Steering wheel crooked is instantly noticeable when you’re on the road. An incorrect wheel alignment is a common reason why your vehicle’s steering wheel might be crooked.
This article discusses other typical reasons for this problem and how to fix it. Read on!
- 1 Why Is Your Steering Wheel Crooked?
- 2 How Can You Fix a Crooked Steering Wheel
- 3 FAQs
- 4 Conclusion
Why Is Your Steering Wheel Crooked?
Your steering wheel is crooked due to faulty alignment, alteration in ride height, and defective suspension rings. Other common reasons why your steering wheel is crooked are a faulty brake, wear and tear, running into a curb or pothole, and irregular tire wear.
A faulty alignment of the tires can make your steering wheel crooked. The steering wheel should be centered whenever you are driving straight, and if this is not the case, then the problem could be due to misaligned tires. When the wheels are not correctly aligned, you will notice signs such as the vehicle pulling to one side, steering wheel vibration, and the failure of the wheel to return to the center.
After every turn, the steering returns to a centered position by itself as the vehicle drives straight. However, if you have to force the steering back into place, you are dealing with an alignment issue.
If your vehicle has a bad alignment, it can make it difficult to control, which will be reflected in the steering. Faulty alignment can accelerate the normal wear and tear of the car as you find it difficult to maneuver the vehicle.
Alteration in Ride Height
Height modifications can cause your steering not to be straight. This is one issue many car owners overlook. When making vehicles at the plant, manufacturers often design the components to behave a certain way. If one component is changed for any reason, its related parts will also require a change so that the whole system works correctly.
One way professionals modify a vehicle’s riding height is by using a leveling kit or installing a lift. Once this modification is carried out, it will prevent the suspension and steering from working in harmony. Hence, the need to properly align the vehicle.
Defective Suspension Springs
Defective suspension springs can make the steering crooked. The springs are designed to hold the car’s suspension. The suspension system is a network of components, including shock absorbers, coils or springs, joints, and bushings.
The suspension springs are the link between the wheels and the vehicle’s body and perform the primary function of compensating for uneven road surfaces. Thus, they ensure that the car’s occupants enjoy high levels of ride comfort. Also, the suspension springs ensure that the wheels have safe contact with the road, irrespective of their condition.
So, if the suspension springs break or wear out, it will cause the vehicle’s suspension to sag. A sagged suspension is not good for any vehicle because it will make the wheels point in different directions.
Once this happens, it means the steering has become misaligned and will no longer be straight. Get a professional mechanic to inspect the vehicle to ascertain whether the suspension springs cause the malfunctioning steering.
Running into a Curb or Pothole
Drivers are advised to avoid running into curbs and potholes as much as possible due to their effect on the steering’s alignment. The impact of the vehicle hitting the curb or pothole is enough to agitate the components of the vehicle’s suspension.
If the suspension’s components are in disarray, it will affect the steering, causing it to become misaligned. A misaligned steering wheel will be crooked while driving.
It is not only potholes or curbs that can distort the vehicle’s suspension. Sometimes, the disturbed suspension is due to the car hitting a tree, which is more or less an accident. As expected, the impact force might damage some suspension components, causing the steering to be misaligned and go off-center.
The tires of the vehicle are expected to wear in the same way. If there is an unevenness in the wearing of the tires, it could be why your steering wheel is crooked. Also, the tires are expected to rotate at the same speed; if not, the tires become unbalanced. Inspect the inner edge versus the outer edge wear on each tire, then compare the left and right tires with each other.
Any sign that one tire has significantly less tread on one side or the other means there is a misalignment. If the misalignment of tires is not fixed, the steering will continue to be crooked and won’t return to the center position after you make a turn. Furthermore, uneven or irregular tire wear can damage other systems in the vehicle, leading to an unsafe ride.
Faults with the Brake
The function of the brake is to safely and reliably slow down your vehicle regardless of its speed. Whenever the brake is pressed, the car pulls to a stop. The brake is an essential car component because it helps keep the vehicle stationary when the driver isn’t inside or when the vehicle is on a slope. However, if there is a fault with the brake system, it can cause the steering to malfunction by not working straight.
Warped brake rotors could be why your steering shakes or is crooked whenever you slow or stop the vehicle. If the rotors are bent, the brake pads will press against an uneven surface when braking, and this causes the steering to move off-center.
If you have stuck brake calipers, it can lead to misaligned or shaking steering. This is because the calipers hold the brake pads and lower them each time you slow down or stop the vehicle. Thus, stuck brake calipers will lead to dysfunctional brake pads, resulting in the steering being crooked.
Wear and Tear
Wear and tear is another possible reason the steering is not returning to its center position. This problem is common with old cars. After using a vehicle for several years, it is normal for some of its parts or components to become worn. The steering system is not excluded from this list, and its components, such as the steering wheel, column, rack, and pinion, can become worn out.
If one or more of these components wear out, it will tell on the operation of the steering as it will begin to shake while driving. Furthermore, the steering will become misaligned and no longer function correctly if these components are damaged.
How Can You Fix a Crooked Steering Wheel
You can fix a crooked steering wheel by correcting the alignment issues, replacing the suspension rings and other components, and repairing the brake. Performing tire balancing and replacing worn-out steering system components and brake parts can be used to make the steering wheel straight.
One of the first measures you can take to fix off-center steering is to correct the alignment issue. Begin by having a mechanic check the alignment to confirm whether it is the reason your steering is shaking. Once it’s confirmed that the alignment is the problem, it should be adjusted at the auto repair shop.
To fix the alignment, the mechanic has to raise your vehicle on a hoist, then use an alignment machine equipped with devices that clamp to the wheels. The machine is connected to a computer, and the professional makes precise adjustments to a series of measurements to align it properly.
In most cases, the mechanic will perform a four-wheel alignment combining both thrust and front-end alignment procedures. Fixing uneven tire wear ensures that all four wheels point in the same direction.
Replace Suspension Springs
Inspect the car’s suspension to check the condition of the springs, shocks, and struts. If any of these components are damaged or worn out, you should remove and replace them with new units. First, raise the vehicle and remove the tire.
The next step is to detach the old spring using a socket wrench that unscrews the bolt holding the shocks to the spring. After that, unscrew the bolt connecting the sway bar to the spring and attach two spring compressors to the outside of the suspension spring. Tighten the compressors with a wrench until the spring separates, then pull the compressed spring off the vehicle.
Loosen the compressors to remove them from the spring, and install the new spring following the reverse order of the removal process. After putting back the tire and lowering the vehicle, test the performance of the steering wheel by driving the car for some distance.
Perform Tire Balancing
Inspect the tires to see whether they are unbalanced or not. If you find that they are unbalanced, drive the vehicle to your local mechanic shop for repair. Since unbalanced tires could affect the suspension and axle, leading to steering vibrations, they should be fixed by performing a wheel balancing operation.
Unbalanced tires are often caused by seasonal changes, rough driving patterns, and poor road conditions, and they can be fixed or prevented by performing a routine tire balancing service. Your tires are expected to be balanced for every 10,000 – 12,000 miles covered.
Repair the Brake
Any damaged brake parts should be replaced with new units to resolve the off-center steering problem. This replacement process requires professional expertise, so you should contract the job to a mechanic or auto repair shop. The mechanic should detach the warped or bent brake rotors and install new rotors in their place.
However, if you notice the warped rotor early on, you may not have to replace it with a new unit. Instead, the mechanic would resurface the rotors to make them smooth and even again. Similarly, a stuck brake caliper, which is often caused by worn hoses and debris buildup, should be fixed by a mechanic. In some cases where the caliper is already damaged, it has to be replaced with a new one.
Replace Worn-Out Parts
Broken or worn-out parts in the steering system should be replaced with new components. Although replacing parts such as the column, rack, and pinion might be costly, resolving the off-center steering problem is necessary. The replacement should be done in consultation with a mechanic, and once completed, the vehicle should be taken for a test drive to confirm that the steering now returns to the center.
Should You Drive a Vehicle With an Off-Center Steering Wheel?
No, you shouldn’t drive a vehicle with an off-center steering wheel because it is unsafe to do so. If this problem is not fixed on time, the vehicle may get involved in an accident as it can’t turn easily or avoid an oncoming vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix a Vehicle’s Wheel Alignment?
To fix a vehicle’s wheel alignment costs between $200 and $300. For some vehicles, you only need proper alignment of the front wheels. However, for most vehicles, a four-wheel alignment is required. The exact amount you pay for the service depends on your location.
Why Is Your Steering Wheel Not Straight After Fixing the Alignment?
Your steering wheel is not straight after fixing the alignment because of incorrect alignment or a suspension system issue. You may also have to troubleshoot for other car faults, such as damaged parts, because they can also cause an off-center steering wheel.
You no longer have to panic because your steering wheel has become crooked.
Here are our concluding thoughts on the main points in this article:
- The possible reasons why your steering is crooked are faulty alignment, alteration in height, and defective suspension rings.
- Other common causes why the steering is crooked are a faulty brake and wear and tear.
- You can fix a crooked steering by correcting the alignment issues, replacing the suspension rings and other components, and repairing the brake.
- Performing tire balancing and replacing worn-out steering system components and brake parts can correct the off-center steering.
With the knowledge in this article, you should be able to troubleshoot and fix the problem once you discover the steering wheel has become crooked.
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