What is "tire pull / radial pull"?

Hey all,

I had my car aligned the other day because it was wondering to the right.

The shop swapped the front two tires with eachother and told me that the alignment was indeed out, and that my tires now have some “radial pull” to the left. Indeed the car does now wander to the left, almost more severely than it was to the right.

Was this necessary to make the tires wear even again? Will it go away on its own?

I can live with the car pulling a little as long as the tires aren’t getting ruined. Please educate me. Thanks

An unevenly worn tire can create pull to one side. The proper way to deal with this is to move the fronts to the rear, where the effect will be minimized…unless those were unevenly worn also or you have one of those rare cars with different size rear tires, like a 350Z.

It’s not possible from here to tell if they messed up the alignment, but if it were me I’d have it double checked. This doesn’t sound right to me.

It’s almost impossible to “correct” an uneven wear pattern once it starts. Proper alignment will reduce the speed at which a tire wears, but moving the tire from one place to another won’t balance out the wear.

Unless the tire is worn quite a lot, however, I don’t think it should pull noticeably to one side or the other.

You could try switching the tires front to rear and see if the pull is still there. If it is I’d want to double check the alignment.

remember you always want the “best” tires in the rear.

There’s no advantage to having the best tires in the rear if doing so causes the car to pull to one side.

I’ll just add that my mom’s 99 CRV did the same thing after it was realigned, but not as bad it seems like. Mine is a 99 Accord. Is this a Honda quirk, or pure coincidence?

Front driver? Was the rear wheel alignment checked too? Ask for the before and after readings for all four wheels, caster, camber and toe and whatever else they might have. If nothing else, you can compare to the specification and the question might even tell the alignment people that you know a little about alignment and will not easily be made to go away after they got your money.

Wheel alignment is usually a mystery as you often don’t know if it was done well until your tires wear badly many miles later and even then, the alignment may have been done well but you hit a curb too hard. Ask your alignment people if they test drove the car before they gave it back to you. They should have done this to verify their work.

Defective radial tires can “pull” even if the alignment is perfect…But tires with uneven wear can pull also…

Since none of us can inspect the tires for uneven wear nor do we know the alignment numbers before it was corrected, everyone here is just guessing…The only way you will know for sure is to buy two (or four) new tires…

Most shops today will do a 4 wheel alignment. Moving the tire right/left is not normal. After unusual wear you will have a residual effect that will go away. This under no normal circumstance should be a pull, and certainly not to the center line. Roads are crowned ie it center is higher. A normal correct alignment should move you slightly to the shoulder on the right. If your frame is not bent go to a shop that really knows what to do. This does not sound right. If the tires were so unusually worn right vs left to have this problem then your car body or your shop is wrong.

Thanks everyone, i’ll swing back by the shop when I can and chat with them about it. For the record, this isn’t my regular mechanic. The regular shop a few blocks from my house doesn’t have the equipment to do alignments so I had to go to my plan B mechanic. Trust but verify right?