I like to maintain my skateboard and hate it when it’s starting to get a mind of its own. Usually, the cause is easy to find but there are many reasons why this happens. Now, most skateboards turn a bit on their own and as long as it doesn’t affect you when you’re riding you should be fine.
Your skateboard turns on its own because of bad bearings, faulty bushings, worn down wheels, loose screws, loose trucks, bent axles or it could even be your skateboard deck. Some boards turn to the right where others turn to the left on their own.
If you’re just starting out it could also be that you have to get used to balancing. A brand new skateboard should go pretty straight unless you have a component that suffers from production failure. I don’t mean those cheap $20 Walmart skateboards, so if you own one you just found the cause.
To find out exactly why your board turns to one side go through my checklist and see if you can fix the problem. This is a generic post, it also meant for longboarders and cruisers in general.
1. Bad bushings
One of the most common causes is cracked or dried bushings. Bushings are the plastic pieces in the center of your trucks. The bend and are compressed when you steer your skateboard. Depending on the hardness of your bushings the help your trucks to turn smoothly.
Over time bushings and pivot cups lose flexibility from steering, weather conditions, and impacts. Usually, the cause is because you steer more in one direction than the other resulting in uneven squash. Meaning one side could be more squashed than the other. Even if your bushings are new they can be a bit misaligned.
Try leaning into the opposite direction of where your board wants to go. It should probably even out after a day of skateboarding, it also might take some more time.
If they still look decent, check if they are evenly pinched. Try re-aligning your trucks by adjusting the nuts and make sure they have about the same tightness. You might have to loosen them up or tighten them. Go out there again and skate to see if there’s a difference, this also might take some time.
If you do happen to find cracks and tearing, replace them if you want. They aren’t expensive and make a huge difference. Make sure you get proper bushings as some companies use cheaply produced polyurethane. Check out my guide to see the type of bushings you need.
2. Trucks too loose or too tight
It’s possible that one truck is tighter than the other causing your deck to steer in a certain direction. If your trucks are too loose they tend to cause your board to deviate from their path. Try to tighten them by screwing the nut to the bolt, not too much though. Now stand on your deck and wiggle your board from left to right using your weight. They should re-align while you skate. Make sure that both of your trucks are tightened evenly, more or less.
Another cause could be your pivot moving around a little. If they wiggle it could mean you have to replace the pivot cup (if it shows signs of wear and tear). If not, loosen your trucks a little and straighten the truck, don’t forget to tighten them back up again.
You can also try to only loosen them a bit and see if this has any effect, just trial and error until you get it right. Remember that you don’t want extremely loose or very tight trucks. I personally love tight trucks with soft bushings.
3. Worn down or faulty pivot cup bushing
Just like your bushings, pivot cups will wear down and cause your board to turn. To check if you have a bad pivot cup, you need to remove the kingpin. The pivot cup is located in the base plate, so open it up and see if it still fits properly or there is some wiggle. Take it out and inspect the cups for cracks.
4. Cheap Walmart or toy store deck
If you have a skateboard that came with all the hardware and with the deck wrapped in plastic, you probably have a toy deck. It’s hard to distinguish pro decks from professional decks for most people, even more so for parents who thought they bought you a nice gift. Tnx mom…
Try to spin the wheels with your hands and see how long they rotate. If it’s between 2 and 4 seconds you’ve got a bad skateboard. If only one of them stops spinning after a few seconds, it’s probably a bad bearing or a nut that’s a bit tight.
Now I don’t mean to talk down to people who ride Walmart skateboards, not at all. I respect everyone that wants to learn skateboarding as long as they don’t act like a tool and drop in when someone else is in the mini ramp. The thing is, you’re going to have a hard time to learn skateboarding on a cheap deck. Try to save up and buy a cheap complete, it’ll make all the difference.
5. Worn down wheels
Because you favor one side and of course friction wheels wear down. Some wheels wear down faster than others because of your stance and steering. This means one or two wheels have less diameter than the others resulting in your skateboard turning to one side. You can fix this by swapping your wheels or flipping them, it should make some difference. It could take some time though as they need to wear down a little first to even out.
6. Bent truck axles
Bent truck axles aren’t that common but can happen to any truck brand. If you do happen to have this problem, it’s the cause of your skateboards’ ghost turning. Be aware that a bent axle can destroy your bearings, which in turn causes your wheels to block. In order to find out if your axle(s) is bent, remove the wheels and see if it’s still straight. If this is causing your problems, replace your truck ASAP. If not keep on reading.
7. Broken bearings
Broken bearings can cause wheel wobbling and will eventually cause an accident. Check if your bearings are still in one piece and clean them while you’re at it. It’s always a good idea to clean your bearings once every while as they collect dust and dirt. Properly maintained bearings will last longer and helps you maintain stability.
Bearings aren’t expensive, here are a couple I recommend.
8. Warped skateboard deck
Highly unusual if you own a decent skateboard but more likely if you own a cheap imitation toy skateboard. Here’s how you find out if your skateboard is warped. Put your deck on the ground and see if all four wheels touch the ground. If one or two wheels don’t touch the ground remove your trucks.
Lay your deck on the ground again and check for twists or distortions. Stand on your deck or check with your hand for inconsistencies. If you can check all of the above you have a warped board.
If you just got the deck you should return it to the store. If you own it for a while the inconsistencies can be caused by trucks screwed too tight or even irregular wheels. One more thing, if not all of your wheels touch the ground it could also be unevenly aligned trucks or even your wheels. Make sure you follow all the steps to be sure before you decide to buy a new skateboard deck. Would suck if your trucks are the cause of wobbling and not your deck.
9. Pushing mongo
Pushing mongo means you’re pushing with your front foot. This is something you should stop doing because it’s really difficult to maintain balance. You’ll have a hard time controlling your board and it will be all over the place. So it isn’t your board, it’s your style. Of course, you can push mongo and still have a misaligned skateboard, but that’s the least of your concern. So stop it! Come back when you push properly (jokes, I admit I used to push mongo).
10. Steer by leaning
Your skateboard can turn to one direction because you always either turn back-side or front-side. This usually results in your bushings to be slightly crushed on one side. Try swapping your trucks around to even them out. It will take some time before they are even again but it should make some difference.
11. Base plates and mounting holes
This is probably a long shot but if there’s only one person I can help it’s worth it. When you skate for a while your hardware wears down and if you’re an aggressive skateboarder your hardware suffers more. Sometimes base plates show tears where the bolts and nuts are attached, even the plate itself can deform.
Cracks near the mounting holes are not uncommon (after extensive use) but a deformed mounting hole is rare. Usually, something went wrong during production Q&A. While you’re at it, also check the base plates of your trucks and see if they aren’t twisted.
Check your mounting holes if they show signs of tears your truck will go a bit crooked and can cause your skateboard to turn. Take off your trucks and check the mounting holes. If they are stretched the baseplate needs to be replaced. Some brands offer replacement baseplates or maybe you have a spare somewhere.
12. Screws, bolts and nuts and other hardware
As a last resort make sure all your screws bolts and nuts are attached properly. Here’s what you should inspect and look for.
- The large nut on your truck should be tight.
- Make sure your wheels are attached properly. Check if the nuts at the side of your truck axles are tight enough.If not tighten them but make sure your wheels keep spinning.
- The screws and nuts that attach your trucks shouldn’t be able to move
- Make sure you don’t have a faulty spacer somewhere between your bearings.
Poor guy, nothing wrong with his deck, he should check out his trucks.
Skateboards never go in a straight line
Well, there they are, 12 possible reasons why your skateboard is ghost riding (I came across the term ‘ghost riding’ on a forum and I’m stealing it). I hope there’s something in there that fixes your issues. Just remember that skateboards are never 100% perfectly aligned. There are just too many factors that come into play and most of the time some simple fixes will make it go away if you just keep riding that board.