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Preparing for your driving lessons in Wolverhampton: Vehicle controls

If you’re learning to drive in Wolverhampton and are nervous about your first driving lesson, it can help to know what to expect.

A good way to begin is to familiarise yourself with the driving seat of a car and the basics you need to be aware of before even starting the engine.

We covered some of the initial safety checks in our previous blog on the ‘Cockpit Drill’, and here we will go over some of the main vehicle controls.

Taking time to sit behind the wheel and locate and learn about the main vehicle controls in advance of your driving lessons in Wolverhampton (don’t be tempted to start the engine!) will help you to feel less overwhelmed on the day. Don’t worry though because either way our highly qualified driving instructors are experts when it comes to putting you at ease and helping you to feel comfortable and relaxed at the wheel.

Vehicle basics for first time drivers

There are many levers, buttons and switches inside even the most basic car and they can look very daunting at first. You will be introduced to all the main vehicle controls – those you will need to actually drive the car – during your first driving lesson.

There are various ancillary controls that will also be pointed out to you, although you won’t need to use them all on your first lesson. However, as your driving lessons progress, you will need to gain a good understanding of all the vehicle controls and what they do, as you may need them in your practical driving test – and, more importantly, in real life.

By using the information in this blog, and on our online learning to drive syllabus, you can swot up on the vehicle controls, speed up the learning process and, in theory, pass your test faster and cheaper.

Main vehicle controls

Foot controls

  • Gas pedal – This controls the flow of fuel to the engine and sets the engine speed, which can be checked on the rev counter. It is used with your right foot; your heal should be on the carpet as a pivot point in between the brake and the gas as the same foot controls both pedals. This is the same for automatic cars. Use the pedal in a smooth and progressive manner, adjusting it the thickness of a one pound coin at a time.


  • Brake pedal – Using your right foot, this pedal controls the brakes on all four wheels. It controls how fast you can slow the car to a stop and should also be used both in a smooth and progressive manner, adjusting it the thickness of a one pound coin at a time.
  • Clutch pedal – The clutch is not a brake. It is used with your left foot and is all the left foot operates. The clutch is used to connect or disconnect the engine power from the wheel via the gearbox. It has the three positions of clutch down, biting point and clutch up.

Hand controls

  • Parking brake (handbrake) – Unlike the foot brake on most cars, this only works on the rear wheels. It has two positions; on and off. It is for stationary use only to secure the vehicle. If it is applied when the car is moving, it can lock the back wheels and cause the car to skid out of control. To release the handbrake, lift slightly, press the button and place down. To apply the handbrake, press the button, lift until firm and then release the button.
  • Gear stick – Most cars have five or six forward gears and a reverse gear. Forward gears should be changed up at between 2 & 3 thousand revs on the rev counter to gain minimum fuel use and maximum vehicle control.
  • Steering wheel – Despite commonly held beliefs, you can hold the steering wheel wherever you want provided your arms are not resting on your legs, armrest or door. The optimal position though is either at a 10 to 2 or quarter to three position on a clock face.
  • Indicator signal – There are six external indicators on modern cars; two on the front, two on the side and two on the rear. They are controlled by the indicator stick on the steering column. To apply the indicator, you simply move it in the direction you intend to turn the wheel. It will almost always cancel itself after the manoeuvre, otherwise you need to cancel it manually by gently pushing it back in the opposite direction.
  • Window wipers – These are operated the same way as the indicators using a stick on the steering column. It’s very important to locate and learn how to use these before you drive for the first time in case you find yourself in a sudden downpour. Your driving instructor will teach you how to use these as part of your first driving lesson.

More information about vehicle controls is available on our online syllabus, together with useful training sheets on all aspects of learning to drive.

If you’re learning to drive in Wolverhampton, Homers Driving School has a proven track record of helping students pass faster and pass cheaper.

Posted on Categories Driving Lessons Blog, Driving Test Syllabus

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