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TECHNICAL CHECKS/ Additional information by Expert Mechanic Stephen O'Neill

The applicant should be asked to verbally explain how he/she would perform a check on any 3 of the following, selected at random by the tester.

(a) the tyres (b) the lights (c) the reflectors (d) the indicators) (e) the engine oil (f) the coolant (g) the windscreen washer (h) the steering) (i) the brakes (j) the horn.


In the case of (e), (f) or (g) above being selected the bonnet will have to be opened and closed again securely, by the applicant. The P.A.S. fluid and the brake fluid may also be checked in this manner, if desired.

The steering may also be checked by examining it for excessive play, (non P.A.S.) or by turning it from side to side with the engine at tick-over. (P.A.S. only)

The brakes may also be checked by asking the applicant how he/she would know if there was a fault with:

(a) the handbrake, or

(b) the footbrake, the tester may exercise discretion in relation to the weather conditions at the time.

(a) the tyres, thread depth above 1.6mm. Advisory in nct's now given if tyres over 6 years old. (tyres perish-get old) uv light oxidises the rubber which causes it to dry out, rubber naturally deteriorates. Check regularly tyre pressures as fuel efficiency and braking distance affected. Bald or unevenly worn tyres are very dangerous - stopping distance is much greater and you are more likely to skid. Always check for defects such as blistering, cuts, bulges, cracks in rubber which could lead to blow-outs. Most car manufacturers have tyre pressure monitors fitted after 2016. Correct tyre pressure is very important for safe economical driving. Only point of contact between vehicle and the road. Know correct pressure for your car, for some vehicles the tyre pressure is different for front and rear tyres. Don't forget to check spare tyre.

(b) the lights, most cars 2010 onwards will have a bulb light illuminated on dash for bulb failure. You need to check that all your lights are working properly. Main headlights (full and dipped), number plate lights, indicators (front and rear; left and right), fog lights (where fitted),side lights (font and rear), brake lights, reversing lights, cornering bulbs.

(c) the reflectors, understand the importance of keeping reflectors clean and in good working order, intact and check them by shining a light on them to make sure that they are working effectively.

(d) the indicators, if dashboard indicator light is flashing faster than usual then one of the bulbs has blown and needs to be replaced. Be able to operate the indicators appropriately to give timely communication to show an intention to change direction.

(e) the engine oil. Engine oil is essential to keep your engine lubricated and running smoothly. If oil pressure light on dash, turn off engine. Possible engine damage could occur. Possible damage to internal moving parts within engine; ie bearings, cam shafts and cylinder walls. If level too high the rotating crankshaft within bottom of engine essentially aerates the excessive oil which in turn creates a foamy, frothy substance which cannot properly lubricate engine. Most manufacturers recommend change every 15,000 km or 10,000 miles.

(f) the coolant. The coolant is a mixture of water and anti-freeze fluid that helps to keep your engine cool. It is usually stored in a reservoir towards the front of the engine. Possible damage to engine head gasket and internal engine parts due to overheating if level too low. Never check coolant when engine hot. Coolant is kept at the max line to keep a controlled temperature within the engine , failure to do so will result in increased engine component wear, (irreversible damage) recommended change every 2-5 years. (fluid only)

(g) the windscreen washer, windscreen washer fluid reservoir is a container that holds the water you use to wash the windscreen. Keep filled at all times (topped up) as stagnant water will block washer jets. There are some cleaning fluids you can buy that can be used on their own or diluted with water. Never use washing up liquid.

(h) the steering, most cars after 2008 have electric assisted steering, far superior to previous hydraulic systems. Light on dash will illuminate when there is a steering system fault. Steering wheel should be correctly adjusted before starting the vehicle. Be able to steer appropriately and smoothly when changing direction and steer quickly when necessary to take evasive action.

(i) the brakes, it is very hard to visibly inspect with wheels on vehicle but tell tale signs of bad brakes include: squeaking while braking, handbrake not holding, car veering left or right while braking or excessive brake dust on alloy wheels or hubcaps. Brakes should be inspected regularly to ensure working  correctly. Average wear depends on manufacturer. Front/rear brake pads between 40,000-60,000 km. Brake discs between 60,000 - 150,000 km depending on use/owners driving style. Handbrake should be adjusted every 2nd service to allow for wear. Brake fluid absorbs water over time (hygroscopic). Keep level at max for optimum efficiency. Most car manufacturers recommend brake fluid change between 2-5 years.

(j) the horn, your horn is an essential safety device. Every now and then, check that it is working. Make sure your horn is working to alert other road users to your presence. Be able to operate the horn while driving and know the circumstances in which it is appropriate to use the horn. Use a horn to warn other road users of on-coming danger. The horn does not give you the right of way. Do not use a horn in a built-up area between 11.30 at night and 7 in the morning unless there is a traffic emergency.


Candidate will be required to show how they would operate some of the controls and be asked to switch on/off, or adjust any of 3 of the following:

(a) the wiper(s) (b) the lights, including dipping the headlights (c) the windscreen washer (d) the fan (e) the air vents (f) the rear window heater (g) the air-conditioner (if fitted) (h) the temperature control (i) the rear fog lights (j) the air intake control.


COCKPIT DRILL / The Safety Checks


Check all doors to ensure that they are properly secure, preventing any rattle or noise which may distract you during your journey or for a door to swing open. Check side mirror to see doors ale flush. Do not lock the doors as you may need help from outside in the event of an emergency.


Adjust seat to be in a comfortable position and have easy access to the foot pedals and hand controls. You should be able to push the clutch right down to the floor with a slight bend of your left knee without having to stretch your leg. Head restraint should be adjusted to your height and positioned from the nape of the neck.


the back of the seat should be sufficiently forward to enable you to reach the top of the steering wheel without stretching and high enough to be able to see clearly ahead over the steering wheel whilst driving. A proper position would be with the elbows slightly bent giving you freedom to move your hands around the wheel.


Make sure you have placed your seatbelt flat across your body with no twist as this could have the effect of a knife's edge in the case of a sudden stop / collision.


It is important to correctly adjust the interior and exterior mirrors to suit you and should be kept clean all times. Adjust inside mirror by using the top and bottom of the mirror base without touching the glass itself.

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