sure the inside of the Car is safe

    Check that -

  • there is nothing loose inside the car (store things in the boot or glove box)
  • in a station wagon or a van, any cargo cannot move about
  • the doors are closed
  • the passengers have seatbelts on and they have adjusted them

1.2.7  Set the climate control and demisters

  • check that they are set for the conditions you expect on the journey.

1.3  to Move Off

    to do this you must -
    1.3.1  Start the engine

    Check that -

  • you know the best way to start this car so that it will run, and keep running. It should be standing still when you start the engine
  • you know what to do if the engine does not start the first time or if it does not keep running

1.3.2  Select gear

    You must -

  • keep the car stopped and hold it with the footbrake before you select a gear
  • make sure the gear you select will be the one that lets the car move off in the correct direction without straining the engine

1.3.3  Move off smoothly 3.4 Move off on a hill (either up or down hill)

    You must -

  • move off without jerking the car. But if you make a mistake you can fix it immediately and not let the mistake affect other parts of your driving
  • move off without rolling the wrong way. It is unnecessary to use the handbrake if you can take off smoothly without it
  • move off without jerking the car
  • be able to immediately fix any mistake you make when moving off. The mistake should not affect other parts of your driving

1.4.  Use instruments and switches

    to do this you must -

    1.4.1  Check the gauges and warning lights after the engine starts

    You must -

  • know what to do if warning lights do not go off at the proper times
  • know what to do if the gauges tell you there is a problem

    1.4.2  Respond to gauges and warning lights  when driving

    You must -

  • know what to do when warning lights come on or gauges say there is a problem
  • respond to gauges and warning lights in less than 30 seconds

1.4.3  Use switches and other controls as you need them

    You must use the car's switches, including -

  • lights
  • indicators, horn and hazard lights
  • wipers
  • climate and ventilation controls
  • cruise control
  • the side window
  • equipment for entertainment and communications

1.5.  Stop the car

  • to do this you must -
  • 1.5.1  Be able to stop and keep the car stopped

    You must -

  • not strain any of the car?s mechanical parts or jerk the car
  • be able to have the car stand safely, with the engine running

1.5.2  Use the park brake to hold the car

You put on the handbrake -

  • when you are going to leave the car, or if you will not be driving away again immediately
  • to hold the car still

1.5.3  Switch the engine off

    You must -

  • before leaving the car switch off the engine in a way that suits the car

1.5.4  Select a gear that makes the car safe

    You must -

  • for an automatic car, place it in 'Park'
  • for a manual car, place it in first or reverse gear. (When you are facing uphill on a steep slope, select first gear; when you are facing downhill, select reverse)