Your guide to learning to drive in Manchester
How to choose a driving instructor in Manchester
You want an instructor who :
- Makes you feel supported
- Makes it enjoyable to learn
Won’t cost an arm and a leg!
So make sure you do these 4 things:
1. Compare reviews
It’s important to look at reliable review sources to know which driving school is right for you. Seeing how other learners have reviewed and rated the instructor will give you a true picture on how they treat their customers.
2. Beware of terms and conditions
Some driving schools in Manchester won’t offer refunds on unused hours left over at the end of a lesson package. Make sure you check their policies before buying large driving lesson packages.
3. Check that you can switch instructors
It's important that you feel supported by your driving instructor, so you'll want to make sure you can switch instructors if you need to. There are schools in Manchester that charge or might not have other instructors in your area, so always check you can switch for free.
4. Avoid long waiting times
Some driving schools in Manchester won’t get you on your first lesson until 2 weeks after you’ve made your booking. Take waiting times into consideration when choosing a driving school.
Choosing between manual and automatic
You’ll need to choose between manual and automatic driving lessons before you commit to a driving school.
The main difference between the two is that automatics only have brake and accelerator pedals, while manuals also have a clutch pedal and a gearbox. This makes automatics easier to drive in stop-start traffic, as you don't have to worry about shifting gears constantly. According to the Manchester Evening News, the city has the worst reported traffic congestion outside London, so you might find an automatic car particularly useful here!
However, an automatic car is more expensive to buy and run. Manuals are cheaper to maintain and get more power from your engine to your wheels, so they’re better at accelerating.
Keep in mind a manual licence will enable you to drive both manual and automatic cars once you pass, whereas an automatic licence will restrict you to automatics.
Tips for learning to drive in Manchester
The DVSA recommends 22 hours of private practice before taking the practical driving test.
Here are some great places you can practise in Manchester.
Globe Industrial Park: This industrial area in Dukinfield is popular with new learners because of its wide roads and lack of traffic. Sundays are especially quiet so there is a chance you’ll have the area to yourself.
Bower Street: Located in Newton Heath, this wide, straight road comprises of a few residential properties and business addresses. It’s generally quiet most of the day so it’s a good place to head to if you’re looking to do some weekday practice.
Lyntown Trading Estate: If you’re based in Salford or West Manchester, this business park is a good choice for those first few sessions behind the wheel. It’s made up of a couple of wide roads with just enough bends for you to get better with your steering and car placement. Try to head here at the weekend, as on weekdays the roads are made narrower by parked cars.
Colman Gardens: If you’re looking for somewhere quiet, head to this residential road in Ordsall, Salford. It’s also a good spot to learn the basics of roundabouts, with a mini roundabout at the entrance of the road. However, make sure to avoid the school rush as there’s a primary school around the corner.
Kingsway: This long residential street in Alkrington, Middleton, has three roundabouts. It’s rather quiet for most of the day, so it’s a great place to get to grips with simpler roundabouts before heading onto some busier ones.
Windermere Road: While you’re in Middleton, Windermere Road is useful for getting some practice on those tricky hill starts. It is a long residential street that loops up a hill and then back down again. So whichever way you approach it, you’ll have plenty of chances to get some hill starts in!
Waterloo Road: If you’re looking to up your confidence on urban roads, Waterloo Road in Cheetham Hill will do the trick. With plenty of traffic lights and junctions, it’s a good place to get used to a range of road systems.
Oldham Road: Dual carriageways are likely to come up on your driving test, so it’s worth getting familiar with them. Oldham Road is a good choice if you’re looking for a road out of the city. You will also get practice at lane placement, as you face a fair share of traffic lights and junctions!
Boardman Lane: If you’re looking to stretch yourself on a rural road, you can’t get much better than Boardman Lane. To the west of Middleton, it’s bordered by hedges on either side and it’s narrow enough that you’ll have to pull over if you encounter another car.
Medlock Street Junction: Take Princess Road, also known as the A5103, towards the city centre and you’ll hit this busy multi-lane roundabout where it crosses the ring road. There aren’t any traffic lights to help you onto the roundabout, so it’s handy for getting used to joining a roundabout safely. Don’t forget that since the ring road is a motorway, you can’t turn onto it without your instructor until you’ve passed your test.
Chinatown: It’s not often that we tell new drivers to brave the city centre, but you’ll get some valuable experience on one-way systems if you head over to Manchester’s Chinatown and the surrounding areas. We’d recommend switching off that sat nav and working hard on following the one-way signs instead.
Stamford Brook Road: Have a go at joining Manchester Road from Stamford Brook Road, or vice versa. It’s a busy junction and you’ll have multiple lanes, traffic lights and a dreaded box junction to contend with.
Choosing your test centre
When you’ve chosen your driving test centre, your instructor will help you learn routes that you're most likely to drive on for your practical test.
Test centre pass rates
DVSA practical car test pass rates, 2018-2019.
Atherton Test Centre | Pass rate: 50.4%
You’ll find Atherton Test Centre along Gibfield Park Avenue between the roundabouts on North Road and Gibfield Park Way. So you'll want to make sure you're confident with roundabouts before test day!
Address: Gibfield Park Avenue, Centres Atherton, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M46 0SU
Bolton Test Centre | Pass rate: 49.7%
For those in Bolton or North West Manchester, Bolton Test Centre is a good option. Parking is limited so make sure to plan ahead to get a spot. The next nearest alternative car park is on Blackhorse Street.
Address: Weston Street, Great Lever, Bolton, Greater Manchester, BL3 2AW
Bredbury Test Centre | Pass rate: 43.8%
Bredbury Test Centre is great if you want to show off your skills with multi-lane roundabouts. There are also some busy dual carriageways near the centre.
Address: Lingard Lane, Bredbury, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK6 2QT
Bury Test Centre | Pass rate: 34.7%
If you’re near Rochdale, Bury Test Centre would be the closest choice for you. You’ll find it in the north of Bury within an industrial area.
Address: Smith Street, Bury, Greater Manchester, BL9 6HH
Chadderton Test Centre | Pass rate: 42.1%
Driving tests at Chadderton Test Centre could involve driving to Oldham and Middleton, which have lots of dual carriageways and multi-lane roundabouts. Make sure you're confident on these types of roads for the test.
Address: 9 Broadgate, Broadway Business Park, Chadderton, Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL9 9XA
Cheadle Test Centre | Pass rate: 59.2%
On the Cheadle Fire Station site, you’ll find Cheadle Test Centre. It has an above average pass rate, making it a great option for those learning to drive in Greater Manchester.
Address: C/O Fire Station, Turves Road, Cheadle Hulme, Manchester, Greater Manchester, SK8 6AY
Cheetham Hill Test Centre | Pass rate: 37.1%
For those of you in the North of Manchester, Cheetham Hill Test Centre will be your closest centre. Its roundabouts, junctions and one-way systems will give you the perfect chance to show off your driving skills.
Address: Alderglen Road, Cheetham, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M8 0TD
Hyde Test Centre | Pass rate: 54.8%
Hyde Test Centre has the second best pass rate in the Greater Manchester area, and is a good choice if you are based in the east of the city or towards Ashton-under-Lyne.
Rochdale Test Centre | Pass rate: 35.7%
Just a stone's throw from some busy urban roads, your roundabout skills will be put to the test at Rochdale Test Centre, as will your ability to cope with a range of junctions.
Sale Test Centre | Pass rate: 50.8%
If you live in Sale or South West Manchester, your closest centre is Sale Driving Test Centre. Make sure to brush up on your hazard perception as you’ll find plenty of pedestrians and parked cars around the nearby residential roads.
Address: 36 – 38 Poplar Grove, Sale, Greater Manchester, M33 7ER
Salford Test Centre | Pass rate: 38.0%
If you’re in Salford or even Manchester city centre, Salford Test Centre is a good option. You’ll find it near Salford Fire Station along with a handful of dual carriageways, multi-lane roundabouts and junctions that could come up in your test.
Address: Salford Fire Station, Liverpool Street, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4LE
West Didsbury Test Centre | Pass rate: 45.6%
West Didsbury Test Centre will come with some roundabouts to conquer for your test. It’s a decent option with average pass rates for those in South Manchester.
Address: Unit 11, Christie Park, West Didsbury, Greater Manchester, M21 7QY
Check out the DVSA page to find your nearest Driving Test Centre.
Test tips from Manchester instructors
1. Check your blind spots and mirrors
Failure to carry out the correct observations is one of the main reasons people fail their driving tests. A local instructor based in Manchester, says this about drivers taking their test at Sale Test Centre: “the Brookwood mini roundabout is very busy and has some blind spots, so it can be hard for learner drivers to negotiate”. So be sure to check your blind spots and your mirrors regularly.
2. Drive defensively
It’s important to drive defensively and keep track of the movements of the vehicles in front of you, as well as checking for hazards caused by other cars or pedestrians. This is especially important if you choose a driving test centre that will take you towards Manchester city centre where you may come up against some gridlock.
3. Watch your speed
If you’re taking your test at Westbury Test Centre, a local instructor says: “if your examiner takes you towards Townside, there’s one road where the speed limit keeps changing between 20, 30 and 40 mph. So keep an eye out for speed limit signs!”
4. Check out the parking
Parking can be difficult at many Manchester test centres. Some of them don't have a car park at all, and at Cheadle Test Centre you must follow strict instructions to arrive no more than 5 minutes before your test and wait inside your car for your examiner. So make sure you research the parking situation before your big day.
5. Take a driving lesson beforehand
It’s useful to take a driving lesson just before your test. In a busy city like Manchester, getting that bit more experience is always a benefit. This extra time in the driver's seat should help to calm any nerves you may have.
Driving lessons in Manchester
Here are some of the top areas of Manchester to learn to drive
Blackley, Cheetham Hill, Didsbury, Fallowfield, Gorton, Hulme, Levenshulme, Longsight, Moss Side and Salford.
Enter your postcode to check lesson pricing in your local area.