Diagnosing Death Wobble and Fixing Non-DW Shimmies and Wobbles - Page 19 - Jeep Wrangler Forum
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:38 PM   #541
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Again, checking the tires is the very first thing on my inspection checklist, and swapping tires/wheels with a friend is one of the last things in that post. I don't disagree with you that having properly balanced and rotated tires is critical.

However, we will continue to disagree about the primary causes of ovaled trackbar bracket holes, prematurely worn drag link and tie rod ends, prematurely worn ball joints, prematurely failed steering stabilizers, damaged trackbar and control arm bushings, ovaled front upper frame side control arm bracket holes, and prematurely worn unit bearings.

It is not uncommon for the front trackbar bolts to be insufficiently torqued from the factory. Suspension bolts should be retorqued as part of the PDI at the dealer. The front trackbar bolts should be retorqued at every oil change interval.

I perceive that you are minimizing the importance of maintenance of the front end with an emphasis on the tires.

Out of balance tires is a speed dependent vibration that happens every time the vehicle reaches a given speed.

Death wobble is a random, violent oscillation that does not happen every time a given speed is reached. It requires a trigger. The oscillations cannot be driven out of by going faster. To cease the oscillations, the vehicle has to be slowed to almost a complete stop.


In the end, whether poor maintenance, worn parts, or improper installations are the primary cause, or if out of balance tires somehow cause trackbar bolts to loosen up from 125 ft lbs, damage the knuckle end of the drag link, etc., I am sure that you would agree that the steps to diagnose the source(s) of the death wobble are the same.

Right?

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Old 02-19-2014, 12:16 AM   #542
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Generally I agree; but I still feel you are minimizing just how much trouble rubber can cause any vehicle. That is my entire point. Believe me; track bars have caused plethora's of issues - though (perhaps arguably) more so for the big boys than for the Jeeps. (What brainiac thought up a ball jointed track bar anyway? Sheesh.) More over, I again emphasize where and how an issue can be 'born' is not simply what might be portrayed as poor execution in one regard or another by Chrysler (mismatched bolt-to-bolt-hole sizes for example). This becomes all the more apparent when vehicles come into the shop with less than 20K on the clock - hell, as I noted, with less than 1000 miles total - and the vehicle wants to go in any direction via a genuine DW than the direction the driver is pointing it at.

To put another way - loose/wore/damaged parts may cause the wobble; but take it back to the root cause of said issues -- where, how, and why did these parts fail prematurely? Because they were not torqued correctly? Most of the time the manufacture is pretty damned fast (under threat of mass law suits) to correct mechanical issues. But tires; they tend to be somewhat more nebulous. To say 'oh I retorqued the track bar; it was loose' or 'I had to replace the track bar mounts as they had become oval'ed' does not address WHY these parts became damaged to begin with. And, as noted; when the unit is literally fresh off the factory floor and the ONLY change to it has been tires; which themselves are new, properly balanced and installed; and suddenly the steering wheel shudders more than a blender with ball bearings in it; Yea; its time to take a hard look at the rubber.

Like I said on my original post - Ive been there; Ive seen (and had to diagnose and repair!) literally fleets of vehicles afflicted in such a matter. Given that the Jeep driveline is of much lighter construction than a 3/4 or 1 ton while twisting weight that is not proportionally lower; such becomes clear that the root cause had better be nailed or the problems will come back. This is not to say that the jeeps are flawed (because, as noted, when the vehicles of any brand are found and confirmed to have a flaw; the manufacturers are pretty quick to address it; especially ones so directly related to safety) but rather outside variables; particularly ones that go above and beyond what was originally put on the drafting board.

Anyway; If nothing else; I would imagine our back and forth has served to enlighten those concerned about this issue and serve to give a wide berth of information to use in such issues.

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Old 02-19-2014, 01:07 AM   #543
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Alex. I would point out that of the tens of thousands of people who have read my threads and watched my videos to diagnose and fix their source(s) of Death Wobble, a good percentage of them have been completely stock vehicles, and a good percentage of them that were upgraded, were running load range D and E tires. I doubt that many of them were running load range C tires. Pretty much the only load range C tires that end up on JKs are 35x12.50R17 Goodyear MTRs. The vast majority of non-stock tires on JKs are load range D and E tires.

In fact, the friend's jeep that I used for the two inspection videos was on load range D 37x12.50R17 BFG KM2s. The tires were regularly balanced and rotated.

He didn't have full on, violent Death Wobble, but he did have a bad, random wobble and shimmy.

He took it to the dealer and to his offroad shop. Supposedly, they inspected everything, and the only thing they found wrong was a leaking steering stabilizer. So, they installed a heavier duty steering stabilizer and sent him on his way. Of course, it didn't fix the problem.

With my teenage son, it took us less than 45 minutes--including time to record the video--to diagnose that the stock ball joints had excess play, and the drag link end at the knuckle had play.

There is no reason or excuse that the "professionals" at the dealership or the offroad and tire shop should miss worn ball joints and a worn drag link end at the knuckle. It is either incompetence or laziness to do an alignment, balance and rotate tires, and then slap a new steering stabilizer on it. The shop and the dealer didn't find the alignment out of spec or the tires/wheels out of balance.

The stock ball joints are fairly weak and not servicable. The are a poor design and wear out prematurely, even on a completely stock jeep. The worn ball joints resulted in wobbles that caused premature failures of the steering stabilizer and the drag link end at the knuckle. None of this was tire/wheel related on his jeep.

Here is a study of the stock ball joints: http://www.jkowners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37259

And another thread comparing aftermarket to stock: http://www.jkowners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=34227

Jeep does not use a ball joint in JK trackbars--at least they didn't on 07- early 11s. They use a 14 mm bolt with a torque spec of 125 ft lbs, with a trackbar that has Clevite rubber bushings.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:27 AM   #544
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DW to some has different meanings. That's where the confusion Lies.
Let's remove the solid front axles and add IFS. Throw on a set of badly out of round unbalanced tires ... Is this death wobble ? To some,
a bad shake (not a harmonic resonance/DW)
DW is related to and common with any solid axle vehicle the track bar needs to be loosen or worn out to HavE DW. Everything else is a trigger included tires .
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:21 AM   #545
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planman View Post
Alex. I would point out that of the tens of thousands of people who have read my threads and watched my videos to diagnose and fix their source(s) of Death Wobble, a good percentage of them have been completely stock vehicles, and a good percentage of them that were upgraded, were running load range D and E tires. I doubt that many of them were running load range C tires. Pretty much the only load range C tires that end up on JKs are 35x12.50R17 Goodyear MTRs. The vast majority of non-stock tires on JKs are load range D and E tires.
At the risk of sounding rude - an internet celebrity does not a professional make. (This is not to say you are, or are not a professional - this is to say using internet celebrity is not a valid claim to experience or knowledge.) In the case of running higher grade ( aka, more mass) tires, the risk of inciting a shimmy, shudder, vibration, or death wobble increases. Yes, higher grade, stiffer tires will do a great deal to mask/dampen the issue - but the added mass of that same tire puts more stress, especially long term, over the components. Its kind of a circular issue, if you follow. It really boils down to the 'weak link in a chain' analogy - beef up one component, then the next-weakest component will be the one that fails. Hell, I run Hankook IPike Ice tires. standard load, same numerical size but of ultimately lighter mass than the BFGoodrich stockers (at least it feels that way when I re/re them; never actually weighed them), and Ive had those tires run the Jeep up to near triple digits on the old scale - I am on 37,000+KMS. My front end is rock solid tight - and the roads I travel are far from ideal. In fact, I have felt a wobble (very mild at that) from the front precisely twice in my time owning my Jeep - once when a blob of mud glued into the LF rim and once when I chucked the weight off the RF rim. The Jeep told me instantly something was up; demonstrating the sensitivity to a loss of perfection in any regard. In short - demonstrating a lack of tolerance for issues.

Quote:
In fact, the friend's jeep that I used for the two inspection videos was on load range D 37x12.50R17 BFG KM2s. The tires were regularly balanced and rotated.

He didn't have full on, violent Death Wobble, but he did have a bad, random wobble and shimmy.
In short, issues to be repaired. As I have stated before, even tires that balance out can still cause a shudder if not appropriate for the task. Is that in your case? Well, I guess the question is, did you fix what you found?
Quote:
He took it to the dealer and to his offroad shop. Supposedly, they inspected everything, and the only thing they found wrong was a leaking steering stabilizer. So, they installed a heavier duty steering stabilizer and sent him on his way. Of course, it didn't fix the problem.

With my teenage son, it took us less than 45 minutes--including time to record the video--to diagnose that the stock ball joints had excess play, and the drag link end at the knuckle had play.
To be fair; Ive noted a lack of (what I would call) professionalism in some shops down in the States - at least, from what I have observed both online and what has been reported to me over the years by customers passing through the shops I have worked at - Where I am from however, generally such is eliminated by the fact that to be a technician techs have to actually attend training and apprentice for 4 years; spending 2 months for each of those years going to school. The requirements are quite stringent - and, to some dealership techs, rather annoying that the factory does not recognize said training. Oh sure, you hear the odd horror story - but usually the story stems from the customer being rather irked at a rather large repair bill (usually due to getting rejected on warranty claims); Which only gets exacerbated by non-dealerships offering the same job for considerably less. But, YMMV in such cases.

Quote:
There is no reason or excuse that the "professionals" at the dealership or the offroad and tire shop should miss worn ball joints and a worn drag link end at the knuckle. It is either incompetence or laziness to do an alignment, balance and rotate tires, and then slap a new steering stabilizer on it. The shop and the dealer didn't find the alignment out of spec or the tires/wheels out of balance.
I would be very careful in saying that. Funny thing - Ball joints and drag links have 'permissible specifications' in which play noted within the specs is considered acceptable, normal, and NOT causes for wear (which, in fact, you did glance upon in your initial post). Without putting the proper tools on the components you checked, namely balljoints, little hard to arbitrarily say that 'the ball joints are shot'. Same with the vertical play you demonstrated in the drag links. LATERAL play is the 'instant call', but vert play? Expected by the factory. Now, if the play exceeds specs then yes they get called as wore and to be replaced. Since I did not see you present the appropriate tools to MEASURE the play; yea, that case can be easily made either way. Its a very, very common trick that no name brand shops play - they will grab a pair of vice grips, compress links/tie rods with them, and say to the customer 'oh, there's .020" play in your tie rod; it needs to be replaced'. Yet the guys that would stand to lose billions if such were true, dont call tie rods/links for such exhibited play; at least until the link shows truly severe play. Now, flip side of the coin, there was sufficient play in the ball joints that I saw in your vid where I would of applied the tools - namely, dial indicator - to measure the play and confirm suspicions. Also? An alignment, in and of itself, may not detect a wobble concern or fault. By that, I mean that a wore component may be sitting within its spec alignment while sitting on the machine - and of course, be knocked right out to lunch the second its off the machine. An Alignment is an important (preferably second final) step, to be sure. BTW - what is the date code on those tires?

Now, to be fair, I tend to be over protective when I inspect said components, and will call them shall we say 'aggressively' - that said, Ive also learned to recognize what is normal, does not pose a safety risk, and is part of the normal life cycle of a part. Wheels shaking out of customer hands? That generally brings a VERY quick comeback - and I, for one, pride myself on doing all I can that when a customer returns, its not because I screwed the pooch.
Quote:
The stock ball joints are fairly weak and not servicable. The are a poor design and wear out prematurely, even on a completely stock jeep. The worn ball joints resulted in wobbles that caused premature failures of the steering stabilizer and the drag link end at the knuckle. None of this was tire/wheel related on his jeep.
In regards to the balljoints being of light construction, I agree. However; you are STILL ignoring WHERE the wear - bloody tongue twister - comes from. How many klicks were on that Jeep, out of curiosity? More to the point - what do you think might happen when loads over and above design specifications are applied to the ball joints? Its called "accelerated wear". Yes, they are lightly built (re - cheap) but faulting the joints for premature failure if/when other aspects have been ignored is pretty flawed diagnostics. That line of 'oh why did they wear out?" "oh they are just crappy parts" can be a very quick way to land in a libel court; and is not particularly honest to a customer.

Quote:
Here is a study of the stock ball joints: OEM Ball Joint Study - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum

And another thread comparing aftermarket to stock: ***NEW*** Synergy Suspension Jeep JK Ball Joints!!! - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
Interesting links you provide. The latter, in particular, seems to have a less than stellar opine of this forum. But, thats neither here nor there.

Quote:
Jeep does not use a ball joint in JK trackbars--at least they didn't on 07- early 11s. They use a 14 mm bolt with a torque spec of 125 ft lbs, with a trackbar that has Clevite rubber bushings.
That was a comment aimed at the trucks - I had thought that obvious. Pardon me on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kjeeper10 View Post
DW to some has different meanings. That's where the confusion Lies.
Let's remove the solid front axles and add IFS. Throw on a set of badly out of round unbalanced tires ... Is this death wobble ? To some,
a bad shake (not a harmonic resonance/DW)
DW is related to and common with any solid axle vehicle the track bar needs to be loosen or worn out to HavE DW. Everything else is a trigger included tires .
If I were to be sardonic, I personally would define a 'death wobble' as any condition in which control of the vehicle is threatened via the shaking/wobbling of the steering. More to the point - a wobble, ANY wobble, shudder, shake, etc that compromises the safe handling of a vehicle must be addressed. However, to be precise of the matter; you are not quite right about the application of harmonics - in that, harmonic shudder can and does come from the lateral, vertical, or really any direction of repeated oscillation of an axle - AND that originating from tire/wheel assemblies. Think the term 'harmonic balancer' such as on engines, and you'll instantly see my point. If it rotates; that is a harmonic. Harmonics can be very peculiar too - they can increase or cease as the speed goes up.

To be crystal clear - there *IS NO* confusion on my part. Im simply attempting to eliminate the confusion for anyone else that reads this. Nor am I trying to be a prick or what have you - but when it comes to the safety of people on the road; I do what I can to ensure that nothing is missed. I see a lot of ragging on the manufacture - and not a lot of would be called 'personal responsibility' for issues that arise outside the control of the manufacturer. Gods know, Ive ranted more than one occasion on the cheap slag that Mopar, and any other, manufacturer produces - But that damned well includes the final component that 'unites' the vehicle to the road.

TL;DR - I am in no way stating 'do not inspect/repair mechanical components'. I am stating, very clearly by now I should hope, that the root cause for said issues must be examined for. Planman's Diagnosis IS a very thorough, well done examination, I give props for that; as a professional. I merely point out the need not to neglect that which puts all the other components to the road; particularly if any appreciable milage - or unusual travel/wear - is on the unit. Really, the mechanical aspect is the easy one to eliminate - Tires, not so easy given their dynamic nature. And, it only takes ONE loss-of-control event to really spoil someones day.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:14 AM   #546
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So I was correct. The definition of "DW" is different to some people. I think it would be safe to "agree to disagree"

This is what most including myself consider death wobble. There's many videos but this one if one of my favorites,
http://m.youtube.com/watch?sns=em&v=...xJE%26sns%3Dem
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:21 AM   #547
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Originally Posted by AlexInYT View Post
Planman's Diagnosis IS a very thorough, well done examination, I give props for that; as a professional. I merely point out the need not to neglect that which puts all the other components to the road; particularly if any appreciable milage - or unusual travel/wear - is on the unit. Really, the mechanical aspect is the easy one to eliminate - Tires, not so easy given their dynamic nature. And, it only takes ONE loss-of-control event to really spoil someones day.
Thank you.

The purpose of this thread is to help people diagnose the sources of their Death Wobble and Non-DW Wobbles and Shimmies.

We both agree that proper maintenance and installations reduce the possibility of full on, rip-your-front-end-apart Death Wobble.

We both agree that keeping tires balanced and rotated, and keeping alignment specs correct is critical to maintenance.

I think you agree with me that periodically retorquing suspension bolts should be part of normal maintenance.

I think you probably agree with me that the "acceptable" range of play in ball joints and other suspension components is too broad--especially when there is a cumulative affect when there is "within spec" play in multiple components at the same time.

I think we agree that a vehicle that gets used offroad gets exposed to damage or stress to components--i.e. a rock or tree stump can damage the adjusting sleeve/collar on the front tie rod, which puts the alignment out of spec, and which introduces play/vibrations to the front end that can damage other components.

I think that where we disagree is that I believe that believe that a rig with perfectly balanced tires and a correct alignment can still develop Death Wobble if suspension bolts are not periodically torqued or if rubber control arm or trackbar bushings are pinched between brackets in a non-nuetral, pre-loaded/binding/twisting position. I believe that road variations from crossing bridge expansion joints, railroad tracks, potholes, etc., are the most common triggers of the Death Wobble oscillations.

I think we also disagree about tires. For example, I don't believe that a Goodyear MTR 35x12.50R17, load range C, 111Q service description tire will result in wobble and shimmy problems and premature component wear on a 4000-4500 lbs jeep.

In the end, I think what would be most helpful for readers--with the understanding that the majority of readers of this thread are already dealing with shimmy, wobble, and/or full on Death Wobble issues--is to clarify that we agree on the thoroughness of the steps required to diagnose all the sources of the problems, and that it is incompetent to simply balance and rotate tires, do an alignment, and install a new steering stabilizer without a thorough diagnosis that identifies why the steering stablizer failed prematurely.
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:45 PM   #548
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If Alex is still following this, I wanted to report that I found the following from the Chrysler rep on jeepforum:

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Originally Posted by JeepCares View Post
There is an update available on the Steering Shimmy issue. Service Bulletin 19-002-12 has been distributed to the dealers. The Jeep Owners site been updated with the same information referenced below:

Steering System Maintenance:
It is important that the steering system be kept in good working condition. Having your vehicle inspected regularly to ensure it meets proper factory specifications, and promptly repairing the steering system when it is out of factory specifications, helps ensure the vehicle maintains its intended ride, handling and steering characteristics.
Vehicles equipped with a solid front axle may exhibit steering system vibration if the steering system is damaged or not properly maintained. This condition is not unique to Chrysler Group vehicles; any manufacturer’s vehicle equipped with a solid front axle has the potential to exhibit steering system vibration.
To ensure that Chrysler Group customers have the most relevant information to enhance their vehicle enjoyment -- and that customers receive the best service from repair facilities diagnosing and addressing steering system vibration -- the Company has issued Technical Service Bulletin 19-002-12 to assist dealers and repair facilities in the diagnosis and repair of this condition.
The following is a summary of the steering and suspension system elements that can potentially contribute to steering system vibration. Chrysler recommends having your authorized Chrysler dealer inspect these elements should you experience steering system vibration:
  • Is the vehicle equipped with aftermarket components or other modifications (e.g. lift kits, wheels, suspension components or tires) that can affect the performance of or wear upon steering components?*
  • Check the air pressure in the tires and ensure they are inflated to the recommended pressure. This value can be found on the tire placard located on the driver’s front door enclosure.
  • Inspect the tires for signs of unusual or uneven wear, cupping or other damage.
  • Ensure that the tires/wheels are balanced within specification
  • Inspect the steering damper for excessive wear or damage.**
  • Inspect the track bar for excessive wear or damage.**
  • Inspect the tie rods for excessive wear or damage.**
  • Inspect the drag link for excessive wear or damage.**
  • Inspect the ball joints for excessive wear or damage.**
* Installation of aftermarket steering and suspension components or wheel and tire assemblies that are either not compatible with your vehicle or not designed for on-road use is most often the cause of steering system vibration, in which case you may consult your aftermarket equipment manufacturer or vehicle modifier for repair suggestions
** If any of the steering or suspension components are replaced, a front end wheel alignment is required.
If you have questions regarding your vehicle, its ride and handling or steering characteristics as they may relate to steering system vibration, please consult with your authorized Chrysler Group dealer to have your vehicle inspected.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:02 PM   #549
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Hey Planman! Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this. You've answered most of the questions I've had about solid axle front end components. So far I don't have the DW, but I'll be sure to use this info in the future if needed. Thanks Again!
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:38 AM   #550
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Started to feel a little wobble about 6 months ago and it got progressively worse. OE ball joints last 31k miles with 35" tires and some light wheeling thrown in the mix. Luckily Szott Jeep in Michigan is awesome and its a warranty repair.
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:50 AM   #551
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Im having some serious flighty issues.
only think i havent replaced is the draglink.

36k miles.

occasionally she will randomly wander off track and i have to fight a little to bring her back. alignment is good. im thinking its one or both of the TREs on the drag link.

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