Don’t always blame your tyres if your car pulls to the left

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Occasionally we are told my customers that they feel their vehicle is pulling to the left, but there is no tyre, balancing or tracking related problem. So we read with great interest the report in today’s Sunday Times Car Clinic supplement which gets to grips with this issue.

Adverse camber

AR from Hull posed this conundrum: “On long, straight sections of road my newly acquired (but three-year-old) Skoda Fabia pulls to the left when I relax my grip on the steering wheel. The Continental tyres are brand new, I’ve had the wheel alignment inspected and I’ve made sure the tyre pressures are right, but none of this has helped. My dealer says the problem may be down to the 16in wheels.”

To which Car Clinic expert Dave Pollard replied: “Millions of cars have 16in wheels, so this is not the problem. Given that your tyres are from a well-regarded brand and are new, the pressures are spot-on, the alignment has been checked and your steering issue occurs only on longer sections of straight road, something else must be causing this effect.

“Some Skoda owners have reported a similar experience, which has turned out to be the effect of the Lane Assistant feature. This gently steers the car away from the white line or centre marking if you stray towards it. The safety system can reset itself after every engine start, even if you had disabled it during your last drive, which has thrown some owners. However, Lane Assistant was not an option on your Skoda.

“British roads are not engineered to be completely flat; instead they are cambered – angled – downwards from the centre so that rainwater can drain away to the gutters. The camber angle will vary from road to road. Water will drain more quickly from a smooth road than a rough one, for example, which allows the camber angle to be smaller. Were camber not used, water would build up on the road surface, leading to aquaplaning and an increase in accidents.

“The effect of camber on the car also varies from model to model but in general it is felt more in lighter vehicles. Perhaps your change of motor has made you more aware of it for the first time? It shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you keep both hands on the wheel.”

Denna Bowman, Head Office

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