Using Vehicle Controls

Icon Using vehicle controls Using the Vehicle Controls

Learn how to use Vehicle Controls for your South African Driver’s Licence Test

Using vehicle controlsWe explain the use of vehicle controls – generally for Light Motor Vehicles, although they also apply to Heavy Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles. Ensure that your driving instructor teaches you how to use all of these vehicle controls properly – using them incorrectly could result in lost points during your driving test. You will need to operate the vehicle controls using the K53 method.

Practising throughout your driving course will be the best way to become a proficient driver – being unsure of your vehicle controls during your test could result not only in a fail if you were to panic, but also in a potentially serious road accient.


  • Adjust rear-view mirrors for maximum rear-view vision only whilst vehicle is stationary.
  • Check rear-view mirrors on approach for any hazard.
  • Check rear-view mirror every 5 – 8 seconds.
  • Checking of rear view mirrors should be of sufficient duration to determine traffic situations to the rear.


Care should be taken not to signal too early where it could create confusion for other road users.

  • Check rear-view mirrors and appropriate blind spot, if applicable.
  • Signal in good time and for sufficient duration.
  • Replace hand to appropriate position on steering wheel, as necessary.
  • Ensure that signal is cancelled after completing manoeuvre, or that presence has been established, for example, when using the horn.

Signalling & Hand Signals

Indicators must be activated before giving any hand signal.

  • Check the mirrors and applicable blind spot(s) before signalling.
  • Signal intention using direction indicators.
  • Check applicable blind spot.
  • When signalling left, extend right arm sideward from shoulder.
  • Turn forearm in a vertical and downward position from elbow.
  • Move forearm in a circular anti-clockwise motion.
  • When signalling right, extend right arm horizontally from shoulder with palm of hand to the front.
  • Retract arm in good time before braking and/or gear selection and before negotiation the turn.
  • Replace hand to appropriate position on steering wheel before braking, gear selection or steering.


  • Check rear-view mirrors.
  • Hoot only when necessary, in good time and only for sufficient duration.
  • Replace hand to appropriate position on steering wheel.
  • For Heavy Motor Vehicles – Don’t use an air horn in built-up areas.

Clutch control

  • Depress clutch pedal.
  • Obtain clutch control.
  • Avoid unjustified “Slipping” of the clutch.
  • Avoid unjustified “Riding” of the clutch.
  • Avoid unjustified “Coasting”.
  • Remove foot completely form clutch pedal except for purpose of gear changing, stopping, justified “Slipping”, “Riding”, or “Coasting”.
  • Disengage clutch completely just before vehicle is brought to a complete standstill, without labouring or stalling engine.


  • Position hands on steering wheel in a ten-to-two or quarter-to-three position with palms of hands and thumbs on circumference of steering wheel.
  • Keep both hands on steering wheel except for the purpose of gear changing, signalling or operating controls or devices.
  • Steer in a controller manner to avoid cutting or negotiation corners or bends too wide.
  • Steer to turn to the left or right by using the push-and-pull method.
  • Steer smoothly.
  • If possible, do not wander or straddle lane markings.
  • Adjust position with due regard to moving or stationary hazards.
  • Keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times.
  • Do not turn steering wheel whilst vehicle is stationary.

Counter steer when necessary

Changing Gears

  • Maintain speed.
  • Place left foot on clutch pedal.
  • Start depressing clutch approximately to contact point.
  • Release accelerator pedal smoothly and completely whilst depressing clutch pedal completely.
  • Place right foot on accelerator pedal.
  • Select gear.
  • Replace hand to appropriate position on steering wheel.
  • Start releasing clutch pedal slowly and smoothly to contact point.
  • Depress accelerator pedal smoothly and progressively whilst releasing clutch pedal completely.
  • Remove foot completely from clutch pedal.

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