Why Does My Vehicle Pull to the Side When Braking?

Why Does My Vehicle Pull to the Side When Braking?

4th Mar 2020

female sitting in car with door open

Uneven Braking Causes

Does your vehicle pull to the side when braking? If you're braking on level terrain and not turning the steering wheel, your vehicle shouldn't pull to the side. Whether it pulls to the right or left, this is typically indicative of an underlying problem. And if left unaddressed, it could lead to a collision as well as other types of mechanical failure.

Warped Rotors

Warped rotors can cause a vehicle to pull to the side when braking. Also known as brake discs, rotors are cylindrical-shaped braking components that attach to brake pads. When you press your vehicle's brake pedal, the pads will clamp against the rotors, thereby slowing your vehicle. If any of your vehicle's rotors are warped, however, you may feel excessive vibrations. And in some cases, these vibrations can pull your vehicle to the side when braking.

Bad Brake Pads

If your vehicle's rotors are good, maybe you need to replace the brake pads. Brake pads are designed to gradually wear down over time. They are exposed to friction each time you press the pedal, so eventually you'll need to replace your vehicle's brake pads. When braking in a vehicle with worn brake pads, you may hear a screeching or squealing noise. If your vehicle's brake pads are worn evenly -- meaning some are more heavily worn than others -- it may cause your vehicle to pull to the side as well.

Leaking Brake Fluid

Another possible reason your vehicle pulls to the side when braking is that it's leaking brake fluid. Maybe a caliper piston sprung a leak, or perhaps a wheel cylinder was punctured. Regardless, if there's a breach in any of your vehicle's fluid-containing braking components, it may cause your vehicle to pull to the side when braking.

Uneven Air Pressure

All your vehicle's tires should have the same amount of air. If some tires have more air than others, your vehicle may pull to the side when braking. So, use a gauge to check the air pressure -- measured in pounds per square inch (PSI) -- of each of your vehicle's tires. You can then cross-reference these numbers to the recommendations provided by your automaker, which are usually found on a sticker or label located inside the door jamb.

Wrong Tire Size

If you recently changed or replaced one of your vehicle's tired, maybe you accidentally got the wrong size. If the new tire is a different size than the others, your vehicle won't drive straight. Rather, it will turn when both accelerating as well as braking.