.02 Steering, Alignment, and Suspension


.02 Steering, Alignment, and Suspension

A. Steering.  Inspect the entire steering system including steering wheel, steering column, lash, linkage, free play, and power steering for missing, loose, damaged, or worn parts.

(1) The steering wheel shall be inspected to determine if it is circular (complete rim) and free of cracks, breaks, or objects which will interfere with the safe steering of the vehicle. The inspection will also be to determine that the steering wheel is original equipment or equivalent, including diameter.


  • Inspect for missing, broken, or altered rim.
  • Inspect for cracks or breaks which would interfere with safe steering.
  • Inspect for objects which would interfere with safe steering.
  • Inspect for hand controls of vehicles equipped for physically disabled persons.
  • Inspect steering wheel for size and equivalency to original equipment.

Reject Vehicle If:

  • Steering wheel rim is broken, cut, or altered to the point it is not continuous.
  • There are cracks or breaks large enough to grasp clothing, hand, or fingers (includes horn rim).
  • There are cracks, breaks, or objects attached which would interfere with safe steering.  If vehicle is equipped with hand controls for physically disabled, special equipment is acceptable provided it is part of the manual controls, including steering knobs.
  • Any controls are not readily accessible (within arm’s length) or are binding, damaged, or jammed.
  • Steering wheel is not original or equivalent including size to original.
(2) Energy Absorbing Steering Column. To determine if the components are capable of functioning as designed, a careful inspection shall be performed, and include any objects on the steering column. An external examination of either shear pins or collapsible mesh-type material shall also be performed.

Procedures :   

    (a)  Inside Passenger Compartment. 

  • Inspect for separation of shear capsule from bracket and general “looseness” of wheel and column.
  • Inspect for objects mounted on steering column which would prevent it from collapsing upon impact.
  • Upper Hood: Inspect for condition of shear pins and mesh-type collapsible portion.

  Reject Vehicle If:

  • Shear capsule is separated from bracket, or if wheel and column can be moved as a unit.
  • Objects (tachometer, etc.) are mounted on steering column.
  • Column shows indication of having been collapsed.

Agency Note: There are too many variations of the energy absorbing column to be practically described in these regulations. It is, therefore, suggested that a representative of the manufacturer be consulted in case of detailed questions.

Effective as of February 1, 2012


(3) Lash.


(a) With front wheels in straight ahead position, turn steering wheel until the turning motion can be observed at the road wheels. Measure lash. On vehicles equipped with power steering, engine must  be  running.

Reject Vehicle If:

(a) A total movement in excess of that shown in the following table is measured  at the  steering wheel rim before the front wheels  move :

  • Steering Wheel
  • Diameter up to                              Lash

16 inches                                         2 inches

18 inches                                          2 1/4 inches

20 inches                                          2 1/2 inches

22 inches                                         2 3/4 inches

for rack  and pinion steering       0.4 inches (10 mm)


(4) Travel


  • Turn steering wheel through a full right and left turn and feel for binding or jamming conditions. (On vehicles without power steering it may be desirable to jack front wheels )

Reject Vehicle If

  • Any roughness, jamming, binding, or any excessive play in the steering linkage is present when turning the wheels from full right to full left

Agency Note: No play is permissible for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles; consult respective manufacturer’s specifications.


(5) Linkage

Linkage Play. Excessive free play causes wheel shimmy, erratic brake action, and steering control problems . Make sure any looseness detected is not wheel bearing free  play.

Spring or Torsion Bar Height. Optimum front spring height is established as part of the overall design of front wheel alignment angles.

Steering Box and, if Applicable, Rack and Pinion Assembly. Lack of proper lubrication caused by  leakage  will  lead  to  excessive wear and free play in these components .


  • Steering Linkage Play. With the front end  lifted properly and the wheels in a straight ahead position, grasp front and rear of tire and attempt to tum assembly right and left-record movement at extreme front or rear of sidewall.
  • Follow procedure under Wheel Bearings­ Suspension for correct lifting.
  • Brakes should be applied during the inspection either by another person or by use of a portable brake depressor to eliminate wheel bearing play, except on vehicles with inboard brakes.
  • Visually inspect steering linkage for any misalignment of parts.
  • Visually inspect the steering box and, if applicable, the rack and pinion assembly.

Reject Vehicle If:

(a)   Measurement is found to be in excess of:

Wheel Diameter up to                   Lash

  • 16 inches                      1/4 inch
  • 17 inches                      3/ 8 inch
  • 18 inches                      1/2 inch
  • There is any looseness that can be felt by hand in tie rod or drag link balls and sockets.
  • Joints are not secured with cotter pins or other locking devices
  • Steering stops allow tire to rub frame, metal, or other chassis parts.
  • Tie rods, tie rod ends, center or drag link, pitman arm, or idler are misaligned .
  • Steering box is loose or leaking and, if applicable, the rack and pinion assembly is loose, damaged, or deteriorated to cause leakage.


(6)  Power Steering.


  • Inspect power steering belts for proper condition and tension.
  • With engine running inspect power steering system including gear, hoses, hose connections, cylinders, valves, pump and pump mounting for condition, rubbing and leaks.
  • Inspect power steering reservoir fluid.

Reject Vehicle If:

  • Belts are frayed, loose, or cracked.
  • Hoses or hose connections have been rubbed by moving parts or are leaking.
  • Cylinders, valves, or pump show evidence of leakage or malfunction .
  • Pump mounting parts are loose or broken.
  • Fluid level is less than manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Power steering removed and not converted to full manual steering.


Effective as of February 1, 2012