How To Align the Steering in a Car

Steering Wheel

Steering Wheel (Photo credit: Marie Carter)

Aligning a steering wheel is important for proper driving. It keeps tire wear to a minimum, allows proper handling and response on the road, and it helps avoid accidents in tight turning. However, the process takes a few steps and some help to do correctly.

The actual position of a steering wheel doesn’t matter much. Where it is in relation to each front wheel position matters. First, have the wheels aligned properly at a shop. They can do this during an oil change. Next, check the car’s alignment going down the highway and letting the car drift a bit. If it drifts left or right pretty quick, then the alignment is leaning one way or the other. Note by mark where the steering wheel needs to be to drive straight.

Park the car on wheel ramps or elevated blocks as straight as possible and turn off the engine. Set the parking brake and emergency brake. Underneath both tie rods should be marked in current position before any changes are made. This makes it easier to reverse if needed. Then, the securing nut should be loosed and the tie rods adjusted by a 1/4 turn. To go left the driver’s side would be counter-clockwise and the passenger clockwise. Vice versa to lean more to the right. Re-tighten the securing nut firmly afterwards. Then take the car for a drive after pulling it off the ramps. Repeat the process until the alignment works for a straight drive.


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