It is vital to incorporate steering wheel play into any regular truck inspection. Testing steering wheel play can alert drivers and maintenance personnel to issues before they become a major problem. Part 339 of the FMCSA’s “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards” defines the maximum amount of steering wheel play allowable for given steering wheel sizes.

  1. Steering Mechanism.

Steering Wheel Free Play (on vehicles equipped with power steering the engine must be running).

Steering wheel diameter Manual steering system Power steering system
16″ 2″ 4 1/2 ″
18″ 2 1/4 ″ 4 3/4 ″
20″ 2 1/2 ″ 5 1/4 ″
22″ 2 3/4 ″ 5 3/4 ″


Tips & Tricks

Ensure that the steering axle wheels are straight ahead. Wrap a small piece of wire around the steering wheel at the 12 o’clock position. Mark a reference point on the dash directly behind the wire. Turn the wheel in either direction until you feel the front wheels begin to turn. If the steering wheel moves more than the value listed in the table, the steering system should be checked for repair.

Sharp’s Take:

“As part of our standard 105 point inspection, checking the free play in a truck’s steering wheel helps to identify possible problems with the steering mechanism. Our clients definitely want to know about potential warning signs prior to equipment failure. It helps them be proactive instead of reactive.” – Parker Patton, Operations Manager, Sharp HES.

Does your current preventive maintenance inspection process properly check for free play in the steering wheel? If you’re ready to get serious about preventive maintenance, contact Sharp HES today to have an honest conversation about your current PM process and how we may be able to help.