If I stall on my driving test will I fail?

I cannot even estimate the number of times that pupils, especially those with a driving test already booked, have asked me the; “If I stall on test” question.

A driving test examiner will not fail you just because you have stalled the engine. I do not care what you have heard or which of your acquaintances has given you this information. You will not be failed just for stalling.

Please allow me to offer you a thought: we are approaching a traffic light controlled junction very slowly and the lights change to green shortly before we would have stopped. You bring the clutch up and whoops, stall the engine. Now I may be wrong here (I am not) but the car is still rolling slowly in its intended direction of travel, you still have a green light, and nobody has died! You feel a bit daft but apart from that there is no injury.

It is worth mentioning at this point that the examiners are trained to judge each fault on its own merit. Not to take a more holistic overview at the end.

If your car is still moving

My advice to pupils in this situation is to restart the engine while the car is still moving forwards and carry on as if nothing had happened. If you can manage this then as far as the examiner is concerned nothing significant actually has. In this situation it is unlikely that the examiner will record a fault and even if they do it will be a driving fault.

If your car is stationary

If you have to stop, apply the handbrake, make sure you are in first (not third because mis-gearing is a common reason for stalling in this situation) gear, restart the engine and move off with a minimum of fuss. In this situation because you have stopped the examiner has to take into account how significant, if at all, disruption to other road users has been because of your stall but as long as you restart the car and move off in a timely manner with a minimum of fuss you would only receive a serious fault if in the opinion of the examiner there had been disruption to other traffic.

Do not do this!

The last thing that the examiner wishes to see if you stall is the application of some bloody great big re-start procedure. Imagine the first situation where you are still rolling. Some people have been taught to do the following:

Stop the car, apply the handbrake, select neutral, cancel any indication, restart the engine, prepare the car to move, perform an all around observation, indicate as necessary then move off.

Seriously! I have met newly qualified instructors who were trained to teach this. Either myself or another experienced instructor in the test centre soon advises that they change their tuition.

Examiners are not out to get you

If you stall more than once on a side road with no other traffic around but do regain control and continue without them having to advise then it will not be viewed too seriously.

Obviously the number of stalls is taken into consideration and each can be marked as a driving fault.

There is a certain amount of nervousness that is expected on test day and I assure you, if driving test examiners failed everyone who ever stalled then the number of passes given out at any test centre in any given week would be significantly reduced.

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