Steering Wheel Off Center: The Causes and The Fixing Methods
Have you ever encountered the problem of steering wheel off center? It’s annoying because when the wheel is not in the center, you have to make adjustments to your driving and sitting position. It could lead to safety concerns and physical discomforts like shoulder and back pain if going on for a long time.
Why Is My Steering Wheel Off Center?
There are several reasons for the steering wheel to move off-center. It could happen due to shoddy engineering and design. Although it is rare but not unheard of. Most people never notice. But, a car can come out of the factory with the steering wheel off center or tilted.
It may happen when you bump the suspension after hitting a pothole. Such sudden jolts displace the components from their original factory-set positions. The similar problem will occur if you spend too much time off-road. When you drive much time on the rocks, the numerous bumps and impacts will push the steering wheel slightly off center.
Also, the position of the steering wheel depends on the thrust angle of a vehicle. The misalignment of the rear wheel or axle affects the angle between the thrust line and centerline. The result is a crooked wheel.
Steering Wheel Off Center: How to Fix It?
When you are fixing a bent wheel, you have to work on three angles – caster, camber, and toe.
Caster – refers to the forward or backward tilting of the top of the steering axis. It regulates the steering’s directional control. According to the measurement, the backward tilt is considered positive (+) while the forward tilt is negative (-).
Camber – has control over the directional operation and tire wear. The angle refers to the bending of the wheels from the upright position. It becomes a positive (+) angle when the wheel’s incline at the top is outward. It will be negative (-) when it angles inward.
Toe – refers to the extent of the angle the front or rear wheels are turned in or out. The toe angle is positive (+) when the wheels are turned in and it is negative (-) when they are turned out.
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The easy ways to fix steering wheel off center problem are:
It is the simplest method but you need to have some technical knowledge about the mechanism of a vehicle. Also, you have to have the correct tools because it involves removing the steering wheel from its case.
Just take it out and set up again in the right position. It is also possible to correct the alignment without removing the wheel. But, the process involves more time and cost.
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When the tilting is too much, you should take the vehicle to a service shop. The mechanics use a machine for the alignment that takes care of all four wheels and the thrust angle. They will also check the caster, camber, and toe angles to make sure that the steering wheel is not off-center.