Mystery pull, need help (solved)

super1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
none
Not normal
Make sure nothing is hitting the tie rod ends, linkage etc.. also inside the car down by the steering shaft make sure nothing is binding there as well
 

snakeye

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Not normal
Make sure nothing is hitting the tie rod ends, linkage etc.. also inside the car down by the steering shaft make sure nothing is binding there as well
Yeah just pulled two leaking racks off the shelf, the only clicking I got out of those was the inner tie rods.

It's an OEM rack I got from Cascade German. Hard to believe it just went bad. Could it be the yoke adjustment that's off? Or maybe there's a reason that the rack was like $270...
 

super1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
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So I've got a very annoying issue with my car. The alignment is perfect, but it pulls slightly to the right most of the time. Sometimes the problem goes away on its own, before coming back again. Drove across Canada and that cost me half the tread on the front right tire.

All steering/suspension parts are pretty much less than a year old on the car. Only thing that's not done are the rear axle bushings.

Brakes are all new, everything is greased up and sliding properly. Installed a new master cylinder and brake booster a few months ago, flushed the whole system incl. ABS module.

Where would you guys look next? I'm suspecting two things, and I hope it's the first : I noticed that there's a lot of wiggle on the rear passenger side top carrier pin, which could maybe lead to the caliper being loose and causing the inner pad to drag on the rotor. Does this sound like a plausible theory?

The other one is a bad ABS module, but I feel like this would cause more drag and heat that would be easier to notice. I also want to try anything before even thinking of touching this.

Any suggestions?
So on your Mystery Pull after you put the suspension parts in & before your alignment was your steering wheel straight or turn to the right or left a little?
The alignment made the wheel centered again if it was off centered?
Because I’m having I tire wear a problem my steering wheel is off centered to the right the only thing I have done was change struts,ball joints and the clutch at a different time and now my steering wheel is off Center to the right and my right front tire is wearing out really fast as well
I have re-adjusted my ball joints a dozen times it does not fix the problem
 

Zak99b5

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Joined
Apr 30, 2021
Location
Albany NY
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI
So on your Mystery Pull after you put the suspension parts in & before your alignment was your steering wheel straight or turn to the right or left a little?
The alignment made the wheel centered again if it was off centered?
Because I’m having I tire wear a problem my steering wheel is off centered to the right the only thing I have done was change struts,ball joints and the clutch at a different time and now my steering wheel is off Center to the right and my right front tire is wearing out really fast as well
I have re-adjusted my ball joints a dozen times it does not fix the problem
You need an alignment. Are you just guessing when you adjust the ball joints?
 

super1

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Location
NY
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You need an alignment. Are you just guessing when you adjust the ball joints?
Well yes kind of but do you think an alignment shop is going to adjust my camber when in their eyes is non-adjustable? I never touched my tie rods ends
 

snakeye

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
So it's not the rack adjustment. Any tighter, and the wheel becomes hard to turn, yet the sound is still there. I'm a little skeptical about the rack being the issue, though.

Well yes kind of but do you think an alignment shop is going to adjust my camber when in their eyes is non-adjustable? I never touched my tie rods ends
The position of the ball joints affect the toe. Needs to be aligned.
 

cutsham

Active member
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Location
CT
TDI
2000 Jetta 1.9 ALh
Check tire pressure too! Imbalance can create a pull on FWD cars. Bad axle too
 

Matt-98AHU

Loose Nut Behind the Wheel Vendor
Joined
Apr 23, 2006
Location
Gresham, OR
TDI
2001 Golf TDI, 2005 Passat wagon, 2004 Touareg V10.
Are the ball joints installed on the correct side? Weird things happen when you get them on the wrong side. The joint is supposed to line up with the line of the caster, when you get left and right switched, the joint now doesn't have the full range of movement it should in one direction and starts to do weird things. Get odd memory steer, weird clicks out of the suspension etc.
 

super1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
none
So it's not the rack adjustment. Any tighter, and the wheel becomes hard to turn, yet the sound is still there. I'm a little skeptical about the rack being the issue, though.



The position of the ball joints affect the toe. Needs to be aligned.
So you got an alignment and you’re right front tire still wore out you mean?
 

snakeye

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
So you got an alignment and you’re right front tire still wore out you mean?
That was last year, since then I had 4 alignments done, no sign of abnormal tire wear yet...
Are the ball joints installed on the correct side? Weird things happen when you get them on the wrong side. The joint is supposed to line up with the line of the caster, when you get left and right switched, the joint now doesn't have the full range of movement it should in one direction and starts to do weird things. Get odd memory steer, weird clicks out of the suspension etc.
I will definitely check this.

Edit: I don't have my car with me right now, but here's a pic of the driver side.

 
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super1

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Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
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Are the ball joints installed on the correct side? Weird things happen when you get them on the wrong side. The joint is supposed to line up with the line of the caster, when you get left and right switched, the joint now doesn't have the full range of movement it should in one direction and starts to do weird things. Get odd memory steer, weird clicks out of the suspension etc.
Yes installed on the correct sides I double checked
 
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snakeye

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Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
The plot thickens...



Here's what my driver side new beam bushing looks like. Called my mechanic, he says it's normal, the bushing can't be pressed in any more than that cause the beam is all rusted and won't expand. Odd, cause the right side is fine, despite being equally rusted... Bringing car back next week.

Before the bushing replacement, the rear camber was in spec. Afterwards there was a little more on the left wheel, 2.1 degrees or something... Doubt the camber affects the handling much, but the bushing that's not pressed on all the way, mayyyybe??? Last thing I needed was more uncertainty...
 

snakeye

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Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
^ That bushing was fixed, and since then I changed the right steering knuckle cause I felt some roughness in the bearing and started hearing a faint noise. Car steered more or less straight after that, but decided to get an alignment, and now I'm back to square one, same problem. Loose feeling turning the wheel left, tight to the right.

Funny, though, I realized right after getting the alignment that turning the steering wheel all the way right produced a nice fart sound coming from the right side, which I'm assuming is the strut mount. The rubber looked pretty asymmetrically squished when I had the strut off during the knuckle change, so who knows...

Ordered cupra mounts and also some spacers... I think this will be my hail Mary attempt at fixing this problem before I drive my car down a cliff lol
 

snakeye

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Montreal, Canada
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2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Ok let the real mind **** begin... During a 4k km trip, car's been pulling to the right, up until it started raining, when suddenly the steering straightened. Obvious answer is dragging brakes, which'll drag less when wet, right? That's what I thought, but sometime later when it stopped raining, I drove for a good 30 minutes with the car pulling again, and then came to a stop without applying the brake, and found that all brakes were cold. Tried a second time with the same result. Any dragging would result in at least some heat, especially when driving on a highway for extended periods of time, wouldn't it??

So now I'm wondering, can anything else that causes the car to pull be affected by the rain? Or do I need to start throwing random brake parts on my car hoping it'll solve the problem? Cause I already went through changing both calipers on the right side, and everything is sliding freely, and the wheels spin all the same with the car in the air.

Oh and after a bunch of testing it seems like letting go of the steering wheel centers it, but makes the car turn right.
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
I keep coming back to this expecting you would have solved it. Apparently this is a real tough one.
Guessing you've ruled out the tires. I might fool with the pressures, as low as 28, up to maybe 40. Or it could just be the tires.
I've only had 2 TDIs, a 99.5 Jetta and my current 03 bug with 2 new cheap tires and 2 really old but good tires. Both have tracked really nice and solid down the road. Unlike the partners CR-V which drives like a golf cart.
 

snakeye

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Location
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TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
I keep coming back to this expecting you would have solved it. Apparently this is a real tough one.
Guessing you've ruled out the tires. I might fool with the pressures, as low as 28, up to maybe 40. Or it could just be the tires.
I've only had 2 TDIs, a 99.5 Jetta and my current 03 bug with 2 new cheap tires and 2 really old but good tires. Both have tracked really nice and solid down the road. Unlike the partners CR-V which drives like a golf cart.
Yeah it's pretty aggravating, sometimes the pull goes away and tracks perfectly straight, but most often it's there and takes all the the joy out of driving the car, as it takes constant steering input to keep it on the road.

When I got my most recent alignment, I returned again after swapping the winter tires for the summer ones, but that did nothing. I wish it were something so simple...

Oh btw I installed the cupra front bushings that I mentioned, which obviously didn't solve my problem, but at least made for some nice lean strut mount sandwiches above the strut tower.

 

snakeye

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Dec 13, 2009
Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Put new caliper carriers on as the old ones seemed to have excess play. Didn't do anything obviously, still pulls, but found this:



Could that little nick where the rubber line meets the steel be a sign of greater internal damage/blockage, that's preventing the caliper from retracting? I did notice the inside of the rotor is wearing a little faster on the rear right side than on the left.
 

jmodge

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I haven't been following this but, have you still not spent $25 on an IR gun to rule out if your problem is in a brake or bearing?
 

jmodge

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I haven't been following this but, have you still not spent $25 on an IR gun to rule out if your problem is in a brake or bearing?
 

tgray

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Marengo, IL
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'02 Beetle, '05 Golf, 2000 Jetta, 2001 Jetta, 2002 Jetta
Could be. A friend of mine told me he had a brake line collapse internally and act like a check valve locking up the brake after it was applied hard. With that kind of damage it may be good to replace it anyway.
 

snakeye

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Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Could be. A friend of mine told me he had a brake line collapse internally and act like a check valve locking up the brake after it was applied hard. With that kind of damage it may be good to replace it anyway.
Yeah I think that's what I'll do. I'm currently just throwing parts at the car, something I never thought I'd do, so might as well replace what's damaged huh..

I haven't been following this but, have you still not spent $25 on an IR gun to rule out if your problem is in a brake or bearing?
No, I'm pretty sure it won't show anything, since the temperature from one brake/wheel to another varies randomly to the touch.

When I roll on wet pavement the pull goes away, so it's the brakes, unless water can affect something else. I have new rotors and pads on all 4 corners, and the interior of the rear right rotor is wearing faster than the left. I probably went through a gallon of brake fluid this past year, no bubbles at all during the last flush. Calipers were changed.

So I think I kinda have it narrowed down to the rear right brake. We'll see if the brake line solves the problem...
 

irvingj

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Etna,NH
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2005 Jetta Wagon TDI (PD/BEW)
Ditto on the internally-collapsed flexible brake line -- had that happen to my '72 Blazer years ago. (That's why books insist you hang the caliper from a wire rather than let it hang by the flexible line when working on the brakes...)
 

snakeye

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Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Burn it.

Then have pkhoury find you a nice clean Texas MkIV.
Oh tempting! Lol

Selling it actually crossed my mind, and then I tried to think what the next owner would replace to solve the issue. Abs pump, rear wheel bearing... :unsure:
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
Have you been able to rule out the calipers? One sticking engaged or disengaged might cause the intermittent aspect.
 

snakeye

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Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
2003 Jetta and Wagon, GLS 5sp
Have you been able to rule out the calipers? One sticking engaged or disengaged might cause the intermittent aspect.
I've changed both on the right side with other used ones. They show no sign of sticking, the wheels move freely with the car jacked up, they produce no heat... Parking brake cables are also new, just put on brand new TRW carriers...

Btw I don't think it's intermittent anymore. I noticed driving in the rain makes the pulling go away, if not, it seems to always be there.
 

BobnOH

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Joined
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Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
You needs a really good mechanic, not necessarily TDI specialist, as your issue is standard vehicle stuff. Someone like oilhammer who's diagnosed and fixed hundreds if not thousands of cars. I know you're no rookie, but you have a unique issue. If you can even find such a person, make a list of what you've done.
One of the strong points of a VW is the solid stready feel on the road compared to other cars like my partners Honda CR-V, great car, but drives like a golf cart.
Believe you're at the limit at what we can diagnose on this interweb thang.
 

snakeye

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Location
Montreal, Canada
TDI
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You needs a really good mechanic, not necessarily TDI specialist, as your issue is standard vehicle stuff. Someone like oilhammer who's diagnosed and fixed hundreds if not thousands of cars. I know you're no rookie, but you have a unique issue. If you can even find such a person, make a list of what you've done.
One of the strong points of a VW is the solid stready feel on the road compared to other cars like my partners Honda CR-V, great car, but drives like a golf cart.
Believe you're at the limit at what we can diagnose on this interweb thang.
Well it's a real mystery, but finding such a mechanic is probably harder than solving the problem myself.

I'll get to the bottom of this eventually. Somehow...
 
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