How to check steering free play on an MOT test

Tony Warwick, Trainer at Premier MOT, shows how to check steering free play on an MOT test.

2.2 Steering System


This inspection applies to all types of steering mechanism.

If power steering is fitted, the engine must be running for all checks requiring steering movement.

If ATL or OPTL approved, references to the assistant’s role in this section do not apply, although an NT may use an assistant to aid with the inspection of components if the NT considers it necessary.

For tricycles and quadricycles with motorcycle derived steering/suspension systems, refer to Section 9.2.

Method of Inspection

A. Free Play

1. With the road wheels on the ground pointing straight ahead, lightly turn the steering wheel left and right as far as possible without moving the road wheel.

Check the amount of free play at the circumference of the steering wheel.

Note: Play due to wear or maladjustment must not be confused with apparent play due to the construction of the mechanism, such as caused by the deflection of flexible joints or spring compression in external power steering systems.

Note: The steering wheel free play limit is a general rule for standard diameter steering wheels, (380mm).  Lower or higher limits should be set with larger or smaller diameter steering wheels.

Reason for Rejection

1. A point on the rim of the steering wheel moves, without the road wheels moving, for more than: a. 75mm for non rack and pinion b. 13mm for rack and pinion steering.

Note: Where there are several joints between the steering wheel and the rack, movement up to 48mm on a 380mm diameter wheel may be accepted.