Steering wheel help

In an effort to save some money, my husband replaced the worn front brake pads and rotors on our 2009 Pontiac Vibe. He had a lot of trouble removing the old parts and did use force. Now with the new rotors and brake pads installed, the steering wheel is misaligned when the wheels are straight. There is no pull to either side when driving. What happened and what should we do?

Replacing the pads should NOT have caused anything with the steering. If it did…then he did something drastically WRONG.

I don’t see how this could happen.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what he might have done, but I’d strongly suggest that you get it checked out immediately. Somethin’ ain’t right. And it could be serious.

He had a lot of trouble removing the old rotors and used a mallet to get these off.

A bent tie rod is the first thing that comes to mind. If the jack was improperly located and even a slight amount of pressure was put on a tie rod it would bend.

This was my thought also. If this is the case, what are the consequences of continuing to drive the vehicle with a bent tie rod?

I’ve had to use a hammer too with no problems. He may have bent one of the tie rod ends in the process so I guess you’ll need to have it looked at and probably an alignment done.

If the steering wheel position has changed as the result of a brake job, then you better have a professional mechanic check the brakes and front end for damage or incorrect assembly…

No force is needed to replace brakes and the steering, alignment, suspension should not have been touched during the brake job. But if the wheel position has changed, then something in the steering has changed…

Have a pro check it…

" No force is needed to replace the brakes " - That statement shows that you don’t live where I live. We sometimes have to use a sledge hammer or a torch to get things cherry red just to get the WHEEL off.

You could be rapidly wearing out the tires, get it checked.

I agree with the others. The alignment shouldn’t change even if the rotor was smacked to remove it.

I have an eight pound steel sledge hammer that I use to remove rusted brake rotors from the hub. And it has never knocked the wheel alignment off. It could be that the force that was used to remove the rotors exasperated an already existing condition. Such as a worn tie rod end or ball joint.


I really appreciate all the responses

It’s too late now but if you look at the rotor in the hub area you should see two small threaded holes. If you evenly thread an 8mm x 1.25 bolt into each of the holes, they will push the rotor off of the hub. Lubricate the threads lightly to facilitate the removal process. No hammering needed.

I agree with the others that a pro needs to look at this. I too have used a heavy sledgehammer to remove rusted on rotors and never knocked a car out of alignment. I have even had some vehicles (mostly 4X4 F-150s and Expeditions) that were so bad I had to break them into pieces with a sledgehammer to get them off and have never knocked anything out of alignment.

It might have nothing to do with with the brakes…It might have something to do with where the jack or jack stands were placed…Line on a control arm or tie-rod.

“This nine pound hammer, it’s a little too heavy, Lord it’s a little too heavy for my size…”

Along with Caddyman I was thinking of “raise and safely support the vehicle” issues. Did he happen to drop the thing off of the jack? Did he use jack stands? (Please say yes). What did he use as a jacking point? Stand placement?

It might have something to do with where the jack or jack stands were placed…Line on a control arm or tie-rod.

That’s a good point caddyman makes…

I can’t elaborate any on the good advice given but an example of how things can go bad during a brake job happened with a Subaru that a gentleman brought in. It needed front brakes, he thought the cost was too high, and said he could get it done 2 blocks down the street at the chain store for 1/2 that. Fine.

The next week the car came back to us on the wrecker and instructions from the owner to do the brake job as previously requested. Not so fast.

On the rack I discovered that the front strut, swaybar, lower control arm, caliper yoke, and caliper itself were all bent. Even more stunning was the cast iron steering knuckle was also bent. Apparently the chain guys did not realize the caliper piston had to be screwed in and tried to force the issue. The unknown to us was exactly how they tried to force it; especially considering the steering knuckle.
Of course he went ballistic when told his brake job had increased 6 fold in price; using salvage yard parts.

If someone could inflict this kind of major league damage while doing a brake job then I could certainly see lesser damage being done on the OP’s car. Maybe mallet means sledge hammer? :slight_smile:

Excellent story. A good lesson. A perfect illustration of why the OP should get the vehiicle to a shop ASAP. Perhaps even on a towtruck.

Perhaps in addition to a mallet the OP’s hubby also uad a prybar handy…perhaps a 4-foot long pipe…