Reasons Your Car Is Pulling To One Side While Driving Or Braking


Here's why your car could be swerving left or right whilst you're driving and advice on how to get the problem fixed.

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Driving can be a risky business by virtue of how many people use the road irresponsibly, so if you find your car swerving or pulling to the left or right when you're cruising in a straight line, it can be even more dangerous. There are many reasons as to why your car could be doing this, but one thing remains true regardless of what it is, and that is that losing control over your vehicle isn't just frustrating, it could be deadly. Identifying what the problem could be and getting it rectified as soon as possible is a priority, so here are the various potential causes as to why your car could be pulling to one side.

Five Reasons Why Your Car is Pulling to the Left or Right When You’re Driving

There are several reasons as to why your car could be pulling to one side whilst you're driving. Here are just five of the potential causes and their symptoms - most, if not all of which, will have to be corrected by a professional mechanic or service center unless you're a professional yourself.

  • Faulty steering or suspension - Tie rods, strut bearings, and ball joints are just some of the very many components that make up the steering system and suspension of a car. All of these components endure wear and tear over time and can fail, which is why they should be checked annually. One of the possible results of one of these parts failing is a pulling sensation in one direction, and what's called 'memory steer'. This is when, after a turn, the car then continues to pull in the same direction.
  • Defective wheel bearings - There are some telltale signs your car will exhibit before it starts to pull in a direction if its wheel bearings are damaged or deteriorated. The first is a grinding noise that'll be emitted from around the wheels. The steering wheel may also then begin to shake at times, and then your car will start to pull one way or another. If your steering wheel shakes a lot when you drive and there's a grinding noise coming from anywhere, avoid driving your car and get it looked at as soon as possible.
  • Misaligned wheels - If you notice that your steering wheel pulls to the left or right whilst you're driving or if your car pulls to the left or right when you let go of the steering wheel, this could be an indication that the car's wheel alignment is off. This is one of the most common causes and misaligned wheels can lead to your tires wearing unevenly at a faster rate, which makes changing your tires really inconvenient. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be easily fixed by a mechanic with the proper equipment.
  • Uneven tire pressure - If the tire pressure in one tire is higher or lower than the pressure in the others, particularly those on opposite sides of the car, the car could end up pulling to the left or right. Tires that show wear around the center are possibly overinflated while tires with wear around the outer edges are likely underinflated. You can fix tire pressure issues easily by simply keeping all of your tires at the manufacturer-recommended PSU, usually found in your manual.
  • Tire conicity - Though extremely rare, tire conicity is a problem that can occur at the manufacturing level. Sometimes the tread rubber on a tire can harden in a slight cone shape rather than cylindrically. The car will then pull toward the side of the defective tire. Fortunately, most tire manufacturers find these defects quickly and will replace them. Here is a guide to replacing tires on your car for your convenience.
Causes Of Car Pulling To One Side

Two Reasons Why Your Car is Pulling to the Left or Right When You’re Braking

If your car pulls to the left or right only when you brake, then your car is likely experiencing brake-related issues.

  • Damaged or jammed brake pad - If one of your car's brake pads is broken or damaged or just of inferior quality, your car could end up pulling in a certain direction when the brakes are applied. As your vehicle's brake pads begin to deteriorate, braking performance will worsen, too. So it's important to use good-quality brake pads and have worn units replaced as quickly as possible since ineffective braking is dangerous.
  • Malfunctioning brake calipers - Brake calipers are the components of your brakes that apply pressure to bring the wheels to a stop. If not properly maintained, your brake calipers can start getting stuck; when that happens, brake force is hindered and the brakes will begin to drag, subsequently causing the pulling sensation. Have your mechanic or service center check your braking system immediately if you feel any pulling sensations when braking.
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Car Pulls To One Side


Why is my car still pulling to the left or right after an alignment?

If your car still pulls to one side after an alignment, the alignment could have been down incorrectly or your vehicle has a faulty control arm bushing or problems with the suspension. Whether this affects your Mazda CX-3 or a Honda Odyssey, it needs to be checked out as soon as possible.

What could cause my wheels to become misaligned?

There are a variety of things that can misalign your wheels, from a fender bender to just hitting a pothole. Read more about wheel alignment here.

Is it safe to drive if my car pulls to one side when I’m driving?

No. If you've lost any level of control over the drive dynamics of your car, the risk of an accident is significantly increased, especially at higher speeds such as when you're on the highway.

Why is my new car pulling to the left when I’m driving?

If you're experiencing this symptom with your brand new Truck, car, or SUV, something is definitely amiss. New cars should leave the factory floor in optimal condition, so first check whether the tires on your new car are perhaps incorrectly inflated before heading back to the dealer to discuss the issue at hand.

Why is my car pulling to the left when I brake?

If your car is pulling to the left when you brake, then the brake pads could be damaged or getting stuck, or the brake calipers could be malfunctioning. This could be accompanied by a shuddering feel on the brake pedal. Here is a handy guide for what to do when your car shakes while braking.

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