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I have a 2005 Honda Accord that pulls to the side when driving over bumps or hitting pot holes. Most of the time, it pulls to the left but occasionally to the right as well.

This is most pronounced when driving on a bumpy road and braking, especially if the left wheel hits a pothole just before stopping. If, at that moment I let go of the steering wheel, it will turn left by up to 35 degrees. After I re-center the steering wheel while stopped it will then pull to the opposite side as I take off.

While driving slowly on a bumpy road, the steering wheel feels twitchy and jerks left and right and requires a firm hand on the wheel. The slower the car is going the more pronounced the bump steer feels.

I've had this problem ever since I bought the car a year ago. The car has been on three different sets of tires/wheels in that time and the problem was always there, so I don't believe that it has anything to do with tires.

When I first bought the car I took it to my mechanic, and he replaced lower control arms with aftermarket ones because of bad bushings, lower left ball joint with OEM and front sway bar links (aftermarket). After that, the alignment was done. The car tracks straight on the highway and doesn't pull when braking on an even surface so I don't think it has anything to do with the brakes either.

One thing that seems to be consistent is that it seems to pull to the side when suspension is depressed (braking and hitting potholes) and to the opposite side when the suspension is released (taking off).

Can anyone shed some light on this?

  • One question: Have you tried driving down the same roads in a couple different vehicles? I am curious to see how differently they respond. That should help (you, at least) establish a baseline of expected performance. – Hari Ganti Mar 7 '17 at 18:51
  • How much play is there in the steering wheel while the car is stopped (with the engine running)? – George Mar 29 at 2:29
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Although Hari Ganti is correct about bump steer, I would add that frequent driving on bumpy, potholed roads can cause misalignment.

What alarms me is your statement;

I've had this problem ever since I bought the car a year ago. The car has been on three different sets of tires/wheels in that time and the problem was always there so I don't believe that it has anything to do with tires.

This leads me to believe there is something not right with the suspension and/or alignment. You should not go thru three sets of tire in a year. Excessive wear is an indicator there is something out of alignment, damaged or worn.

For your and passenger safety, it should be checked out thoroughly and and damaged or worn parts replaced.

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    No, it didn't go through three sets of wheels. It came with steel rims and worn tires so I replaced them with alloy wheels and new summer tires and then swapped them with winter wheels/tires back in November. There's no uneven wear on the tires. – bez Mar 2 '17 at 18:59
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    Ah. That is good to know. You may want to clarify that in your question because the way it is wording is somewhat misleading. – CharlieRB Mar 2 '17 at 19:08
  • @CharlieRB Large potholes and bumps (or just traveling fast on unpaved roads) can cause misalignment, yes, but the torque on a tie rod jam nut is usually enough to prevent this. I would be surprised if this was due to misalignment because of the difference while braking and accelerating. Either way, getting the toe checked out couldn't hurt. – Hari Ganti Mar 2 '17 at 19:20
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You are almost certainly experiencing bump steer. Because suspension geometry is imperfect, the toe of each front wheel will change in response to vertical displacement (suspension travel). On especially bumpy roads, this will become very noticeable, as you've observed.

In case you're trying to "fix" this behavior, it is inherent to the suspension geometry. Some geometries (ex. live axle with leaf springs) are more prone to this behavior while others (ex. 5-point multilink) are nearly immune.

EDIT: I'll also add that on low-traction surfaces, like gravel, you can also experience a phenomenon called torque steer. I don't think you mentioned gravel or sand or any other low-traction surface, but if that's what you're driving on, it could be another factor.

As an example, if the left tire has more traction than the right tire, then under braking, your car will pull left since it exerts greater braking force. If you accelerate, however, you'll pull right since the left wheel can do more to accelerate you.

  • Are you saying this is a design flaw and every 2005 Accord should have this problem? I doubt they would still be in business today if that were the case. – bez Mar 2 '17 at 18:59
  • You misunderstand. "Design flaw" is a term that would be overly derisive. Rather, the Honda Accord is built to compete within a class of vehicles (mid-size sedans) which necessarily involves a target price range. Designing a suspension requires an absurd amount of work, so to maintain the price point, they spend less time on it. It's not a "flaw" because it's intentional, but it's also not an F1 multilink suspension. Also, this isn't just Honda. Every major manufacturer does this. There's a reason some cars cost more than others, and this is one factor. – Hari Ganti Mar 2 '17 at 19:17
  • This issue sounds much worse than bump steer, and I think anyone who has been driving for a few years would know the difference between loose suspension and "inherent suspension geometry". The diagnostic effort put forth by the op makes me think that they are an experienced driver. – 4LPH4NUM3R1C Mar 3 '17 at 17:18
  • @4LPH4NUM3R1C The OP mentions potholes, which typically cause rather large, sudden deviations in suspension travel. Have you ever taken a vehicle off-road? The steering wheel tends to move significantly on its own when going over large rocks. Similarly, irregular washboard at any speed will feel unnatural. I would agree with you if the OP said this happened on decent pavement, but it doesn't seem like the case. Also, I added a portion on torque steer, since that can be a contributing factor to the acceleration/deceleration-specific observations. – Hari Ganti Mar 3 '17 at 18:19
  • I'll reserve estimating driving skill when I see the OP drive. – Hari Ganti Mar 3 '17 at 18:19
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I had an issue that was very similar, it took me a while to properly diagnose. You said you replaced the lower control arms, which as I understand is at the front.

What it ended up being was that my rear control arm bushings were all shot. This caused the car to "steer" when hitting bumps, potholes, etc, as well as during braking and accelerating.

It is pretty easy to diagnose when you know what you're looking for. Jack up the rear end of the car and grab a pry bar to see how much slop you are experiencing in the control arms.

  • I guess it may be worth checking, but why would bad bushings steer the car to the left under braking? – bez Mar 7 '17 at 15:21
  • because the weight of the car wants to shift forward when you brake, and if the rear bushings are shot, this will give it some room for the car to shift left/right under braking added note, braking and accelerating had the opposite direction of pull with my car in particular. – 4LPH4NUM3R1C Mar 7 '17 at 21:39
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I think that wheels geometry is not the only problem. You should check your front shock absorbers damping.

  • Welcome to the site. Please realize, this site isn't a regular forum. We try to answer the questions with thorough answers, ones which describe the issue as we see it and provide enough information to solve the OP's issues. Ways in which your answer could be much better (and better accepted) is to provide information on why you think this could be the problem the OP is facing, as well as how to diagnose this as the issue, then providing information on how to fix the issue (what would you do to mitigate it). Hope this helps you moving forward. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 4 '17 at 14:29

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