Steering Wheel Not Straight (Common Causes and How To Fix It)

The steering wheel is an essential component of your vehicle as it allows you to control the direction of your car. The steering wheel must function properly to ensure safe driving and prevent accidents. Even after alignment, if your steering wheel is not straight, it may create significant issues. Driving with an off-center steering wheel is very dangerous.

Steering Wheel Not Straight

When driving, you should not have to struggle with your car to maintain it on the road. Unfortunately, if your steering wheel is not straight, it can lead to an uncomfortable driving experience. Still, if this issue doesn’t affect the actual driving performance, it may become a constant annoyance.

This article mainly explains the causes of why is your steering wheel not straight and how to fix it. This article also explains the symptoms of steering wheel misalignment.

Why Is My Steering Wheel Not Straight?

If the steering wheel of your car is not straight, it likely requires a wheel alignment. The current misalignment affects the proper angles of the steering wheel and suspension system, leading to various problems.

Ignoring an off-center steering wheel may result in accelerated tire wear, necessitating more frequent replacements, uneven tire wear on one or more tires, and accidents.

Furthermore, driving with an improperly aligned steering wheel may also cause discomfort during driving and cause poor fuel economy, impacting your overall driving experience.

However, the most concerning aspect is the added strain on the suspension parts of your vehicle. Premature wear of these parts can lead to expensive repairs, as you may need to change them prematurely than their original service life.

You should address the alignment issue immediately is most important to prevent yourself from expensive repairs and ensure a smoother, more economical, and safer driving experience.

Causes of Steering Wheel Not Straight

The steering wheel of your car becomes off-center when your car hits a curb or bump. It may also be misaligned because of height modification or technical faults.

Let’s discuss the causes of why your steering wheel is not straight:

1) Hit A Curb Or Bump

Car Hit A Curb, causes of off center steering wheel

The steering wheel of your vehicle may become misaligned when experiencing heavy impacts while driving.

Sudden impacts like forcefully slamming the brakes and colliding with a tree, pothole, or curb can disturb the suspension system of your steering wheel, causing the vehicle to veer on one side. These misalignment issues can also arise after an accident.

2) Technical Fault

Steering Wheel Alignment fault

If you recently had a wheel alignment, but your steering wheel is still not straight, it’s advisable to communicate with the technician who performed the alignment. In some cases, a new mechanic might overlook the steering wheel’s position while focusing on the wheels.

Fortunately, correcting the misaligned steering wheel shouldn’t be a time-consuming task for a skilled mechanic. But it may be worth considering the place where you get your vehicle serviced, as ensuring the steering wheel is properly aligned is a standard and essential aspect of the alignment process that should always be taken into account.

3) Height Modification

One of the major causes for a steering wheel not being straight is height modification. When you install a suspension lift kit under your car, it is also essential to check the alignment. Adding height to your car can lead to the steering wheel no longer being in its original position.

The stock suspension system of your car is designed to function optimally with its original specifications. However, when you introduce a lift kit, adjustments or new components may be required to accommodate the changes.

Therefore, the alignment of the wheels becomes crucial after any changes in your suspension system to maintain a smooth and safe driving experience.

4) Car Pulls to One Side

Car Pulls to One Side

As time goes by, the components of your vehicle can experience wear and tear, leading to noticeable signs of aging. The most exposed components, such as the suspension spring, may become loose and worn, resulting in the wheel alignment pulling to one side and causing abnormal driving issues.

To avoid unnecessary wear and tear, it is essential to schedule regular service checkups for your vehicle and promptly address any essential bolt adjustments.

Read More: Reasons Why Your Steering Is Hard To Turn?

Symptoms of Steering Wheel Not Being Straight

When the steering wheel doesn’t be any more straight, it produces one or more of the below-given symptoms:

1) Vehicle Pulls to one side

If your vehicle pulls to one side, it is one of the clear signs of a steering wheel that is not straight.

In such conditions, you find it challenging to keep your car driving straight on the road and constantly need to correct its direction; seeking an inspection is essential. While some roads have slight angles for drainage, persistent pulling indicates the need for an alignment.

2) Steering Wheel Fails to Return to Center

If the steering wheel of your car doesn’t come back to its original position after making a turn, it’s a clear indicator that your car requires attention and should be inspected.

3) Loose Steering

The misalignment of wheels may cause a loose and unstable feeling in the steering wheel.

When you experience a wobbly sensation while driving, it’s crucial to have the vehicle aligned or inspect the suspension system for any necessary replacements, as driving with unresponsive steering is unsafe.

4) Abnormal Tire Tread Wear

tire wear, symptoms of steering wheel being not straight

Examining your tire tread wear can provide valuable insights about your vehicle’s health. Unusual wear patterns may indicate common issues.

To avoid unexpected tire replacement, it’s recommended to get the vehicle aligned and consider rotating the tires when necessary.

Read More: Tire Feathering Symptoms and Causes

How do you Straighten A Steering Wheel?

Once the professional has inspected the alignment, adjustments will be made to the toe, caster, and camber angles using specialized tools and devices. Prioritize proper tire inflation before the alignment procedure. After tire inflation, follow the below-given steps to straighten an off-center steering wheel:

  • Start by disconnecting the negative terminal of the battery to disable the airbags.
  • Steer the steering wheel to access two screws located on the upper left and upper right corners.
  • After accessing the upper left and upper right screws, remove them and take off the plastic cover.
  • Look inside and unscrew the Torx screws you find there.
  • Locate the central nut that grasps the steering wheel in its position and remove it.
  • Now, carefully perform the removal process of the steering wheel.
  • Rotate the steering wheel in your desired direction.
  • Push back onto the spindle.
  • Reattach the nuts and tighten them securely to hold the wheel in its new position.
  • Now, change the airbags.
  • Put back the plastic covers.
  • Reinstall the steering column covers and fasten all the screws.
  • Before hitting the road, perform a test drive to ensure the adjustments feel right, and make further adjustments if necessary.

For optimal results, it’s advisable to have your wheel alignment checked annually. This regular maintenance not only extends the lifespan of your tires but also improves fuel efficiency and ensures a comfortable driving experience akin to the smoothness of a new vehicle.

FAQ Section

Why my steering wheel is not straight after alignment?

There are several potential factors for a steering wheel not being straight after an alignment. One of the major reasons is that your car was not properly aligned from the manufacturer, though this occurrence is not very common. Another reason could be issues with the alignment machine used during the process. Additionally, there might be problems with the suspension system of your car that affect the alignment.

What happens when a Steering Wheel becomes unresponsive?

Having an improperly functioning steering wheel can be hazardous, as it compromises your ability to control the vehicle effectively and may lead to accidents.

Can I drive with a steering wheel that is not straight?

No, it is not safe to drive with a steering wheel that is not straight. It may compromise your ability to control the vehicle effectively and lead to accidents.

What is the most common cause of misalignment?

One of the most frequent causes of misalignment is impacts from hitting potholes or curbs, which may damage the suspension system parts and misalign your vehicle. Wear and tear over time can also contribute to alignment issues.

Does a misaligned steering wheel cause long-term problems?

Driving with misaligned wheels and a crooked steering wheel can lead to unnecessary issues. Such issues accelerate tire wear, necessitating more frequent replacements. Moreover, misalignment puts additional strain on the suspension system, resulting in a bumpy ride and potential wear on suspension components.

How do I know if my power steering is wrong?

If you find that your steering wheel is not straight or if you experience difficulty steering the steering wheel, it indicates that there is possibly an issue with the steering system.

How to straighten a steering wheel?

The most likely reason for a steering wheel not being straight is that your car is misaligned. Contact a professional for the alignment of your wheels. During an alignment, the mechanic will adjust the tie rods to center the steering wheel properly.

Why is my steering wheel moving side to side?

The steering wheel of a car may exhibit side-to-side movement due to various issues, including loose ball joints, a loose steering linkage, a loose steering gear, or insufficient tire pressure.

How much does it cost to align a steering wheel?

The cost of getting your wheels aligned typically ranges from $60 to $220, depending on your vehicle’s model and where you get the alignment done. It’s recommended to have the wheels aligned or, at best, checked once a year, according to most manufacturers.

Will an alignment fix a crooked steering wheel?

Yes, during the alignment process, the professional mechanic should ensure that the steering wheel is straightened. If your vehicle’s wheels are aligned, but your steering wheel is not straight, it’s essential to discuss the issue with a professional to resolve it.

How much does a wheel alignment cost?

The cost of wheel alignment typically falls within the range of $60 to $220, with the exact price influenced by factors such as your vehicle model and labor cost. To maintain proper alignment, it is advisable to perform wheel alignment or inspection at least once a year, especially if you make any modifications to the suspension.

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