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MOT Test of Steering

Steering: Inside the car MOT checks

Steering wheel and steering column:

  • Steering wheel is in acceptable condition
  • Steering wheel is securely attached to the steering shaft
  • A steering lock mechanism must not be missing, inadvertently engaging or inoperative
  • An electronic steering lock malfunction lock warning must not be indicating a malfunction
  • An electronic power steering malfunction indicator lamp must not be indicating a malfunction
  • Upper bearings of the steering column are inspected for wear
  • Steering shaft is checked for excessive end float
  • The clamping bolts are all checked for security
  • Split pins and locking nuts are also checked.
  • 'Free play' in the steering is checked*
  • All flexible couplings and universal joints are checked

*Free play allowed depends on type of steering: 75mm for non-rack and pinion, 13mm for rack and pinion steering. Where there are several joints between the steering wheel and the rack, up to 48mm on a 380mm diameter wheel may be accepted.

Further information – reasons for failure:

1. Steering wheel weakened by modification, cracks, fractures, in a condition that hampers proper control or likely to injure the driver's hands.
Note: Cracks or incompleteness of the covering skin of a steering wheel or hub, are not a reason for rejection.
2. a) an adjustable steering column will not lock in a fixed position
b) movement between the shaft and steering wheel
c) excessive radial movement (play) at the top of the steering column between the column and the shaft indicating a badly worn top bearing.
Note: Some vehicles have flexible top bearings for the steering column. With these more than average movement is acceptable.
d. insecurity at the steering column top mounting bracket.
3. Excessive steering shaft end float.
4. Insecurity, excessive play or deterioration of a flexible coupling or universal joint.
5. A retaining or locking device missing or insecure.

Under bonnet checks

This varies vehicle to vehicle; some of these items cannot be observed from under the bonnet on some makes and models.

  • Security of the steering rack or steering box and its mountings
  • Play in steering joints
  • Inspection of any other swivel joints which form part of the vehicles' steering system which can be readily inspected from under the bonnet.

Under vehicle checks:

All the steering joints are inspected by the Tester whilst the steering is loaded by turning the steering wheel from side to side, or by the use of approved wheel play detectors

Power steering systems are checked with the engine running (Power steering fluid level will be checked with engine off)

The security of attachment of the steering rack or steering box is checked both with respect to the tightness of nuts and bolts, and structural cracking or corrosion of the vehicle chassis where it is attached

Whilst the vehicle stands on special swivel plates the wheels are turned from lock to lock and checked for smoothness of operation and to ensure that the wheels and tyres do not foul either the structure of the vehicle or any brake pipes or hoses

With the wheels jacked the wheel bearings are checked
Steering rack gaiters and front outer constant velocity joint boots are examined
Ball joint dust covers inspected for not allowing ingress of dirt etc
Metal and/or rubber bushes are checked as are split pins, locking nuts and other locking or retaining devices which relate to steering components.
On some cars there will be rear wheel steering which is checked from beneath the car.
Checked for inappropriate repair or modification to steering linkage or power steering
Steering lock stop must be present if fitted as standard
No significant oil leak from the steering box
Power steering: checked for fluid level below minimum (where visible) pipes and hoses damaged, corroded or fouling; components fouling or misaligned on external power steering systems
Any drive shaft (not including the prop shaft) support bearing excessively worn or a coupling gaiter missing or no longer preventing ingress of dirt etc.