Dear Car Talk:
I have to keep the steering wheel in the 11 o'clock position to drive straight down the road. The car is a 2003 Kia Spectra LS. What's wrong? -- Michael
Well, you obviously forgot to set your steering wheel ahead one hour this spring, Michael. And if you keep driving like that, pretty soon your head will be permanently cocked to one side.
If the steering wheel is off-center, it's usually because one of your steering system components got bent. Do you remember driving over any other Kia Spectras recently? Or did you recently lend your car to your brother?
When you (or your brother) hit a big pothole or curb, you probably bent a tie rod -- that's the part most likely to get bent. Or you could have bent a control arm or strut. That knocked the car out of alignment, and now you have to compensate by turning the wheel to the left in order to go straight.
The problem is that you're probably driving around with Marty Feldman tires: One of them is pointing straight, and the other one ain't. So you're probably chewing up at least one of your tires. Imagine Igor dragging his right foot as he walks; what's happening to the sole of his right shoe is what's happening to one of your front tires.
Take it to a shop you trust that does alignment, and ask them to check out the front end. They'll figure it out. But don't wait too long, or you'll be out the cost of a tire or two in addition to the cost of the front-end work, Michael.