Mechanics

Brake Pull

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Step by step repair guide on how to repair brake pull right of left. This article pertains to all cars.

Difficulty Scale: 4 of 10

Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Large pry bar
  • Flashlight
  • Infrared laser temperature reader
  • Protective eyewear and gloves
Begin with the vehicle on level ground, in park with he emergency brake set.

Step 1 - If strut rod bushings are worn or missing it will allow the suspension control arm to shift while driving and braking. When inspecting suspension bushings look for cracking, dilapidation or shiny surfaces showing suspension components which have moved. When bushings wear they can allow the suspension components to move causing the car to dart from one side to the other when braking or traveling over bumps.

Cracked Strut Rod Bushing
Cracked Strut Rod Bushing

Step 2 - If the ball joints become worn they will allow suspension components to move out of line causing the car the wander from one side to the other. When checking the suspension components lift the car slightly but leave the wheels on the ground, this will take pressure off of the ball joints to allow proper inspection. Heavy pressure on ball joints will make it difficult to test for play in the ball joint. Use a large pry bar and insert between the ball joint components rock back and forth while checking for excessive movement in the ball joint, little play should be observed. If excessive play is observed the ball joint has worn and needs to be replaced.

Step 3 - Tires are designed with many separate layers that can become dislodged internally. The tire will act one way when the car is driven normally and shift within the tire when the brakes are applied causing the pull. Tires can also cause a pull that will change if tires are swapped from side to side changing tire direction and rotation. Try rotating tires front to back and recheck.

Step 4 - Brake hoses are reinforced rubber hydraulic pressure hoses. These hoses are needed to compensate the vehicles suspension travel and are capable of holding thousands of pounds of pressure without failing. Because these hoses are made of rubber they can fail internally allowing a small part of the inner hose liner to become dislodged and act like a one way check valve that will either hold full brake pressure from getting a particular wheel or not allowing the brake pressure to bleed off.

This condition with cause the brake to not work as hard as the other wheels or cause the wheel to drag and not fully release. Either of these conditions will cause a brake pull condition. If you suspect this problem use an infrared laser temperature reader for testing. Drive the car for a short distance with repeated braking, then park the car and use the thermometer to test each wheel. You must test each wheel in the exact same place such as a lug nut on each wheel. Monitoring temperature differences from side to side, and from front to rear. Front to rear temperature differences are normal, side to side is not. If a measurable amount of temperature differences exist replace both brake hoses involved. (Note: Most brake pull problems of this nature are front brake related.) Example: If both front wheels are tested and the right side temperature reading is 190° and the left side is 80° degrees, there is a problem.

IR Thermometer
Infrared Laser Temperature Reader


Helpful Information

A vehicle when driven down a straight flat road should go straight ahead with a slight drift to the right for safety. A slight right hand drift was designed into US and other left hand drive vehicles to avoid head on collisions when a driver falls asleep or is rendered unconscious. In right hand drive countries a car is designed to have a slight left hand drift for the same reason. If the car has an excessive pull to the left or right while driving or braking, this could be a signal that there is a problem with a worn or failed steering or suspension component.

Best Practices

  • Inspect all suspension components when troubleshooting brake pull problems.
  • Bleed brake system after repairs have been made. Visit - Brake system bleed.
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AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2014-07-29)