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Car Pulls to One Side When Braking

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A car pulls to one side when braking because of the problem with the front tires, front-end, or the front brakes. Find out why.

When the car pulls to one side when the braking is applied, there are three possible causes for this problem that is the front tires, front end, and front brakes. To determine which of the three causes the problems do the following check.

Check the front tires air pressure

Using a tire pressure gauge, measure the tire pressure of the left and right front tire. Compare if both tires have the same tire pressure. When tires have uneven tire pressure then the cause of the problem is imbalance tire pressure. When both tires are identically inflated then the problem is not the tire pressure. The next to check is the front end.

How to Check Air Tire Pressure
How to check air tire pressure, the first thing to do is to remove the tire valve cap. Remove the tiny cap that is installed on the tire valve. Read more » How to Check Air Tire Pressure

Check front end alignment

To check the front-end alignment, drive the car on a level road. Relax your grip on the steering wheel and check if the car pulls to one side. Do not step on the brake pedal when doing this test to determine if the car also pulls to one side even when the brake is not applied.

If the car pulls to one side, then the problem is the front-end alignment. If the car does not pull to one side then it is not the front end alignment, next to check is the brake.

Check the brakes

To check the brakes, park the car on a level road and engage the parking brake. Loosen the nut on both the front tires. Jack up the car so that both front tires will jack up. Place a tripod under the car then lower the car into the tripod. Do this on the other side of the car. Next is to remove the front tires so that the brakes will be exposed. Inspect the brake disc for any oily substance present on the disc. Rub your finger on the disc and feel if there is any grease or fluid on the surface of the disc.

If there is oil, grease, or fluid present on the surface of the disc then the problem is a contaminated disc that causes the pulling. Disc brake works when there is friction between the disc and the brake pads, if there is a presence of substance as mentioned above, frictions between disc and pads will be reduced and this will result to reduce braking performance on the affected side. If this scenario will happen, the right side and the left side brake will not have even braking and this will result in the car pulling to one side especially the affected side when the brake is applied.

If there is no presence of grease, oil, or fluid on the disc the next thing to check is the disc, inspect if one disc is thicker than the other. Using a ruler measure the thickness of the disc (a micrometer is an accurate tool for measuring the thickness of the disc).

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Measure the thickness of both disc brake rotors at 8 positions using the micrometer as shown in the illustration and note the readings and compare it to the other rotor disc measurement.

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If one of the discs is thicker than the other disc then a mismatch disc is the cause of the car pulling to one side. For the car to become stable and not pulling when the brake is applied the brakes must be identical if one is thicker then the problem will occur.

If both discs are identical then the only possible problem is the brake caliper, in this case, you need a mechanic to confirm this problem.

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A car pulls to one side when braking corrective measures

Uneven tire pressure
Just add enough air on the underinflated tire so that both the front tires will have the same pressure. Also, make sure that the tire pressure is in standard intended for your car model. The recommended tire pressure is usually located on the label on the driver-side door.

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Front end alignment

Bring the car to the car shop and let the mechanic inspect the front end and align if necessary. One or more components may need to be replaced but before agreeing to replacements have a second opinion with another mechanic.

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Presence of oil, grease, or fluid on front brakes
Bring the car to a car shop and have a mechanic look for any leak on the brake system that causes the presence of oil, grease, or fluid. The brake caliper and the brake line is the portion to be checked and repair or replace if necessary.

Brake disc mismatch

Replace the disc to become a match with each other. When placing the disc consider also replacing the pads.

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