Car requirements for driving test

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Few rites of passage are as significant in American culture as taking your driving test. Walking in with a permit and driving away with a driver’s license — that’s the classic scenario that comes to mind. But it’s a bit more complex in reality. In order to take a driving test, you need to have a qualifying car with you. This article will take you explore the ins and outs of car qualifications and requirements for the driving test.

Car qualifications for driving test

When it comes to any driving test, the examiner wants to make sure that the applicant’s vehicle is safe for the road and legal. To this end, an inspection of the car (or proof of inspection) precedes the test itself. During this inspection, the examiner will go through a list of driving test car requirements, making sure that your vehicle meets each criteria. Things that are commonly inspected include the following:

  • The driver’s side window must be able to roll down.
  • The horn must be in working order.
  • Both driver and passenger side doors need to be able to open from inside and out.
  • Brakes are checked to make sure they have enough pressure, and the pads aren’t too worn.
  • Tires are checked for pressure and tread.
  • The vehicle must have two rear view mirrors.
  • The cab is checked to see that seat belts are in working order.
  • Front and back signal lights must work properly.
  • You will have to present the vehicle documentation, including insurance and registration.
  • Both brake lights must work properly.

How to find your state-specific requirements

While the list above contains most of the standard requirements, the rules do vary between states. For instance, in many states it is required to have a license plate at the front and back of the vehicle. But in Oklahoma, you only need a license plate on the back. The easiest way to find your state-specific car qualification requirements is to visit your state’s DMV page.

The internet addresses for these sites will end in ‘.gov,’ contain the state’s full name or abbreviation, and the letters’ dmv’. However, the order of these is different between the states. The quickest way to find your state government DMV page is to type your state name into an internet search engine, followed by “dmv .gov.” As an example, here is the website for the Colorado DMV:

What to do if you do not have a car

What happens if you don’t have a car for driving tests? Even if you don’t have your own vehicle, there are a few acceptable ways to obtain one and in order to take the DMV road test. While this list will cover broad categories, there may be other ways you can obtain a vehicle for your driver’s test that are not included here. As long as you have a legal right to drive that vehicle during the test, and the car meets the requirements, you should be good to go.

Borrow a car

Perhaps the easiest solution, and indeed the cheapest, is to borrow a vehicle. If you have a friend or relative with a functional car and they don’t mind loaning it to you for the test, then this route can save you the cost of a rental. Just be sure to discuss insurance details with the owner prior to driving it.

You’ll have to line your test up with a time when the vehicle is available. In addition, the owner of the car will likely have to accompany you to prove ownership of the car and give permission for you to use it. After this, the examiner will still need to inspect the vehicle to make sure it meets the requirements.

Rent a car from a driving school

Sometimes you can get a good rental deal on a car through a driving school. They won’t rent you a vehicle for a road trip, but they will often provide a DMV driving test rental car. If you do find a driving school that will rent you a car, they are generally willing to either pick you up and drive you to the DMV for your test or meet you there with the rental vehicle.

The same rules will still apply to this rented vehicle. Either the owners will have to present paperwork and give you permission in front of the examiner, or you will have to show proof of rental. Afterward, the examiner will inspect the vehicle to make sure it meets the driving requirements.

Rent a car from a car rental agency

If you can’t borrow a car and there aren’t any convenient driving schools nearby, you can still rent a vehicle from a rental agency. While this may be the most expensive and complicated option, short of buying a car, it is still a viable way of taking your test. Getting the car to the DMV may prove a little tricky, however.

One way or another, a licensed driver (such as a parent or guardian) will need to drive the rental vehicle from the rental agency to the DMV. As you won’t have your license yet, another person will also have to take the lead on the rental. A driver’s license is one of the requirements for renting a car. Once at the DMV, paperwork must be presented, and the vehicle must be inspected.

Other driving test considerations

Taking the driving test can be stressful, but you generally only have to pass it once. After that, you can renew your license without taking a test. Before taking your test, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind.

Wait until you’re ready. The test isn’t free, and it can be a time-consuming inconvenience to arrange. Make sure that you’ve had enough practice and are prepared for the driving test before you schedule it. During that time, Practice and memorize hand signals. Demonstrating that you know and can use proper hand signals while driving is a significant portion of the drivers’ test.

You can also practice driving in the area near the testing location, as your test will likely be conducted in that area.

Be sure to get your paperwork ready beforehand. You’ll need to have identification for both your vehicle and yourself. Bring two forms of ID for yourself, and make sure that you have a copy of the vehicle registration and proof of insurance for the car.

Next, you just need to schedule to take the test. Call your local DMV testing site and request to make an appointment. Even if they do walk-ins, this can help to guarantee a timelier test. Some DMV’s may only allow for scheduled tests.

For a full breakdown of what’s required to get your driver’s license, review our article on the subject.

The takeaway

  • Taking your drivers test requires a qualified vehicle.
  • Vehicle requirements can vary by state.
  • You may be able to borrow or rent a car for your driver’s test.
  • Contact your DMV ahead of time to make sure everything is in order to ensure a smooth test experience.


It’s hard to get by without a ready means of transportation. In most parts of the United States, this requires taking the driving test. You can’t take your driver’s test without access to an appropriate car, however. Before showing up at the DMV, make sure you’ve got everything in order and that your vehicle meets state requirements. To get the exact car requirements for your state, contact your local DMV or visit the state’s DMV website.

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