Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 19. Public Safety
Agency 30. Department of State Police
Chapter 70. Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Regulations

19VAC30-70-470. Steering.

Inspect for and reject if:

1. Play at any point in the steering mechanism is excessive. The steering mechanism is unusually tight and binding when turning the steering wheel completely to the right and left. The steering mechanism will not turn in both directions, stop to stop, or steering stops have been removed. On certain model passenger buses, it may be necessary to open the inspection access door to allow visual inspection of the steering shaft universal joints.

2. Power steering is defective and affects adequate steering of the vehicle or fluid level in reservoir is below operating level or if there is an obvious leak of power steering fluid. Do not reject for dampness. 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. Power steering belt does not have sufficient tension, is frayed, or is 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.)

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

3. Any modification has been made to any part of the steering system that affects proper steering. A repair kit or preventive maintenance kit has been installed on a tie rod end, idler arm, ball joint, or any other part of the vehicle's steering gear.

NOTE: This system requires moving components to be checked for steering wheel lash, loose parts or binding. To properly inspect the power steering components, the engine must be running.

NOTE: The repair kit or preventive maintenance kit usually consists of a small 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.

4. Steering Lash/Travel-Trucks.

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

Reject vehicle if steering wheel movement exceeds:

Steering Wheel Size and Lash

Steering wheel diameter

Manual steering system

16 inches or less

2 inches (51 mm)

18 inches

2 1/4 inches (57 mm)

19 inches

2 3/8 inches (60 mm)

20 inches

2 1/2 inches (64 mm)

Reject vehicle if visual inspection reveals excessive wear and/or looseness in any ball stud, end assembly, pivot point or mechanical linkage.

5. Any modification or replacement has been made to the steering wheel which affects proper steering. It shall be rejected if it is of a smaller size than the original factory equipment.

6. Steering column has any missing or loose bolts or positioning parts, resulting in motion of the steering column from its normal position. Steering shaft universal joints are loose or exhibit any abnormal movement when shaft is rotated. Any welded repairs are made to the steering system, steering column, steering gear box, pitman arm or universal joints. Any movement of a steering nut under steering load.

7. Any missing or loose bolts or other parts resulting in motion of the steering gear box at the point of attachment to the vehicle's frame.

8. Any looseness of the pitman arm on the steering gear box, output shaft or gear box.

9. Any control arm bushing is missing.

10. Any vehicle equipped with an idler arm shows excessive looseness.

11. Any motion, other than rotational, between any linkage member and its attachment point of more than 1/8 inch measured with hand pressure only.

12. Loose clamps, clamp bolts on tie rod ends or drag links.

13. Any looseness in any threaded joint.

14. Loose or missing nut on tie rods, pitman arm, drag ink, steering arm or tie rod ends.

15. Wheel bearings/steering linkage.

a. With the front end of vehicle lifted properly, push pads away from rotor on disc brakes, and grab front tire at top and bottom, rock vigorously in and out and record movement. Wheel bearing looseness is detected by the relative movement between the brake drum or disc and the backing plate or splash shield.

(1) Reject vehicle if relative movement between drum and backing plate (disc and splash shield) is more than 1/4 inch measured at the outer circumference of the tire for vehicles more than 10,000 pounds GVWR.

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

b. Steering linkage play. First eliminate all wheel bearing movement by applying service brake. With vehicle lifted as shown below 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.

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

Wheel size:

17 inches or less

- 1/4 inch (6.5mm)

17 to 18 inches

- 3/8 inch (9.5mm)

over 18 inches

- 1/2 inch (13mm)

c. King pin. 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 in and out to detect looseness. Measure the movement at the top or bottom of the tire at the outer circumference.

Reject vehicle if measured movement at top or bottom of tire is greater than:

Wheel size:

16 inches or less

- 1/4 inch

17 to 18 inches

- 3/8 inch

over 18 inches

- 1/2 inch

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




NOTE: Ball joint wear: There is a trend among U.S. automobile manufacturers toward the use of "wear-indicating" ball joints on light trucks. Many vehicles on the road, however, do not have wear-indicating ball joints. The inspection of both types will be discussed.

Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 below illustrate the proper hoisting for checking ball joints.

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. NOTE: To check ball joint wear on vehicles not listed in Figures 1 through 4 and diagram or tables when the spring is supported on the lower control arm; and to check the kingpin 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.

16. Vehicles without wear indicator ball joint.

a. 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.

b. 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, or in the upper ball joints when hoisted as in Figure 3 or 4. There should be no noticeable play detected in the ball joints when checked in this manner.

c. Reject vehicle if play exceeds the manufacturer's specifications. It is recommended that inspectors 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.

17. 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.

18. Any vehicle inspected in accordance with the recommendation of the manufacturer of such vehicle and found to be within the specification shall be deemed to meet inspection regulations.

Statutory Authority

  § 46.2-1165 of the Code of Virginia.Historical NotesDerived from VR545-01-07 § 47, eff. May 1, 1990; amended, Virginia Register Volume 10, Issue 8, eff. February 9, 1994; Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 21, Issue 4, eff. September 22, 2004; Volume 24, Issue 8, eff. March 1, 2008; Errata, 25:3 VA.R. 543 October 13, 2008; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 24, eff. October 3, 2016; Errata, 32:26 VA.R. 3588 August 22, 2016.

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