Why Is My Car Pulling to One Side?
March 14, 2018
Is there anything more frustrating than having your car pull to one side while you’re driving? It’s hard to focus on safe driving when you’re constantly tugging your wheel left or right just so you can keep a straight line.
The worst part is you have no idea what’s causing it, or how to fix it. Luckily, we can help with that.
One of the Most Common Causes of Pulling is Wheel Alignment
The most common reason a car pulls to one side is that the wheel alignment is off. Whether it skews to the side over time, or you hit a particular vicious pothole, wheel alignment will be altered by driving conditions, and it should be checked regularly.
Wheel alignment is exactly what it sounds like: your wheels and axles make a rectangle, parallel to each other and at a right angle to the road. A technician will line up your wheels and axles with each other to make this rectangle, and make adjustments to the suspension angles to impact the wheel position.
Your mechanic will make the proper adjustments for your car using manufacturer specifications and proper alignment technology and tools.
Fun Fact: Roads Are Never Built Completely Level
Almost all roads are built with a slight slope to the side where the drainage is located. This is another factor that could cause your car to pull to one side. Many automotive professionals will account for this slope in their alignment calculations.
When Should I Get My Wheels Aligned?
We recommend getting a wheel alignment every time you switch your tires for the appropriate driving season.
My Wheel Alignment Has Been Checked - What Else Could Be the Problem?
If you’ve had your wheels aligned recently, there are a few more culprits we can investigate.
1. The Air Pressure in Your Tires Is Inconsistent
Sometimes the solution is as simple as adding some air. Tire pressure fluctuates as you drive, and sometimes one tire will have less pressure than the others. If you find your car pulling to one side, the first thing you should do is check your tire pressure and add more if necessary.
If this fixes your problem, fantastic! If you notice your car still veering to the left or right, the problem might be a bigger one.
2. You’re Experiencing Tire Conicity
Tire conicity refers to a problem in a tire when it’s made. Sometimes during manufacturing, one of the components becomes misaligned and causes the tire tread rubber to harden in a slight cone shape, rather than the proper cylinder shape. That causes your car to pull to whatever side the defective tire is on. This kind of conicity is apparent right away in new tires, and is covered under warranties.
If you begin to notice a pull after several thousand kilometres have been put on your tires, this is most likely due to uneven wear caused by driving conditions (like rough winter roads) or a suspension issue. Bring your car into us, and we’ll be able to more accurately diagnose the problem.
3. There’s a Worn Out Part in the Steering or Suspension
If it’s not your tires, it may be your steering or suspension causing your car to pull to one side. Worn out components will impact how your car drives.
This is Also Called a Memory Steer
Memory steer is an industry term for a car that pulls in the direction you just turned. For example, if you turned left down a street, suddenly your car starts pulling to the left. This is caused by tie rods, strut bearings, ball joints and other components in your suspension and steering.
4. Your Brakes Are Wearing Unevenly
If your car is pulling while you brake, that’s where we’ll check first. An example of a brake-caused pulling problem is stuck calipers, usually making grinding noises. Calipers are what apply the pressure to your brake pads, and if one is stuck part way back, your brakes will wear unevenly.
Brakes are especially important in slippery winter and spring conditions, so if you notice anything odd about your brakes, make an appointment with us right away.
I’ve Heard About Something Called Torque Steer - What Is That?
It sounds like something race cars would have, which is kind of true. Torque steer mostly impacts front-wheel-drive cars (which are high-performance vehicles), and refers to your car pulling to one side during acceleration.
This is most often caused by the transversely mounted engine. The setup in front-wheel-drive cars causes engine power to be sent to one tire more than the other, which causes the pull.
Unless you own a high-powered front wheel drive car and drive in more professional capacity, or are an avid car enthusiast, this is something you don’t have to worry about with your car.
If Your Car Is Pulling to One Side, Bring It to Us
We want your car to be in tip top shape. If you find yourself heading left or right, head right to us. We’ll diagnose and fix the problem, getting you back on the road in a car that will go the direction you want.
I Need Some Help With My Car
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