Why Is My Car Not Driving Straight?

I Stock -652750374 (2)Do you find yourself fighting the steering wheel to keep your car from pulling  to the left or right while driving? What causes the wheels to go from a straight drive to a gradual drift? Most often cars that are not driving straight are out of alignment and a simple adjustment is all that is needed. In some cases, though, this may not be the only cause. Tires, wheel balance, and other factors can cause the vehicle to drift towards the left or right. Here’s what to do if you find yourself asking “Why Is My Car Not Driving Straight?”

Tires

Underinflated tires really affect the quality of the ride as the tire has increased rolling resistance, which makes the vehicle pull to one side. Check your tire pressure often to make sure your vehicle’s tires are set at the correct PSI (pounds per square inch). 

Over time and with natural wear and tear, tires also develop an imbalance. Some of the ways this imbalance occurs is by frequently driving over potholes or slamming on the brakes. Regular off-road conditions can also contribute to an imbalance. You may notice your tires are the cause of wheel pulling by the following symptoms:

    • Vibrations in the seat
    • Pulling in one direction
    • Vibrations in the wheel
    • Uneven tire wear, also known as cupping
    • Slight humming noise from tires
    • Extreme shaking at speeds of 60 MPH or more

Keeping your tires properly balanced is easy. Take your vehicle to your local mechanic where they will apply weights to the planes on the inner and outer portions of the tire rim. Since all rims can vary, numerous weights are available to fit each car.

Alignment

Another reason your vehicle may be pulling is the need for an alignment. Alignment relates to an adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension, or the system that connects the wheels to the vehicle. The alignment has little to do with the adjustment of the tires or wheels. The key to a proper alignment is adjusting the angles of tires, affecting their contact with the road. The network of components must keep all four tires working together in synchrony, at the same speed in the same direction. When parts have shifted out of place, the alignment is thrown off balance. This is often caused by some sort of damage or wear of rubber components of bushings degrading and losing their effectiveness. The metal used in the suspension of the vehicle is flexible and over time contact with potholes or curbs cause changes in the shape and angles are pushed out of place. You may need an alignment if you notice:

  • Vehicle pulling to the left or right
  • Fighting the steering wheel to stay in the proper position
  • When driving straight, the steering wheel is off center
  • The steering wheel vibrates or shakes
  • Tire treads are uneven
  • Your vehicle follows grooves in the road
  • Ride feels bumpy, even on smooth stretches of road

A sequence of measurements and maneuvers are utilized to determine the precise position of alignment for each vehicle. Every vehicle has its own established specifications that must be met for proper alignment. Many automotive centers utilize alignment machines to guarantee that the service is completed accurately and to the vehicle’s proper specifications.

You can avoid the vehicle pulling in one direction or another by performing simple and routine maintenance. Check your vehicle’s tires pressure often and adjust them to the recommended PSI as set by your vehicle manufacturer. Take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic to ensure your vehicle continues to provide a smooth ride. Be sure to have a front-end alignment done if you notice a bumpier than normal ride, your tire treads are uneven, or if you’ve purchased new tires. New tires can be worn out quickly if the vehicle is not properly aligned.

For more information on what affects a vehicle’s wheel alignment or to have your vehicle tested, stop by any Sun Devil Auto location, or give us a call. We welcome all your questions! We’re here to help with all your automotive needs.