Why Is My Steering Wheel Off Center But Drives Straight?

When driving, the steering wheel center must always be adjusted and controlled to work smoothly.

It ensures operational performance and, more importantly, guarantees the safety of occupants, avoiding unexpected risks.

After a period of driving, the wheels are prone to deflection for many reasons. On the road, there are many potholes, traffic collisions, etc., which makes the steering wheel off center but drives straight.

Is this dangerous and needs immediate action? The next parts will show you the answer!

What Is The Wheel Alignment?

steering wheel off center but drives straight

If you’ve been driving for a long time, you should be familiar with wheel alignment.

As mentioned above, when you’re driving, there are many problems such as potholes, bumpy roads, and traffic accidents.

That’s why a car drives straight but the steering wheel to be crooked or misaligned. Thus, you need to pay more attention to the alignment.

The mechanical alignment of the vehicle’s suspension is required for alignment. It changes the direction and angle of the tire’s contact with the road.

The manufacturer determines the ideal alignment for each make and model of car to optimize handling and performance.

The handling characteristics of a vehicle can affect its overall safety or other damages such as creating rubbing noise from the front; therefore, alignment is part and parcel of vehicle maintenance.

In addition to improving safety and handling, maintaining proper alignment can also lengthen the life of your tires and prevent wear.

This gives you the best return on your investment while increasing fuel consumption at the same time. An optimal wheel alignment enhances vehicle control and steering while shortening braking distances.

Reasons Of Car Steering Wheel Off Center But Drives Straight

You already know what the alignment is. But why isn’t my steering wheel straight? Why is my steering wheel crooked when I drive? Is the problem still confusing you?

Don’t worry! We’ll show you the six common reasons that you can take a look at. To find out the solution, you have to determine the reason first!

Hit Curb Or Pump

If going through a small pothole, adjusting the rudder will not be much of a concern. However, it’s essential to pay more attention if it’s a large one.

When driving through it, the wheel will suddenly sink; you will also have to put more effort into the steering to steer the car out of there. This can make the steering wheel crooked but drives straight.

Or when you steer, they suddenly hit the curb or pumps, which impairs alignment. The best way is always to check for it after a strong impact or hit.

Normal Wear And Tear

If your steering wheel is off center when driving straight, you must consider how long since the last time you had the vehicle upkeep.

Obviously, parts will not be able to operate smoothly and efficiently when not maintained regularly, even when you got premium wheels or high-end details.

Every car’s front end will eventually wear down, allowing for more free-play in crucial bushings and sockets.

A vehicle’s alignment will eventually deviate from standard specifications as a result of this extra movement.

This is the rationale behind why most sizable tire manufacturers advise a front-end alignment immediately following the replacement of four tires.

Although some front-end component wear is normal over time, severe wear necessitates the replacement of all harmed steering/suspension parts.

Wreck Damage

The damage frequently sustained after a collision is even more harmful to a vehicle’s front-end alignment.

Several crucial steering and suspension parts are easily vulnerable to damage in a front-end collision.

Numerous of these elements have an impact on alignment by directly affecting a vehicle’s toe, caster, and camber values.

However, accident damage frequently turns out to be much more considerable than basic component damage sustained.

The different steering and suspension mounts on a car are frequently severely harmed in collisions.

This is typically the case whenever there has been frame damage of any kind, which explains why the steering wheel isn’t straight.

Technical Failure

A few more special cases when the steering wheel is crooked but drives straight is that it still cannot be accurate after alignment. It can be due to an error in the adjustment process.

If you do the calibration yourself at home, the chances of this problem are very high because not everyone has the experience and the necessary equipment to adjust it.

However, some technical issues can happen if you take it to the shop. Please notify the technician and have it checked again.

Awkward Handling

A standard steering wheel responds quickly and accurately as you steer and turn. In the opposite case, when it is loose and the response is slow or unresponsive, it’s time to check it again.

When the car steering wheel is off center coupled with weird handling, it is extremely dangerous. You will easily fall into a panic when the steering is not as you want.

Ride Height Modifications

If ride height modification is done before you detect the car steering wheel is not straight when driving, this could be the reason for the loss of accuracy.

The steering and suspension systems on a car are fine-tuned to offer excellent handling and ride quality. However, when the stock ride height has been modified, this isn’t guaranteed anymore.

For example, a lift or leveling kit installation might affect a vehicle’s alignment and make the steering wheel  appear misaligned even when the vehicle is moving straight ahead.

That’s why you should have experts or experienced mechanics carried on the height modification to avoid impacting the alignment.

How To Fix A Car Steering Wheel Not Straight When Driving?

Now, you know why the steering wheel is not straight. Can you fix it at home or need to go to the service car?

Tips To Fix At Home

If the steering wheel is not centered when driving straight, you can try the following steps to fix it at home. However, make sure you apply them properly to avoid damaging other parts.

  • Park your car on a flat surface and pull the brake lever to fix the vehicle
  • Check your car’s owner’s manual or look up the specs online
  • Check the tire pressure and inflate or deflate the tire based on the standard. If tire pressure is not a problem, go to the next step
  • Loosen the nuts to adjust, which are attached to the tie rod
  • Lower the vehicle to touch the ground. Push the wheel forward and backward within 10 feet for it to return to a steady state
  • Adjust the steering wheel until you feel it is straight
  • Connect the two front wheels with a metal tape measure to align them
  • The tie rod must be rotated counterclockwise if your tires need to be turned inside. And vice versa, it should be turned clockwise if they need to be turned outward.
  • After adjusting, check again and again to make sure they are aligned
  • Tighten the nuts, then you can drive to test

For Serious Cases

If your alignment issue is more severe after a crash or a big pothole, it would be helpful to bring it to a service center.

Home adjustment should only be applied to mild cases. Inexperienced DIYers and the lack of tools can worsen the case, and you will have to pay more to fix them after that.


How To Fix A Car Steering Wheel Not Straight When Driving

When the steering wheel off center but drives straight, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible to ensure the car’s performance and avoid damaging other parts.

In general, many reasons, from simple to complicated, lead to this issue. You can fix it yourself at home by following the above instructions, but remember that you need the necessary skills and knowledge.

It is highly advised that you drive your car to a service shop and get assistance from a qualified mechanic.

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