It is not possible to wiggle the steering wheel more than 1½ inch (25 mm) without causing movement of the front wheels. If the steering wheel rotates excessively a serous steering problem exists.
The “Dry Park Test” is an effective way to check play in the steering linkage or rack and pinion mechanism. With the full weight of vehicle on the front wheels, ask your companion to rock the steering wheel while you look for looseness in the steering system. Start your inspection at the steering column shaft and work your way out to the tie rod ends.
Make sure that movement of the one part causes an equal amount of movement of the adjoining part. In particular watch for ball studs that wiggle in their sockets. With rack and pinion steering, you will need to squeeze the rubber bolts and feel the inner tic rod end to detect wear. If the tie rod moves sideways in relation to the rack, the socket is worn and should be replaced.
Another inspection method involves moving the steering components and front wheel BY HAND. Lock the steering wheels; raise the car on a lift. Then move the front wheels right and left while checking for part looseness.