Steering Wheel Off Center but Drives Straight: Common Causes and How to Fix It!

Have you ever noticed that even when your steering wheel is off center, your car still goes straight? It’s a strange situation that raises questions. 

If your wheels aren’t properly aligned, your steering wheel will be off-center even when going straight. However, there are other obvious reasons why this is happening.

This article will provide a quick explanation of why does steering wheel off center but drives straight and its fixes. 

Steering Wheel Off Center but Drives Straight

How The Steering System Works?

The steering mechanism of a vehicle is the steering wheel, often known as a driving wheel or a hand wheel.

Steering wheels and the associated systems are the primary means by which a vehicle is directed.

When the driver turns the wheel, his or her input is transmitted to the steering shaft, which in turn directs the wheels to turn to the left or right. 

The vehicle’s wheels don’t all turn in the same direction because it only travels in one direction at a time. The vehicle’s steering mechanism is responsible for this reoccurring action.

The steering wheel receives rotational action from the steering column, thrust bearing, and other components of the steering system.

Most vehicles today use either a rack and pinion or recirculating ball steering system, while there are other options. However, the vehicle’s steering system is what ensures a steady course throughout the trip.

What Are The Causes Of A Car’s Steering Wheel Off Center But Drives Straight?

A misaligned front end is the most likely cause of a crooked steering wheel when driving straight. Front end misalignment can occur for a number of different reasons, but the following are particularly common: 

Normal Wear & Tear

Components of the front-end suspension and steering system are susceptible to wear and might eventually lose their initial alignment if not maintained properly. Ball joints, tie rods, bushings, and other elements can get worn or loose over time, which can result in misalignment of the vehicle.

Road Conditions

Potholes, curbs, and other road hazards can seriously throw off your car’s front-end alignment. Misalignment in the suspension system might occur from these impacts shifting or bending suspension components.

Accidents or Collisions

Misalignment of the vehicle’s front end can be caused by even a slight collision. Suspension parts, control arms, and steering components can all become out of alignment if they are damaged or jarred during the accident.

Improper Installation or Repairs

If front-end components were improperly installed or repaired in the past, misalignment may result. This can include improper implementation of tie rods, control arms, and other essential suspension and steering system components.

Modifications to the vehicle’s height

If you haven’t altered the vehicle’s ride height, the suspension and steering will remain in sync, and the vehicle’s alignment won’t shift. 

However, the alignment will be drastically altered if you decide to use a levelling kit or install a lift to change the vehicle’s riding height. 

Therefore, after the upgrades, it is crucial to have professional assistance with wheel alignment. 

Lack of Regular Maintenance

Misalignment of the front end can be caused by neglecting regular maintenance such tire rotations and alignments. 

Alignment problems can be caught early and fixed before they become more serious if inspections and alignments are performed regularly.

Uneven Tire Pressure

If the tire pressure isn’t even, the turning wheel might not be in the middle. If the pressure in one or more tires is much lower or higher than what is suggested, it can change how the car handles and throw off the alignment of the steering wheel

Suspension Issue

Unless you turn the steering wheel, your automobile is designed to travel straight. 

The normal position of a vehicle’s suspension is for the wheels to face forward. Your steering wheels are part of your car’s suspension. This means that an alignment problem is really a suspension problem.

Read Also: Steering Wheel Crooked But Drives Straight – 3 Easy Fixes

How to Fix a Steering Wheel That’s Off-Center? 

If the steering wheel is not centered when you are going straight, you can fix it at home by doing the following. But make sure you use them correctly so you don’t hurt other parts.

To fix the off centered steering wheel first perform the alignment test.

DIY Alignment Test:

To perform a quick alignment test, look for a smooth, lonely, paved road. 

Drive straight and stop holding on to the steering wheel. Your vehicle should remain on a straight line even if you remove your hands from the steering wheel. If it starts to pull to the right or left, the alignment of your wheels is off and you need to fix it.

Step-1 Locate A Straight, Flat Road

Find a safe and level road where you can drive straight for a short distance.

Step-2 Identify the Direction of The Misalignment

On the straight road, pay close attention to the direction in which the steering wheel is off-center. Is it swiveling to the left or the right?

Step-3 Stop the Vehicle and Turn Off the Engine

Once you have identified the misalignment direction, pull over to a safe location and turn off the engine.

Step-4 Adjust the Tie Rods

The wheels and the steering mechanism are linked by the tie rods of the steering linkage. The tie rods may need to be loosened or tightened in order to change the position of the steering wheel.

  • Locate the tie rod ends: The tie rod ends on either side of the vehicle can usually be found close to the front wheels. 
  • Loosen the locking nuts: The locking nuts on the tie rod ends must be loosened with the proper wrench. The tie rod is secured by these nuts.
  • Adjust the tie rods: To bring the steering wheel closer to the center position, you can adjust the tie rods by rotating the tie rod ends in the appropriate direction. If you need to know whether you should turn the tie rod ends clockwise or anticlockwise, check the vehicle’s manual or specifications.
  • Tighten the locking nuts: Once the necessary modifications have been made, tighten the locking nuts on the tie rod ends. When tightening the tie rod nuts, take care not to budge the tie rods.

Step-5 Test drive and make fine adjustments

Start the engine and take a quick spin around the level road to fine-tune everything. 

Check to see if the steering wheel is center by looking at its current location. 

Repeatedly adjusting the tie rods until the desired center position is reached may be necessary if it is still not center.

Read Also: Power Steering Fluid Leaking Fast: (Causes and Solutions)

What If After Alignment Your Steering Wheel Is Still Off Centre?

It’s possible that a bent steering linkage is to blame if your steering wheel is still not in the center after an alignment. 

The steering linkage is what attaches the steering wheel to the wheels, allowing you to steer the vehicle. If the steering linkage is crooked, the steering wheel may not be center.

The solution in this case is to replace the steering linkage. This requires an expert mechanic, as the damaged component must be removed and replaced.

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