Flux advice

Stuff learners aren’t told

So you’ve passed your driving test and the freedom of the open road awaits. But there is a whole heap of stuff that you need to know that no one, not even your driving instructor, bothered to tell you. Here’s the Adrian Flux guide to stuff new drivers need to know but have never been told.

How do you know which side your petrol filler cap is?

You pull into a filling station and you don’t know which side of the pump to park because no one bothered to tell you which side the filler cap is. Notwithstanding the fact that nowadays the petrol pump hose is usually long enough to reach either side of the car, you can find out which side the filler cap is from the comfort of the driving seat.

There is a tiny arrow, usually next to a symbol of the petrol pump, on the dashboard fuel gauge. It will point to the side you can find the filler cap.

You’ve found the cap but where do you put it while you are refuelling?

All modern cars are designed with a nifty little receptacle which holds the fuel cap while you are filling up. Just open the cover and pop the cap into the receptacle.

What is a locking wheel nut?

Locking wheel nuts prevent anyone removing or tampering with your wheels without a key. Not all cars have them, but they are a very efficient anti-theft device.

Where can I find the locking wheel nut key?

It’s not always obvious where to find the locking wheel nut key. It’s usually kept in a plastic box in the glove compartment or in the boot of the car. It may even be stowed along with the spare wheel, wheel brace and jack.

Your instructor won’t  tell you where to find it, nor will the car’s handbook. You’ll have to find it for yourself and it’s a good idea to do so before you hit the road and need it in an emergency..

My rear view mirror has a night mode?

Yes. There is a switch on the bottom of your rear view mirror which switches it from day mode to night mode. Switching to night mode dims the reflection thus reducing the glare from other car’s headlamps behind you.

What are the black dots around the edge of my windscreen?

Cars are packed full of sophisticated safety devices but there are some that are so clever we hardly know they’re there — and that includes the black dots around your windscreen.

The black dot pattern is called a “frit” and it is made from ceramic. It is impossible to scrape off and it won’t melt in high temperatures. The frit inside the window ensures the glass stays bonded to the vehicle, while the outside acts as protection against continual direct sunlight.

Without it, the adhesive would be weakened and there would be an increased risk of the glass coming loose.

How loud can I play my music while I’m driving?

Most of us like a little bit of music when we’re driving, but don’t play it too loud because it could stop you, or other road users, from hearing approaching cars or emergency vehicles.

What’s more, if the police feel you are distracted by your music, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention.

Can I drive through a puddle to give someone a soaking?

As tempting as it may be, and you may even have been a victim in the plast, it’s not a good idea to intentionally drive through a puddle to splash unsuspecting pedestrians.

It is deemed to be driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons” under the Road Traffic Act 1998. Offenders face a £100 fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence.

How do you know when there is something wrong with the car?

During lessons you were probably driving your instructor’s car and you gave little thought to how it was running and the maintenance of it. When you pass your test and buy a car you are out there on your own and you will need to know if it is running properly.

Tell-tale signs that your car may be developing problems include warning lights on your dashboard, different engine noises, a deterioration in handling, loss of power and soft or spongy pedals. These changes will become more noticeable the more experienced you are behind the wheel.

Important tip here: If you hear a noise that you are not familiar with, don’t try to drown it out by turning up the radio. Investigate and get it sorted before it becomes a major problem.

Preparation is key so ensure your car is well serviced and check oil levels, lights and tyre pressure regularly. Unless you’re a dab hand with a spanner, breakdown insurance might be a good idea too. Flux Rescue breakdown cover is available from as little as £59 a year, which is less than your local garage will charge for a single call out.

There are more tips for newly qualified drivers on the Learner Driver Hub of the Adrian Flux website.