I've had this weird issue that has started happening since I switched back to summer tires this weekend that wasn't there last summer/winter. My car fights back when braking, but appears to pick a random side. I drove on the same road and braked at the same-ish spot and my car decided to tug in both directions.

At first, I thought this would be tire pressure, but when it happened to tug on the other side, I was convinced it wasn't. (After checking pressure, it wasn't)

Could this be my alignment or balancing? These are brand new tires on brand new wheels. It's also the transition between seasons which means there's a bit of sand on the road from the winter.

Otherwise I believe this leaves the brakes/calipers malfunctioning but I'm at a loss on how to diagnose this. Especially since the only variable changed are my wheels and tires.

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Should I get a wheel alignment?
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:00
  • What's making me reluctant of alignment is that it pulls on both sides and only during braking. If I let go of the steering wheel, my car does not pull in either direction.
    – Yousend
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:08
  • Welcome to the site. It takes several (5) votes to actually close a question as duplicate. I thought the questions were similar because they both dealt with winter tire transition and pulling, but that doesn't mean I'm the only one that gets a say so - I could be wrong. The pulling to either side does seem odd, so it could be a different issue.
    – JPhi1618
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:24
  • Are the wheels and tires the same size as the ones they replaced? If they're not, then you should have an alignment done.
    – TMN
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:08
  • 1
    I don't really see how this is a duplicate. Pulling to one side when braking has different causes than pulling when not braking. Apr 27, 2016 at 7:54

3 Answers 3


What you are most likely experiencing is the pull from tires when breaking on uneven surface or road with grooves from heavy vehicles.

If you have rather wide, sticky, square tires, this is what it would be.

Notice how water stands in sort of lines, that's where the grooves are formed from vehicles. Depending on if you are closer to the right side of the grooves or left side, your direction of pull will be different:

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  • This is reasonably what is happening since it doesn't pull to either side on the highway, only when braking. Going through the same places again, I happen to drive and brake on one of these kind of bumps which causes the randomness.
    – Yousend
    Apr 28, 2016 at 10:58

If you have worn out steering parts, these can cause your issue, worn parts cause slack in the steering, when you brake it will pull to the side which has the most slack at the time.

You can test for steering slack by starting the car, leave it park, set the brake and roll down the drivers window, get out and reach inside the window and rock the steering wheel left and right about 3" each direction while watching the front wheel, if there is slack you will see the wheel does not move at some point and the steering wheel is.

Another cause is front suspension problems, wheel bearings, ball joints or bushings have severe wear, take it to an alignment shop for a full diagnosis.

It is not safe to operate the car in this condition, get it to a shop soon.

  • Hey, welcome to the site. Been seeing you pop on various questions and what not. Cheers! Apr 26, 2016 at 23:50
  • Thanks, I was an ASE Master Mechanic for too many years, ever since they started ASE. Excuse me "Technician" for 40 years. New cars are hard to diagnose using text and pictures, mostly guesswork on some questions.
    – Moab
    Apr 27, 2016 at 0:55
  • Indeed. It can be painful through words to help somebody in many cases. Come to chat sometime. The US mornings, it's pretty insane. Bunch of professional mechanics and engineers of various disciplines. You'd fit right in. Apr 27, 2016 at 0:58
  • Here you go. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/340/the-pitstop Apr 27, 2016 at 1:09
  • Thanks, bookmarked. Here is an interesting forum, i get lost for hours...papawswrench.com/vboard/index.php
    – Moab
    Apr 27, 2016 at 1:17

I disagree that this is a wheel alignment issue, as the car is pulling randomly to either side - I'd expect alignment to either show no pulling, just tire wear, or to pull consistently to one side.

I suggest you take the car to a mechanic you trust, and get them to check out the calipers - sounds like they may be sticking randomly. You don't say how old the car is, but this is more likely on older cars where the brakes have been worked on and the mechanic hasn't been greasing the slidepins.

  • It's a 2014 Scion FR-S. I was planning on going to a mechanic after work, but I'm trying to see if anyone has a general idea of what this could be before I talk to someone trying to make money off of my issue.
    – Yousend
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:14
  • I'd be looking at the brakes, but I wouldn't disconsider the steering rack bushings either. If the car has a braking problem, someone getting $100 or so off me to diagnose it is my least problem; I wouldn't want something seriously letting go at speed :)
    – PeteCon
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:28
  • Right, I will get this checked after work. I'd just like to rule things out before they just diagnose to charge labour. Normally my brother (mechanic) does this, but I can't allow this to go on for several weeks without getting it fixed.
    – Yousend
    Apr 26, 2016 at 15:42
  • @akadian What are the tire specs on your car? I have 245 wide tires on my Evo X GSR and when braking depending on the grooves on the road car might or might not pull to one side. But it's absolutely road surface + summer wide tires issue in my case, because on even pavement I don't experience that.
    – Alexus
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:15
  • That's another possibility. I'll keep an eye out for that for another day if the road surface is uneven. Roads here are typically pretty bad and we're straight out of winter. I just don't recall this from last year; roads might have changed since.
    – Yousend
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:21

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