So you’re driving down the road and the car pulls to one side.
When everything is OK, the car should drive straight without the need for any interventions with the steering wheel.
Otherwise, there may be a problem.
It may be that the car pulls to the right, pulls to the left, or pulls to one side when braking, this article should help find out the reason.
Besides this list, you have a video at the end of the article that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
CAR PULLS TO ONE SIDE-SOME COMMON REASONS
1. LOW TIRE PRESSURE
The first thing you should check if the car pulls to one side is the tire pressure.
It’s the easiest thing to do and the most common cause of this problem.
You can first check the tires on the side to which the car is pulling. Sometimes even a visual check will be enough if it’s seriously underinflated.
You can use a simple tire pressure gauge or like in this case a tire inflator with a gauge.
If one tire is underinflated, especially on the side where the car is pulling, you’ve most likely solved the problem.
Inflate to the proper pressure. If you’re not sure, you can find a table with pressure values on most cars. It will be in the car manual, on the gas tank door, or some other convenient place.
Make sure to check the pressure for all the tires. If you want to read more about how to inflate the tires on your car, click here.
2. WORN-OUT TIRES
After the tire pressure, check the condition of the tires.
Mainly the wear and tread depth.
The wear should be even on both sides of the tire and on both front tires.
If not, then you may have a problem with the wheel alignment or parts of the suspension. We’ll be talking about this later in the video.
Another cause of problems may be If your tires are worn out. You can best see this by the tire tread depth and the overall condition of the tire.
If the tire is old and worn out, it becomes deformed and may well cause the car to pull to one side. If this is the case, you should replace them regardless of the car pulling to one side, it’s a matter of safety.
3. CHECK ARE THE WHEELS PROPERLY TIGHTENED
This is a rare cause of problems but nevertheless worth the check especially since it takes only a couple of minutes.
Try this if some recent maintenance has been done, especially on the side to where the car pulls.
Just take out the lug wrench and give a slight budge to every lug nut. First, check the wheels on the side to where the car is pulling.
4. UNBALANCED WHEELS
An unbalanced wheel or wheels may cause the car to pull to one side.
Besides the pull, one more sign that this is the problem is that you may sense jittering or trembling on the steering wheel while driving.
This mostly happens if you’ve recently hit a serious pothole, curb, or some other obstacle.
With this problem, the best solution is to visit a tire shop where they have specialized machines and tools for balancing wheels.
5. WHEEL ALIGNMENT PROBLEMS
Wheel alignment, to be short and very basic, makes sure that your wheels are pointed the right way. If they’re not, the car will surely pull to one side.
The best tell-tale sign that this is the problem is when the steering wheel is not centered properly. When driving straight it’s off a couple of degrees from the center while the car pulls to one side.
For instance, the steering wheel is a bit to the left, but the car pulls to the right.
Just like unbalanced tires, the problem can be caused by potholes, hitting obstacles, bad suspension, but also if parts of the suspension were recently replaced.
If so, it’s common practice to make a wheel alignment.
Also, it’s good to do it at least once in a couple of years, especially if the quality of roads is poor.
This problem is best solved by driving your car to specialized car shops or tire shops where they have the needed equipment and expertise.
From personal experience, this is the best solution, especially since they have high-precision electronic equipment for the job.
6. TIRE ROTATION
Tire rotations are mostly done so that the whole set of tires is evenly worn over time. The most common rotation is changing the ones in the front to the back and vice versa.
If the car started to pull to one side after a tire rotation, you may have a bad tire or more than one.
To be sure, try returning the tires back to where they were before the rotation. That way you’ll be sure that the tire is the problem.
Again, in this case, check the condition and the tread depth of all the tires as this may help you pinpoint which one is the problem.
7. PROBLEMS WITH THE SUSPENSION (BAD BALL JOINT, TIE ROD, OR SWAY BAR LINK)
These parts of the suspension are perhaps the most common cause of problems, at least from what I’ve seen.
Pay attention to this especially if you have roads of bad quality with lots of potholes. Also, material fatigue is a common cause since these parts are under constant pressure.
Besides pulling to one side, it can cause a rattling or clicking sound coming from the suspension, wheel wobble, undefined and loose steering, and else.
The best way to check this is to raise the car and see if the wheel has any extra play. If so, give it a more thorough check as soon as possible as it’s a matter of safety and stability on the road.
Regarding the sway bar link and how to replace it, we’ve made a separate article on that topic, click here if you want to read it.
8. BAD WHEEL BEARING
When the wheel bearing is worn out, it can cause the car to pull to one side.
It’s barely noticeable at the beginning of the problem but as it gets more serious the car pulls more to the side where the bad wheel bearing is.
If you want to read more about wheel bearing problems, click here for an article on that topic.
9. BAD CV JOINT
Another important car part that can cause this kind of problem is a bad cv joint.
Similar to a wheel bearing problem, it will be bearly noticeable at the beginning but gets worse as the problem progresses.
When this is the problem, the pull to one side is usually accompanied by a shaking steering wheel and a humming sound.
You can read more about bad cv joint symptoms by clicking here.
10. BRAKE PROBLEMS
Regarding brakes, the most common cause of the car pulling to one side is a stuck caliper.
Other reasons may be material fatigue, lack of maintenance, and improper maintenace of the brake system.
With a stuck caliper, a tell-tale sign is if the car drives straight but starts pulling to one side when you brake.
Also, after releasing the brake there might be a slight squeal coming from the wheels because the brake pads don’t completely release the disc.
Just like with the suspension, the moment you notice this, make an inspection of what’s wrong and fix it as it is a matter of safety.
To make a short recap: when the car pulls to one side, first check the basic things like the tire pressure, tire wear, and that the wheels are tightened.
After that, if you have the means and will, raise the car and check for any kind of extra wheel play or wheel wobble.
If all that is OK, check the wheel alignment and that all the wheels are balanced.
If you notice any kind of problem with the suspension (extra wheel play) or problems with the brakes, solve the problem as soon as possible. Don’t postpone the repair, it’s a matter of safety on the road.
In the end, I must mention one more trivial reason for this problem and that is bad roads. It’s rare, but if the problem appears only on a certain section of the road, it may be worth considering.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
CAR PULLS TO ONE SIDE-COMMON REASONS-YOUTUBE VIDEO