Fixing Skateboard Drifting With A few Tweaks

Most skateboards turn on their own and never go in a straight line. It’s often a skill issue and typically something you’ll notice when you bought a new skateboard. As long as it doesn’t affect your abilities when you’re skateboarding you should be fine.

My advice is to just give it some time as the bushings (which in 90% causes the unwanted turning) require some time to work properly. Secondly, make sure to assume the proper stance:

Bend the knees, and use the upper body in combination with heels and toes to turn and correct the direction of a skateboard

If you already skate for a while and don’t have a brand new skateboard inspect these parts of your board:

  • A warped deck.
  • Really old bushings.
  • Misaligned Wheels/bearings.
  • Bent truck axle.
  • Pivot cup shows wear.

New Skateboard(er)? Have Some Patience

Thinking a board turns one direction is a very typical beginner issue, but there’s hardly a problem. If you just bought a new complete skateboard the bushings just need some time to work properly (those plastic cone shaped things on the trucks). So give it a couple of hours, slightly tighten or loosen the trucks gradually and the problem will go away.

New skateboard? Drifting goes away after a while. It’s pretty normal and easy to fix.

So to the moms and dads that think there is something wrong with the cheap Amazon skateboard that you bought for your kid, have a little patience and get a skate tool (or a wrench) to adjust the skateboard’s turning ability.

Just tighten or loosen the trucks a little like in the image below. Turning the kinpin nut counter-clock-wise will result in a skateboard that turns faster, clock-wise will reduce it’s turning capability.

adjusting skateboard trucks with a tool

right tightly, lefyt loosy

New skateboards require a break-in period for optimal performance. Adjusting the kingpin nut usually fixes unwanted turning issues.

New skateboarders may find board imbalances more noticeable. Soft bushings in new skateboards may initially cause misalignment, particularly after tricks due to compression, especially impacting the rear bushings.

Doing a trick on a brand new skateboard can cause a skateboard with soft bushings to completely misalign. The bushing get squashed because they aren’t broken in yet, you need some patience.

Turning Issues When You’re an Experienced Skater

If your board turns to one direction while you’re riding and doing tricks, and slightly adjusting your stance won’t correct the ghost turning, something’s wrong.

When your stance is correct the problem could because of misaligned or coned wheels, squashed bushings, or bent truck axles. In some cases you might have a warped skateboard deck.

Bushings Need Replacement

Skateboard trucks sometimes face the problem of worn or dried-out bushings, which affect steering by causing uneven compression. Try leaning in the opposite direction of the board’s tilt and adjust the truck nuts for realignment. If bushings are damaged, replacing them.

Trucks Too Loose or Too Tight

Uneven tightness in skateboard trucks can cause turning issues, with tighter trucks leading to deviation from the intended path. Adjusting the tightness by screwing the nut to the bolt can help.

Worn Pivot Cup

If the pivot wiggles or shows signs of wear, consider replacing it. Experimentation may be needed to find the right balance between tightness and looseness, as preferences vary among skateboarders.

pivot cup filled with candle wax

Stuck or Loose Wheel(s)

If one will is a bit stuck it will be harder to control the direction you want to go. Spin the wheels by hand and see if the wheels spin rotate properly.

Sometimes you need to loosen the axle nut a bit when it’s too tight causing friction and preventing the wheel from spinning properly.

If wheels are too loose and there is wiggle room make sure to tighten the axle nut a bit, usually this also causes an annoying noise.

Uneven Wear on Wheels

Usually new skaters favor one side which causes more wear on a particular wheel. Some wheels wear faster than others because of your stance and the your turning preferences.

worn skateboard wheels

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 around or flipping them.

Here’s how:

  • Left front wheel goes to the rear right.
  • Right front wheel goes to the rear left.
  • Rear left wheel to the right front.
  • Rear right wheel to the left front.

Bent Truck Axles

Bent truck axles, though not common, can lead to “ghost turning” in skateboards. This issue can damage bearings, causing wheel blockages. To check for bent axles, remove the wheels and inspect them for straightness. If bent, replace the truck immediately to resolve the issue.

Broken or Misaligned Bearings

Broken bearings can cause wheel wobble 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.

aligned vs misaligned bearing skateboard wheel

Warped Skateboard Deck

If you suspect your skateboard is warped, it’s more common with cheaper imitations. To check, lay the deck on the ground and ensure all four wheels touch. If not, remove the trucks and recheck for twists or distortions.

Inconsistencies may stem from tight trucks or irregular wheels. If just purchased, consider returning it; otherwise, check the truck alignment before replacing the deck.

Photo of author

Ruben Vee

I love skateboarding but my age is catching up. I decided to use my experience to skate less and write more. 20 years of skateboarding allows me to offer original and unique insights for many styles of skateboarding.