Why Your Car Pulls Side-to-Side & How To Fix It

Driving and fighting your steering wheel to keep your car moving in a straight line is no fun. If you find that your car pulls you in one direction or another, it’s likely your suspension system is in need of some TLC.

What Does the Suspension System Do?

The smooth ride you experience is all thanks to the suspension system. Your vehicle’s suspension system is a protective matrix of shock-absorbing mechanisms, such as springs and shocks, that dampen kinetic energy.

When components within the suspension system develop maladies, it weakens the whole system. When this occurs, you’ll begin to notice excessive bouncing, vehicle sloping to one side when stationary, difficulty steering, and most noticeably, pulling.

When you drive over bumps and potholes, your tires, as well as struts and shocks, are what keep you comfortable and keep your vehicle running in synchronicity. Over time, as these components become more worn, they cause damage to the suspension system. This results in poor alignment or poorly functioning brake performance.

Because each of these components are working together, when one fails it places strain on other components, which may lead to other problems down the road.

Why Your Car Pulls to the Left or Right

Poor Alignmentcar wheel fixed with computerized wheel alignment machine clamp

Alignment is the adjustment of the vehicle’s suspension. Also known as the system that connects the wheels to the vehicle, proper alignment requires that all angles of the tires are adjusted to improve contact with the road. Properly aligned tires should ensure all four tires are working together and traveling in the same direction at the same speed.

Should any of the components in the suspension system shift out of place, the vehicle will fall out of alignment. The shifting of components is often caused by damage or wear of rubber components and bushings. Additionally, metal portions of the suspension system that are flexible may change shape or angles from regular driving conditions and contact with potholes and hitting curbs.

You may be able to tolerate the drifting, but don’t put off an alignment for too long. Driving a car that has fallen out of alignment can cause uneven tread wear, which could result in dangerous conditions on the road or the expense of new tires due to premature wear.

If your wheels have been adjusted to the proper alignment specifications and you’re still experiencing pulls to the right or left, you may have another issue.

Uneven Tire Pressure

Uneven tire pressure can be responsible for pulling. If the pressure in one of your tires is too high or too low, the height of the tire is different, which can cause a shift in the alignment. The solution to this issue is to adjust the pressure of the tire that is over or under inflated.

If you notice that the same tire is consistently low, there may be an issue with the tire that will require inspection from a tire specialist.

Brake Wear

If pulling occurs when you’re braking, it may be time for new brakes. Pulling is often a sign that the calipers are stuck, there are deficiencies within the brake hose, or you have slide pin troubles. An immediate brake inspection with a technician will tell you which brake component is responsible for the pulling.

Damaged Wheel Bearing

Wheel bearings allow for frictionless movement and rotation of the hub assembly to provide smooth tire and wheel rotations. Bad wheel bearings often emit a groaning or humming noise that increases in severity during acceleration or turns, often accompanied by a shaking steering wheel.

Driving with a bad wheel bearing can be very dangerous. If you suspect your wheel bearing has failed, don’t wait to take your vehicle to a service center for repair.

Worn Suspension

The suspension system consists of several components, including tires, springs, shock absorbers, control arms, and more. When any of these components are worn, it will affect your ride.

Often the pulling is caused by poor tire condition, spent shocks or struts, brakes, control arms, or ball joints. If you’ve confirmed your tires are in good condition and properly inflated, a technician will be able to inspect the vehicle and pinpoint the cause.

Stop Car Pulls In Their Tracksgray pickup truck getting wheel alignment service at service center

Most often a wheel alignment service will resolve your pulling issue. However, tires with uneven tread or in poor condition will need to be replaced. Leaking shocks or struts will also require replacement, and any signs of brake troubles should be addressed by a professional technician.

At Sun Auto Service, we offer front-end and four-wheel alignment services to keep your vehicle from pulling you left and right. Our ASE-Certified Technicians can perform an inspection of your suspension system to identify any potential issues and address it properly.

Are car pulls getting in the way of your driving? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone at a Sun Auto Service location near you.