Controls and Instruments

SuperDriver Learning Centre - Controls & Instruments

Know your Car - Controls and Instruments


The image on the right shows a typical automatic gear shifter.  Most automatic cars as a minimum have Park, Reverse, Neutral (not in a gear) and Drive.  They are almost always in that order.  P at the top and D at the bottom.

SuperDriver has a couple of electric cars.  Renault Zoe.  It does not have a P option.  When parked we use Neutral.

To shift between neutral and drive just pull down.  To go back to neutral, give a gentle push up.  To shift between neutral and reverse push up.  To go back to neutral give a gentle pull down.  The gear shifter always returns to centre.  To the right of the gear shifter and within the instrument binnacle it will reassure you that you have selected the correct gear.  Check it!

You must have your right foot on the brake pedal when operating the gear shifter.

The image on the right also shows two pedals.  Gas and Brake.  Your right foot is used for both.  Your left foot should stay out of the way.  On the foot rest perhaps.  The gas pedal makes you go faster when you apply downward pressure, when you ease of the gas pedal it will slow you down.  Similar to pedalling a bicycle.  The amount of pressure you need could be determined by the speed of the road and the gradient.  Similarly, if you are going up a gradient and you ease of the gas you will slow quicker dependent on your foot pressure.

The brake pedal slows you down and/or will bring you to a stop.  Think about how you brake on your bicycle - you gently squeezed the brakes to slow down and when you had almost stopped you reduced your pressure.  The reason for this is that you need less braking force when you are going slower.  The same should be applied in the car.  But using your foot.


Manual vehicles have 3 pedals (Accelerator/Gas, Brake, Clutch) and a gear stick that has 5/6 forward gears and reverse.  Neutral is when the car is not in a gear, the gear stick is spring loaded and always rests between third and fourth gear.  Without turning the engine on practice going between the gears.

On to the pedals.  The Gas and Brake work the same way as we said above for automatic cars.  There is a third pedal - the clutch.  The clutch controls the power from the engine to the wheels.  Clutch down (disengaged) means no power gets from the engine to the wheels - effecticely you are in neutral.  Clutch around half way up (biting point) means the power is getting to the wheels but not enough to move the car but will stop it rolling backward on hills.  When the clutch is all the way up (engaged), all the power from the engine is available. 

Practice finding biting point, practice finding biting point with a small amount of pressure on the gas pedal, practice finding the pedals and the gear stick without looking at them.  The last thing you want to do is look down at your feet when you are driving! 


Steering Wheel

Training cars will have power steering, this makes the steering much lighter than without it.  There are various steering systems, pull-push and shuffling for example.  Your driving instructor may let you steer naturally and look for any problems with your natural system. A problem could be crossing your hands, it's only a problem if you lose control or crash! 

The amount you steer is determined by the road.  Cars do not keep straight lines so you will need to adjust the steering ever so slightly or you will drift to the kerb or worse towards oncoming traffic.  When you turn you will need to gradually add steering to the direction you are going.  

Think back to a bicycle.  Who taught you how to go round corners?  You did.  You worked it out?  You will work out how much to steer yourself too. See our 'How to Steer' web page.

The Horn is placed in the middle of the steering wheel with horn symbols left and right of the the Renault logo (the chrome diamond).


The image top right is a traditional handbrake.  It applies brakes to the rear wheels only.  When you are about to set off you need to release it.  To do this you lift the lever up ever so slightly, push the end button in and then lower the lever.  If you need the handbrake on, when stationary you press the button at the end in and lift the lever up.  When raised release the button at the end, it will hold.  The gradient may require you to pull the lever higher.

Becoming more common is an electronic handbrake.  2nd image right.  When you want to set off press the button down and the light will go out indicating the brakes are released.  To apply the brakes when stationary lift the button up.  The light will turn on indicating the parking brake is on.  A red light will also show in the instrument binnacle to inform you that the parking brake is on.

In our automatic Renault Zoe the parking brake will release itself when you apply gas.  Check with your handbook if your parking brake works this way.


Lights are all controlled by the left stalk in this car.  Our Renault Zoe. It can differ on other cars.

Indicators or Signals

Lifting the stalk up will signal right - it's easy to remember as this is how you steer right!

Lowering the stalk down will signal left.

There are two levels of indicating, a lane change indicator will last 3 flashes.  The smallest movement up or down will turn the lane change indicator on.  If you apply more pressure up or down you will hear a click, the indicator will stay on until the steering wheel is straight again.  To turn the indicator off manually you should return it to the middle position.


The diagram shows the various lights you can turn off or on.

The default position for the Renault Zoe is AUTO.  In this position it will decide which lights are best using a light sensor.  Turn anti clockwise and the side lights/parking lights will come on.  Turn anti clockwise again for dipped lights. If you pull the stalk towards you, it will flash full beam.  If you push the stalk away from you, it will keep full beam on

Fog Lights are lower down this stalk.  Twist up for the front fog lights and down for the rear.  Repeat to turn them off.


The door mirrors are electrically operated.  The image to the right shows what you should see. 

Circled in red are the buttons used to make the adjustment.  You have buttons selecting which mirror will be adjusted and 4 arrows buttons to make the adjustments.  It's very similar for most cars although placement may differ.  The image shows the mirror adjuster buttons on the offside door arm rest.

The electric windows are the other 4 buttons.   Push down to open.  Pull up to close.  The buttons on the right operate the right hand windows.  The buttons on the left operate the left.  The drivers front door window has a one touch operation.  One quick pull or push will open or close the window.


The window wiper stalk is on the right of the steering wheel.

Lifting the lever up wipes the windscreen once

Lowing the lever one notch applies the automatic wipers

Lowing the lever a second notch increase the speed of the wipers.

Lowing the lever a third notch increases the speed of the wipers further.

There are 2 levels for the rear wipers.  By twisting the end of the stalk clockwise you will turn the rear wiper on to intermediate (the rear wiper will wipe every few seconds), twist again and it will keep wiping. 

To wash the windscreen pull and hold the lever toward you.  To was the rear screen push the lever away from you and hold.  This will spray water and the wipers will clean the screen.  


Starting with the demisters.  To clear the front or back screen from fogging use the demisters as indicated in the image to your right. 

The heating is self explanatory.  Turn the dials clockwise to increase the fan speed and temperature.  Use the direction dial to aim the heat or cold air to where it is needed.  Pressing the front demister button will default to maximum air to the front windscreen.

Air Conditioning dries the air out, could be handy if you are misted up.  Air circulation is either from outside or re-using the air inside the car.

SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre

1.  Full Beam

2.  Dipped Lights

3.  Side/Parking lights

4.  Front Fog Light

5.  Rear Fog Light

SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre
SuperDriver Learning Centre