Common Steering and Alignment Issues: Why Is My Car Pulling?

You’re driving along and notice you keep having to steer your car to remain in the lane. Your car seems to keep drifting to one side despite being on a straight road. You begin to ask yourself, “Why is my car pulling?” If this situation sounds familiar, you likely have a steering and alignment problem. While you may think it’s just a mild annoyance, learn why you should never ignore your car drifting. 

Reasons Your Car Is Pulling

There is no one answer to why you’d feel your car or steering wheel pulling to one side or the other. But there are some common reasons we’ve seen for why pulling occurs. These can range from easy fixes to serious repairs—regardless, we recommend you come into the shop as soon as possible if you notice your car pulling.

Wheel Alignment Is Off

Wheel alignment being off is going to be the most common reason your car is pulling to one side. In an ideal situation, your wheels will be parallel with each other on each side and facing the same direction. But sometimes, whether it’s from normal wear or hitting something like a pothole or curb, your wheels can become unaligned. 

Your wheels can be properly aligned again by an experienced mechanic. They’ll be able to fix any damaged or bent axles and make sure your tires are facing the same direction again. It’s important to note you should get an alignment check as soon as you notice any pulling or drifting. While it may be bearable at first, it can cause your tires to wear down unevenly and make the unalignment and drifting worse. 

High or Low Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is going to be the easiest fix. If a tire is low in pressure, you may notice your car steering to the side of the tire. Similarly, if a tire has too much pressure, you’ll notice your car pulling. This can be easily fixed by either filling your tire up to the appropriate pressure or releasing air until it’s at the correct pressure. Make sure to check each of your tires to see if the pulling caused uneven wear or damaged tire tread—the tire pressure place card for each vehicle can be found on the inside of the driver’s door frame. If you do notice tire damage, you may want to consider replacing your tires. 

wheel on the rear passenger side of a car

Uneven Tire Wear

Similar to how tire pressure can cause drifting, uneven wear on your tire tread can also cause your car to drift. This can become a feedback loop situation. Your car pulling can cause your tires to wear down. Your tires being worn down can cause your car to pull. A mechanic will help you figure out which problem came first and replace any damaged tires.

Brakes Wearing Down

If you notice your car pulling or drifting when you’re braking, this is a sign that your brakes may be wearing down. There may be something wrong with a caliper, the brake hose, or the wheel cylinder that causes your brakes to steer your car towards one side. If you suspect a problem with your brakes, you’ll want to contact a local car repair shop like City Auto Repair quickly. An issue with your brake system can become a serious driving hazard, so it’s best to get a repair as soon as possible.

Steering and Suspension Systems Need Maintenance

Sometimes, your car may be pulling because your steering or suspension systems need maintenance. Like any other part in your car, your steering system can wear down and begin to pull itself—and the car—to one side. 

Your suspension system helps keep your ride smooth and comfortable through a series of springs and dampers and connects to the steering wheel. If a part of the suspension begins to deteriorate, you may notice it affecting your steering and alignment on the road. Because these systems work together and have several parts, getting a car diagnosis will help you find the root of the problem. 

Wheel Bearing Is Damaged 

Your wheel bearing helps reduce friction as you’re driving. When it is damaged, you may notice your car is drifting accompanied by a groaning noise and your steering wheel shaking. This is a very serious malfunction, and you should stop driving your vehicle as soon as safely possible if you suspect a damaged wheel bearing. 

A faulty wheel bearing will not be able to reduce friction as intended and, as a result, create a high-friction environment. Friction produces heat, which can cause a bearing to seize. If you notice weird sounds, drifting, a shaking steering wheel, or even an ABS warning light, your wheel bearing is likely the source of the problem. 

inside of small car

How Often Should You Get Your Wheels Aligned? 

Regular wheel alignment prevents you from experiencing car drifting or pulling. How often you should have a professional wheel alignment will vary based on your driving habits. However, the average recommendation is to have a wheel alignment every two years. You can also ask your mechanic to check your alignment during your regular oil changes to see if one is needed in the near future.

Receive Expert Alignment Repair in Gainesville with City Auto Repair

From a simple tire fix or wheel alignment to more advanced repairs like wheel bearings, City Auto Repair provides alignment repairs in the Gainesville area. We’ll find the root of the issue and address it as soon as possible to get you back on the road. Never deal with anything less than a smooth ride again, and book an appointment with City Auto Repair!