Misaligned Steering Wheel: What It Means and What To Do

A vehicle’s alignment is crucial to its safety and longevity. When a vehicle’s wheel alignment is out of whack, it’ll manifest in a crooked steering wheel while driving. Below, we explain what it means and what drivers should do if they have a misaligned steering wheel.

Car Issues That Cause a Misaligned Steering Wheel

Worn Tires

When the steering wheel and the alignment of a car are out of whack, it can cause the tires to wear unevenly, worsening the vehicle’s misalignment. Uneven tire wear can also contribute to a vehicle’s misalignment if one side of the rubber is significantly more worn.

This unbalanced tire tread puts increased pressure on the wheels and suspension system, causing the steering wheel to become misaligned and the whole vehicle to steer crooked. If it’s not the alignment, the uneven tire wear could be a sign of a bad wheel bearing. Drivers should still have their vehicle thoroughly inspected if they discover this issue.

Wheel Misalignment

A crooked steering wheel is also one of the most common signs of alignment issues in a vehicle. Wheel misalignment is more common in older and worn-down vehicles, but it can also occur in brand-new cars. Often, excessive force, like the wheels hitting a curb or driving over too many deep potholes, causes this misalignment. If you accidentally hit a curb and notice your steering wheel isn’t straight, you should get an alignment check immediately, as the more you drive while the steering wheel is out of alignment, the more damage you will do.

Damaged Suspension Components

The misalignment of your steering wheel and wheels could also be due to the suspension’s components becoming excessively worn down or broken. Components like struts or tie rods can affect the toe and camber angles of your vehicle’s wheels, making them crooked, which forces your steering wheel and wheels to become misaligned.

Rough terrain and damaged roads can damage your car’s suspension, so you should always try to avoid potholes on the road. Issues with the vehicle’s suspension are the most serious problems that can cause a crooked steering wheel, and drivers should rectify them immediately to ensure their car’s viability and safety.

What To Do About a Crooked Steering Wheel

So, we know what a misaligned steering wheel means, but what should drivers do about it? The best thing to do is to get it checked out by a professional mechanic and get a wheel alignment. While it’s possible to do a DIY alignment, having a professional do it is much safer and better for your car.

While getting a wheel alignment, the technicians can also check your vehicle’s suspension components to ensure nothing is excessively damaged or requires replacements. If you’ve been driving a misaligned vehicle for a while, the tires are likely unevenly worn, and you should consider replacing them with a new set.

Now you understand the dangers and causes of a misaligned steering wheel. The best way to test for a misaligned steering wheel is to put your steering wheel straight (use the car brand logo on the steering wheel as a level) and see if your car drives straight. If it veers to one side or the other, you should get an alignment check immediately.