Nissan Altima 2000 pulling to the right


I have a 2000 Altima that drifts to the right when I let go of the steering wheel. If I keep the steering straight with my hands, then the car drives straight. But if I let go, both the steering wheel and the car drifts to the right.

I had it aligned twice recently, and both times, the mechanic has said that it is not the alignment, but it may be the camber. He’s also said that with my make and model of car, there is no camber adjustment.

Any suggestions on what to do about this problem? Could it really be a camber problem that has absolutely no adjustment? And if this is a problem I have to live with, will it damage the tires of my car?

Here is a great page that explains the issues that can cause a pull. It could very well be a camber issue, but even if your car has no adjustment, your alignment guy should be able to measure if the camber is out of spec or not.

The alignment tech should always check tire pressure first thing but on the offchance he did not, you should check that.

If the alignment is within specs then you should consider a tire bias, which is not that uncommon. I’m surprised the alignment shop did not mention this.
Rotate the 2 front tires side to side and see if the problem goes away.

your alignment shop should check the alignment on all 4 wheels - a bad rear end alignment can "steer’ the car from the rear. camber will rarely case a pull but it can be corrected by installing after market kits available from most parts stores. caster usually causes a pull but in this car it is not adjustable. sometimes a pull is caused by a tire. cross th e front tires from side to side and see if the pull goes away or if it now pulls to the other side. if it goes away problem solved. if it pulls to the other side replace the tire on the side it pulls to or try moving the tire to the rear of the car

You need to somehow reproduce or indicate the alignment printout info. Get it from shop if they didn’t give it to you. If you can’t post it in it’s entirity, at least tell us what the “after” readings are, esp. the front camber and caster. Don’t foget to indicate “left” and “right”. Yes it could be a camber problem if the difference between the 2 front cambers is too great. Ditto for caster. The only angle

you can set on this car is the front toe- short of any aftermarket kits being installled- more$. The sugestions about moving tires around are good unless you’ve got directional tires- the one’s w/the little arrows on the sidewall. You’ll have to keeep them on the same side of car they’re on. I can tell you that where I work if a car pulls pretty good after the alignment we usually get it down to a slight drift-

no charge, but you’ve gotta kinda really complain in a constructive way. Mechanic has a point- his hands are kind of tied what with not being able to adjust these crucial “pull” angles. Please post back w/info. Good luck.

As suggested you need to do a little test.

Take the front tires and swap them from side to side. Do this even if the tires are directional. Remember this is jkust a test.

  1. If the pull doesn’t change, it’s the alignment.

  2. If the pull changes direction, it’s the tires - replace them.

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

While it is not rocket science, slotting holes and adding shim kits seems to be beyond some alignment techs - and yours sounds like one - you need to find another one.

EVERY vehicle is adjustable. You just have to know what to do.

Hi, Thanks for all the suggestions. I thought I would post the readings that the mechanic gave me.

Left Right
Camber .2 -.6
Caster 3.0 2.3
Toe .02 .04
SAI 14.4 15.0
Included Angle 14.6 14.4

Cross Camber .7
Cross Caster .6
Cross SAI -.6
Total Toe .06

Left Right
Camber -1.1 -1.2
Toe .14 .13

Cross Camber .1
Total Toe .27
Thrust Angle .01

I don’t see anything glaring wrong in those specs that would cause your problem. Check the tire bias by rotating the tires side to side.

I’m also going to strongly disagree that a decent alignment tech should slot holes and add shims in an effort to correct a fault for the following reasons.

  1. It’s a liability issue.
  2. In regards to a vehicle with fixed caster and camber problem, no one should be attempting to jury rig a repair by trying to cover up something that is worn or bent, which is what is leading to the problem anyway.
  3. If one slots holes in the top of the strut tower to alter camber for instance, moving the top of that strut in and out does not prescribe a straight line. It’s a slight arc pivoting on the lower ball joint and generally the strut towers are not even flat on top, but angled either in or out. Moving the top of the strut out does not necessarily mean that camber will be increased and the opposite may occur.

I’m going to disagree with OK4450.

At the very least I see a rear toe problem, and perhaps the cross camber and cross caster are adding up to give you a pull.

While I repsepct what OK4450 said about liability issues, nevertheless, if an alignment tech allows a vehicle to leave his shop out of alignment just because he can’t or won’t do what is needed to get the alignment right - well, he either shouldn’t be paid for his services or he shouldn’t be in the business. There are some exceptions to this - and a severely bent structure is one of them - but clearly this is not the case here.

Be aware that a dragging rear brake or bad rear can also cause a vehicle to pull to one side.

I’m also wondering if it pulls to one side in neutral. I’ve never owned an Altima, but some vehicles suffer from a condition called “torque steer” and I’m wondering if that applies here.

I still say you’re wrong on both counts.
As to the alignment specs, those are quite possibly right where they should be. I don’t know the exact specs for this particular model but many front drive cars, including Nissans, use neg. camber on the rear wheels along with a small amount of toe-in. Several comparable Nissan models I looked at called for a 1+ degree of neg. camber and about .10-.15 on the toe-in so that looks normal to me. Also, neither neg. camber on the rear or toe-in is going to cause a pull.

There is no way on earth that any reputable alignment tech should be dragging out the torch, die grinder, and drill along with an assortment of bolts and washers to stack in an attempt to force a vehicle back into alignment.
If the vehicle has adjustable camber/caster and will not dial back into range then something is bent or worn out. Cure - cure the disease, not the symptom.
If the vehicle has built in camber/caster and it’s out of range then something is bent or worn out. Cure - cure the dissease, not the symptom.

You seem to think that if a car requires say 30’ positive camber and is currently at -30’ negative that it’s a simple matter of elongating some upper strut mounting bolt holes and sliding the top of the strut outwards. It does not always work that way.

I don’t know of one car maker, alignment equipment maker, or one auto testing or standards agency (ASE, SAE, etc) that condones what you claim should be done. If you can provide a link to one of them that does then post it because I would like to see it.
You admit it’s a liability issue yourself so that should mean something.


My intent here is not to prolong the arguement, but to add some depth and breadth to the discussion.

First, I couldn’t find the actual alignment specs for the vehicle in question. But most of the vehicles I looked up had a rear toe spec + tolerance value of 0.30 - the vehicle in question was 0.27. My experience says that toe values near the edge of the tolerance lead to tire wear issues.

Also 3/4 of a degree cross camber and 3/4 of a degree cross caster sounds high to me.

----Personal Request: I’d be grateful to anyone who is following this discussion and can point out a web site that has alignment specs. Thanks in advance.

OK back to our discussion: Let me see if I have this right.

You think I am saying every time a vehicle is out of alignment and there is no provision for adjustment - or the vehicle is at the limit of adjustment, then the alignment tech should break out the cutting and bending tools.

Not exactly. I have been purposely over emphasizing this with the intent of pointing out that many alignment techs seem to think no provision for adjustment means you CAN’T adjust it, so it must be OK - even if it is out of spec. I really think that if an alignment tech is worth his salt, he will either fix the alignment - within his ability to do so - or investigate the source of the problem and recommend a course of action.

It almost looks as if YOU are advocating that if the vehicle can’t be adjusted to get it within spec, then leave it alone and send the customer home with it as is.

I suspect your real postion is softer than that - and like me, you’re over-emphasizing to make a point. And I agree with you, cutting and bending a vehicle is not something for an amateur. But I think someone who is doing an alignment shouldn’t be an amateur. He should be aware of his limitations and be willing to admit the repair is beyond him and offer someplace for the customer to go that can handle the work.

By the same token, if his expertise says there isn’t anything amiss and that that using an eccentric bolt - they are widely available - can get the vehicle back in spec, then I think he should do so.

The OP left the alignment tech’s shop with the same problem he came in with and with nothing more than a “It might be the camber.” This is unacceptable. At the very least, the tech should have swapped the front tires and eliminated that as part of the problem.