When backing to the left the front wheels move

When backing to the left the front wheels move forward and the back wheels move backward. You can test this for yourself by parking a car and then manually causing it to turn awkwardly. This is counter-intuitive because people are used to such things as riding a bike, where you turn left by pushing right, or turning right on a skateboard, where you push left. So why does a car do that when you push the stick backwards?

What is a wheel alignment?

A wheel alignment is a process that adjusts the angles of your vehicle’s wheels to ensure that they are set to their original specifications. Wheel alignments are commonly done after tire rotations, but can be performed at any time by an experienced technician.

Wheel alignments are necessary because tires wear out over time and become out of balance. The weight of the vehicle then gets unbalanced along with the front and rear tires. This causes vibrations while driving, premature tire wear and even tire failure.

Alignments are also required when you have damaged your wheels, such as a bent rim or curb damage. Alignments can help prevent uneven tire wear by centering your wheels on the axle properly

Symptoms of a bad wheel alignment

When backing to the left, the front wheels move inward and toward each other. When backing to the right, the front wheels move outward and away from each other.

Symptoms of a bad wheel alignment include:

  • Uneven wear on your tires
  • Unusual tire wear patterns on your tires
  • Pulling to one side when driving straight
  • Steering wheel vibration when driving straight

How to tell if you need an alignment

If you notice your car pulls to the left or right, this can be an indication that your car needs an alignment. When backing to the left, the front wheels move inward as they steer and less than when backing to the right. This is because they are moving away from each other while steering in opposite directions.

When you’re driving forward, the steering wheel is straight ahead and your tires are aligned parallel to each other. However, if you hit a curb or pothole and bend one of your wheels out of place, it will cause your car to pull in one direction or another when you back up.

How to save money on a wheel alignment

When backing to the left the front wheels move out of alignment. To fix this, loosen the lug nuts and slightly turn each wheel in or out. Then retighten the lug nuts.

When backing to the right, the rear wheels move out of alignment. To fix this, loosen the lug nuts and slightly turn each wheel in or out. Then retighten the lug nuts.

How often should you get an alignment?

Most vehicles need alignments at least once a year. But depending on how much you drive, your vehicle’s age and the type of driving you do, you may need an alignment more often.

If you’re a driver who puts a lot of miles on your car, or if you do a lot of highway driving, it’s likely that your alignment will get out of whack more quickly than someone who drives less and doesn’t take long trips.

If you feel any vibration at all when driving straight down the road, your tires are probably out of alignment. If one wheel feels like it’s leaning inward or outward as opposed to being perfectly straight ahead, that wheel is probably out of alignment too.

A malfunctioning steering wheel

If your vehicle has a malfunctioning steering wheel, it can make backing up difficult. The vehicle’s turning radius will be larger than normal and the car may be hard to control when making turns. This can make backing up more dangerous and may result in accidents.

The following are potential causes for a malfunctioning steering wheel:

  • A bad brake caliper
  • A bent or broken axle shaft
  • A bad tie rod end
  • A bad ball joint
  • If you suspect any of these problems, have them checked by a mechanic before driving again.

Follow these steps and you will be better prepared for handling any type of backing move and avoid any possible mishap

  1. Stop the vehicle at least 20 feet from the end of the drive. This will give you time to get out of your vehicle and observe the area completely before making a turn.
  2. Put the transmission in reverse gear and make sure there are no obstacles behind or to the side of your vehicle.
  3. Look behind and check for pedestrians or other vehicles that may be moving toward you while backing up.
  4. Check your rearview mirror before moving forward or backward to make sure there is no traffic coming from either direction while driving on a one-way street or driveway ramp.
  5. Check both sides of the vehicle for potential obstructions such as curbs, trees or poles when parking in narrow spaces such as parking garages or alleyways where it may be difficult to see behind your car when backing up.


Wheel alignments are an essential part of car maintenance. When you get a wheel alignment your mechanic will check for common problems such as a bent wheel, worn tires, loose or worn suspension and other nagging issues that can cause poor driving performance, poor handling, and increase your car’s accident risk. And because it keeps your wheels in the right position and lets the suspension work the way it is supposed to, a wheel alignment is part of a safe and comfortable drive.