Why Your Car Pulls to the Left or Right
There are actually many different reasons why a vehicle pulls to the left or the right when driving down a straight road. In this article, we will examine a few of the potential causes and what can be done to fix them.
Low Tire Pressure
Perhaps the most common problem is low tire pressure. If one of the tires has less or more air than the other side, the actual height of the tire is affected. This causes the car to become unbalanced and pull to one side or the other.
The fix for this is quite simple. Make sure all tires are filled with the proper amount of air. Most cars have a sticker inside the door frame that lists the appropriate tire pressure. Of course, if you have different tires or oversized (or undersized) tires, you will need to follow the manufacturer’s specifications.
Also, if you have been running on tires that have been underinflated or overinflated for a considerable amount of time, they may have significant wear and may need to be replaced.
Another common cause is improper wheel alignment. A common misconception about wheel alignment is that the wheels themselves are not technically aligned. Rather, the suspension components connected to the wheels are aligned. This is done to ensure the wheels make proper contact with the road.
Over time, suspension parts wear or may become misaligned if you jar them. This can occur if you hit a curb or other object with enough force. It’s natural that these components will wear over time from simple fatigue. Therefore, an alignment could be the answer.
A wheel bearing is basically a tube with ball bearings that allows the wheel (and thus the tire) to rotate freely. These bearings can go bad over time. They can be damaged by foreign debris or physically damaged by simple wear.
Bad wheel bearings can cause the wheel to spin less freely than the other wheel on the other side of the vehicle. This will cause the vehicle to pull slightly to one side. You can usually hear a noise or grinding coming from the wheel when the bearing is bad.
If the wheel bearing is bad, this is a very serious issue that requires a qualified mechanic to fix.
Stuck Brake Caliper
Yet another reason why a car or truck might pull to one side or the other is a stuck brake caliper. When you apply pressure to the brakes, the brake caliper slides back and forth, pushing the brake pad against the rotor (in disk brakes) to stop the vehicle. If the caliper gets stuck, it may force the pads against the rotor at all times.
This constant friction is like someone holding the tire and trying to make it stop. This will cause the vehicle to pull to the side of the bad (frozen) caliper. Most likely you will need a brake shop or qualified mechanic to fix this. If they cannot fix the caliper, you may need a new caliper.
There are many reasons why a vehicle might pull to one side while driving. It could low tire pressure, improper alignment, suspension parts, wheel bearings, a stuck brake caliper, or another reason we didn’t cover. In any case, it’s important to make sure the tires are filled with the proper amount of air and if that doesn’t help, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic. Truly it is better to be safe than sorry.