Car Pulling to One Side? (Here’s How To Fix it)

Driving a car that pulls to the right or left all the time can be annoying, especially on longer road trips. Here's what can make a car pull to one side.

Car Pulling To One Side

A smooth drive is all you hope for during your daily commute or family road trip. That’s why it is so discouraging to get behind the wheel only to feel it pull to the right or left while you are driving. Unless you feel like wrestling your car through the drive, you need to know why the car pulls to the right or left.

In this article, we look at the numerous reasons, helping you to narrow down the problem. We also examine when the car is pulling, which allows you to figure out the issue much faster. 

The most common reason a car is pulling to the right or the left is due to a faulty wheel alignment or uneven tire pressure. It can also be caused by a bad wheel bearing or other faulty suspension parts.

Here is a more detailed list of the possible causes of a car pulling to one side:

Causes of Car Pulls While Driving

1. Uneven Tire Pressure

This would be the simplest problem and the easiest to fix. When your tires have an uneven amount of pressure, you could feel pulling to one side.

If the tire pressure is too high or low in one tire, it changes its height compared with the rest of the tires. This problem leads to an alignment shift. You want to check the recommended tire pressure on your driver’s side door jamb and check the pressure often. 

However, if you are consistently noticing lower than normal tire pressure, you could have a bigger problem. Check your tires for any holes or punctures. 

2. Needs a Wheel Alignment

If the tires are good, your next check should be the alignment. If the wheels and axles aren’t lined up correctly, the car can pull. You might also notice the problem when you look at the steering wheel.

Thankfully, it doesn’t take long for the mechanic to align the wheels. You want to get this fixed right away because bad wheel alignment causes the tires to wear unevenly, meaning you will need tire replacement earlier than you should. 

3. Bad Wheel Bearing

The wheel bearings wear out over time and lead to tell-tale symptoms when they go bad. Before you notice the pulling to one side, you should notice some other problems.

First, there will be a grinding noise coming from the tire area. Additionally, the steering wheel might start to shake. Finally, your car is going to start pulling.

Once the wheel bearing has gone bad, you should stop driving the vehicle. It’s unsafe to drive with bad bearings and you don’t want to put yourself or your occupants at risk for an accident. 

4. Suspension or Steering Parts are Worn

If the tires or the wheel bearing aren’t the issue, you need to look deeper. In some cases, you might have a steering or suspension component that has gone bad. 

Generally, the suspension and steering systems should be inspected yearly to avoid any issues. With that said, a part can fail at any time, leading to overall drivability concerns and a pulling sensation. 

Vibrations Driving

Reasons Car Pulls When Braking

1. Damaged or stuck Brake Pad

If one brake pad is damaged, it can cause the car to pull while braking. Additionally, a low-quality brake pad is more likely to crack, especially if you use the brakes hard.

Over time, the crack will only get deeper, resulting in dislodged friction material. As the brake pad material gets smaller, your stopping performance becomes hindered and you could notice some pulling to the side. Worn brake pads are also going to wear out the rotors, so you should have them replaced immediately. 

RELATED: 5 Symptoms of Worn Brake Pads

2. Defective Brake Caliper

The brake caliper is also an integral part of the stopping system that can cause pulling to one side. If the calipers aren’t properly maintained, they could stick. 

Whenever you are dealing with a sticking caliper, braking force is reduced. Additionally, the brakes drag, causing that tell-tale pulling sensation you are experiencing. 

Reasons Car Pulls When Accelerating

Car Acceleration

1. Misaligned Suspension

The majority of the time that you notice pulling during acceleration, the problem will have to do with suspension alignment. When the suspension is out of whack, it’s called a radial pull with the tires.

You see, inside the tires are radial belts. These belts keep the tire in its circular formation and maintain on-road integrity. However, with an alignment issue, the belts can break, which will cause the tire to pull, especially while accelerating. To fix this, you will need a new tire and an alignment. 

RELATED: 5 Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Alignment

2. Damaged Suspension Component

The suspension is designed to counterbalance the bumps and imperfections of the road. Its job is to offer a smooth ride, no matter what the road looks like.

If you notice pulling during acceleration, you are most likely dealing with some sort of suspension issue. One component might be damaged or simply loose. A complete suspension inspection should narrow down the problem for you. 

Reasons Car Pulls After a Wheel Alignment

The most common cause of why your car pulls after a wheel alignment is that the wheel alignment were not performed properly, but it can also be caused by a bad control arm bushing or any problems with the suspension.

If you have checked the air pressure in your tires and have had the vehicle aligned but are still having a pulling sensation to one side, you might have bigger problems on your hand. At this point, it would be necessary to perform a complete inspection of the wheel bearings, brakes, suspension, and steering system to determine what is causing the pull. None of these issues should be left unaddressed or you will compromise your on-road safety. 

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Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of MechanicBase. He has been working as a mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.