New vehicles come with a straight steering wheel and remain that way so long as the driver steers correctly. This, of course, changes with time. The following could be the causes of a crooked steering wheel.
While driving, flawless alignment of the steering wheel is expected. But some situations can bring about the steering wheel not being straight.
What Causes a Steering Wheel Not to Be Straight While Driving?
When your steering wheel is not straight, it signifies that the vehicle is out of alignment, and your car’s suspension and steering system isn’t functioning properly. This can cause uneven tread wear on your tires, and you may need to replace them sooner than expected.
The reason behind the steering wheel not straight problem could range from road accidents to hitting a curb. Thankfully, this issue is quite simple to fix. The steering wheel would properly settle in your hands once you have aligned it.
Also Read: Service Power Steering Light (Meaning, Causes & Fix)
Other Causes of the Steering Wheel Not Straight Problem?
As formerly stated, major problems regarding poor alignment, are problems that center on the misalignment of the front end. The basic reason behind poor alignment varies in different cases.
Fixing this problem usually involves, properly diagnosing the core reason for the faulty alignment. These are some of the usual reasons behind poor alignment:
1. Normal Wear and Tear
A major cause of the steering wheel not straight problem is the normal wear and tear car parts undergo with time.
As time passes, the front section of the car will start to wear, providing extra free play inside vital sockets and bushings. Over time, this extra play results in misalignment. Most tire producers advise, that front view alignment that follows the replacement of the four tires, be carried out due to this factor
Even though front view parts are anticipated to wear over time, replacement of the affected suspension parts and steering will be required for very bad wear.
Further alignments are expected to be carried out in the nearest future, in a situation where these parts are not replaced.
2. Component Damage
Another cause of the steering wheel not straight problem is a single component damage.
A sudden blow can damage any vital suspension and steering part, even though it is rare. This usually happens when you hit a curb or drive through a pothole at a very high speed.
The front part of the car takes most of the shock from this accident, which often damages the weakest parts. The geometry of the front view of the car is usually badly affected whenever one of the vital steering parts is damaged.
As a result, the car’s steering wheel orientation and front section alignment will be altered. Fixing this problem requires the complete replacement of all the affected parts and redoing the alignment process.
3. Wreck Damage
Damage to the front section of the car due to collision is detrimental to the alignment of the front section causing the steering wheel not straight problem. Vital suspension and steering parts are easily affected by wrecks, affecting the car’s front section.
Wreck damage is usually more significant than the basic component damage the car takes in situations like striking a pothole. The car’s various suspension and stressing mounts on wreck damage are usually severely affected.
This happens in a case where frame damage of any level has occurred. Without spontaneous intervention, which is usually very costly, this damage isn’t always repairable.
4. Ride Height Modifications
A car’s suspension and steering systems are professionally programmed to deliver a high-quality experience. But this can only be applicable in a situation, where there hasn’t been any modification in the car’s stock ride.
Some modifications like leveling kit or lift installation can affect the car’s alignment and will, in turn, make the steering wheel look misaligned when you are driving straight.
Due to this, it is very vital to allow experts to perform the alignment because they will follow the modifications that directly affect the ride height of the car. This will help restore your car’s alignment to its original state.
Additional importance to the alignment of the car is that it positively affects the wearing of the tires and will allow you to enjoy your buck to the fullest.
What Is Wheel Alignment?
The wheels of a newly sold vehicle from a dealership, usually align to the producer’s specs. Properly aligned wheels, aid the car in maintaining control using very little effort. However, the hitting of bumps can result in the misalignment of the wheels over time.
Due to this misalignment of the wheels, the car’s suspension and steering system wear badly, and the lifespan of the tires can be reduced due to the issue. But everything can be fixed and returned to the original state by wheel alignment service.
This service aids the wheels in moving in the proper direction, which in turn, ensures great driving quality and increases the lifespan of other vehicle parts.
Additional signs of the need for wheel alignment
1. Uneven Tire Wear
The assignment of the car can be determined, by merely examining the tire tread. The car requires alignment if you notice some tire parts are more worn than the other areas.
Because all the tires make contact with the same pressure, they are meant to wear evenly. But the poor alignment of the wheels, and making use of tire pressures that you shouldn’t use, can result in uneven wearing. Off adjustment is indicated by feathering and scalloping.
2. Car Pulling To One Side
Even if your hands are off the steering wheel, it is simple to steer the case straightly when it is aligned. When the vehicle pulls towards a particular side, the wheels need alignment.
Certain roads are designed to pull vehicles to one side, so you must be careful when you judge for alignment by driving on a particular road. But if the car pulls a specific post, you need to have an expert examine it.
3. Awkward Handling
The car’s handling becomes loose when there is a misalignment. If you notice a slow response from the steering wheel, you should have the car examined.
In a situation like this, one might get scared, which is valid because there might also be a slow response in a case of emergency.
Related: How Long Does An Alignment Take?
How to Fix a Steering Wheel That’s Off-Center
In a real sense, the simplest accurate manner to restore alignment is by allowing a qualified expert to realign the affected car’s front section. This re-centers the car’s steering wheel and returns it to its initial alignment state.
Service like this can be done with not so large amount of time by the bulk of full-service shops. During the alignment, a professional will examine the car for front section parts that have excessively worn out and damaged areas.
Some shops will note that such problems be fixed initially before the alignment. This is because proper alignment would not be possible if the car shows signs that it won’t conform to fixing. Also, having the front section realigned properly comes with some benefits.
For example, tracking is straighter with a newly aligned vehicle compared to its counterparts and simultaneously shows simultaneous wearing of the tires. This ensures improved riding quality and, in the long run, saves costs for drivers.
Check out this video for more tips on how to straighten your steering wheel
How Much Does It Cost to Center a Steering Wheel?
You can always return your car to be aligned if you notice that it is still off-center, and this won’t cost anything. The shop is responsible for centering the steering wheel once they are the ones that align it. The cost of an alignment is someplace around $100-$300.
Even though you will have to align all four wheels in most cars, you will only need to align just two wheels in some cars. The expert will need to examine the caster, toe, and Camber at different angles and axis of each wheel to be sure the specs are within good handling. Some cars accommodate adjustments more than the rest.
Once the alignment process is completed, the front wheels should be straight whenever the steering wheel is straight. Bad alignment of the steering wheel can be very deadly, but it’s pretty simple to fix. If you are skeptical, fix a date to visit your mechanic’s shop.
Also Read: Can You Drive Without Power Steering? (Answered)
Why Is My Steering Wheel Not Straight After Alignment
There is a possibility that the actual reason for the car’s bad alignment has not been fixed if your car’s steering wheel is still off-center after it has been aligned. A possible reason could be that the mechanic wasn’t familiar with the processes of alignment for your car.
In situations like this, the alignment will likely cause more harm than good. Another reason could be that the mechanic missed fixing other damaged steering parts. For example, distorted steering knuckles or tie rods.
These situations imply that the car will require more mechanical attention. In a case such as this, the shop might insist you bring your car back for follow-up services, as this will save you paying twice for the same repair. But you can also decide to try another service center.
Frequently Asked Questions – Steering Wheel Not Straight
What causes a steering wheel to be off-center?
You will notice that your steering wheel isn’t properly aligned when your wheels aren’t properly aligned. In addition, you may notice that even though the wheels are straight, the logos won’t be straight. Pulling is another glaring symptom of bad alignment.
Will an alignment straighten my steering wheel?
Yes, an alignment will straighten your steering wheel.
Will an alignment fix a crooked steering wheel?
A poorly centered steering wheel is a symptom of bad alignment. A wheel alignment can fix the misalignment issue if no other problem is noticed.
How much does it cost to straighten a steering wheel?
A single alignment costs around $50-$100, but a full alignment can cost up to $200.
Can you do wheel alignment at home?
It is best to employ an expert to perform the alignment at a service shop, even though it is possible to perform a DIY alignment, in the comfort of your home.
Can you align your car?
Regardless of the type of vehicle, you are advised to have an expert do a proper wheel alignment for you. But in a case where you have the correct tools to perform this, you may give it a try yourself.
Conclusion – Steering Wheel Not Straight
A misaligned steering wheel can pose a big issue initially, and properly aligned wheels aren’t an issue. The issue arises when your steering wheel becomes off-centered. But in a situation where the steering wheel isn’t still aligned even after an alignment, it is not properly done.
It doesn’t matter if the steering wheel is properly functioning because the main problem would be the confusion it will cause. In a situation where you have gotten used to your steering wheel in a particular position, you won’t be able to tell how the wheels should be turned or where to hold if it is skewed in a resting state.
When parked, this may not seem much of an issue, but once you start driving, that’s where the problem comes. This can be very dangerous, especially in case of an emergency.
Ensuring that the steering wheel is level or straight is vital in ensuring the proper alignment of the whole system. This will also help you ensure that you are not losing fuel due to uneven tires, and also help you ensure that the tires won’t wear unevenly due to problems with the Camber.
Employ an expert to examine the car as soon as possible if you notice that the steering wheel doesn’t return to the center when you are not driving the car.