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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 19. Public Safety
Agency 30. Department Of State Police
Chapter 70. Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Regulations
1/28/2022

19VAC30-70-110. Steering and suspension.

A. The steering and suspension systems installed and utilized on motor vehicles have evolved to where many different suspension systems are being designed, developed, and employed on vehicles. To properly inspect the steering and suspension on vehicles, it may be necessary for the inspection to be made in accordance with manufacturer's recommended procedures in addition to meeting any requirements outlined in this regulation.

B. Inspect for and reject if:

1. Any modification has been made that affects normal functioning of the shock absorbers. The inspector should operate the vehicle when in doubt. (If there is no evidence of the convolutions (coils) of the spring hitting one another, one pair (two) of nonmetallic coil spring stabilizers may be present in each of a vehicle's front coil springs, provided the installation of the stabilizers does not cause the springs to be higher than their original height.)

Shock absorbers in fully extended or compressed positions when the vehicle is stationary will not function normally.

2. The front end suspension has been modified by the use of lift blocks. (A lift block is defined as any solid piece of wood, metal, or other material placed between and separating the vehicle's front axle and the springs.) This does not prohibit the use of shims that may be necessary to correct front end alignment.

3. Any modification has been made to the front end suspension which reduces turning radius, bypasses safety components of original steering mechanism or if there is any lateral movement between the axle and frame.

4. Any modification has been made to the suspension to cause the vehicle body or chassis to come in contact with the ground or expose the fuel tank to damage from collision.

Reject the vehicle if it has been modified by any means so as to raise its body more than three inches above the manufacturer's attachment points or the frame rail (exclude original manufacturer's spacers, washers or bushings when measuring).

5. Any modification has been made to cause the wheels to come in contact with the body or frame under normal operating conditions.

6. A motor vehicle has a repair kit or preventive maintenance kit installed on a tie rod end, idler arm, ball joint, or any other part of the vehicle's steering gear.

NOTE: The repair kit or preventive maintenance kit usually consists of a small coil spring and a plastic cap that is placed over the bolt stud of the component and held in place by a retaining nut. There is nothing in this paragraph that prohibits the replacement of parts or components of a motor vehicle's steering gear in order to correct deficiencies in the steering gear.

7. When checked visually, the wheels appear to be out of line or an axle is bent.

8. Any vehicle that shimmies or wanders at normal operating speeds.

9. Rack and pinion steering bellows (boot) is defective or missing. Do not inspect constant-velocity (CV) boots, CV joints, or universal joints on rear wheel drive vehicles.

NOTE: CV boots on the vehicle shall not be rejected if the CV boots are defective or missing.

10. Power steering is defective and affects adequate steering of the vehicle or power steering fluid in reservoir is below operating level, or if there is an obvious leak of power steering fluid. Do not reject for dampness.

NOTE: If the vehicle is equipped with power steering, the engine must be running during testing.

11. Power steering hoses have any cracks, crimps, or restrictions or are abraded, exposing inner fabric; tubing or connections leak or are crimped, restricted, cracked, or broken. Power steering tubing and hoses must be secured against chaffing, kinking, or other mechanical damage and be installed in a manner that prevents contact with the vehicle's exhaust system or any other source of high temperatures.

12. Power steering belt does not have sufficient tension, is frayed, or missing. The serpentine belt should only be rejected if a chunk of the ribbing is missing or a deep cut or crack exposes the inner fabric of the belt. (Do not reject for the many little surface cracks that appear in the ribs or back.)

13. Any modification has been made to any part of the steering or suspension system that affects proper steering or suspension or any part of the original suspension system has been disconnected.

NOTE: "All thread rod material" shall not be used as U-bolts in the suspension system.

Vehicles registered as street rods may substitute any part of the original suspension system provided the components are installed in accordance with the component manufacturers' specifications.

14. Any modification or replacement has been made to the steering wheel that affects proper steering. The steering wheel shall be rejected if the outside diameter is less than 13 inches unless original factory equipment.

15. Steering column has any absence or looseness of bolts or positioning parts, resulting in motion of the steering column from its normal position.

16. A spring is broken, sagging or misaligned, shackles are worn or loose, or if air bags are collapsed or the air suspension system leaks or is deflated.

CAUTION: Underneath inspection of a vehicle equipped with air suspension with excessive leak down could result in serious personal injury.

17. Shock absorbers or cross stabilizer links are disconnected, broken, bent, loose, or do not function properly on vehicles with this design.

18. Any front or rear axle or suspension positioning parts are cracked, broken, loose, worn, bent or missing, resulting in shifting of an axle from the normal position. Any control arm or suspension positioning part using bushings for control, support and normal functioning is missing the bushing, or the bushing is worn to the extent that the component can be moved by hand along the axis of the component.

NOTE: All rear suspension parts including control arms (upper and lower ball joints, radius or torque arms, stabilizer bars, and trailing arms) shall not have any damage or noticeable play when checked with hand pressure.

19. A MacPherson strut installed on a motor vehicle is broken, bent, loose or does not function properly.

NOTE: Do not reject a shock absorber or MacPherson strut unless there is evidence of leakage that causes the device not to function properly.

20. If vehicles measured movement at top or bottom of tire is greater than:

Wheel Size:

less than 17 inches -

1/4 inch

17 to 18 inches -

3/8 inch

over 18 inches -

1/2 inch

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399189266526VSPRE_files/image001.gif

Proper lifting for wheel bearing, steering linkage looseness, and king pin play action

FIGURE A

FIGURE B

FIGURE C

NOTE: King pin play. If vehicle is equipped with king pins, first eliminate all wheel bearing movement by applying service brake. With front end lifted as illustrated for inspecting wheel bearings (Figure C), grasp the tire at the top and bottom and attempt to move it in and out to detect looseness. Measure the movement at the top or bottom of the tire at the outer circumference.

C. Wheel bearing/steering linkage.

Reject vehicle if any wheel bearing is excessively worn or not properly adjusted; any cotter key or other locking device is missing or inoperative.

NOTE: Lifting techniques vary for measuring wheel bearing movement. On vehicles with coil spring or torsion bar on lower support arm - hoist at frame (Figure A). On vehicles with coil spring on upper support arm - hoist at lower support arm (Figure B). On front wheel drive vehicles, the inspector must consult manufacturer's lifting information.

NOTE: With vehicle lifted properly, grasp tire at top and bottom, rock in and out and record movement. Wheel bearing looseness is detected by the relative movement between the brake drum or disc and the braking plate or splash shield.

CAUTION: If air suspension vehicles are hoisted via body support area, air spring damage may occur if the air suspension switch is not turned off. Reject vehicle if relative movement between drum and backing plate (disc and splash shield) is more than 1/8 inch measured at the outer circumference of the tire.

D. Steering linkage play.

1. Reject vehicle if measured movement at front or rear of tire is greater than:

Wheel Size:

16 inches or less -

1/4 inch (6.5mm)

17 to 18 inches -

3/8 inch (9.5mm)

over 18 inches -

1/2 inch (13mm)

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399189266526VSPRE_files/image002.gif

NOTE: First eliminate all wheel-bearing movement by applying service brake. With vehicle lifted as shown in the diagram and wheels in straight-ahead position, grasp front and rear of tire and attempt to move assembly right and left without moving the steering gear.

2. Reject vehicle if the steering mechanism is unusually tight or binding when turning the steering wheel completely to the left or right or the steering mechanism will not turn in both directions stop to stop.

3. Reject vehicle if the steering stops have been removed or adjusted in so that steering radius is reduced.

E. Steering lash/travel. Reject vehicle if inspection reveals excessive wear or looseness in any ball stud, end assembly, pivot point, mechanical linkage or if steering gear box has any loose or missing bolts, or excessive wear, or looseness is found at any other location in the steering that adversely affects the steering of the vehicle.

NOTE: For vehicles equipped with power steering, the engine must be running and the fluid level, belt tension and belt condition must be adequate before testing.

With road wheels in straight ahead position, turn steering wheel until motion can be detected at the front road wheels. Align a reference mark on the steering wheel with a mark on a ruler and slowly turn steering wheel in the opposite direction until motion can again be detected at the front road wheel (see diagram). Measure lash at steering wheel. Special lash-checking instruments may be used to measure free play in inches or degrees. Such instruments should always be mounted and used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Reject vehicle if steering wheel movement exceeds:

Power - 2 inches

Manual - 3 inches

Rack & Pinion - (Power or Manual) - 0.4 inch - see note

NOTE: No play is permissible for Volkswagen and Audi vehicles - consult respective manufacturer's specifications.

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399190586285VSPRE_files/image001.gif

F. Steering lash/travel; trucks.

NOTE: Before inspection, the vehicle must be placed on a smooth, dry, level surface. For vehicles equipped with power steering, the engine must be running and the fluid level, belt tension and belt condition must be adequate before testing. With road wheels in straight ahead position, turn steering wheel until motion can be detected at the front road wheels. Align a reference mark on steering wheel with a mark on a ruler and slowly turn steering wheel in the opposite direction until motion can be detected at the front road wheel. Measure lash at steering wheel. Special lash-checking instruments are also available, measuring free play in inches or degrees. Such instruments should always be mounted and used according to the manufacturer's instructions. With vehicle raised, visually inspect steering linkage, ball studs, tie rod end socket assemblies and all pivot points.

NOTE: On vehicles with power steering, engine must be running.

Reject vehicle if steering wheel movement exceeds:

Steering Wheel Size and Lash

Steering wheel diameter

Power steering system

Manual steering system

16 inches or less

2 inches (51 mm)

4-1/4 inches (108 mm)

18 inches

2-1/4 inches (57 mm)

4-3/4 inches (121 mm)

19 inches

2-3/8 inches (60 mm)

5 inches (127 mm)

20 inches

2-1/2 inches (64 mm)

5-1/4 inches (133 mm)

21 inches

2-5/8 inches (67 mm)

5-1/2 inches (140 mm)

22 inches

2-3/4 inches (70 mm)

5-3/4 inches (146 mm)

G. Ball joint wear (front and rear). There is a trend among U.S. automobile manufacturers toward the use of "wear-indicating" ball joints. Many vehicles on the road, however, do not have wear-indicating ball joints. The inspection of both types will be discussed. With the broadening use of rear suspension ball joints, their inspection shall be made in accordance with manufacturer's recommended procedures. Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 illustrate the proper hoisting for checking most ball joints. On late model vehicles, it may be necessary to check for both horizontal and vertical movement. Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 illustrate the proper hoisting for checking ball joints.

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399190586285VSPRE_files/image002.gif

NOTE: To check ball joint wear on vehicles when the spring is supported on the upper control arm or when the spring is a part of a MacPherson strut or wear in any other type suspension not using ball joints when the front wheels are suspended on a solid axle, the vehicle must be hoisted as shown in Figure 1 or 2.

NOTE: Upper control arm must be stabilized in normal load carrying position by means of an upper control or other support tool to insure ball joint is in unloaded position.

NOTE: To check ball joint wear on vehicles not listed in above referred to section and diagram or tables when the spring is supported on the lower control arm; and to check the king pin wear in any other type suspension not previously described when the wheels are independently suspended, the vehicle must be hoisted as shown in Figure 3 or 4.

H. Ball joints without wear indicators (front and rear).

1. If play is detected in any ball joint without "wear-indicating" ball joints, it will be necessary for the inspection to be made in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended procedures and specifications prior to rejecting the vehicle.

2. If there are no manufacturer's recommended procedures and specifications, the lower ball joints will be checked when hoisted as in Figure 1 or 2 of subsection G of this section, or in the upper ball joints when hoisted as in Figure 3 or 4 of subsection G of this section. There should be no noticeable play detected in the ball joints when checked in this manner.

3. Reject vehicle if play exceeds the manufacturer's specifications. Inspectors shall use a dial indicator or ball joint checking gauge when checking for play of a ball joint, when procedures and specifications are provided by the manufacturer.

I. Ball joints with wear indicators. Support vehicle with ball joints loaded (in normal driving attitude). Wipe grease fitting and checking surface free of dirt and grease. Determine if checking surface extends beyond the surface of the ball joint cover.

Reject vehicle if checking surface is flush with or inside the cover surface.

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399190805426VSPRE_files/image001.gif

J. American Motors Pacer (only). Position vehicle on level surface. Remove lubrication plug from lower ball joint. Check lower ball joint clearance by inserting stiff wire or thin rod into lubrication plug hole until it contacts ball stud. Accurately mark rod with knife or scriber where it aligned with outer edge of plug hole. Distance from ball stud to outer edge of plug hole is ball joint clearance. Measure distance from mark to end of rod. (Anything less than 7/16 inch is acceptable.)

Reject vehicle if distance measured is 7/16 inch or more.

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399190805426VSPRE_files/image002.gif

K. Chrysler front-wheel drive vehicles (lower only). With the weight of the vehicle resting on the road wheels, grasp the grease fitting as shown below and attempt to move fitting. No mechanical assistance or added force is necessary.

Reject vehicle if grease fitting shows any movement.

 https://law.lis.virginia.gov/RISImages/399190953746VSPRE_files/image001.gif

Statutory Authority

     § 46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR545-01-07 § 11, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 12, Issue 21, eff. August 7, 1996;Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Volume 28, Issue 24, eff. August 1, 2012; Errata, 29:2 VA.R. 336 September 24, 2012; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 24, eff. October 3, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 25, eff. September 1, 2019.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.