What causes the front of my car to pull under braking?

  • The most common reason is that one of the calipers is not performing correctly. This can often be traced to cars being put up for an extended period of time where water accumulate in the caliper pistons, rusts the piston and it doesn't move properly in the bore.
  • Regular brake fluid is hydroscopic, which means that it draws moisture which often settles in calipers and wheel cylinders.    
  • Routine maintenance including purging old brake fluids during extended storage periods will help eliminate this problem.

What else can cause the front to pull or roll during normal driving conditions?

  • Start with the shocks, tie rod ends and sway bars. It is difficult to assess the condition of the typical lever type shocks on many British cars while still in place. The first clue is to look for unusual or extreme fluid leakage.
  • Pushing down on all four corners of the car can tell a lot about the shocks condition. The car should be stiff when you put down pressure on fender and should not bounce when you let the pressure off.
  • Tie rod ends are easy to inspect as is the sway bar. Many cars came without sway bars and are offered as upgrades in several "force" options.

What else is available in the way of upgrades to improve handling?

  • The short answer is everything. Tube shock kits are offered for almost all of the standard British cars. Gas type tube shocks can replace original equipment. Heavier sway bars as previously noted, improved valving for the lever shocks, competition type road springs and urethane bushings are just a few of the options to make your car handle better overall.
  • Some of these improvements may cause a much stiffer ride and this should be considered when making upgrades to suspension equipment.
  • And don't overlook your steering. Rack and pinion steering is prone to wear and can get sloppy. Torn gaiters allow grease and / or lubricating fluids to leak out. Worn pinion gears can cause issues with wheel response.
  • Again, check you service manual for maintenance and service methods.

Will tire size or type effect handling?

  • This is much more prevalent with the older narrower, harder compounded tires. And improper alignment will cause uneven wear, which also contributes to poor handling .
  • The bias ply versus radial ply tire issue is often argued as being a cause to handling woes. This is more of an issue at higher speeds because of sidewall roll but for most of our older cars tread condition and proper inflation is more important.
  • Don't overlook the wheels either. Make sure the wheel is professionally balanced every time new tires are installed. Regular rotation is also helpful to maintaining good handling and balanced wear.   
  • And wire wheels are a special category. Improperly balanced or poorly tuned spokes will cause handling issues every time. The tuning of spokes should always be left to people who specialize in wire wheels. 
  • But in the end it is fairly safe to say that modern tire materials and properly maintained tires, wheels and suspension elements will equal good handling characteristics.