Why my car is always slightly turning right? really a headache

Everything of my 2006 Camry runs OK except that it is always pulling right (I do feel the steering wheel is turning right slightly by itself, I need constantly use effort to turn it back straight), and it wears the tires more quickly and unevenly. Anybody has experience and know the reason? I drove in San Diego city almost all the time. Although there is curves and slopes but surely all paved. So far it has mileage of 94,000 miles.

I almost always do maintenance in my Toyota dealer except once in SEARS to install 4 new tires.

In the past, my dealer attributed the problem to:

  1. alignment. (thus I did many alignments and just did one yesterday),
  2. tires. ( thus I changed and used up 4 set of new tires and just install the 5th set yesterday),
  3. balance. (thus I did it many times),
  4. suspension system (thus I changed both front shruts).

But the car was still pulling right a little when I drove back from the dealer yesterday! remember, it has 4 new Yamaha tires installed which the dealer said to be the best and new alignment, I paid almost $600 for the tires/labor/alignment!

I feel crazy about it now. I never thought the dealer was trying to make more money from me before, I was just thinking that they might not have the expertise.

I didn’t switch to other maintenance shop because I was worrying about if I would lost warranty of the parts I installed there (I got one set of tires replaced free of charge in the past, although all others didn’t even get the proportion of warranty because the dealer said it’s not warranted due to uneven wear).

This is off topic but just want to know if it’s common that the parts replaced because of warranty do not have warranty anymore, is that common? For example, my battery was out while it’s in warranty period, then they replaced it with new battery. But the new battery was out after two years again. Then they said the battery was not not in warranty anymore because it was used to replace the warranted battery. Thus I paid full price for the new battery and got a new warranty on it.

I hesitate to call them now for the pulling problem because they might suggest same stupid things.
I am posting the problem here to see if any expert knows the reason.
I’m worrying about the worse case: the car itself has defect and the dealer is not willing to let me know.

Thanks in advance for your help!

An alignment is only as good as the technician and the equipment. If the technician doesn’t calibrate the equipment right, the alignment will not be right. Same goes for setting up the sensors on the car. I’d try another shop and have them do an alignment check. Just as a double-check. As far as the battery, the replacement battery should have had it’s own new warranty. No way should you have paid full price for a battery that croaked aftr 2 years, even if it replaced another battery under warranty.

I’d say that either your dealer is poor at performing alignments or you have a bent or damaged component in the front end that they didn’t discover. I suggest going to a local shop that specializes in alignments and asking them to thoroughly examine the front end and check the current alignment. This might cost some money, but chewing through tires is expensive too.

I suggest you take the vehicle in to a good shop that specializes in front end work and see what they say about the issue. There may be something wrong with the frame.

You may also want to have the charging system checked to make sure that the alternator isn’t causing excessive AC ripple voltage across the battery which could shorten the battery life. Better quality batteries can have around a 6 year pro-rated wannanty period.

I may have missed this detail in that very long post, so if I did miss it, I apologize:
Has the OP owned this car since the time that it was new, or was it purchased as a used car?

I ask because I suspect that it may have unknown collision damage that has deformed the unibody structure just enough to cause it to track incorrectly. Or, as was previously stated, it is possible that damage to front-end components from potholes & curbs is causing this situation.

I would suggest that the OP take the car to the best independent front-end specialists in his area for an evaluation. I would also suggest that the OP take a careful look at his/her tires, as I suspect that they might be Yokohama tires, but they are surely not Yahama tires…

I would also suggest that the OP take a careful look at his/her tires, as I suspect that they might be Yokohama tires, but they are surely not Yahama tires…

Ahem. Right, Yahama tires are even scarcer than Yamaha tires!
Seriously, the only time I ever experienced symptoms something like these, it turned out to be a bad rack & pinion, in case such a wild guess has any value.

Thanks everybody for the answers! Really appreciate the quick responses.

Since many of you suggested that I check the front-end, I will try to do it.

Here is one more question:
When there is alignment problem causing pulling right, is the steering wheel actually pointing slightly to right side? or is the steering wheel pointing straight but the car slides to right? I’m asking because my steering wheel tends to slightly pointing right even on a flat road; It only tends to turn left when the left side of the road is significantly lower than the right side.

To clarify a few things:

  1. I bought the new car in 2006 and owned it ever since.

  2. The car was hit by somebody in a parking lot several years ago when I was not at the scene. Nobody claimed responsibility and I took it to a body shop and fixed the body. Never checked the frame. I could not remember exactly if the pulling was since then but I don’t think the problem happened from very beginning.

  3. There was one time the alignment done by the Toyota dealer was checked by SEARS after I found the pulling issue after installing 4 new tires from SEARS. SEARS said the alignment from the dealer was OK and SEARS replaced one of the 4 tires and the problem seemed temporarily fixed. But the problem getting more and more apparent after a few weeks. Then SEARS told me it might be suspension problem, so I went back to Toyota dealer, the dealer agrees there was problem in suspension and replaced something called struts in front. Again it seemed temporarily fixed the problem but it appeared again after a few weeks.

Could you give us the alignment numbers for the front and back wheels i.e. camber, castor, king pin inclination, individual toe angles and combined toe in/out for the front and the camber, individual toe angles, and combined toe in/out of the rear? The shop will usually put before and after figures on the work sheet.

Also, did anyone chronicle how the tires were wearing i.e. inside tread, outside tread, feathered one way or the other? Also, did the rear tires also wear unevenly? You would not be able to tell if the tires were rotated regularily.

Along the lines of what @auto-owner mentioned. I am wondering if the rack does have off axis bias. The alignment shop(s) might be countering the bias with alignment adjustments that are wearing the tires unevenly. One test of this is to put the front suspension up on jack stands; run the engine; and see if the unlocked steering wheel heads off to one side i.e. right.

I will find the alignment number this evening from yesterday’s alignment and get back (it’s not with me).

Almost all tires are worn unevenly according to the dealer, I need talk to them to find out in what pattern they were worn. The tires was rotated regularly every half year or 5000 miles. But last time (5000 miles ago) after cross rotating (left-rear to right-front, right-rear to left-front", the pulling was more severe. So I asked not do the cross rotating, and just front-to-back rotating, they changed back to front-to-back rotating and the pulling was not that severe.

Regarding the bias, I might be able to ask the dealer to check again.
Thanks a lot.

Are they doing a four wheel alignment or just a front alignment?


A good alignment shop using modern equipment can do a “four wheel alignment” as Tester suggested for the specific purpose of spotting frame damage…This hit and run accident you had, where was the car hit and how badly was it damaged? If a car gets deformed a little in a collision, it no longer tracks properly…The front wheels and the back wheels want to go in slightly different directions…Your description of the problem seems to point to this…

@Annn you need to get your vehicle to a professional front end alignment shop and have the real problem corrected. Stop going to that dealership and handing over your hard earned money for repairs that never materialize. I had an alignment problem (actually my wife’s vehicle) and the first alignment shop butchered the job. I finally went to another alignment shop to have the first alignment shop’s job done right. As @BustedKnuckles has already pointed out: “An alignment is only as good as the technician and the equipment.” The fact that the dealership has already performed many alignments on a 2006 model car is a big red flag that cannot be ignored.

I agree with the others here that the next step is to locate the best independent alignment shop in town and take the car there. Ask the folks at your local independent auto parts store, any inde-mechanics you have good experience with, which is the best alignment shop in town. Which one would they use for their own car in other words. A 4-wheel alignment is a highly technical process and requires trained staff and specialized and well-maintained and frequently calibrated equipment.

Using a dealer for an alignment is sort of like buying donuts from Safeway. Sure, the Safeway donuts look like donuts, but they don’t quite taste as good as the donuts from the local specialty donut shop. For donuts you want to buy them from a shop that only makes donuts. Same for alignments. Use a shop that only does alignments.

Can you post a copy of the alignment report? You paid for an alignment and it still pulls go back and ask to have it re-aligned. Schedule an appointment in advance and ask for a road test with the MDT.

@Annn, I wouldn’t go back to the same dealer for another alignment or anything else. After this many tries to get it right you should have lost faith in them by now.

Find an independent alignment shop…not Sears either. Sears, Pepboys, Sams Club, Jiffy lube, Mr Goodwrench etc… and all the others pay little which attracts only the unqualified wrench turners to work there. Weather it’s a chain Transmission shop, muffler shop, or Tune up shop…they are all the same.
All these chains have their 10-15 items that they make money on and train their workers to do those jobs and to up-sell the customer to a couple other of their items. Everything else gets ignored because the worker was not trained to look for these problems and fix them.

I too think you have a bent suspension component that is causing the pulling and tire wear.
One thing to think about. I know you just spent all this on tires and an alignment, but if you let the tires wear unevenly too long they will continue to ride poorly after it’s fixed right. So get this done soon before you SET the wear into these new tires.

When you are satisfied and the car is fixed, ask around for recommendations (ask 50 people) for an independent mechanic shop that you can go to for your regular maintenance work. Ignore the chain recommendations and when you hear the same name quite a few times…go to that shop.
You will save money while finding a good mechanic. I wouldn’t go to a dealer unless the work is warranty work.
Once this shop realizes that you are a steady customer and they’ve seen your car for a new battery, a few oil changes, a new muffler, and new brakes…they are more willing to give you a good price on the larger work because they want to keep a regular customer happy.


Many highways are sloped to the right to let rainwater run off. It is normal for a car to veer to the right a bit there. Try driving in the left lane on a 4-lane road. It should then veer to the left a little. Just in case you don’t really have a problem.

Usually the alignment compensates for the slope of the road. I suggest as the others a 4 wheel alignment.

Thanks everybody of the comments. Let me report the progress now:
I asked the Toyota dealer to give me the alignment data before and after the alignment they did with computer-aid on October 15th. I attached the copy here.
Then I did some research and calls to try to find a good alignment service provider. Then I went to “Clarence Brown Alignment Services” and told them my problem also asked them just do the checking without doing any work because I want to keep the symptom to get a second opinion from another shop.
They said just checking the alignment would be $29.95 and if they could not find any problem in alignment then checking the frame would be $180. When I gave them the data from Toyota they didn’t want to look at it because they don’t use computer-aid for alignment. They will check it manually. I asked them to go ahead for the checking.
After about an hour’s waiting the front desk guy named John told me the car did have alignment problem and the “toe” in front was not set correctly and asked me if I wanted to let them correct it. I said no thanks and please give me a written diagnose so that I could get a second opinion somewhere else. Then John said “hold on, seems the technician has corrected it already!”, then he went to the working area to confirm and came back and said “yes, he did corrected it and drive-tested it, the car is not pulling right anymore and actually very slightly turning left now to compensate the road slope”. I said “I appreciate your work but I told you not doing any correction! in the past Toyota had tried to correct the pulling by alignment and they did stopped the pulling for a few weeks but it would come back with more tire-wearing”. Then John said “we are pretty sure the toe setting was causing the problem now. I can ask him to change back, otherwise we still only charge you the diagnose fee of $29.95 and after 1500 miles you can come back to check the tire, which one do you choose”. I was thinking even if he could change it back but who knows if it’s the same as before? So I chose not changing it back and asked to come back earlier than 1500 miles because once the tires are wore unevenly nothing can correct it anymore.
So I drove back the car. I did feel it very slightly pulling left now. And I attached the diagnose and work done by “Clarence Brown Alignment Services” here too.

You should have a little left to compensate for the road. Your tires should wear evenly now.

The copy of the diagnose and work done by “Clarence Brown Alignment Services” I attached previously was not scanned perfectly and it missed the corrected toe data. Now attached that part. Looks like the toe set by Toyota was 0 and “Clarence…” set it to In1/8- ?