If your ATV or UTV pulls to the right or left, it’s often a simple fix.
When it’s not a simple fix, it’s often something stupid or broken, as I’ve learned through the years.
Here are the things you can check to see why your ATV or side by side pulls to one side.
1. Tire Pressure Is Off
The biggest reason for an ATV to pull to one side is often the tire pressure.
Either one or more tires doesn’t have the correct air pressure. I’ve seen underinflated and overinflated tires cause the steering to pull to one side.
You need to check all 4 tires’ air pressure using a low-pressure tire gauge*. You want around 7 PSI for most ATV tires and around 15 PSI for UTV, but your owner’s manual or warning decals (and terrain) will tell you the correct pressure.
Tip: When inflating the tires, securely jack the ATV up to get pressure off the tires. I know this sounds odd, but the machine’s weight could affect the shape of the tire, especially if you have specialty tires. I know some guys will argue with me on this one, but I’ve seen this fix the issue before, so I’ve added it to my list of things to try.
2. Damaged Wheel or Rim
The next most common reason for an ATV to steer to the left or right is that the wheel or rim is damaged.
I’ve seen chunks go missing from a tire to a barely noticeable bent rim that causes all kinds of steering issues.
ATVs take a lot of abuse, so it’s not uncommon for the tires or rims to get damaged and cause them to pull to one side.
3. Damaged Tie Rod or A-Arm
Talking about damage, a broken tie rod or a-arm can also cause the ATV to pull to one side.
A bent tie rod or damaged a-arm is often obvious; check behind the wheel and suspension area to see if they’re bent or damaged.
Tie rods do wear out over time, so if it’s an older ATV, this could be your problem.
Don’t forget to check the CV Joint and boot. The slightest opening in the CV boot can cause odd issues like steering to one side. One thing to be on the lookout for is if you hear clicking when turning as that is a bad sign for the CV.
4. Alignment Is Off
It could be as simple as your alignment is off and needs to be fixed.
The video below will show you how to do an ATV alignment.
5. Damaged Or Worn Out Suspension
If the struts or suspension of your ATV is worn out or damaged, this can cause it to pull to one side.
You’ll know your suspension is worn out when you put weight on your ATV and doesn’t bounce back like it used to. Also, overly noisy suspension is a sign they’re worn out.
6. PDI Failure
If it’s a new ATV and it’s pulling to one side, it may not have been properly PDI’ed.
PDI stands for “pre-delivery inspection.” ATVs come in crates and must be assembled by the dealership.
Putting the handlebars on is a part of the PDI process, along with the wheels.
It could be possible that the ATV was not PDI properly and is causing your steering issues.
If it’s a new ATV, don’t mess around, take it back to the dealership and have them fix it.
7. Lugs Too Loose or Too Tight
It’s rare, but I’ve seen wheel lugs that were too loose or too tight cause the quad to have steering issues.
I see far too many guys just run the wheel lugs on with an impact and move on. Don’t do this!
Avoid using an impact, and to tighten the lugs properly, you need to use a torque wrench.
You also have the opposite problem of guys not tightening them enough, and the wheel comes loose and causes unpredictable movements and damage.
8. Damaged Frame
I’ve had a guy roll his ATV down the side of a mountain and wondered why his steering was off. Dude, you bent the frame.
A bent or damaged frame can make your ATV pull to one side, that is for sure.
So if you’ve wrecked your ATV, this could be the reason.
9. Check For Recalls
This is rare but needs to be mentioned; make sure your ATV doesn’t have any recalls.
Call your local dealer and have them check your VIN for any open recalls or repair bulletins. You might not be the only one with the issue, especially if it’s a relatively new ATV.
10. Wheel Size
It could be possible that your wheels sizes are what’s causing your ATV or side by side to go to one side.
One way to check this is to mark the tire with chalk where it meets the ground and the ground itself. Then carefully roll the ATV forward until the mark on the tire makes one complete rotation and mark that spot on the ground.
Measure the distance of each spot on the ground and do this for all tires to see if one is rolling more than the other. Look for a measurement that stands out, and that tire might be your problem.
Another way to go about it…
11. Tire Direction
Like cars, many ATVs, especially UTVs, have tires that can only go in one direction.
Check your ATV tires to see if they’re directional; you often have an arrow saying “traction,” or the tread itself will tell you.
If the tire has an arrow it should be pointing forward. If the arrow is not pointing forward then the tire is not on the correct side.
12. Wheels Off Balance
Tires naturally get out of balance due to wear and tear.
This out of balance can lead to many things, even in rare cases causing your ATV to steer to one side.
Usually, when an ATV tire is out of balance you’ll feel a vibration in the handlebars. This vibration can cause odd movements and may even lead it to go to one side especially if it’s only one tire out of balance.
If you think your ATV wheels are not balanced right, you need to take them to a tire shop and have them balanced.
13. Brakes Sticking
Your brakes sticking or simply being damaged can for sure cause the ATV to pull to one side.
If the brakes are sticking, you will often hear them or feel them in the brake lever.
The sticking could also be because the rotors are warped and catching every so rotation makes it steer to one side.
Note: It’s not uncommon for an ATV or side by side to have only one brake caliper and rotor for the rear. The front should have two for each side, but sometimes you see one brake in the rear connected to the driveshaft or on only one side of the wheel.
14. Power Steering Is Bad
Many ATVs come with power steering these days, and if the motor or sensors are bad, it can cause odd steering problems.
Nowadays, you need to take the ATV to the dealership to check the computer for power steering fault codes as a sensor could be bad or the power steering motor.
The power steering might not be bad but needs to be reset by the computer. Can-Am has in their dealer software a button to reset the DPS, and often it can fix odd power steering issues.