A man driving with a passenger while the car is pulling to the side.

Have you noticed your car pulling to one side when you drive? There are several reasons this can happen, any of which can end up causing damage to the car or creating unsafe driving conditions. Drifting to one side while driving is distracting for the driver and tiring, as it requires the driver to put constant compensating pressure in the other direction to maintain straight forward motion. Before your car is due for its next inspection, consider these possible causes and seek repairs first.

Possible Causes

As mentioned above, there are several possible reasons your car is pulling to the right of left as you drive. Below, we’ll look at the most common culprits.

Wheel Alignment

One of the most common reasons a car pulls to one side while in motion is one or more of the tires are out of alignment. If left unfixed, this can cause uneven wear on the treads of tires, causing wheels to wear down faster. Poor alignment has the potential to put stress on the suspension, and cause the tires to fail to make proper contact with the road, a hazard especially in wet conditions.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is another common factor that can cause a car to veer while driving. If the tire pressure on one side of the vehicle is lower than the other side, especially in the tires connected to the drivetrain, this can cause misalignment. Underinflated rear tires can cause rolling resistance. The same holds true for tires that are overinflated. This essentially forces lower pressure in one set of tires, even if it is the correct pressure, and can cause the vehicle to tend towards pushing away from the tire. Overinflated tires will wear down on the center of the tire while underinflated tires will wear down on the outer edges.

Bad Wheel Bearings

A bad wheel bearing will usually show other symptoms before the vehicle starts pulling to one side. However, once the problem becomes pronounced enough, the pull to one side can be a warning sign. Smooth wheel rotation, in which the wheel hub assembly can rotate without friction, is the role of wheel bearings. When these wear out, the assembly does not rotate freely and causes grinding, wear and tear, and heat in the structure. Grinding noises are usually the first sign, and this should be dealt with immediately. By the time the vehicle is pulling to the side with a bad wheel bearing, the vehicle is not safe to drive and should be towed to a repair shop.

The Importance of Maintenance

Regardless of the reason a car is pulling to the side, especially if it is a strong pull, the vehicle should be considered not safe to drive until it is fixed. The problem might be minor like poor tire pressure, which can often be resolved at home by the owner, or it might be more serious, such as wheel bearings going bad, or worn steering linkage. Whatever the problem might be, drifting to one side during operation is an indication that something is not working correctly and can create hazardous driving conditions. The majority of these problems require the expertise of a mechanic, and should be addressed as soon as possible. Routine maintenance can let experts catch potential issues early on and fix them before they escalate into more serious problems.

CategoryTire Alignment

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