Minimum requirements for test vehicles

Minimum vehicle requirements apply for tests for cars, cars with trailers, motorcycles and mopeds. If your vehicle doesn't meet the set requirements, your test will be cancelled and you will lose your fee.

Car and car with trailer tests

Category B - cars

The vehicle must comply with all legal requirements and be in a roadworthy condition. There must be no warning lights showing once the vehicle is in motion, for example, the ABS warning light and/or the airbag warning light must be extinguished.

Cars presented for test must:

  • have four wheels
  • have a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) not exceeding 3,500 kilograms (kgs)
  • be capable of a speed of at least 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) or 62.5 miles per hour (mph)
  • have a seatbelt for the examiner
  • have a front passenger head restraint (this needn't be adjustable but must be fitted as an integral part of the seat - 'slip on' type head restraints aren't permitted)
  • have an interior mirror for the examiner's use (mirror on visor is not acceptable)
  • have L-plates which are clearly visible from the front and rear of the vehicle and don't interfere with the driver's or examiner's view
  • have a speedometer that measures speed in miles per hour and kilometres per hour
  • have rear seats and seat belts
  • be unladen

Category B96

Combinations of a motor vehicle and trailer where:

  • the tractor vehicle is in category B
  • the maximum authorised mass of the trailer exceeds 750kgs
  • the maximum authorised mass of the combination exceeds 3,500kgs but does not exceed 4,250kgs

B96 will not be granted in Northern Ireland as a licence entitlement category but will be accepted as an exchange category.

Category B+E - car and trailer

A combination of a minimum test vehicle for category B, towing a laden trailer of at least 1,000kgs MAM (the examiner may ask for evidence of the trailer MAM, displayed on the manufacturer's plate), which is capable of a speed of at least 100 km/h (62.5 mph) on the level, and does not fall within category B:

  • the cargo compartment of the trailer must consist of a closed box body which is at least as wide and at least as high as the corresponding dimensions of the towing vehicle
  • the closed box body may be slightly less wide than the towing vehicle provided that the view to the rear is only possible by use of the external rear-view mirrors of the towing vehicle
  • your vehicle must be fitted with a head restraint for the front passenger seat and have front and rear seats fitted with properly anchored and functioning seat belts
  • it must also be fitted with externally mounted nearside and offside mirrors that are suitable for use by the examiner from his or her seating position
  • rear seats must be forward facing
  • the trailer must be laden with 600kg of: sand, stone, cement, or shingle, packaged in sealed transparent bags, which must weigh the same and be at least 10kg, with the weight clearly stamped on them by the retailer
  • toxic materials must not be used

Or alternatively:

  • one IBC constructed of moulded plastic or steel containing between a minimum of 600 and a maximum of 1,000 litres of water

Note: the vehicle combination must display L-plates which are clearly visible from the front and rear of the vehicle and don't interfere with the driver's or examiner's view.

All vehicle combinations must operate on appropriate brakes and use a coupling arrangement suitable for the weight. The trailer must also be fitted with a jockey wheel or stand.

Unsuitable vehicles for category B tests

The vast majority of hatchbacks, saloons and estate cars are suitable for the driving test. Increasingly, the designers of cars are producing models with sweeping lines which have good forward vision but have large blind spots to the rear and present examiners with problems of observation.

Vehicles supplied by motor manufacturers have obviously been through the type approval process but this approval concentrates on vehicles from a driver’s point of view and may make the vehicle unsuitable for the purposes of the driving test.

Vehicles for test must allow examiners all round vision to allow them to see approaching vehicles, particularly when the car is at an angle to other vehicles during reversing manoeuvres and also when emerging at a junction with the vehicle at an angle to the major road.

For example, the Ford KA convertible, Mini convertible, VW Beetle convertible, and Toyota iQ have been risk-assessed and are unsuitable due to the lack of all round vision for the examiner.

Moped and motorcycle tests

All mopeds and motorcycles used for riding tests must:

  • be fitted with a speedometer that measures speed in both miles per hour (mph) and kilometres per hour (kph)
  • be fitted with an appropriate stand
  • clearly display L-plates on the front and rear
  • be legal and roadworthy and have no engine or safety warning lights showing

You must use the same category of machine for both the motorcycle manoeuvres test and on road motorcycle test.

The category of machine you take your tests on will affect the categories you can ride after passing your on road test.

Automatic or semi-automatic transmission

If you pass your tests on a machine with automatic or semi-automatic transmission:

  • it will be recorded on your licence
  • your full licence rights will be limited to machines in that category

Category AM (moped)

The moped you use for your test must:

  • be a two-wheeled machine
  • be 50 cubic centimetres (cc) capacity or less
  • have a top design speed of no more than 28 mph (45km/h)

Category A1 (small motorcycle)

The sub-category A1 motorcycle you use for your test must:

  • be a two-wheeled machine
  • be at least 115cc and no more than 125cc capacity if powered by an internal combustion engine
  • have an power rating of no more than 11 kilowatts (kW) - 14.6 brake horse power (bhp) and have a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.1 kilowatts per kilogram
  • be capable of at least 55 mph (90 km/h)
  • have a power to weight ratio of at least 0.08 kilowatts per kilogram if it is powered by an electric motor

Category A2 (medium-sized motorcycle)

The sub-category A2 motorcycle you use for your test must:

  • be a two-wheeled machine
  • be at least 395cc capacity if powered by an internal combustion engine
  • have an power rating of at least 20kW (26.82 bhp) and not exceeding 35kW (46.6 bhp)
  • have a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW per kilogram
  • have a power to weight ratio of at least 0.15 kilowatts per kilogram if it is powered by an electric motor

If the engine power output of the motorcycle has been restricted to fit sub-category A2, the power output of the machine before restriction cannot be more than double that obtained after restriction.

Examples of acceptable restriction are:

  • unrestricted power output 70kW - restricted power output 35kW
  • unrestricted power output 60kW - restricted power output 30kW
  • unrestricted power output 50kW - restricted power output 25kW

Examples of unacceptable restriction are:

  • unrestricted power output 100kW - restricted power output 35kW
  • unrestricted power output 70kW - restricted power output 30kW
  • unrestricted power output 60kW - restricted power output 25kW

Category A (large motorcycles)

The category A large motorcycle you use for your test must:

  • be a two-wheeled machine
  • be at least 595cc capacity if powered by an internal combustion engine
  • have a power rating of at least 40kW (53.6 bhp)
  • have a power to weight ratio of at least 0.25 kilowatts per kilogram if it is powered by an electric motor

Category A (large motorcycles) on or after 31 December 2018

After 31 December 2018 the above mentioned will still apply, as well as having an unladen mass more than 175kg and have a change of power rating to at least 50kW (67.05 bhp).

Restricted motorcycles

The examiner will check both the normal unrestricted power output and the restricted power output of your motorcycle at the start of the test. The normal unrestricted power output and power to weight ratio are recorded on your motorcycle’s registration document V5C(NI).

If the engine power output of the motorcycle has been restricted from its normal power output, you will be asked to confirm what the restricted power output is by showing the examiner evidence from a motorcycle manufacturer or motorcycle dealer which shows clearly the result of the power restriction.

You will also need to sign a declaration to say your motorcycle is suitable for the test.

Motorcycles with a sidecar

You can only use a motorcycle with a sidecar for your test if you have a disability.

The rules for a motorcycle with a sidecar are the same as for a solo motorcycle, however:

  • categories A and A1 must not have a power to weight ratio exceeding 0.16 kW per kilogram
  • passengers are not allowed to ride in the sidecar during the test

The licence you get from passing this test will only allow you to use a motorcycle with a sidecar.

Tricycles

Tests for mopeds with three or four wheels, A1 and A tricycles will only be offered to candidates with a physical disability.

Help for motorcyclists with a disability

Disability Action is the only centre of its kind in Northern Ireland and promotes the independence of people with disabilities by offering advice and assessment on all aspects of personal mobility.

The National Association for Bikers with a Disability is a registered charity that provides information to help people with disabilities enjoy independent motorcycling. You can visit their website to find out about machine adaptations that can be made.

Vehicle recalls and safety notices

Vehicles are sometimes not suitable for a practical driving test because they are subject to a manufacturer recall or because a fault has been identified that requires manufacturer/dealer rectification.

In these circumstances, these vehicles are not suitable for a practical driving test unless the candidate can provide documentary evidence from a dealer or the vehicle manufacturer to prove that their test vehicle meets one of the criteria below:

  • the recall work has been carried out
  • the vehicle has been checked and no work is necessary
  • the vehicle is exempt from the recall work

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