October 2020


Do you remember the last time you drove to your local supermarket? You probably don’t. Not because you shop online these days, but because the route is so familiar you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing.

When we learn to drive we go from ‘consciously incompetent’ to ‘consciously competent’. In other words, we go from knowing what it is we can’t do, to knowing just enough to pass a test.

After a few years behind the wheel, popping out for groceries becomes an almost unconscious routine. We leave the house and before we know it we’re saddling up our Quick Check scanner and heading down the fruit & veg aisle. How did we get there? Who knows… we have reached the level of ‘unconsciously competent’ and most routine journeys are on autopilot.

We learn what need in order to pass a test that says we are safe on the roads. They say you really only learn to drive once you’ve passed your test, but what are some of the things that we do actually learn?

Here are 5 of the most common things that your driving instructor never taught you.

1) How to check your tyre pressure

Here at Thame Cars we’re always talking about the importance of checking your tyre pressure, but nobody actually teaches new drivers how to do it!

Make sure you check regularly (at least once a month) and do it when they’re cold as the pressure increases once they warm up.

To learn more about tyre pressures, read our top tyre tips blog >>

Read about how to check if your tyres need changing >>

2) How to use a fuel pump

How many of us can remember that first time we were let loose at a petrol station, nervously fumbling with the heft of the dispenser, trying to figure out if our ‘pay at pump’ transaction has gone through. And come on let’s face it, how many of us still feel a little naughty driving away without going into the shop to pay!

3) How to de-ice your windscreen

We’ve all seen motorists driving down the road on a frosty morning, peering out through a little patch of smeary cleared windscreen. Nobody teaches us how to do this properly (and many of us never learn!).

The law is quite clear on this one: you need to have a full view of the road and other traffic ahead of your car otherwise you can face a £60 fine and 3 penalty points.

Read our complete winter checklist to get your car winter ready >>

4) How to use your horn

According to the Highway Code, the only acceptable use of your horn is to warn other road users of your presence, or about a danger. Letting other road users know what you think of them, or getting your kids to hurry up as you wait for them on the driveway aren’t deemed to fall into this category.

Under no circumstances should we be using our horns between 11:30pm and 7am - it’s the law!

Technically we should all know this anyway, as we all committed the Highway Code to memory when we took our test, but feels like it fits appropriately into our list of ‘what your instructor never taught you'.

5) How to use that funny little button on your rear view mirror

With so many buttons and controls in modern cars, new drivers can be forgiven for focusing on the ones that make the thing move forwards, backwards and side to side.

But one button that is rarely ever talked about, let alone pressed, is the one on the bottom of your rear view mirror that switches it from ‘day mode’ to ‘night mode’.

In night mode setting, it dims the reflection which can make it easier to concentrate with bright headlights on the car behind you.

How well do you know The Highway Code for Cyclists? Test your knowledge with this online quiz >

There are plenty of other aspects to driving that your instructor never taught you, such as how to deal with queue jumpers, middle lane hoggers and complicated box junctions. But one thing they will have impressed upon all of us is the need for safety.

You might well drive to your local supermarket on autopilot but you can bet that if something unexpected happened your attention would snap right back into the present moment and all of your senses would be focused on the task at hand. As we move into the colder, wetter, icier half of the year it’s time to switch that attention back on again and make sure your car is winter fit.

At Thame Cars you can book your car in for our legendary 26 point Winter Health Check, It’s a complimentary service and will give you peace of mind.

Book FREE Vehicle Health Check