Steering wheel not straight after alignment is a condition many car owners find themselves in after an alignment. Steering alignment is a critical procedure that involves adjusting its angles to prevent tire damage.
If your steering wheel is not straight after adjustment, it signifies a problem. This article discusses several reasons for crooked steerings and how to fix the problem.
- 1 What Are the Reasons Steering Wheel Is Not Straight After Alignment?
- 2 What Can You Do if Steering Wheel Is Not Straight After Alignment?
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Reasons Steering Wheel Is Not Straight After Alignment?
The reasons why steering wheel is not straight after alignment is because it needs to be adjusted. Wheel misalignment can also be a result of a bad suspension, misaligned steering rack, and even forceful impact. Sometimes, it could be caused by a defect during the vehicle’s manufacturing process.
– Incorrect Adjustment
Incorrect adjustment is the most common reason your steering wheel is not straight. Getting the correct adjustment angles is essential for proper alignment. There are three main alignment angles: Caster, Camper, and Toe.
Each angle determines the position of your wheels in relation to each other, the vehicle, and the road surface.
If your caster, camper, and toe angles are not set, it can distort your wheel alignment. Aside from your wheel not being straight, you will also notice your tires wear.
– Defective Suspension
If you are dealing with a defective suspension system, it can cause your crooked wheels. A suspension is important in absorbing shock from impact and ensuring a comfortable ride. If your suspension system or its components are defective, whether from wear or damage, it will affect your steering wheel.
When your springs, tie rod ends or chassis are defective, you will notice that your wheel appears off-center. A common symptom of a defective suspension is that your ride becomes bumpy. You may also notice a clunking sound whenever you drive over a bump.
You will also experience difficulty controlling your steering, which can be dangerous. Another tell-tale sign of a damaged suspension is that your vehicle starts to brake erratically.
– Worn or Damaged Tires
A worn or damaged tire is another common reason your wheel is not straight after alignment. Worn or damaged tires can cause your steering to be off-center, making it difficult to control your vehicle. Due to reduced traction, it becomes harder to use your steering without exerting much effort.
It should be a concern if your tires are uneven after an alignment. Apart from causing misalignment in your wheels, you will notice uneven tire wear in some of your wheels. You may also detect that your car pulls to one side of the road when you drive.
Another sign is experiencing unusual noises when your drive. Other symptoms of a worn or damaged tire are excessive vibrations, bulges, and cuts whenever you drive.
– Misaligned Steering Rack
Another reason your steering wheel does not appear straight after alignment is a misaligned steering rack. The steering rack is an important component that lets your wheels rotate whenever you turn your steering wheel. If your steering rack is misaligned, it will cause your steering to be crooked.
If your steering components, like the pinion, wheel, or column, are worn, it can cause a misalignment in your rack. Power steering fluid can also prevent your steering rack from being misaligned.
A power steering fluid reduces the effort you need to turn the steering wheels. Hence, a lack of lubrication can cause your steering components to grind roughly and cause misalignment.
Symptoms of a misaligned steering rack include difficulty steering and the car pulling to the side when you drive. You may also notice that your car wanders whenever you drive. A grinding noise, as well as fluid leakage, are also common signs of a misaligned steering rack.
– Forceful Impact
If your wheel appears off-center even when both angles and suspension work well, it could be a result of forceful impact. Driving hard against a curb, pothole, or speed bump can contribute to a crooked wheel. Depending on how forceful the impact is, it can cause total misalignment of your steering.
If the collision happens from the front, it may cause your steering to push to the side. Likewise, a collision with the side of the vehicle can cause your steering to shift in the opposite direction. In this case, you may lose total control of your wheel, which can be life-threatening, especially on a highway.
– Height Adjustment
If you have ever had to alter your vehicle’s height, the alteration could be why your steering is not straight. Lowering or increasing your vehicle’s height will no doubt need some adjustment in the alignment angles. Although raising your vehicle improves its off-road performance, it makes your suspension less responsive.
If you change your vehicle’s height without carrying out an alignment immediately, your steering will become misaligned. You’ll also notice increased difficulty in handling your steering and controlling the direction of your car.
– Defective Production
Although quite rare, your steering may not be straight after alignment due to a defect in production. It could be because the steering components were wrongly assembled or incorrectly adjusted, which doesn’t match its specification.
However, you can only come to this conclusion if your suspension, tire, and steering rack are in perfect working condition. In this case, you may need to consult with the car’s manufacturer or auto dealership to determine what you can do to fix this.
What Can You Do if Steering Wheel Is Not Straight After Alignment?
If your steering wheel is not straight after alignment, you can either repair or replace the defective suspension and tires. Other great fixes include carrying out proper alignment, adjusting your driving habits, and contacting a professional mechanic or the car’s manufacturer.
– Adjust Your Alignment
Adjusting your alignment is the quickest and best solution for off-center steering. Correct adjustment of the alignment angles can help you get your steering back in position. There’s a quick trick we recommend trying out if you want to straighten your steering. First, locate the tire rods on the sides of your wheel.
Each rod has nuts on both sides, which you’ll have to loosen. Then, turn the right side of the tire rod clockwise, and the left anti-clockwise. You’ll have to repeat this process until your steering is centered. Take note that it can be a long process, depending on how misaligned your steering is.
Adjusting an alignment is tricky, so leave this part to an experienced mechanic. The proper realignment will rearrange your angles to fit your vehicle’s specifications. That way, your steering wheel will come straight without having to do much.
Likewise, you may want to carry out a readjustment if you’ve recently modified your vehicle’s height. Carrying out another adjustment will ensure that all wheels and angles are aligned.
– Replace Worn/Damaged Suspension Components
Another quick fix for an off-center steering is replacing suspension components. Since worn suspension components can affect your steering, you will need to replace them. But, you must first check your suspension system for visible signs of damage before a more technical diagnosis.
If you detect wear or damage in your control arm, springs, ball joints, or linkages, you should immediately replace them. For instance, you may need to replace faulty control arms as soon as possible because these are vital suspension parts. They connect the wheels to the frame of the car. You can replace these components yourself if you have the technical expertise and tools for the job.
But if you doubt your ability, you should leave the job to a certified mechanic. Trying to fix the problem when you lack the skills can damage other essential components, thereby increasing the cost of repairs.
– Inspect and Replace Tires
If you have been driving worn or damaged tires, a misaligned steering indicates it’s time for a replacement. It would be best to replace the old tires with new ones to ensure your steering is straight. First, it’s important to inspect the old tire’s tread depth.
If they look worn, you should consider replacing them as soon as possible. The great part is that replacing a car tire is easy, and almost anyone can do it. First, you must ensure you park your car in a secure area without occupants. After that, jack your vehicle off the ground for easy inspection and replacement, then go ahead and loosen all the lug nuts.
Remove your old tire and place the new tire in the vehicle’s wheelbase. Replace the lug notes and tighten them in place. Afterward, you should lower your car and check that your wheel(s) is securely in place. Once you’ve replaced the tires, you may need to carry out a test drive to ensure they don’t bulge or appear loose.
– Drive Responsibly
Since it is common knowledge that forceful impact can cause your steering to become crooked, you should drive responsibly. Avoid speeding, especially over speed bumps or on rough road surfaces. When you come across a pothole, drive carefully to avoid a forceful collision that can throw your steering off-center.
You may also need to adjust your braking skills, especially if you engage sudden brakes or accelerate unexpectedly. When you drive at night, you should be alert to avoid crashing into a curb or anything that can cause a crooked wheel after alignment.
– Consult a Professional Mechanic
If you have inspected your car and nothing seems out of place, consulting a professional mechanic is best. They would be able to discern the specific problem and provide effective solutions.
Once you notice your steering wheel isn’t straight after alignment, take your car to a mechanic for a checkup. Although we provide DIY tips for car repairs, a professional mechanic is the safest bet to avoid mistakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
– After Alignment, Should the Steering Wheel Be Exactly Straight?
Yes, your steering should be exactly straight after alignment. If your alignment angles are all set correctly, there’s no reason why your steering should remain off-center right after an alignment. You can keep your steering wheel centered during alignment by locking the steering.
Start the vehicle and turn the steering to a straight position. Turn off the vehicle and hold on to the steering while you remove the key. That way, you can keep your steering wheel straight during alignment.
– How Frequently Should Your Car Be Aligned?
You may need to align your car as frequently as every 10,000 to 12,000 miles. You may need to align your car whenever you replace your transmission oil, but this depends on how often you drive and the efficiency of your vehicle’s suspension system.
How much will getting an alignment from a professional mechanic cost you?
Getting an alignment costs between $75 and $200, depending on what type of alignment you’re getting. The brand and model of your vehicle also determine how much this would cost. Also, the labor cost may contribute to how expensive or cheap the service will be.
– How Can You Check if Your Wheels Are Aligned?
You can check if your wheels are aligned by checking whether or not the position of your steering aligns with your wheels. If they appear off-center, it may mean incorrect alignment. If your wheels are aligned, you’ll notice that your steering becomes much easier to use and control.
There are several reasons why your steering is not straight after an alignment.
Here’s a breakdown of the main points we discussed in this article:
- Why your steering wheel is not straight after an alignment can be a result of improper alignment, forceful impact, or issues with your suspension. It could also be that there was a fault during production.
- You can fix a misaligned steering wheel by adjusting your alignment. Replacing worn or damaged suspension components can remedy the situation. Another thing you can do is to drive responsibly at all times.
- If you’re unsure of the root of the problem, we recommend consulting your mechanic for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Once you detect that your steering isn’t straight, you should immediately perform maintenance to prevent accidents or further damage.
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