Is there anything more frustrating than having your car pull to one side while you’re driving? It’s difficult to focus on safe driving when you’re constantly pulling your steering wheel left or right just to keep a straight line.
The worst thing is that you have no idea what is causing it or how to fix it. Luckily, we can help with that.
There are a variety of reasons for this – and sometimes the cause seems unrelated to the symptoms.
5 Reasons Your Car Pulls in One Direction When You Drive
1. Tire Air Pressure Is Uneven
One of the most common reasons why your car pulls to the right is the uneven air pressure in your tires. A tire with lower pressure on one side of the vehicle has a different height which causes the wheel alignment to shift. Under-inflated tires have an increased resistance to roll, which amplifies steering pull.
Check your tire pressure regularly if your car starts to pull. Also, be sure to inspect the rear tires. The low rear air pressure also affects wheel alignment and creates steering pull, especially on short-wheelbase vehicles.
2. Wheel Alignment Is Off
One of the Most Common reasons 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 form a rectangle, parallel to each other and at right angles to the road. A technician aligns your wheels and axles to create this rectangle and makes adjustments to the suspension angles to affect wheel position.
Your mechanic will make the correct adjustments for your car using manufacturer specifications and the correct alignment technology and tools.
3. Your Brakes Are Wearing Unevenly
If your car pulls when you brake, that’s where we’ll check that first. An example of a pulling problem caused by brakes is stuck calipers, which usually cause a grinding noise. Calipers put the pressure on your brake pads, and if one gets stuck halfway back, your brakes will wear unevenly.
What makes a car pull to one side during braking?
Sometimes low-quality brake pads crack under heavy use. In some cases, this crack will deepen over time until a piece of the brake pad friction material becomes detached. This effectively shrinks the brake pad, reducing braking power on that wheel and causing one side pull.
Brake caliper problems can also cause a pull to one side or the other during braking. Failure to properly clean, maintain and lubricate the brake calipers may cause one or more of them to stick, in which case, that specific caliper can’t brake as powerfully as needed, if at all. This reduces the brake force on a single wheel which can result in the telltale pull.
Brakes are especially important in slippery winter and spring conditions. So, if you notice anything unusual about your brakes, make an appointment with your mechanic right away.
I’ve Heard About Something Called Torque Steer – What Is That?
It sounds like something race cars would have, which is sort of true. Torque steer primarily affects front-wheel drive cars (which are high-performance vehicles) and refers to your car pulling to one side during acceleration.
This is mostly caused by the transversely mounted engine. The setup in front-wheel drive cars causes engine power to be directed more to one tire than the other, which causes the pull.
If you don’t own a high-performance front-wheel drive car and drive more professionally or are an avid car enthusiast then you don’t need to worry about your car.
4. The Wheel Bearing Is Bad
When wheel bearings wear out, the signs are obvious. Usually, the car will show other symptoms before it starts to pull.
Normally you will first hear grinding noises from the tire area and your steering wheel will shake. Eventually, the car will likely pull left or right.
If the wheel bearing is bad, contact your mechanic immediately. Your vehicle is not roadworthy in this condition.
5. Suspension or Steering Parts Are Worn Out
If your tires aren’t the culprit, you’re steering or suspension components could be the root culprit. If any of this wears out, your car could start to pull to one side or the other.
When suspension components are worn, they shift when the brakes are applied. In the case of a fatigued lower control arm bushing, the arm will displace under braking, causing the car to quickly pull in one direction. This pulling stops as soon as the braking stops. A sharp turning steering wheel when slowing down and braking is another indicator of worn suspension components.
Annual inspections help you keep up to date to ensure nothing is worn out. If your vehicle displays any of these five signs by pulling in a direction while driving, don’t hesitate. Take your vehicle to a local mechanic and they will take care of it.