Having trouble keeping your car between the lines? Or does your steering wheel vibrate while you drive? The problem could be that your steering wheel has become off-center. This can be extremely frustrating and dangerous.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an automotive engineer to get it straightened out. In fact, it’s actually quite a simple fix. All it takes is a few minutes of your time, a handful of tools, and a touch of elbow grease to adjust your car alignment.
Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to follow to get the job done in the comfort of your own driveway!
How to Straighten Your Steering Wheel
Is your steering wheel off-center? If so, it’s luckily an easy fix. Read on to learn how to straighten your steering when on your own.
Prepping Your Car
Before getting started, park your car in a safe place. Use jack stands to lift the car so that you can get underneath it more easily.
Loosen the Inner Tie Rod Nuts
To do this, you’ll need to get under your vehicle and locate the tie rod nuts. Wearing protective gloves to protect from grime, use a wrench to carefully loosen the nuts on each side of the vehicle.
Start on the passenger side and turn until the nut can be moved by hand. Then do the same on the other side.
Straighten Your Steering Wheel
Now get inside your vehicle and turn your steering wheel until it is centered. Be careful to not touch the steering wheel or wheels while making adjustments to the tie rods, otherwise, you’ll cause the steering wheel to fall off-centered again.
Checking Wheel Alignment
Using a piece of string the length of your vehicle, tie each end to a sturdy object so that the string runs parallel to the center of your wheels.
Make sure the string is perfectly straight and parallel to both wheels.
Next, get a measuring tape or ruler, and go to the rear of the vehicle. You are doing to measure the front and rear side of the rim to see if there is a difference in the distance to the string. This helps to ensure that the string and wheels are parallel.
Now do the same on the front wheels. And if you notice a difference, you will need to make an adjustment on the tie rods.
Adjusting the Tie Rod
Use your wrench to loosen the tie rod nuts. Turn the tie rod about half a turn. Keep in mind that a clockwise shortens the rod, and counter-clockwise lengthens the rod.
Repeat the measurement with the string until you get the same measurement on both sides.
It’s important to remember to keep the nuts loose during this process to keep from moving the wheels.
Tighten the Lock Nut
Tighten the little lock nut with your wrench, making sure the wheels don’t move.
Take a Drive Around the Neighborhood
Now that you’ve centered the steering wheel and tightened the nuts, take a test drive on a flat, straight road.
Pay close attention to how it handles. If it drives straight, you’ve done a good job. But if it continues to pull to one side, you’ll need to go back and make more adjustments.
Keeping Your Car on the Straight and Narrow
Proper steering wheel alignment is important for a number of reasons. Not only is it a safety issue, have a steering wheel that is properly centered will help maintain even tread wear and increase the life of your tires.
Car alignment might seem like a job for a trained mechanic, but these simple steps make it easy it easy to do at home!
Click here to learn how to remove dents and scratches on your car.