Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Saturn pulls to left

I have a 2002 Saturn. The car pulls to the left all of the time. At speeds less than 10MPH, it feels like there is a lump in the front passenger tire. There will be a constant pull to the left with a increase in pull everytime the “lump” comes around. As spped increases the vibration will increase. I took it to the place that I purchased the tires. They inspected, rebalanced, and rotated the tires. They could not find a problem with the tires. Any suggestions?

Have someone else inspect the tires, the wheels, and the wheel alignment. If you can feel this “lump” there is definitely something wrong. A tire with a separated tread will do this, or a bent wheel.

Pulling to the left is either an alignment or a brake issue.

After the tire rotation, do you still feel the same thing in the same location?

It still feels the same to me. My wife says that it is not “as bad”.

A Bad Tire Will Make A Car Pull! I’ve Been There, Done That!
A lot of these tire places only know how to mount, balance, and rotate. This tire/wheel needs to be checked for run-out and uniformity. It sounds like the lump is already signaling abnormal uniformity. Have it put back in the location that creates the pull and then swap it with the other side and see if it pulls right. If it does then it’s the tire. If it pulls left no matter which tire is where, suspect the alignment.

Either that or since it’s a “Saturn” maybe it’s inclined to orbit!

Find a shop with a Road Force Balance machine. The wheel with tire is spun with a simulated road force applied via a spinning drum pressed against the tread. These machines will detect internal tire defects that regular balancing machines will not.

Also, do not rule out the brakes as a possible cause of the problem. If you have a disc either front OR rear whose frictional surfaces are not parallel, one where one side has a lateral runout variance or even a damaged or defective surface, these symptoms could result. Get those brakes checked out…

On rethinking the problem, you may well have a brake pad dragging that’s warped or glazed a spot on a rotor. Have the brakes checked thoroughly, including for a stuck caliper/cylinder and a dragging pad/shoe.

Good Ideas, TSM

Paul, Was There Some Event That Started This? Did It Come On Gradually? Suddenly?

Did it start right after “something”, like getting new tires, getting new brakes, rotating/balancing tires, hitting an object, or did it just start and become more obvious over time? How much time elapsed between the tire purchase and the problem?

Assuming for a moment the problem is not tire related it’s entirely possible to have a worn and binding halfshaft.
Sometimes the only way to determine this is by physically removing the halfshaft and inspecting it by hand.
Of course, if the car is high mileage and you’re going to the trouble of removing the shaft then it’s more cost effective to replace it at that time.

At least with the shaft removed it could be determined if that’s the problem without any doubt involved.