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Discussion Starter #1
My son drives our once driven '02, and I drove it for the first time in a while and found the steering wheel off to the right - a bit clockwise from straight away.

The car hasn't had an alignment in a while - Is the off-center steering wheel a sign of a needed alignment?

Thank you
 

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Was there any front-end work done recently? Both my cars have had recent front end work done - front struts on my Toyota Camry and front axles on my Odyssey. Both steering wheels are slightly off-center towards the left. Both cars seem to track perfectly straight down the road. I'll probably get them aligned at some point anyway. The alignment would fix the off-center steering wheel, but I'm not sure that the off-center steering wheel necessarily means you need an alignment if the car drives straight.
 
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Probably hit curb or something that caused some damage to steering components.
 

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If the van hasn't been driven in a while, one of the brakes could be dragging and so making the van to drift off a straight track.

It's easy to check. Feel the center of the wheels after a drive. If hot compared to the others, a dragging brake could be overheating it.

A more scientific approach would be to use a laser temperature probe on the front rotor. The rotor is the first part to heat up from a dragging brake. (Touching the rotor directly is unsafe - it could cause burns.)
 
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If brakes are dragging, which means seized calipers, you should see hot spots or even wrapped rotors (pulsation when braking in high speed). But most likely the tire hit a curb / something odd causing it to 'hopefully not' bent arms / rods... but if the steering wheel is off by just a little bit then likely an alignment will get it straight.
 

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Yeah, it's normal for a car's alignment to change just from driving over time, or more quickly by hitting a pothole or a curb.

The tech will first check all the suspension components and tires for wear or damage before doing the alignment.

Tell the shop the symptoms you have (that the steering wheel is a bit right of center). That will give them a clue about what to look for.

Make sure you get a 4-wheel alignment, needed because of the Ody's independent rear suspension.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Check the tire pressures.
Pressures are ok- thanks.
Was there any front-end work done recently? Both my cars have had recent front end work done - front struts on my Toyota Camry and front axles on my Odyssey. Both steering wheels are slightly off-center towards the left. Both cars seem to track perfectly straight down the road. I'll probably get them aligned at some point anyway. The alignment would fix the off-center steering wheel, but I'm not sure that the off-center steering wheel necessarily means you need an alignment if the car drives straight.
No front end work- thanks.
Probably hit curb or something that caused some damage to steering components.
Haha, yeah my thought exactly- thanks.
If the van hasn't been driven in a while, one of the brakes could be dragging and so making the van to drift off a straight track.

It's easy to check. Feel the center of the wheels after a drive. If hot compared to the others, a dragging brake could be overheating it.

A more scientific approach would be to use a laser temperature probe on the front rotor. The rotor is the first part to heat up from a dragging brake. (Touching the rotor directly is unsafe - it could cause burns.)
The van is driven on a regular basis (by my son) but not by me. This was the first time in a while that I drove it - thus just noticing the off-center steering wheel. The brakes are fine- van stops straight- just doesn't drive straight. Thank you.
If brakes are dragging, which means seized calipers, you should see hot spots or even wrapped rotors (pulsation when braking in high speed). But most likely the tire hit a curb / something odd causing it to 'hopefully not' bent arms / rods... but if the steering wheel is off by just a little bit then likely an alignment will get it straight.
I'm hoping he didn't go 4-wheeling with the van ... lol ... and an alignment will sort this out. Thank you.
Yeah, it's normal for a car's alignment to change just from driving over time, or more quickly by hitting a pothole or a curb.

The tech will first check all the suspension components and tires for wear or damage before doing the alignment.

Tell the shop the symptoms you have (that the steering wheel is a bit right of center). That will give them a clue about what to look for.

Make sure you get a 4-wheel alignment, needed because of the Ody's independent rear suspension.
I'm not sure for how long the steering wheel was off. My son says it's been that way for a while. Why he didn't do something about it, I don't know.
 

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My son learned to drive using the Ody. The right front wheel somehow managed to hit curbs a couple times. When he was done learning and got his own car I replaced all the hubcaps and bought new wheels.
 
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