Driving a new car can seem a bit daunting. It’s very easy to become used to one specific car, including everything from where the controls are, to how the steering feels and how the brakes behave.

However, driving unfamiliar cars is a part of life. It could be that you want to test drive a new car, have to use a courtesy car while your own is in the garage, or that you hire a car whilst on holiday. It’s a good idea to be prepared for these situations and have a few things in mind so that you can feel more confident should the time come.

Driving an unfamiliar model

If you find out that your insurance policy does allow you to drive other people’s cars then there are a few things to think about before you get behind the wheel. If you’re a young driver or a new driver then you may have only driven one or two cars before. Driving someone else’s car could mean that it’s a model you’re unfamiliar with, and it’s worth spending a few minutes getting used to the layout.

Here are some things to consider:


One of the first things to do when you get in a car you’re not used to is familiarise yourself with the controls. This includes things such as where the hazard lights are, where the windscreen wiper controls are and where the controls for the lights are. It’s also useful to find out where the petrol cover release lever is and which side the petrol cap is on, so that you’re aware of this before the time comes – avoiding any embarrassing petrol station situations. Being prepared helps to make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in the car you’re driving.


When you get in a car that’s not your own, make sure you adjust the mirrors so that you can see the road before you set off. Your rear view mirror should give you the best possible view through the back window without having to move your head. Adjust your side exterior mirrors so that you can see a small strip of the side of the car with the horizon in about the middle of the mirror, according to Driving Test Success. Remember to only adjust your mirrors while the car is safely parked and you’re in your normal driving position.


Car Rental Express recommend being aware that every vehicle has slightly different braking response times, so take time to get used to the feel of the brakes if you’re in a car that you’re not used to. Don’t wait until the last minute to start slowing down; make sure you’re leaving plenty of space and time to stop safely.


Autos.com say that it’s good to be aware that a car with more or less horsepower than you’re used to will react differently. While you’re not used to the power of the car and its capabilities it’s best to be cautious; for example, leaving plenty of room when you make turns or merge with traffic. You will soon become familiar with how the car accelerates and decelerates.

Don’t forget insurance

If you’re in a situation where you need to drive a different car then remember to think about insurance. You need to have DOC cover, which is cover for driving other cars (DOC), in order to drive a car that is not your own.

This used to come as standard on many fully comprehensive insurance policies, but nowadays it’s becoming more common for this feature not to be included. It’s worth checking with your insurer to find out if your policy features DOC cover, as some may still offer it. However, there may be some requirements and rules that go along with this cover, such as that the driver is over the age of 25 and that the customer doesn’t own the second car.

Learn more about the insurance requirements for driving other cars from our sister brand insurethebox.

Insurance from drive like a girl

If you have car insurance from drive like a girl then you are not covered to drive other people’s cars. This is because drive like a girl offer black box insurance, whereby a telematics box is fitted to your car to see how you drive .

The only exception here is if your car is damaged, then you are covered to drive a courtesy car, provided by one of our approved UK repairers. To find out more, visit the help section of our website.