Outdoor Tips for Northern California and Southern Oregon outdoorsmen
New Feature

Click on Columnists  to access travelogues, field reports, advice, humorous tales and answers to your Q’s! 


Website of the Week


How to Correct a Sideways-driving Vehicle

ave you ever followed a vehicle that seemed to be going sideways on the road? If you were to watch it as it went around a curve you would notice that the vehicle could not navigate the curve smoothly. It would move from side to side in the lane. I wonder, does the driver realize how dangerous this condition is?

I got a phone call from a government agency in a mountain town about 150 miles east of Redding. The caller said, “we have a small SUV that was involved in a collision and repaired, but now it drives side ways and no one in town can find out what’s wrong with it.”

How many inches off center is it, I asked? I expected her to say an inch or two, she replied “about three feet.”

A rear axle that does not align with the front axle of the vehicle causes a vehicle to not track properly. Pickup trucks, especially 4X4 type are the most common vehicles to have this condition.

Trucks that are lifted to gain more ground clearance are even more susceptible, because any strain on the frame and running gear is increased. Often the cause is hitting a hole or running over a rock. A frame that has been damaged in a collision with another vehicle is also a common cause to not track properly.

Cars often have a tracking problem too. Hitting a curb or object in the road, especially for little light weight cars is common.

Some vehicles have adjustments on the rear axle and if the condition is slight, it may be adjustable, if not the vehicle will require frame alignment repair -- see diagram.

It arrived at the shop a couple of days later. Out of curiosity I asked the driver to drive down the road in front of the shop. I wanted to stand in the roadway and observe the vehicle for a hundred feet or so, as it drove away from me. My purpose at this time was not to analyze the vehicle but to get a perspective on what seemed an exaggeration on the description of three feet.

I have repaired many vehicles that drove sideways as much as six inches. One to three inches is more common. Six inches is considered extreme and a vehicle this far off would be very difficult to keep in a straight line and dangerous on mountain roads. It is especially dangerous during winter’s slippery road conditions. Locking up the brakes will cause the vehicle to spin into a circle. Towing a trailer is even more dangerous., It will increase the force and exaggerate the spin, resulting in a jackknife.

I was surprised to see the vehicle take up almost the entire traffic lane. Instead of looking over the hood, the driver was looking over the right front fender area to see the road straight ahead. As he turned the vehicle around and came back toward me I could see the right rear wheel almost on the dirt shoulder of the lane, while the left front wheel was hugging the centerline. It gave me the feeling of watching a circus clown vehicle. I visualized a bunch of clowns with red noses, painted white faces and big floppy shoes jumping out when it stopped.

The problem was the vehicle had a bent frame called a diamond condition, it was the most extreme I have ever seen on a vehicle that was still being driven. The left frame rail had been pushed forward more than six inches, causing the rear axle to point toward the right side, instead of following the front wheels.

This was a utility type SUV with a very strong frame, designed for highway and off road use. Amazingly, the vehicle body did not show very obviously damage but cross measuring the body revealed it too, was out of square. The driver did not complain about the doors being difficult to open and close but they were binding in the bent body. The impact must have been primarily on the bumper at the left rear corner, bending the frame and the body bending with it.

A vehicle frame is similar to a ladder. Imagine a ladder, with one side bent ahead of the other side. The ladder would not stand vertical against a wall. A vehicle with the same condition would not drive straight on the road.

We placed the vehicle on the frame machine. It required pulling the frame and the body simultaneously. 10 tons of hydraulic pressure was required at each pulling tower on opposite sides, one in front of the vehicle the other on the rear. We gained inch by inch slowly as we had to stress relieve the body with the frame. This we accomplished with portable hydraulic jacks and large blocks of wood to distribute force evenly, so a large mass could be moved and not do jack damage to the body sheet metal.

It is always gratifying when a driver test drives a vehicle then comes back to tell you the vehicle drives like new again. In this case the driver also commented on how much better the doors opened and closed.

The above is an extreme misalignment condition and required a more aggressive repair method than the typical collision repair. A misalignment this extreme on vehicles used by the general public would normally make the vehicle not movable and result in damage to mechanical parts.

Got a problem with your vehicle? Coachmaster is a full service collision repair shop, specializing in total vehicle alignment, using laser beams and blueprints.

Don Stec owns Coachmaster of Redding. For more information about your auto, truck or RV and trailer alignment needs, visit coachmasterautobody.com or contact Stec at (530) 243-1310. Coachmaster is located at 6851 Eastside Road iin Redding.

More Hunting Tips

B&C Cookbook kabobs the competition

Grilling season is here. The Boone and Crockett Club is sharing a kabob recipe from a cookbook that skewered the competition recently in a national book awards. The Club's first-ever cookbook, "Wild Gourmet... Full Story

How to Keep smilin’ after the Shot

A man in Camo stoops over and searches the area for signs of animals and their tracks
By Jason Haley
They returned to camp grinning ear to ear. I had a hunch what that meant and was hoping for the best -- a short trail, happy hunter and me in my tent before midnight. I knew better. As we gathered packs, bags, and extra... Full Story

How to Stay Sharp for When the Shot Counts

Daisy Pellet Rifle, Powerline 1000S
By Jesse Bible
I would like to share a method for honing shooting skills. Here in Northern California, the odds are that you will be taking a close shot at a deer that has more than likely seen you first. Once you...Full Story

How to handle firearms safely

Hunting seasons come and go but gun safety should always be on our minds. With that said, Budweiser and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), two longtime partners in wildlife conservation and responsible outdoor...Full Story

How & when to purchase a firearm for a special occasion

By Gary Heffley
There are many gift givers and gift recipients every year who expect to give or get a gun for Christmas (or other special occasion) who, because they are unfamiliar with gun purchasing laws in the state of California, become discouraged...Full Story


Your outdoor adventures have only just begun
Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at MyOutdoorBuddy.com.

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports


So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
Buddy Photos

You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

Come back to MyOutdoorBuddy.com for more Northern California and Southern Oregon fishing, hunting and outdoor news, reports, information, opinions and photos.


A friend to all who love the outdoors since 2006

Website Design Photo Credits: MyOutdoorBuddy.com thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of Tule-Lake.com, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Website Design by Anders Tomlinson

©Copyright 2005-2015 by Frank Galusha, Editor and Publisher. Articles and photos are copyright protected and are published exclusively on the Internet by the publisher and may not be copied, displayed, reproduced or published in any other form without the express written permission of same who reserves all rights. Material supplied by others is the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Re-use of any MyOutdoorBuddy content, graphics and photos without written permission by the author(s) for any purpose is strictly prohibited.