Car Pulls to Right After New Brake Pads/Tire Rotation

I have a 1991 Honda Civic 2-door hatchback with front-wheel drive. Up until yesterday, it was in perfect alignment (I assume), because I could take my hands off the steering wheel and it would track right down the center of the road beautifully. (Not that I make it a habit to drive with my hands off the wheel.)

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, I installed new front disc brake pads. No problems at all with the installation. I decided to rotate the tires at the same time. They were brand new about 7,500 miles ago and, according to the manual, this is the interval for rotation. I rotated them as prescribed in the manual–swapping the left front with the left rear and the right front with the right rear.

As soon as I got it back on the road, I noticed a pull to the right. It wasn’t as bad as I’ve experienced in other cars before, but it was definitely noticeable.

Could the tire rotation have caused this? The only other thing I can think of is that the pads on the right side are “dragging” a little on the rotor.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

When the old pads were removed, how were they worn? Evenly? Also, how easily did the caliper pistons retract back into the caliper bores? And did you inspect/lube the caliper slide pins?


The old pads were not worn evenly, at least not the ones on the left. The caliper pistons retracted easily into the caliper bores. I did not lube the caliper slide pins (I didn’t know you were supposed to–the shop manual didn’t mention that)–but I did move them back and forth and they moved pretty easily.

Then what you should try is, return the tires back to their original locations. If the pull disappears, there’s a problem with the tires. If the pull remains, go back and check the brake job.


I pulled the front tires off and did a quick check of the brakes. Everything seemed to be fine, so I did as you suggested and put the tires back the way they were before I rotated them. I took the car for a test drive and the right pull seems to be gone. That’s weird, because the tires are only 7,500 miles old and have always been properly inflated. Do you have any idea what it could be? Also, what would be the lesser of two evils–not rotating the tires and not having the pull, or rotating the tires (as you’re supposed to) and having the slight pull? Thanks.

I would have left the tires in position longer to see if they adjust to their new position.What make and model of tire are we talking about?

This means that there’s something wrong with one or both of the rear tires. Because the pull happens when they’re switched to the front, and disappears when they’re switched to the back. It could mean that one or both of the rear tires has a belt seperation. To find that out, do the tire rotation one side at a time. That will pin-point which tire is bad.


One more test to be sure:

Put the tires that pull back on the front.

Drive to verfify that the pull is still there with this pair.

Swap the front tires side to side

  1. If the pull doesn’t change then it’s the alignment (This is unlikely to happen, but it’s still possible.)

  2. If the pull disappears, then it is both tires and alignment.

  3. If the pull changes direction, then it’s the tires. Try swapping one of the fronts with one of the rears and perform the test again. For refrence try googling “conicity”. FYI the pair of tires have to be matched for conicity and sometimes prodction variation will result in a pair that aren’t matched. Doing a little swapping around may result in a new pair that are matched.

since it seems that your problem is related to tire wear, and rotation. i thought i’d throw this out for FYI general thought.

if you suspect a hanging brake as being in the mix, immediately after stopping (having done normal breaking) feel the tire hubs on all four ( but concentrate on the front wheels) a HOT wheel hub indicates a hanging brake caliper.

a hanging brake caliper can cause this ‘pull’ also, and the discovery of a hanging brake caliper sometimes removes this from the list of causes too.

a hanging brake caliper can also accentuate the tire problem too.

not for nothing also, but you can usually (but not always) smell the hanging brake caliper too, since it is heating up and burning off brake pad meterial too.