There are essentially two key reasons why a car will drift while cruising down the road. The first could be due to the pitch of the road itself. The other could be the result of the car being out of alignment.
Understanding both of these can help you determine whether it’s time to bring your BMW in for servicing, for a wheel alignment, or whether it’s just certain road conditions that cause your car to drift.
The Pitch of the Road
Throughout Toronto and the rest of Ontario, as you know we deal with some harsh winter conditions. This could include endless snow, ice, sleet, and even hail. During the summer months, we can have quite a few strong storms pass through the area dumping tons of rain on our roads.
As a result, engineers once determined that altering the pitch of the roadway was one way to help avoid ‘pooling,’ which is the process by which rain or snow collects on the roads. When you have large ‘pools’ of water on the road, and when a car passes over that pool, it can cause hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning is a process in which the car’s tire is lifted up and off the road surface by the water. When that happens, you have lost all control of the vehicle and it’s one the most significant reasons for accidents during bad weather.
So some roads are pitched slightly. The pitch will begin (for a two lane road) in the center of the roadway where it will be highest and then slope downward toward the right portion of the shoulder. If you are driving on one of these roads and notice your BMW drifting constantly toward the shoulder, it may very well be the result of the pitch.
However, if you notice the pitch but your car isn’t drifting on these pitched roads, it could be the alignment is off.
Every car needs to have its wheel alignment set to ensure that it rides straight and true. The alignment does not hold throughout the life of the car, though. Potholes, stop and go traffic, and other factors can affect wheel alignment.
If the alignment on your BMW is off, it’s best to bring your car to your local certified BMW service center to have it calibrated properly. Improper wheel alignment can impact steering and control.
To quickly check your car’s alignment, find a level, open parking lot where there are no other cars around, point your BMW in a straight line and slowly accelerate. You can simply coast to check the alignment. Without guiding the steering, check to see if your car drives straight or drifts to the left or the right. If it drifts, it’s time to bring it to your local authorized BMW service repair shop to have the alignment corrected.