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Front End Suspension Problem


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I have a 1988 Jeep Comanche, 4.0L, 4X4 with 5 speed manual transmission.  It was my father's truck and he passed it onto me in 1991.  It has developed a strange safety issue.  When driving at near, and highway speeds (50 -65mph) if I hit a bump in the road (it can be as small as a poor joint in the concrete) sometimes my truck will begin to shudder violently from side to side.  The shudder is so violent that I fear I might lose steering control of the truck.  If I brake hard sometimes the shudder will stop, if I brake less than hard the shudder seems to continue until lower speeds (less than 45mph).  I've taken it to my mechanic and he is scratching his head.  He is suggesting I replace the upper and lower ball joints on both front wheels.  His theory is that there is play on the right front tire joints, and that it could be being transmitted to the left side.

 

Doing my own research, I wonder if it isn't the track bar, aka Panhard Rod, or Panhard bar.  Does anyone have any experience, ideas, or advice about my situation?  Also, I would appreciate it any members could provide an exploded parts diagram for this area.

 

Thanks.

 

Below is the exact VIN # and decoded info:

 

You searched for VIN : 1JTML65P6JT243585

This vehicle's data:

Country of Manufacture United States Manufacturer Jeep Corporation Vehicle Type Truck Engine 4.0L, I-6, MPI Powertrain 5-speed manual, floor gear shift, part time 4 W/D Body Type Jeep Comanche, 4-W/D Pickup, 7.0 foot bed, 120 inch wheel base Gross Vehicle Weight Comanche Pioneer = 4001 - 5000 lbs / J-20 Truck = 5001 - 6000 lbs Assembly Plant Toledo, Ohio, USA Model Year 1988
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Oh BOY! Death Wobble!

 

That is the term given to your problem and there are as many fixes for it is as there are causes. Start with wheel balance, this can set off the problem, and get underneath while someone else gently turn the wheel back and forth to check for movement in your front suspension and steering, including the track bar, tie rod and drag link ends, ball joints, control arm bushings and steering stabilizer. Alignment angles can also contribute to the problem. Make sure toe is correct and that caster angle is where it should be. Steering stabilizers being bad won't cause the issue and sometimes may only be a bandaid if there is a problem. Do a search for "death wobble" and youll find it all. The XJ, MJ, ZJ, TJ, JK, WJ and Dodge pickups with the same style front end all have this problem from time to time. Good luck and let us know what you figure out. don't be afraid to keep asking questions to try to figure your out.

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Some things I learned the hard way - Starting with my friend and long time service center owner - long story, but I did learn some about DW

 

Anyway - - -

 

Fast & dirty - - Rotate your tires - - Imbalance will cause DW

 

Get away from a so called mechanic not familiar with a Jeep front end/suspension

 

If the ball joints need replacing - Do it

 

check the track bar - Don't know how many miles on your MJ - - TBs lead a hard life - - and the shocks and the U&L controll arm bushings - everything, but ck the TB 1st

 

One thing atta time - - The shotgun approach can confuse the issue - - Keep an eye on your battery - - DW'll shake all kinds things loose

 

No mention of a lift or other suspension mods - - Avoid any parts pusher advocating an alignment for now unless you've recently run over/into something hard enough to cause damage

 

Google this:  site:comancheclub.com death wobble

 

Tons of info/pics/diagrams - - DWs been beat to death here, NAXJA, Pirate4x4 & Ann Landers - You'll notice lots of repeat info here & at other places if you use the google site search 

 

:wrench:

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Like everyone has said above anything that is loose or worn in the front end can cause this. The quickest and easiest thing to check is tire balance. Start looking for anything worn. The track bar and tie rod ends are a good place to start checking. I have only experienced this once and it was a broken shock causing it.

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