A few words about scrutineering

We often get asked about the process of scrutineering, which takes place before any vehicle is allowed to compete in IOW 4×4 Club events.  It might seem a bit daunting to the first time competitor, but it needn’t be – we just want to make sure your vehicle is safe and won’t harm the competitors and spectators!

  • Scrutineering also enables us to check your vehicle for items such as diff-locks and portal axles (although we should be able to spot the latter from some distance away!)  These items are used to place the vehicle in different classes, to make sure everyone has a fair chance in the competition.
  • As well as basic safety of operating components there is some checking that your vehicle complies with the appropriate rules set down by the MSA.  These are pretty much common sense. If your vehicle can pass an MOT, it should pass scrutineering!.
  • The following list is taken from the check sheet the scrutineer will use, along with a basic explanation of what is required.
  • 1. Footbrake operation. Just to check the brakes work, this is not a dynamic test, the scrutineer will simply push the pedal to check it is not spongy or does not travel all the way to the floor. As most entries are RTVs and have driven to the event on the public highway it is hoped that the brakes work!
  • 2. Handbrake operation. Just a check that the handbrake level pulls up and feels ok. The handbrake will probably be on as most of our sites are sloping: the fact that the vehicle is not rolling away should indicated the handbrake works.
  • 3. Seat security. Just to check the seat is bolted down, and the back is locked in place.  A firm pull will check if the seat is loose.
  • 4. Seatbelt condition. A quick visual check for cuts and frays; a pull to check inertia belts lock up as required and a check that the mechanism locks shut and releases.
  • 5. Steering operation/condition. A check for loose/damaged components and leaks. Any clunks or rattles as the steering is shaken will be noted and if serious the vehicle will not be allowed to compete, so replace all those worn out track rod ends!
  • 6. Battery security. The battery needs to be fixed down or bolted into place. If loose and the vehicle rolls then the terminals can touch the underside of the bonnet, causing an electrical short, sparks and quite possibly a fire, which could ruin your whole day!
  • 7. Effective self starter. It’s an MSA requirement to have a working starter! It also won’t earn you many friends in the club if they have to push you vehicle every time you need to start it.
  • 8. Secondary throttle springs. It’s an MSA requirement to have at least two springs to close the throttle butterfly. This also applies to diesel injection pumps. Most manufacturers systems have at least two springs in them, if your does not then a second light spring should be fitted.
  • 9. Tow rope. All competitors should carry a tow rope. Please note that this should be a proper off road tow rope, not a strop, or a chain, or a bit of old sash cord. No amount of arguing about the breaking strain of some bit of old climbing rope will convince the scrutineer that it’s ok to use! For anyone who would like to see the forces involved, have a look at the rear door of Sean’s 90 to see what a tow rope does when it snaps, and this was a proper rope!
  • 10. Recovery points. Should be fitted front and rear and need to be strong enough for the job. A 3.5 ton tow ball on the back on a manufacturers hitch is ideal, the front can get a bit tricky. See the website for further advice, if you’re worried.
  • 11. Fan belt cover. Really only for the modified classes, where rear engine cars might have exposed fan belts/pulleys.
  • 12. Exhaust Systems. Exposed systems must be covered with mesh to prevent someone being burnt from touching the exhaust. This only really applies to modified vehicles, or those with side-exit pipes, where the route of the exhaust may be exposed above the underside of the vehicle.
  • 13. Wheels/wheel nuts. A check on the general condition of the wheels and that the wheel nuts are done up. Many a competitor has swapped to his off road wheels at home before leaving for the event and got distracted before finished the job.  It’s normally a nasty surprise at scrutineering to find they’ve driven to the event with finger tight wheel nuts!  Any snapped off studs need to be replaced as well.  Missing studs place additional strain on the remaining ones – something that needs to be avoided when testing out your vehicle off road!
  • 14. Tyres. Some venues may not allow very aggressive tyres and if this is the case they will be checked for at scrutineering.
  • 15. General condition. Just a general check that your pride and joy is not a death trap/complete shed. Also a chance for the scrutineer to make rude remarks about the colour/make/model/your welding or any other item that takes his fancy.
  • 16. Loose items in cab: obvious really.  If you roll over and an ammo box full of spanners flies around inside the cab it’s going to hurt when it hits you in the head!
  • 17. Spill proof fuel tank. Modified class vehicles need a tank with the correct spill proof vent/roll over valve. RTVs only require a secure manufacturers cap on the tank.
  • 18. Roll Bar/cage. Your vehicle might have one installed from the factory – great.  For the modified classes if there is one installed it needs to comply with the appropriate regulations, as outlined in the MSA’s Blue Book.
  • 19. Fire extinguisher. Required for the modified classes but a good idea for any vehicle. See Item 16 above and then mount it properly.
  • 20. Battery isolator/ignition. Modifieds are required to have a battery isolator which also kills the engine, In an RTV a normal ignition switch is fine.
  • 21. Crash helmet. Only for open-topped modified vehicles and not required if they have a roof panel above the driver/passenger.
  • That about it: mostly common sense and apart from a few items most would be required to legally drive on the road.