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How to Fix Torque Steer

by William Collins

Torque steer is the tendency your front-wheel drive (FWD) car has to turn to the right or left when you apply a large amount of torque to the wheels, such as when you press the gas pedal to the floor. This torque steer tendency can range from a mildly annoying condition to a down right dangerous one. Since the front wheels of a FWD car steer and also provide the power to move the car, anything that causes one of the wheels to have less power than the other one will cause the car to steer in the direction of the weaker wheel. The solutions to the torque steer problem are as varied as are the things that cause it.

Check the pressure of the tires. If one of the tires is low, the car will pull towards the low side, under power.

Check the tread of both tires. A worn out tire will tend to spin under torque and cause the car to steer in the direction of the worn out tire.

Check for a worn out wheel bearing. A worn out or lose bearing will cause excessive drag on the wheel and steering in that direction.

Check the brake caliper for drag. If the brakes are dragging, torque steer will occur in the direction of the drag.

Check the front wheel alignment. Make sure the settings are according to factory specifications. Excessive negative caster or positive camber will cause the car to steer in that direction under torque.

Check the front wheels for different depth. The wheels must be the same depth or the car will torque steer. Avoid deep dish wheels; you want the the steering axis of the ball joints as close to the center of the tire tread as possible to decrease the torque steer tendency. The more your wheels are offset, as in deep dish wheels, the more torque steer your car will have.

Check the control arm bushings for damage or softness. As torque is applied to the wheel the control arm will try to move forward. If one control arm moves it will steer the car in the opposite direction.

Check the steering rack play and the steering linkage for looseness. Loose steering will allow the car wander and steer itself during a high torque condition.

Install an intermediate drive shaft. In most cars the left drive shaft is shorter than the right one. This causes the car to torque steer to the right because the long drive shaft has more flexibility and winds-up under torque, it acts like a torsion bar; this decreases the available torque to that wheel, consequently, it causes the car to steer in that direction. Installing an intermediate drive shaft, pillow block and bearing will allow both drive shafts to the wheels to be the same length. The intermediate drive shaft is much heavier and essentially becomes part of the trans-axle. The drive axles to the wheels are the same length and strength and will decrease torque steering because of axle length difference.

Install track bars. Track bars will decrease the flexing of the control arms under torque and will keep the steering true.

Install a limited slip differential (LSD). By installing an LSD, you decrease the torque steering that occurs when the tires lose traction on wet or slippery pavement. You want a light-duty LSD because a heavy-duty one will make steering difficult and may cause loss of control on icy or snowy roads.

Check your car dealer for new ABS software. On some cars equipped with an ABS system, software that uses the ABS system to fix a torque steer condition may be available.

Torque steering will be diminished or eliminated, as long as equal power is applied to the wheels, and the tires have equal traction on the pavement. Any condition that changes this will increase torque steering. By bringing your car's mechanical condition up to standards and not increasing horsepower beyond the level it was designed to handle, you will decrease or eliminate torque steering altogether.

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About the Author

William Collins is a freelance technical writer living in the American Southwest. He has been writing since 2008 for websites such as Today. Collins has worked as a Registered Nurse in the operating room and in the home health wound care field since 1985. A NIASE-Certified Automotive Mechanic, he holds an associate degree in liberal arts.

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