You would know if there is something off with your car when you drive it on a regular basis. You would know its turns, its steering, its noise, its smell, and how it runs. If something is out of the ordinary, then it is probably your car telling you that there’s something about it that needs some repairs, adjustments, or maybe replacements. Some car problems don’t have symptoms until it gets worse while some problems can be detected early. No matter how prepared you are, sometimes, car problems occur when you are driving. One of those is when your car pulls to the right.
It can be frustrating and dangerous as it can cause accidents if you are not careful. You have to focus and keep tugging your wheel to the left to maintain a straight line. What is causing it? How can you correct it?
What does it mean when your car pulls to the right?
Here are some of the possible causes and solutions why your car is pulling to the right.
- Misaligned Wheels – Wheel misalignment is one of the top causes of a car pulling to the right. This means that your tires are no longer balanced and evenly paralleled with each other. If you let go of the steering wheel, your car only moves in a single direction and your steering wheel doesn’t go back to its standard position. This is difficult and inconvenient to drive as you constantly have to pull back and steer to the opposite direction to keep a straight line. The misalignment of wheels or unbalanced tires can happen over time. It happens as you drive over potholes, by hitting curbs, and other bad road conditions. To fix this, you will need to schedule for a wheel alignment. It is important to have your wheels aligned regularly as it maximizes your tires’ life, improves your car’s overall handling, and keeps your car from pulling to the right or in one direction.
- Uneven Tire Pressure – When your car pulls to the right, you have to check the pressure of all your four tires. Uneven tire pressure can affect the way your car rests and leans. Overinflated or underinflated tires on one side can cause an unbalanced height. Underinflated tires specifically have an increased rolling resistance that can cause misaligned wheels. Uneven tire pressure can be easily fixed by adding air to your tire if it’s underinflated or removing air if it’s overinflated. It is really important to always check your tire pressure since it fluctuates as you drive. Make sure that you know the recommended tire pressure of your vehicle.
- Brake System Problem – The car’s brake system is usually the culprit if your car pulls to the right when braking. It is caused by its calipers being stuck. Calipers apply pressure to the brake pads which is essential in bringing the car to a stop. Even if you release the brake pedal, the brake pad will still continue to make contact with the rotors if the calipers are stuck. This in turn will cause your car to have a change in steering or pulling in one direction. Problems with the brake system usually comes with a burning smell from the heat and grinding noises created by the brake pad dragging against the rotors. Keep in mind that any problem with your brakes, no matter how small it is, is a serious safety hazard. You need to have it fixed immediately by your trusted professional mechanic.
- Collapsed Brake Hose – The brake hose is another part of the car’s brake system. A stuck caliper is a common diagnosis that causes your car to pull, but a collapsed brake hose can also cause it and it is often misdiagnosed. The brake hose’s exterior might look fine but its inner liner can cause a restriction on the inside. A collapsed brake hose can cause two problems. One is the pulling of the car to a single direction, usually to where the good brake hose is located. This happens because when you apply the brakes, the caliper will need a big volume of fluid to move the piston and the side with a collapsed brake hose will get the needed fluid much later than the one with the good hose. You can feel the pull as you start to depress the pedal but the pull stops as the fluid slowly flows and moves the piston. The second problem it can cause is that it acts like a check valve which allows the fluid to flow into the caliper but it won’t return to the master cylinder. This makes the caliper to not fully release, mimicking a stuck piston. Be mindful of some telltale signs of a bad and failing brake hose and have it fixed immediately. Some of the obvious signs are a mushy brake pedal, worn out or damaged brake hose, and brakes not working.
- Torque Steer – Torque steer usually affects the front-wheel drive or FWD vehicles. Pulling of the car to one side usually occurs during hard acceleration. This happens because of the FWD vehicle’s engine being mounted transversely and driveshafts that do not have the same length. This setup causes engine power to be sent to the shorter shaft. Wheel pulling on one side happens as the shorter shaft experiences torque gains more than the wheel with a longer shaft. This happens when your car’s acceleration is increased. Torque steer can be caused by a lot of factors. It could be a weak tie rod, a loose steering element, too much movement of the ball joint, lower control arm bushing failure, or a damaged motor mount. You can check your vehicle if it is really the torque steer that makes your car pull to the right by putting it in neutral and letting it coast without your hand on the steering wheel. Make sure to do this on an empty road. If it coasts without pulling to one side, then torque steer is probably the reason for pulling and not your wheel alignment. Since this problem can be caused by a lot of possible broken or faulty components, it is better to have your vehicle checked by a professional to avoid further problems and safety hazards. Broken components can be repaired or replaced and you might have to install a limited slip differential, intermediate drive shaft, and track bars.
- Suspension System Problems – Your car’s suspension will give up over time as its components wear out over time. Worn suspension parts shift positions when you apply your brakes such as worn lower control arm bushings that make the arm shift or move and eventually changing the position of the wheel which causes your car to pull to one side. Other suspension components like the struts, shocks, and ball joints can also cause a pulling if worn out or deteriorated. Pulling happens each time you apply your brakes and automatically stops when you release the brake. Another indicator of worn out suspension components is when your steering wheel sharply turns even when you are slowing down. To fix this, visit your favorite service center and have the broken parts fixed or replaced. To prevent this from happening, it is important that you follow your scheduled maintenance and service. Doing so saves you the trouble of being caught unprepared with your suspension parts suddenly breaking while you are driving. Just like the brake system, the suspension is also critical to your vehicle’s overall safety system.
- Tire Conicity – When a car pulls to the right, many would probably think that misaligned wheels are causing it. While it can be true as stated above, tires can also cause your vehicle to pull. Tire conicity refers to a tire defect that is caused while it is made. Faulty manufacturing caused this when the belts under the tire’s tread are not fully aligned causing it to inflate and harden to a cone-like shape rather than a perfect round shape. This causes your vehicle to pull on the side where the defective tire is on. The way the cone-shape tire’s rolls affects the vehicle’s overall steering performance. The pull in steering increases as it accelerates. This problem usually occurs in new tires but uneven tire wear on old tires can also cause conicity. New tires that experience tire conicity are still covered under their manufacturers warranties. It is considered a defect so you can have it replaced to fix the pulling problem.
- Tire Separation – Just like tire conicity, tire separation can be caused by faulty manufacturing. Tire separation happens when air forces the steel-belted tire tread to be disconnected from the tire casing or body. When the tread is disconnected from the casing, it causes friction as it hits the undercarriage of the car. As the driver tries to maintain or correct the car’s braking action, the car usually pulls in the opposite direction. Though this problem does not usually happen, there are some factors that cause tire separation to happen aside from faulty manufacturing. These factors include incorrect flat repair, tire abuse, excessive tire wear, and low tire pressure. You have to look out for early signs of tire separation as it is potentially dangerous to be driving on a car with a tire that can suddenly fail. If you feel like the car’s tires and steering wheel start to shake and vibrate even at low speeds, better have it checked as soon as possible.
- Memory Steer – The pull of your car in a single direction can be caused by memory steer. Memory steer is a term used to describe the occurrence where a vehicle pulls in the same direction as your most recent hard turn. The steering wheel is supposed to go back to its normal position after a turn, but if it still continues to pull to the direction where you last completed a turn, then the problem can be attributed to memory steer. This can be caused by an improper installation of a binding steering component and so are the worn out front end components and binding strut mount bearings in the strut. Another factor that can cause memory steer is an unbalanced power steering. One side might be releasing pressure which causes the vehicle to pull to the other direction. It is better to bring your car to your trusted repair shop and have it checked and fixed.
- Worn Wheel Bearings – Wheel bearings are the ones responsible in making your vehicle’s wheels run smoothly and quietly. Like any other vehicle parts, it also wears out over time. Worn wheel bearings can be dangerous if you don’t have it fixed immediately as it will eventually cause your tire to fall off. When your car pulls to the right, it can be because of the worn wheel bearings. In some cases, your car will pull quite sharply when you apply the brakes and you might feel your brakes vibrating. Worn bearings, if not fixed as soon as possible, can also damage the car’s sensors on anti-lock braking systems. There are also other signs that can help you detect worn wheel bearings. One of which is when you hear a snapping, grinding, and clicking noises when cornering and turning. Humming and growling noises can also be heard when driving on a straight road. Fixing wheel bearings can be complicated so it is better to have it fixed by a professional.
Is it normal for a car to pull slightly to the right?
It is common knowledge that the left-hand drive cars that drive on the road’s right side have been made to somewhat pull to the right. This is done to avoid the car to drift into the approaching traffic when the driver falls asleep or loses consciousness while driving. This kind of pull to the car should only be a faint one. If your car experiences a very obvious pull, then it is something worthy of attention and should be checked and fixed as soon as possible. Do not delay any scheduled maintenance or service and make sure to always follow your owner’s recommendation. Being safe and secure should always be your top priority.
You always want your car to be in tip top form. When your car is pulling to the right (or even to the left), you must always have it checked so as not to compromise your safety and those around you. There are several reasons that can cause this problem and so if unsure best to have it checked and serviced by a professional mechanic.