7

I'm driving an old Grand Voyager minivan temporarily, and notice that when I accelerate then let go of the accelerator, the car pulls slightly to the right, and I have to correct it by steering a little to the left.

What kind of problem am I looking at, and if this isn't indicative of a single problem, what components should I check to determine the problem and the severity?

10

The vehicle in question is a front-wheel drive. FWDs are sensitive to front wheel alignment, since the front suspension and wheel linkages work under different conditions when accelerating and not accelerating:

  • on acceleration, the wheels push backwards on the road, thus tend to move the front suspension forwards relative to the vehicle.
  • on de-acceleration, the wheels are now pushing forwards against the road in the direction of travel to slow down the vehicle, and in reaction are pushing backwards against the suspension.

This also happens in RWD vehicles, but is limited to the rear axle. Thus, there is no connection between accelerating and steering. A badly aligned front wheel on a RWD will alter steering at all times, not just on acceleration. On a FWD with the steering a bit off, however, the wheels push against the suspension slightly to one side - giving the symptoms you have seen.

The net result is that this vehicle needs the front wheel alignment to be looked at. If it has been going on for some time, it should be apparent as increased and non-symmetrical usage on one of the front tires: one side will appear more used than the other. Besides making vehicle reactions less easy to foresee, it is also lowering tire life since both front tires will need to be replaced at the same time.

5

I pulled the tires off and inspected the front end suspension and steering, and found that the sway bar linkage on the drivers side was detached.

front drivers side steering and suspension showing sway bar linkage detached

  • That would certainly cause the behaviour you describe! At least it's a relatively simple and inexpensive fix :-) – Steve Matthews Aug 7 '15 at 15:16
  • And I'm sure you also had a good look around the rest of the components too, while the wheels were off. ;-) That bolt looks to have sheared quite some time ago. – ALAN WARD Aug 7 '15 at 17:35
  • Well, this was not the only problem I found after looking behind both wheels. However even after replacing this and an outer tie rod that was loose, the pulling is still there. I'll have to investigate further, but after these changes I at least was satisfied it was safe to drive the distance it needed to go today. It does need an alignment, and I'm guessing the shocks are bad as well. – Adam Davis Aug 8 '15 at 3:47
2

I've had this behaviour on a number of vehicles and a number of time. Each time it was caused by a different source. These included;

  • Worn out engine mounts causing the engine / gearbox assembly to move around on and off throttle

  • Worn out rear wheel bearing so there was excessive play and the rear wheel was effectively causing the car to rear wheel steer itself

  • Broken bottom ball joint, to part that holds the bottom of the front suspension square

  • Loose wheel bolts causing movement between the front wheel and the hub

Your issue could be caused by any of the above or something similar. My suggestion would be to first check that all of the tyres are properly inflated, a soft tyre, even on the rear, will cause wayward handling.

If the type pressures all look good, jack each wheel in turn and check for any play by grabbing the wheel at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock and trying to move it in and out, then at 12 and 6 and doing the same. Spin the wheels by hand and check for anything obvious. Also open the bonnet and watch for excessive movement when revving or releasing the revs from the engine.

If this yeilds no results, take the car for a wheel alignment and mention it to the mechanic who does the alignment for you.

Good luck!

1

I had the same problem with my hiluc surf (a RWD CAR), what seemed to cause it was the rear breaks on one side (not completely locked) was a bit tighter and every time I stepped on gas the car swung a bit to the side the breaks were tighter

-3

It is called "Torque steering"

The link provides various causes and solutions.

  • 1
    Could you flesh this answer out to what exactly torque steer is and why you think it would be applicable in this case? Link only answers are really frowned upon here as links can become stale. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 7 '15 at 12:56

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