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Mysterious Death Wobble


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So yesterday it was a nice day and I decided to take the 'manche to work. I leave my house, and I'm getting up to speed, probably about 50mph and I hit a little bump. I live in Louisiana, the roads are crap so this not a big deal :shake: . After the bump, the front of the truck started shaking horribly! It felt like the wheels were actually bouncing off the ground. I had to pull over and stop.

 

I've had this thing for a little over a month, and its never done this before. I've driven it over the same roads at different speeds, high speeds, low speeds, and its never done this before.

 

Any Ideas?? :dunno:

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All death wobble cases are mysterious. :D I would start by crawling under the front and trying to move all components with my hands. Look for any slop. Try having someone turn the steering wheel back and forth while you watch said components. What is the condition of the control arm bushings? Try jacking up a front tire and shaking it with your hands. Any play side to side or up and down?

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My guess is play in the track bar at the frame end. It only takes a minuscule amount of play to allow DW to occur. If that's not it, it could be control arms or their bushings (lower ones more likely than upper ones), tie rod ends, ball joints, alignment....

 

Do what Pete said. Crawl under and grab each piece of metal that has to do with suspension or steering and see if it has any play in it.

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Have your tires road force balanced, and get a good heavy duty steering stabilizer. Those two items will help tremendously. But also do like the other guys said and check all other components and do repairs if you find anything wrong. But wheel balance and stabilizer will help.

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A steering stabilizer will do nothing for DW. It may temporarily hide it (not likely), but it is not a fix. Steering stabilizers are way over-rated...I took the one off of our Wrangler and threw it away years ago with no ill effects. The root of the problem needs to be found, and it is likely in the wheel balance and track bar area. The other components such as control arms and tie rods can be contributors, but track bar and balance are typically the culprits.

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I disagree about the importance of the stabilizer BLHTAZ. It does more than you think, and you are right about the stock ones on wranglers, they are junk from the factory. Ive see too many wranglers with less than 20000 on them come into the dealer with DW. A good heavy duty stabilizer always helps, but like I said before, you need to check everything else first.

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I disagree about the importance of the stabilizer BLHTAZ. It does more than you think, and you are right about the stock ones on wranglers, they are junk from the factory. Ive see too many wranglers with less than 20000 on them come into the dealer with DW. A good heavy duty stabilizer always helps, but like I said before, you need to check everything else first.

 

 

BLHTAZ is spot on correct! DW is NOT caused by a steering stabilizer. It CANNOT be, there fore, suggesting you replace the steering stabilizer to stop DW is foolish. It WILL mask the DW effects, but will never stop them.

 

You need to have a good look at your steering and front suspension components. Do like Pete suggest AND, Have a friend forcefully move the steering wheel back and forth while you lay in front and observe everything. Tire balance or bad tires are another cause. Ball joints and wheel hubs can do it as well. All easily checked by you at home.

 

Have you made any changes to the suspension?

 

CW

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I disagree about the importance of the stabilizer BLHTAZ. It does more than you think, and you are right about the stock ones on wranglers, they are junk from the factory. Ive see too many wranglers with less than 20000 on them come into the dealer with DW. A good heavy duty stabilizer always helps, but like I said before, you need to check everything else first.

Sorry, but I agree with BLHTAZ and CWLongshot. Since it is entirely possible to drive an XJ or MJ with NO steering stablizer and not have death wobble, it should be obvious that a wimpy stabilizer cannot cause death wobble. Rather than waste money on a band-aid, it's far better to diagnose the real cause and fix that.

 

I would check wheel balance, caster angle, and track bar -- in that order.

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Track bar! I had the same problem with a XJ, it had a little play on the tie rod end or ball joint( I don`t know the name) :doh:

 

A TRE is on the frame end. GLAD you found it so fast!!! Good job! jamminz.gifjamminz.gif

 

CW

CW, I believe the original post was by thedave360

 

Back to the DW, you didn't state whether you have stock suspension or any kind of suspension modifications such as lift.

Myself I'm prone to believe possible problems could be track bar mounts, or maybe caster angle.

But I also agree with all of the above to include a thorough suspension inspection.

Please keep us posted with what you find and how you fixed it. :typing:

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I'm not saying that the stabilizer would cause it, or be the be all fix all, just that its importance should not be overlooked.

It has no importance to overlook. The purpose of a steering stabilizer in an off-road vehicle is to prevent the steering wheel from snapping back on you if a front wheel slides off a rock or something. It serves no purpose on the street. The fact that it may mask the symptoms of death wobble is an unfortunate coincidence that causes many people to waste good money replacing stabilizers that don't solve the problem. Most "cars" don't even have steering stabilizers.

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I am a big advocate of having someone shake the wheel and looking for play in the joints. In my old elimintor, with even the small lift it ended up putting undue stress on the susp joints, and with the old steel, I ended up elongating my trackbar mount on the axle end. I let it fly for awhile, until i couldnt go safely above 45 MPH :nuts: . Had to weld a hardened steel washer on to correct the mount, and everything was number one a-ok. :D

 

Rob L.

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Ok, here it is.

 

The suspension is a 4" lift from rough country. The components look pretty solid, except for some of the bushings on the shocks, the shock moves a little around the bushing. Is the sway bar the same as a track bar :dunce: ? I'm sorry but I'm not very well schooled in the way of suspension parts :dunno:

 

The sway bar has some NASTY play in it. I haven't been able to get someone to shake the steering while I watch...but all LOOKS nice and tight.

 

Now, it does like to move all over the road. I don't know what causes that, it doesn't really favor one side or another...it just like to sway and I have to try and keep it strait. I keep waiting for a cop to pull me over for suspicion of DUI :roll:

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No, they are not the same. Sway bar connects to both ends of the axle, just outside the spring plate through end links. It prevents excessive body lean in turns. Track bar connects to a bracket on the frame on the driver side, and a bracket on the axle on the passenger side. It keeps your axle in place side to side. If there's any play, the axle can move side to side, and as the axle moves left, the steering links cause the wheels to turn right. Then the axle wants to go right, causing the wheels to turn left. If there is a lot of play it will cause you to be all over the road. If there is any play, a bump or out of balance tires can set off an oscillation that will attempt to rattle the teeth out of your mouth and feels like the truck is trying to shake itself apart. That is called death wobble.

 

It can also be "cause" (allowed to happen) by worn bushing in the control arms, usually lower ones, bad TREs and bad ball joints. But the most common cause seems to be play at the frame end of the track bar due to an elongated hole in the frame bracket. If it is you may have to pull a few from junk yard XJs to find a good one, but thankfully, XJs are plentiful.

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Ok, here it is.

 

The suspension is a 4" lift from rough country. The components look pretty solid, except for some of the bushings on the shocks, the shock moves a little around the bushing. Is the sway bar the same as a track bar :dunce: ? I'm sorry but I'm not very well schooled in the way of suspension parts :dunno:

 

The sway bar has some NASTY play in it. I haven't been able to get someone to shake the steering while I watch...but all LOOKS nice and tight.

 

Now, it does like to move all over the road. I don't know what causes that, it doesn't really favor one side or another...it just like to sway and I have to try and keep it strait. I keep waiting for a cop to pull me over for suspicion of DUI :roll:

 

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For the record, my 1987 4X4 comanche was delivered from the dealer without a steering stabilizer, I had to purchase that seperately. Every time I have had DW, it has been the track bar. Over the years the mount on the frame "hogged out" enough that the factory style would no longer fit tight (it is coned slightly like a tie rod end). I ended up buying a heavy duty aftermarket style (same price as OEM), drilled out the mount to accomodate a massive 9/16" bolt and have not had problems since.

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Over the years the mount on the frame "hogged out" enough that the factory style would no longer fit tight (it is coned slightly like a tie rod end). I ended up buying a heavy duty aftermarket style (same price as OEM), drilled out the mount to accomodate a massive 9/16" bolt and have not had problems since.

Where did you get it? I'm looking to do the same thing

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Over the years the mount on the frame "hogged out" enough that the factory style would no longer fit tight (it is coned slightly like a tie rod end). I ended up buying a heavy duty aftermarket style (same price as OEM), drilled out the mount to accomodate a massive 9/16" bolt and have not had problems since.

Where did you get it? I'm looking to do the same thing

I picked it up at a local Jeep only 4x4 specialty shop. this version was built to accomodate lifted trucks and is adjustable. It is a lot thicker than that of the OEM and is greasable where the bolt attaches to the frame.

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