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If your car starts pulling to the left while driving, you might have little to no control over the steering wheel. Don’t panic. Take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to address the problem and determine what’s causing it.

Reasons Why Your Car Pulls to the Left

When diagnosing this problem, it’s important to ask firstly, when is it most prone to happen? Driving on a flat and level road with no crown? Driving on a flat road with a crown? Stopping? Accelerating? These pieces of information are important.

The most common reason cars pull to the side is an alignment issue. Wheel alignment includes three major angles: camber (inward or outward tilt of the tire), caster (steering axis angle as seen from the side), and toe (whether or not the tires are rolling parallel to each other when seen from the top).

diagram of a camber angle
Camber angle diagram | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
diagram of a caster angle
Caster angle diagram | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
diagram of a toe angle
Toe angle diagram | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Even if the alignment angles are all in spec, but camber is slightly more positive (tire leaning out) on the left front wheel than on the right, and camber is slightly negative (angle more vertical) on that same wheel than on the opposite front wheel, the vehicle will pull to the left.

Even if the alignment angles are all in spec, but camber is slightly more positive (tire leaning out) on the left front wheel than on the right, and camber is slightly negative (angle more vertical) on that same wheel than on the opposite front wheel, the vehicle will pull to the left.

Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

While these three are adjustable angles, there are also non-adjustable angles like steering axis inclination and toe-out-on-turns that can be out of spec due to frame or front end damage.

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There is also the element of “thrust angle,” which has to do with the orientation of the rear axle or wheels in relation to the front wheels.

Other problems that could cause your car to pull to the left include:

Uneven Tire Air Pressure

Uneven air pressure on the tires results in a slight shift in alignment, which can cause pulling.

Uneven Tire Tread

Uneven tire tread refers to when the tires don’t wear out evenly, so one or several tires are smoother than the others. This causes a pulling effect whenever braking.

uneven tire thread
The two tires shown in the photos came from the same vehicle that was pulling even though the alignment angles were all correct. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Tire Conicity

Tire conicity is a manufacturing issue that causes one of its components to misalign, causing the tire tread rubber to harden and come in a cone shape instead of the proper cylinder shape. This pulls the vehicle to the side the defective tire is on.

However, conicity aside, some tires will have more rolling resistance than others and can cause a pull even if the tire looks just fine.

Bad Wheel Bearing

The wheel bearing carries the weight of the vehicle on the spindle while allowing the wheel to roll. Wheel bearings won’t usually cause a vehicle to pull unless they’re so worn out that they have lost some of their parts.

Worn-Out Steering or Suspension

If there are no issues with the tires, worn-out steering or suspension parts might be causing the car to pull to one side. Steering and suspension parts that are worn can cause alignment angles to change in an unpredictable way. Thus, an alignment technician always looks for worn steering parts before doing anything else.

Brake Issues

Issues in the braking system can result in a car that pulls when braking. If the brake on one side has more stopping power than the other side due to fluid pressure delivery or a mechanical issue with the brakes on that side, you may feel a pull when applying the brakes. But steering / suspension parts can also cause a pull while braking that isn’t related to the brake system itself.

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Here are some of the common brake issues:

Stuck Calipers

The brake calipers apply the pads to the rotors when fluid pressure is delivered to the piston chamber in the caliper, but the piston can stick in one caliper and cause a pull while braking.

Collapsed Brake Hose

Because the suspension and steering moves the wheels separately from the vehicle frame, high pressure hoses are required to feed brake pressure to the calipers. Sometimes, a brake hose will begin to swell shut on the inside and you may feel a pull when you initially start braking, only to feel the pull go away as you continue to apply brake pressure. But anything that hinders the natural flow of the fluid can cause the car to pull to one side when braking.

Why Is My Car Pulling When I Accelerate?

Car pulling sideways when accelerating might be due to torque steer. It occurs when the engine torque influences the steering, tugging the vehicle to either side.

Why does torque steer happen? Well, on some vehicles, the CV axle on one side is a lot shorter than the one on the other side and that causes the wheel with the shorter CV axle to accelerate a slight bit faster than the longer CV axle, which will twist a bit more under hard acceleration. Newer cars don’t experience this because of the way the CV axles are configured.

Diagnosing the Issue

If you’re confident with your car repair know-how, you can try to diagnose the issues yourself. Inspect the tires and steering components. Then, check the tire pressure and wheel alignment for issues. You can also go on test drives to confirm pulling.

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Fixing a Car That Pulls to One Side: What to Expect

Whether you’ve determined the cause or not, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop to address it. The fix depends on the cause of the issue. Here are some of the ways mechanics will resolve the issue.

Wheel Alignment

If misaligned tires are the culprit, the mechanic will take measures to align them. They could do everything from ensuring consistent tire pressure to replacing tires with uneven tread.

Part Repairs or Replacements

If the mechanic determines that a faulty part is causing the car to pull to one side, they could either repair or replace it.

Can I Do Alignment Myself?

You can align the car wheels yourself, but it’s recommended to have an expert do it.

Should a Car Pull Slightly to the Left?

It shouldn’t. Cars should drive straight on flat surfaces. If it pulls slightly to the left or right, it might have wheel misalignment or brake issues.

Final Thoughts

Knowing what causes your car to pull to one side will help you keep it running at its best. While the reason varies, the problem is usually caused by the tires or the brake system, so it’s best to have them inspected first.

Regular maintenance can help prevent your car from pulling to one side, letting you drive safely and confidently. Practicing proper driving habits can also help keep maintenance costs to a minimum, as they can prevent various problems.

About The Authors
Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician
Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Technical Reviewer at

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

CarParts Research Team Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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