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Show Me - Tell Me

Show Me Tell Me Questions, Answers & Videos

The Show Me Tell Me questions are perhaps one of the easiest ways to gain brownie points (or lose them) in the practical driving test. These are questions that are asked at the start of the test, before you begin driving, and test your knowledge of how a car actually works. That means things like knowing how the lights work, where you can check your oil levels, and how you’d find out if your brakes were working.

There are 19 questions, of which you will be asked TWO – one ‘show me’ and one ‘tell me’. They’re generally pretty sensible and straightforward, and examiners don’t expect you to suddenly spout off the kind of knowledge that a fully-fledged mechanic would produce. Instead, most of the answers rely on common sense – checking the car manual, getting out of the car and looking, checking your dashboard for warning lights.

If you get a question wrong, it’ll be marked down as a fault or ‘error’ on your test paper, but answering the Show Me, Tell Me questions incorrectly isn’t an automatic fail in the way many other aspects of the practical test are. That’s a big relief to those of us who prefer to avoid the books and paperwork side of life, and means that if you can’t remember the answer, you can at least take a reasonable guess without fear of huge recriminations.

The 19 questions, of which two will be selected at random, are given below, along with the answer and occasional observations:

Show Me questions:

 Show me/explain how you would check that the power assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

Answer. Before you start a journey, though, two simple checks can be made:
1) A steady, gentle pressure on the steering wheel whilst the engine is started should give you a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate.
2) Turning the steering wheel after just moving off will tell you immediately if your power steering is working or not.

 Show me how you would check that the horn is working (off road only).

Answer. Identify the correct control that operates the cars horn. Press the horn control and listen (turn the ignition on if necessary).

 Show me how you would check that the brake lights are working on this car. (The instructor can help you with this.)

Answer. Put your foot on the brake pedal as though you were braking, then use any shiny surfaces
near the back of your car (bins, garage doors, other cars – even walls, sometimes) to see if there’s a red glow visible. If there’s nothing you can use, or you can’t see clearly, you can ask your examiner to walk round to the back of the car to check for you – this is perfectly acceptable.

 Show me how you would check that the indicators are working correctly.

Answer. Identify the control for the indicators. Turn the indicators or hazard warning lights on (turn the ignition if need be) then get out of the car and check that all the indicator lights (front, back, sides) are working.

 Show me how you would check the parking brake (handbrake, to you and I) for excessive wear.

Answer. Apply the parking brake. If it’s excessively worn, it won’t hold the car properly and you’ll have to pull it on tighter (or, if it won’t go on any tighter, apply the brake. However, if the car you drive in your test has these kinds of issues for real, you might be wise to question the legitimacy of your practical test, and ask for a refund).

 Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washer and wipers.

Answer. Find the lever that controls your wipers (you may need to turn the ignition on for this). You’ll find that pushing or pulling the lever one way or another will operate your windscreen washer function (with automatic wiping). Look at the switch that operates your wipers as very often it is represented with a small white marking or diagram indicating which way to move the control to operate the windscreen washers.

 Show me how you would set the demister (heating) controls to clear all the windows effectively, including front and rear screens.

Answer. Identify the heater/demist controls. Set all the dials: fan to maximum speed; temperature to hot; air source (the picture of the little car with arrows in it) should be from outside the car; air direction should be (predictably) towards the windows; and heated screen buttons should be switched on for any screens lucky enough to have them. If it’s a frosty morning, you may find that using the AC (air conditioning) function will also clear your screen faster.

 Show me how you switch your headlights from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know that main beam is on whilst inside the car.

Answer. Identify the control for this. Turn the lever that controls the headlamps until dip is on (there's generally a green symbol that appears on your dashboard facia consisting of three horizontal lines and a semi-circle – it’s supposed to look like a headlight). Turn the lever again and the symbol will change to bluey-purple. That means main beam is on. Never use main beam when there is oncoming traffic – it is very distracting and can affect their safety.

 Show me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use them.

Answer. Identify the control for this. Operate the switch for fog lights (this may be another function of your headlamp lever or it may be a seperate switch depending on make and model of vehicle. Check that the dashboard symbol which indicates fog lights are illuminated. You use fog lights when it’s foggy or when visibility is less than 100m. However, fog lights are much brighter than standard headlights, (even main beam) so you should turn them off as soon as visibility improves. Similarly, don’t try driving in fog without them – other drivers see you less easily, which means they might hit you more easily.

Tell Me questions

 Open the bonnet, find where you would check the engine coolant (water) level, and tell me how you would check that the engine has the correct level.

Answer. Find the coolant tank and check that the level of coolant is somewhere between the min/max markings on the side of the tank. If the coolant is below minimum, more would need to be added to bring it up to the max mark. Do not overfill.

 Open the bonnet, find where the brake fluid reservoir is, and tell me how you would check if you have a safe amount of hydraulic brake fluid.

Answer. Find the reservoir. Tip! It's very often on the drivers side of the underbonnet and is usually attached to a large, circular metal drum (brake servo). Make sure the level of fluid is between the min and max markings.

 Open the bonnet (are you sensing a trend to these questions?), find where you would check the engine oil level, and tell me how you’d check that the engine has enough oil.

Answer. Most cars have a dipstick, which is what it sounds – a stick that is dipped into the oil tank. Find this, remove it and check that the oil level sits between the min and max marks on the dipstick. Clean and reinsert the dipstick if you can’t see very clearly. Tip! Checking oil level is best done with the car on level ground and a cold engine.

 Open the bonnet, find the windscreen washer reservoir and tell me how you would check the level.

Answer. Find the reservoir – warning, this is not the same as the water coolant reservoir – and open the cap. Peek in and see if there looks to be enough water – a good sign is if you can actually see any water, because that means it’s at a fairly high level. There are no min/max markings to help you with this one, sadly! Tip! Make sure you top up the reservoir very regularly as it often impossible to be sure how much water is left so it's advisable to keep it full. Carrying a pre-mixed bottle of water and windscreen cleaner in the boot is a sensible precaution.

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

Answer. Simple – as you start to move off, put your foot down on the brake (checking first if it is safe to do so). There shouldn’t be any sponginess and the car shouldn’t steer to one side.

 Tell me how you would check that the headlights and tail lights are working.

Answer. Turn on the lights (you might need to start the ignition), get out of the car and walk around it to make sure that all the necessary lights are on.

 Tell me where you would find out what the recommended tyre pressure is for this car, and how the tyre pressure can be checked.

Answer. The car handbook will tell you what pressure your tyres should have. To check it, use a reliable pressure gauge (usually found at petrol stations, with a charge of 20p), undo the valve caps on your four tyres (keep hold of them, they get lost so easily) and use the gauge to test each tyre individually. Only check tyres when they are cold – that is to say, before driving on them too much. Don’t forget to check the spare tyre and to replace the valve caps when you’re done. Tip! On some models there is a sticker on the inside edge of the drivers door with tyre pressure information on it.

 Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so that it provides the best protection in the event of a crash. (translation: how do you know the headrest is at the right height so that if you hit something it will keep your head safe?)

Answer. The head restraint should be adjusted or moved so that the rigid part is at least as high as your eyes or ears, and as close to the back of your head as you can manage without being uncomfortable. Be aware, though: some headrests aren’t adjustable.

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

Answer. Tyres shouldn’t have any cuts or bulges. They should also have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm on the central portion of the tyre (don’t measure near the outside of the tyre, as that doesn’t wear down so much. Stick to the centre). You can either use a tread gauge or a 20p coin – when you slot it into the tread, you shouldn’t be able to see the top of the outer border.

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

Answer. A warning light should come up on your dashboard if there’s a fault. Check your car handbook so that you are aware which warning light is for the ABS system.

Show Me Tell Me Instructional Video Clips

Have a look at these instructional video clips relating to the Show Me Tell Me part of your practical driving test for more clarification.

Show Me Tell Me - Inside the Car Video

Show Me Tell Me - Outside the Car Video

Show Me Tell Me - Under the Bonnet Video


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