My steering wheel is crooked when driving straight. What do I need to do to make it go straight again? This is a very common question in owners of older cars, and we will give you the right answers along with what you need to do.
After driving the vehicle for years, you learn almost everything about it. You can tell if the car needs servicing or if any part creates some problem. Also, you can tell if the vehicle is going straight or it is going crooked.
Due to lack of servicing and rough driving, the steering wheel becomes crooked even when driving straight. But majorly, the crooked steering wheel is all due to problems in wheel alignment.
Hence you need to get the servicing done on time to eliminate the problem. Else it can lead to some significant mishaps.
Learn what causes the steering wheel to be off-center and how you can fix the problem and some other aspects of the problem. Get all the answers under one roof, so stay till the end!
4 Things That Can Cause The Steering Wheel To Be Off Center
If your car has a faulty front-end alignment, then this is the biggest reason your steering wheel is crooked even when driving straight. There can be many reasons associated with front end misalignment, but four significant reasons are:
#1. Damage due to an accident
A severe collision can damage the car’s steering and suspension components. And these parts become more vulnerable when the car’s front part is fully damaged as the impact is on the front end.
Unfortunately, damage due to accidents is primarily irreparable and might cost a fortune. But if somehow you get it done at a reasonable rate, you can also feel that the steering wheel is going off-center.
#2. Damaged components
If you have been driving your car for a long time without proper repairs and maintenance of the suspension and its parts, the suspension components are more likely to damage after a sudden blow, such as hitting the curb or a pothole.
This sudden shock could damage the suspension severely if it were already in a poor state. To get the parts back into the working condition, you will have to repair or change them and align the wheels.
#3. Modifications in the height of the vehicle
If you have not modified the riding height of the vehicle, the suspension and the steering will work in harmony, and the vehicle’s alignment shall stay up to mark.
But if, for some reason, you modify the riding height by using a leveling kit or installing a lift, then these modifications will majorly affect the car’s alignment. Hence after the improvements, it is imperative to align the car’s wheels with the help of expert services.
#4. Usual wear and tear
If you have an old car that you often use, you may feel that the car’s steering wheel is going off-center with time. This can be due to the front-end suspension’s wear and tear and aging.
If you don’t get the suspension changed or serviced from time to time, you will always have an alignment problem with your car.
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4 Signs of A Crooked Steering Wheel
If you are new to driving but unfortunately driving an old car, you may be driving an unaligned car. If you are not sure why your car is going left or right even when you are driving straight, then look for the following signs:
#1. Pulling the vehicle towards one side
If you are driving in a straight direction, but you feel that you are putting an extra effort into keeping it straight, then it’s inevitable that your car is misaligned. To detect this problem, drive your vehicle on an empty road where there are no chances of hitting someone.
Now while driving straight, leave your hands for a few seconds. If the car goes left or right, it’s a sign that its steering wheel needs alignment.
#2. Vibrations in the steering wheel
The car is undoubtedly misaligned if you can feel that the steering wheel is vibrating. Vibrations can also be due to unbalanced wheels or if the tire is out of round. But whatever it is, you must immediately take your car to the experts.
#3. Uneven tire wear and tear
While getting your car’s tires checked, if your mechanic informs you that your tire is unevenly worn, don’t overlook this information. This can signify that your steering wheel is crooked and needs immediate fixation.
#4. Steering Wheel doesn’t come back to the center
If your car’s steering wheel works perfectly when you turn it, the steering comes back to the center on its own. But if you exert extra pressure to pull back the steering to the center, this can be due to a lack of alignment. If your car’s steering wheel doesn’t come back to the center after you turn it, it is a sign that the steering wheel is crooked.
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5 Reasons Why Your Car Pulls In One Direction
There can be many reasons your car is pulling in one direction. Some of these reasons are:
#1. Uneven air pressure
If the air pressure in the front tires is higher or lower than the rear, the height of the tires changes, which leads to the pulling of tires in one direction.
#2. Defective wheel bearing
If you hear a grinding noise and the steering wheel shakes, this can probably be due to faulty bearings. The defective bearing will ultimately lead to the car pulling in one direction.
#3. Issues in wheel alignment
If the axles and the wheels don’t work in harmony, you will notice that the car’s front portion is pulling in one direction. The lack of harmony is majorly due to a lack of alignment.
#4. Brake problems
If your car’s brakes are defective or have issues, your car might pull in one direction. Collapsed brake hose, stuck calipers, or slide pin issues are the major contributors to this problem.
#5. Worn out steering or suspension parts
If the suspension or the steering parts are worn out, they might malfunction and make the car pull in one direction.
When Should I Get The Car’s Alignment Corrected?
In the following cases, you must realign your car:
- When the steering wheeling is going off-center.
- When the tires are wearing out pretty soon.
- When you get all the four tires changed in one go.
- After an accident
- When the steering wheel is drifting or pulling.
- When you drive your car, it the off-road more often.
- When you replace the suspension or steering parts.
- After hitting a pothole or a kerb hard.
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How Do You Fix A Misaligned Steering Wheel?
You cannot fix a misaligned steering wheel all by yourself. You will need an expert’s help in this matter. Take your car to the best service center in your town and get it checked thoroughly before the mechanic takes any action.
If he is an expert, he will first check all the parts and components of the steering and the front-end suspension. This is because if he starts aligning the wheels immediately, he might end up damaging the weak parts.
This can make your repair bill go up instantly. Hence, ask your mechanic to diagnose the causes of misalignment, change and repair any damaged parts, and then start with the final alignment process.
How Are Wheel Alignments Done?
There is a proper mechanism for the entire alignment process: the machine measures the current wheel angles and deviations from the original specifications. Then, the professionals work upon each wheel’s toe, caster, and camber to align the steering wheels.
After aligning these parts of the wheels, a computer shows if the original specifications have been met or not. If yes, then the professionals check the steering wheels for centralization. Then a quick drive confirms that everything is fine and the steering wheel is aligned correctly.
Will An Alignment Fix A Crooked Steering Wheel?
Yes, a steering wheel alignment is the only solution to fix a crooked steering wheel. Take your car to the mechanic, and he will use a machine to fix the alignment and solve the problem.
Is Wheel Alignment And Wheel Balancing The Same Thing?
Wheel balancing and wheel alignment are two entirely different types of car servicing. The mechanic adds a small amount of weight to the wheel to balance it in wheel balancing.
The weight added is generally minimal, like a fraction of an ounce or something like that. The weight evens the weight of all the wheels, which can be due to a manufacturing defect or wear of a particular side of the wheel. Extra weight ensures a less wobbly drive.
On the other hand, in wheel alignment, a machine helps align the wheels to their original specifications. While aligning the wheels, no weight is added or subtracted from the wheel.
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A Few Final Words
Cars are our most valuable possessions, and we go the extra mile to keep them in good shape. But often, while taking care of other parts of the car, we tend to forget to look after the most crucial ones.
Your car’s steering wheels must stay aligned and ensure a smooth drive for a comfortable and safe ride. If you are experiencing any issue in maneuvering the steering wheels appropriately, you need to get the wheel alignment checked.
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