Steering Wheel off Center After Hitting the Curb! Here’s How to Fix It!

Your happily driving along, music blaring, and you take a turn too sharply and bang! You’ve hit the curb, and now the steering wheel is off-center. Sound familiar?

The good news is this article has you covered on what you should do in the event of this happening. You may already know that when the steering wheel is off-center, it usually means the wheel alignment, also known as tracking, is now out and needs correcting.

The important thing to do is to check the car over properly before assuming the wheel alignment will fix all your problems. I worked at a tire garage a few years ago, and you would not believe the number of cars that came in to check the wheel alignment. We’d put the car on the ramp only to discover that a suspension arm was bent or the tire had a huge bulge. Cars can take some beating, but they aren’t invincible.

What to Do After Hitting the Curb

It’s unnecessary to carry out all the checks every time you hit a curb. But if you hit it hard enough that the steering wheel is now off-center, you should carry a thorough inspection and not assume it is just the wheel alignment that needs straightening.

1. Check for Damage

If you find a problem with any of the below, do not proceed. Have the damaged item repaired or replaced. Without fixing the issue, the steering may still be off-center even after carrying out the wheel alignment.


If hitting the curb hard enough, the first thing you will look at after getting out of the car is whether you now have a flat tire. However, the damage isn’t always done immediately, and it can take a few miles for a bulge in the sidewall to appear.

When you look at the tire, it will usually be evident by marks on the tire where it impacted the curb. Inspect this area for any chunks of rubber missing; if the fabric or metal chords are exposed, the tire needs to be replaced asap. If you can see gouges out of the tire but can’t tell how deep they are, spray with washing up liquid and water solution. See if bubbles appear, indicating if you have a puncture.

The other thing to be aware of is a bulge appearing on the tire, this can take several miles to appear after an impact on the tire. This means the metal plies that run through the tire have split or become damaged. They allow the air to expand a bigger gap in the plies and a big rubber egg will appear on the sidewall. These especially dangerous to drive on, because the tire is now weak. Any tiny impact or bump in the road that is too hard when driving, the tire will blow out and shred.

Fitting the spare will be safer than driving on a tire that can blow out at any moment.


The rim is probably the second thing you would inspect after the tire when hitting a curb. Check that there are no visible cracks to the front face or damage to the bead (where the tire seats). Any damage or large dents into the rim would indicate a weak spot, and the edge may need to be replaced. If the damage is minor, the trim may need to be rebalanced by a tire shop to stop any wheel wobble when you get up to 60mph.

It can sometimes be repaired or straightened depending on whether it is an alloy or steel wheel. Steel wheels with the tire removed can be forced back straight. Alloy rims are a bit different. Straightening can be done. But, generally, the rim is weakened after straightening and you tend to get further problems later.


Depending on how hard the impact against the car was, damage can be done to multiple parts of the suspension. Checking the suspension while the vehicle is parked at the side of the road isn’t possible. Ideally, you would need a ramp underneath the car with a light to inspect it properly. Another option would be to jack up the car and remove the wheel to get a good look. If this is beyond your capabilities, have a local mechanic check it for you or with you.

Once you get under the vehicle to have a look, multiple parts of the suspension can get damaged. Each item needs checking carefully, looking for parts that are no longer straight, broken, or weak points that might break soon.

Also, look for any marks indicating the tire is rubbing when turning on the inner arch liner, which is also a sign part of the suspension is bent. If something doesn’t look right and you aren’t sure, don’t move on to the next step. Have a mechanic give you a second opinion.

The most common parts of the suspension that are prone to damage after hitting the curb are:


The transmission is quite a strong part of the car, but hitting the curb with the wheels at the right angle can cause problems.

Although built to handle movement and knocks from hitting the curb, the driveshafts, CV joints, and gearbox casing are susceptible to damage. Check that the driveshafts are straight, the CV joint doesn’t click when or feel odd when turning the wheel, and there are no leaks from the gearbox. This can all be checked at the same time as inspecting the suspension.

It’s not common to cause damage to transmission components after hitting the curb. But if hitting it hard enough that the wheel is severely off center, it would be one area to check there are no problems briefly.

Top mount

The shock absorbers are connected to the chassis at the top of the strut leg via a strut top mount in the engine bay. Although the top mounts don’t usually break from a curb impact as they are mostly rubber with a plate to hold the spring on the strut, the chassis can get damaged.

If you lift the hood and inspect the three bolts where the top mount connects to the car, you must look for any distortion to the chassis leg. If the metal work is bent or you can visibly see the top mount has moved, this indicates there is a severe problem and will need to go into a garage, preferably one that deals with crash repairs, to check it is safe to be repaired.

Steering rack

The steering rack is another car part that isn’t easy to inspect. It can be hidden from view even when you get underneath a vehicle. The steering rack moves from side to side and is connected to the wheels via tie rods and track rod ends.

Usually, the damage will appear on the tie rod or track rod ends, not the steering rack. However, it would be best if you tried to inspect the rack for any leaks or dripping fluid; this will indicate the steering rack is now faulty and may need replacing.

2. Check the Tire Pressures

Once you are happy there is no damage to any parts of the vehicle, checking and adjusting the tire pressures is the next cause of action.

When you hit a curb, the force can be enough to knock the tire off the bead briefly enough for a large amount of air to escape. A semi-deflated tire isn’t always apparent to the eye, and a car will continue to drive with the steering wheel off-center if one tire is flat. If you have T.P.M.S., the tire warning light should come on to tell you this, but it’s still good practice to check the pressures anyway.

steering off center after hitting the curb

3. Have the Alignment and Wheel Balancing Checked

Most know the wheel alignment will correct an off-center steering wheel, but they forget to rebalance the wheels. Although wheel balancing doesn’t stop the steering wheel from pulling the car to one side, it stops the horrible vibrating it can do when you get up to about 60 mph, which is caused by hitting the curb. Because tire repair garages carry out both the wheel alignment and the balancing, having them do both simultaneously will stop you from having to go back to have it done later.

Onto checking and adjusting the wheel alignment. This is how the car will return to driving with the steering wheel in the center. The wheel alignment is checked with a flag and laser, or four laser gauges fitted onto each wheel; a computer then tells the technician where the wheels will need to be adjusted to align with the steering wheel.

If the alignment is out, which it will be if the steering wheel is off center and no other damage is apparent. The technician will rotate the track rod, which makes the wheels point inwards (toe-in) or point outwards (toe-out), depending on which way it is turned and the toe settings for the vehicle. Each car has its own settings, not just 0 toe or straight, because of the push or pull forces acting on the car from the engine and movement in the suspension.

Once the car alignment has been adjusted, the car should return to driving in a straight line, and the steering wheel remains in the center.

It is always wise to test drive after and be cautious about listening for any unusual noises or odd feelings in the steering, which may indicate it needs to return to the garage. Depending on how hard the curb impact was, it’s not uncommon to need wheel alignment adjusted more than once when the suspension settles. Most garages typically offer a warranty on wheel alignment for this reason.

What Happens if You Drive With the Steering Wheel off Center?

If the reason for your steering wheel being off-center is caused by the wheel alignment, the tires would eventually scrub out on the edges. If the tracking is severely out, a tire’s inner or outer edges can wear through in a couple of thousand miles.

If the problem is caused by a bent suspension arm or a flat tire, you should not drive. These types of issues are a safety concern for you, your passengers, and other road users.

Final Thoughts

If the steering wheel is off center after hitting the curb, the most likely outcome is you need the wheel alignment adjusting. This requires a ramp and laser gauges to carry out properly, so you will need to visit a mechanic. But before you do that, you should check the car over; if you’ve hit a curb that hard, the steering is now off to one side, you may have caused damage, and driving it would be a safety concern.

My name is Tom although my friends call me Tommy. Messing around with cars and bikes has always been a hobby of mine even from a young age. So I made it my day job 17 years ago. I am a fully qualified mechanic as you would expect. I've worked in all different areas of the motor trade, valeting, panel beating, engine repairs, I'm sure you get the idea. I enjoy sharing my wealth of knowledge and experience with others, which is the reason I spend a lot of time here writing for this website.

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