Cowley’s School of Motoring

Cockpit Drill and Car Controls



– Check that all of the doors are safely closed.

– Looking down the side of the car in the side mirrors can help

– If the interior light stays on, that could be a clue that something’s wrong.

– When opening the door always check behind first.


– Set the height adjustment first so that you have a good view out of the window.

– Adjust how close to the pedals you are, you should be able to fully press the clutch without stretching.

– Adjust the angle so you feel comfortable.

– Adjust the headrest so that the centre of the head rest is level with the centre of your head. (Top of your ears)


– Adjusting for a comfortable steering position is a combination of two things.

– the angle of the seat back.

– and any adjustment in the steering wheel position.

It’s best to have the steering wheel around level with your wrists when your arms are held straight forward.


– You are responsible for – your own seatbelt and

– Anyone in the car under the age of fourteen.

– Anyone over fourteen is legally responsible for their own seatbelt, however the driver has the final control, as they can refuse to drive away until everyone is properly belted up.

– Make sure there aren’t any twists in your seatbelt. 


– Once you’ve finished moving your seat, now you can adjust the mirrors to give you the best view whilst driving.

– Centre Mirror: You want to see the whole rear window and the edge around it

– Wing Mirrors: Set up the wing mirrors so that you can see some of your car and level,so that you can see any cars down the road.

– We always check the centre mirror first, because it is a flat glass, and allows us to judge distance. Objects in the wing mirrors may be closerthan they appear, because the convex glass distorts the image.

Car Controls

Foot Controls

In manual cars there are three foot pedals, ABC, reading backwards from Right to Left, Accelerator, Brake, Clutch.
The Accelerator (or Gas pedal as it’s frequently called) controls the speed of the engine (by adding more gas to make it go faster) needs to be used very gently
is much more sensitive in lower gears (especially First)

The Brake pedal is used to slow the car down when it’s moving, or hold the car still for short periods of time. Remember to
– brake gently but effectively
– go on to the brake gently so that passengers are not thrown forwards
– continue adding brake pressure until the car is slowing enough
– keep the brake pressure in place until the correct speed is nearly reached – come off the brakes gently, especially when coming to a stop.

Finally the Clutch pedal connects and disconnects the engine to the wheels (via the gearbox). You’ll be using this when pulling away, coming to a stop and when changing gear.

If you struggle to remember which foot to use, just press the Clutch pedal down with your left foot. You now have two pedals left,
– one for going faster,
– one for going slower.
You only need one foot for these two (obviously your right foot!) because you can’t go both faster and slower at the same time!

Gear Lever
Most gear levers have a small diagram to show where the gears are,
– different makes & models of cars might have either 4, 5 or 6 gears,
– Reverse can often be in a different place.
Some cars also have a button to press or a collar around the gear lever that you need to lift in order to to go into Reverse.

On most modern cars, the gear lever will sit in Neutral between 3rd & 4th gear
– to get to 1st or 2nd gear you will need to push the lever to the left first
– don’t grip, use your palm (with your thumb slightly down) to push it left
– then forward or backwards for the gear that you want.
The spring in the gear lever is designed to help you find 3rd & 4th gears, use the spring to help you, it will make it easier.
Remember, you’ll always have the clutch fully down any time you’re moving the gear lever.


The handbrake is only designed to hold the car still
– such as when the car is parked
– for longer periods in traffic
– or when setting the foot controls, such as on a hill start.
Remember, the handbrake is only used once the car has stopped, use the footbrake instead if the car is moving. To apply the handbrake
– make sure the car has stopped
– press in the button
– lift the handbrake high enough to hold the car still – release the button so that it stays there.
Not pressing the button will gradually wear away the ratchet on the brake lever, and one day you might unexpectedly find your car at the bottom of a hill!

To release the handbrake
– press the button lightly
– lift the lever slightly as though you’re applying the handbrake
– when the button goes in, press it fully
– lower the lever as far as it goes.
Remember to keep the button fully pressed until the lever is fully down to the floor, otherwise it might stop even though the brake isn’t fully released.
Some modern cars now have an electronic handbrake, operated by a small switch, and on some models the handbrake will release automatically as you drive away.

Direction Indicators (Signals)
On most modern European cars the indicators are on the left stalk, while on many Far Eastern models they are on the right hand side. Remember that
– the indicators always follow the direction of the steering wheel
– always keep two hands on the wheel and just use your fingertips – most signals cancel when you straighten the wheel
– listen for the sound in case they cancel too early

Contact us


6 Middle Budliegh Meadow, Newton Abbot, Devon,Tq12 1UH


Follow us