Car Pulling to the Right or Left on the Highway? Check These Parts

If you feel your car pulling to the right or left on the highway, there might be a problem with some steering and suspension parts. In this video, our mechanic Sue reviews why this happens, what parts to check, and how to tell if that pull means there’s an underlying problem or if it’s just how the road is paved.

Why Is My Car Pulling to the Right or Left?

Car pulling to the left or right vs drifting to the left or right

If your is car pulling to the right or left, it will pull harder than the slight drift that comes from how roads are designed. Roads are built to drain water so that it doesn’t pool up, and this can also cause a slight drift when driving.

If your car is pulling while driving, you’ll feel it pull or drift strongly and that’s because worn or damaged parts in the suspension and steering can cause a hard pull or shorter drift.

Parts that can cause pulling when driving on the highway

  • Tires with low air pressure
  • Bad tie rods
  • Worn rear suspension parts like bushings
Fix a car pulling to the right or left on the highway yourself with quality auto parts and tips at 1aauto.com

Tire Pressure

Worn tire from a neglected air leak
Worn tire from a neglected air leak

The first thing you want to check is the tire pressure. Check for an appearance at the end of the tire tread and the outside of the perimeter of the tire of light dirt and mud that on closer look has grooved out. This is a sign the tire has had an air leak for some time, which can cause more of a pull than a drift. If only a little pressure is lost, it’s more likely to drift, but the more pressure lost the more of a pull while driving you’ll feel.

Loose or Frozen Tie Rods

Torn boot
Torn boot

Suspension parts could also be causing your car or truck to pull to the left or right on the highway. You could have a loose or frozen tie rod end. Raise and secure the vehicle with a jack and jack stand and turn the tire in and out from 3 and 9 o’clock position. A frozen tie rod end will make a squeaking sound.

A loose tie rod end will feel like you can’t find center when driving straight, like in an old automobile where it was normal to have to try and keep the steering wheel steady and centered because of the steering box, which has been replaced with power steering racks in modern vehicles. With the vehicle raised with a jack and jack stand, push the tire in and out and see if the steering wheel is moving. You have a problem with the tie rod end if the steering wheel is not moving but the tire is.

Tie rods have an inner and outer rod. They come apart and are available separately or as a kit at 1aauto.com. The outer tie rod end is closer to the wheel and connects to the inner tie rod with a jamb nut. The inner tie rod enters the steering rack.

If the inner tie rod end has play, it’ll enter the rack in and out, but you won’t see it because of the boot.

The outer tie rod end pivots when you turn the steering wheel, but if it freezes that can cause a drift or pull on the highway. If it’s loose and wobbling, you’ll be chasing it, going into it and out.

Check the condition of the boot. The boot should not shift effortlessly and should not be broken or torn. Replacing the outer and inner tie rods together is preferred since threads can wear, rust and affect the alignment.

Worn or Misaligned Rear Suspension Parts

Cracked bushing
Cracked bushing

If the front suspension parts are in good condition, check the rear suspension and steering parts. You’ll find parts like upper control arms, lower radius arms, lateral arms, radius bushings, and possibly tie rods. Parts like the trailing arm can bend from a fender bender, for example.

Check the bushings on these parts for dry rotting and cracking.

If there is no play, jack the car or truck up and support it with a jack. Remove the wheel from both sides and compare the bushings and alignment of these parts. Check the angles of the bushings and if any are accompanied with a noise. Check body mounts, which can break down fast, especially in cold weather climates that have road salt.

Found the Problem? Fix It Yourself and Get an Alignment

If you can find the problem causing your to car pull to the right or left on the highway, fix it yourself and get a proper alignment. We recommend that you always get a 4 wheel alignment. The differential could shift from bumpy back roads on trucks, for example, with only a 2 wheel alignment.

Check Out More How-to Videos

If you checked these parts on your car and it still pulls to the right or left, check out this video which explains what else might be happening and what other parts you can check.

Watch more how-to videos at our how-to video library. We have tons of diagnostic and repair instructions for many vehicles.

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Car Pulling to the Right or Left on the Highway? - Expert Tips - 1A Auto
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Car Pulling to the Right or Left on the Highway? - Expert Tips - 1A Auto
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If your car is pulling to the left or right on the highway you might have a problem with some of the parts mentioned in this article and video. Find out what parts to check and how to diagnose them yourself with these tips
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1A Auto
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