Diagnosing Death Wobble and Fixing Non-DW Shimmies and Wobbles - Page 3 - Jeep Wrangler Forum
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Old 09-28-2011, 08:27 AM   #61
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Because I'm far from tech savvy, if I were to put coil spacers in my Jeep, do I need to worry about adjusting anything? I'm probably going to have somebody do it because I don't trust myself enough to do it. What do I need to tell them to be sure of adjusting?

I'm assuming they will know what to do, the guy that will do my work used to do a little off roading. But I don't want to leave anything to chance with my family in the vehicle.

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Old 09-29-2011, 04:51 AM   #62
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The only adjustment required will be the draglink length to recentre the steering wheel.

Before dropping the springs out though, make sure he loosens all control arm and track bolts to allow the bushes to move on the bolts and not twist around themselves.

Once new spacers are in, drop it onto its wheels so the full body weight is on the suspension before doing all the control arm and track bar bolts back up. While he's at it I would recommend twisting the top of the front diff as far back as the slop in the bolts will allow before doing them up to make sure the maximum possible caster is achieved.

Thats it!

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Old 10-05-2011, 10:15 AM   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaComms View Post
The only adjustment required will be the draglink length to recentre the steering wheel.

Before dropping the springs out though, make sure he loosens all control arm and track bolts to allow the bushes to move on the bolts and not twist around themselves.

Once new spacers are in, drop it onto its wheels so the full body weight is on the suspension before doing all the control arm and track bar bolts back up. While he's at it I would recommend twisting the top of the front diff as far back as the slop in the bolts will allow before doing them up to make sure the maximum possible caster is achieved.

Thats it!
Would you recomend having it re-alligned after that to make sure everything is as it should be?
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:49 PM   #64
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Would you recomend having it re-alligned after that to make sure everything is as it should be?
With lifts of 2.5" or less without adding adjustable control arms, or cambolts (not advisable), an alignment shouldn't be needed.

When you start adding adjustable control arms and lifting taller than 2.5", I believe it is helpful to get an alignment and keep the printout so you have a basis to work from if some extra fine tuning is needed.

An alignment usually does not include an inspection of your ball joints, control arm and trackbar bushings, bolt torque specs, etc.
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:23 PM   #65
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This happened to me driving downhill in fog 2 weeks ago and about scared the life out of me. Not to mention that it shook so badly that it bounced me into the oncoming traffic lane. Thankfully, there was no one coming. I took it the dealer and they acted like they never heard of this before which has to be a complete lie as it happened to my brother last year (he drives the same jeep). How can they get away with something that is SO dangerous and pretend like they don't know what happens? I'm appalled.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:29 PM   #66
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This happened to me driving downhill in fog 2 weeks ago and about scared the life out of me. Not to mention that it shook so badly that it bounced me into the oncoming traffic lane. Thankfully, there was no one coming. I took it the dealer and they acted like they never heard of this before which has to be a complete lie as it happened to my brother last year (he drives the same jeep). How can they get away with something that is SO dangerous and pretend like they don't know what happens? I'm appalled.
Have you read posts #1 and #2 of this thread?
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:44 PM   #67
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This is really detailed, thanks for sharing this. Is this something we need to worry about with a new jeep that has not been modded yet? Should I add this to the checklist everytime I change the oil? I try to change the oil every 3000 to 4000 miles
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:24 PM   #68
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This is really detailed, thanks for sharing this. Is this something we need to worry about with a new jeep that has not been modded yet? Should I add this to the checklist everytime I change the oil? I try to change the oil every 3000 to 4000 miles
You should re-torque your front trackbar and all your control arm bolts. It will take maybe 10-15 minutes to do.

More than one person has reported that the bolts on a stock, non-modified jeep have been improperly torqued.

After that, you don't really need to worry about it.

Although, you should re-torque your front trackbar bolts at every oil change interval. It takes less than a couple minutes to do with a good torque wrench and second wrench for the frame side bolt & nut.
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:08 PM   #69
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Thanks - Not Mechanical, but will ask my mechanic to do this for me.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:07 PM   #70
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Question: While doing my typical look over under the hood, I reached down and gave an up/down tug on the tie rod, drag link, and the track bar.

While the track bar is immovable, both the tie rod and the drag link can be readily moved up and down by hand. Is this normal?
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:30 PM   #71
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Just installed a 3.25" lift on my 2011 wrangler 4 door JK and seemed fine until I hit a pothole doing about 65 MPH (Speed limit was 70 MPH) and the front end felt like the whole world was about to end. It was the death wobble as described. I have been offroading and installing my own lift kits for over thirty years with no problems. I can't believe that a few lines of instruction about loosening my front track bar and re torquing after installed were not included. This is some pretty important info and thank goodness this forum is here. Thanks for the technical info. it may just have saved my jeep or even my life!!
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:34 PM   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTH View Post
Question: While doing my typical look over under the hood, I reached down and gave an up/down tug on the tie rod, drag link, and the track bar.

While the track bar is immovable, both the tie rod and the drag link can be readily moved up and down by hand. Is this normal?
Depends what you mean by up and down movement. As the bars are not straight, 'lifting' will make it rotate (and quite easily), this is normal.

If you can make the rod end move up and down then the rod ends are stuffed.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:35 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by jkclyde View Post
Just installed a 3.25" lift on my 2011 wrangler 4 door JK and seemed fine until I hit a pothole doing about 65 MPH (Speed limit was 70 MPH) and the front end felt like the whole world was about to end. It was the death wobble as described. I have been offroading and installing my own lift kits for over thirty years with no problems. I can't believe that a few lines of instruction about loosening my front track bar and re torquing after installed were not included. This is some pretty important info and thank goodness this forum is here. Thanks for the technical info. it may just have saved my jeep or even my life!!
jkclyde
What caster correcting gear was used in the lift? Have you had the caster checked since installing the lift? What wheels/tyres and offset do you have?
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:41 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by SeaComms

Depends what you mean by up and down movement. As the bars are not straight, 'lifting' will make it rotate (and quite easily), this is normal.

If you can make the rod end move up and down then the rod ends are stuffed.
I can grab either the tie rod or the drag link around their center point, and "lift" either bar. They basically feel like they're hinged--like I'm lifting a lid.

Sounds to me more like the lifting to make it "rotate" that you mentioned . . . and I haven't had any adverse handling characteristics. How would I check to see if I can make "the rod end move up and down"?
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTH

I can grab either the tie rod or the drag link around their center point, and "lift" either bar. They basically feel like they're hinged--like I'm lifting a lid.

Sounds to me more like the lifting to make it "rotate" that you mentioned . . . and I haven't had any adverse handling characteristics. How would I check to see if I can make "the rod end move up and down"?
Always thought "up and down" was how it's designed and whats normal. Lateral (correct) would be a no no. Or sloppy on the ball joints.

Also that is the clunk manual jeepers often hear I think.
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:25 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by kjeeper10

Always thought "up and down" was how it's designed and whats normal. Lateral (correct) would be a no no. Or sloppy on the ball joints.

Also that is the clunk manual jeepers often hear I think.
That would coordinate with what I'm seeing. Up/down can be easily done, left/right has no play.
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:52 PM   #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTH

That would coordinate with what I'm seeing. Up/down can be easily done, left/right has no play.
I think you were involved in a thread and the poster uploaded a video saying "is this normal" He grabbed the links and moved them "up and down"
Still worried that his jeep was broken visited his dealership to find that the other brand new jeeps did the same-- just not as easily.
I think the ball joints loosen up a little and they will clunk around a little more with time.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:48 AM   #78
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This is mostly all answered in posts #1 & #2.

The tie rod must have rotational play to allow the suspension to cycle.

There should be no meaningful up and down or side to side play in the tie rod or drag link ends.

There should be no meaningful up and down play in the ball joints.

There should be no play with trackbar ends where they bolt to the brackets.

The swaybar links should not be loose enough to clunk.

A lift over 2.5" should have caster correction with adjustable front lower control arms. It can be done with cambolts for a street only driven rig.

The only 3.25" lift I am aware if us the Rough Country. It is incomplete, with shocks that are too stiff, no adjustable front trackbar, no extended bumpstops, and no adjustable front lower control arms. It is more prone to wobbles due to the lack of caster correction, but this is not the main source of full on DW.
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:23 AM   #79
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Yes, I've read #1 & #2. What I'm saying is that Jeep must be aware of this problem and decided it would be better not to acknowledge. My brother had to take his jeep back 4 times and they finally said it was the breaks seizing. When it happened to me, I took it straight to the dealer, within 15 mins, and they told me that absolutely nothing was wrong with my car. When I explained the shaking like the car was going to tear in two, they looked at me like I was crazy. So my point it, that either they don't have a way of reporting what must be the hundreds of cases (if not thousands) to a national database for review or they must be choosing not to make the recall and risk the lives of their customers. I believe it's the latter.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:58 AM   #80
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Yes, I've read #1 & #2. What I'm saying is that Jeep must be aware of this problem and decided it would be better not to acknowledge. My brother had to take his jeep back 4 times and they finally said it was the breaks seizing. When it happened to me, I took it straight to the dealer, within 15 mins, and they told me that absolutely nothing was wrong with my car. When I explained the shaking like the car was going to tear in two, they looked at me like I was crazy. So my point it, that either they don't have a way of reporting what must be the hundreds of cases (if not thousands) to a national database for review or they must be choosing not to make the recall and risk the lives of their customers. I believe it's the latter.
There is incompetence in the dealer tech training and with Chrysler.

DW is an problem that can happen with any solid axle front vehicle with a trackbar.

It has been a serious, but infrequent, problem since the 1984 Cherokee XJs, and the 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJs. It happens with solid front axle Dodge trucks that have control arms and a trackbar.

DW is most always trackbar related. The engineers at Chrysler tried to reduce the frequency of the problem on JKs with a beefier design for the front trackbar than with TJs and XJs. Even mid stream on JKs, the newer models have a different design for the frame side trackbar end.

DW on JKs is infrequent on stock rigs, but it happens.

DW is most common on JKs with lifts installed by inexperienced owners or shops, or with JKs that are not properly maintained.

As I mentioned in post #1, Chrysler decided to cut corners and uses bolts that are too small compared to the front trackbar bracket bolt holes and bolt sleeves.

They should do a recall of all JKs and install 9/16" front trackbar bolts.

They should properly train their techs to diagnose and fix DW.

They should include re-torquing the front trackbar to 125 ft lbs at every oil change interval as part of the recommended maintenance.

Because DW is so uncommon, Chrysler has not taken action to address it.

The most common progression of DW is:
  1. After improper installation or poor maintenance, the front trackbar bolts are loose and/or the trackbar bushings are damaged.
  2. The jeep experiences DW that damages the trackbar bracket holes and/or trackbar bracket welds.
  3. Instead of immediately fixing it, the jeep owner continues to drive the jeep, and multiple episodes of DW damage the ball joints, tie rod ends, drag link end, front upper axle side control arm bushings, etc., etc.
  4. After multiple components are damaged, the jeep owner takes it to a dealer or shop that is incompetent, and they install a new steering stabilizer to mask the problems.
  5. After a relatively short period of time, the new steering stabilizer fails, and the DW gets worse.
  6. Instead of inspecting and fixing everything at once, the shop or owner starts fixing components one at a time, but the remaining damaged components end up damaging the new components.
  7. After chasing his/her tail replacing components--sometimes more than once--the jeep owner gives up and sells their jeep at a loss in frustration.

...or, the DW never happens because the installations are correctly done and the jeep is properly maintained.

...or, after even one episode of DW, the jeep owner goes through the entire checklist in post #2 and easily diagnoses and fixes the problem(s), and it never happens again.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:16 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by planman
As I mentioned in post #1, Chrysler decided to cut corners and uses bolts that are too small compared to the front trackbar bracket bolt holes and bolt sleeves.

They should do a recall of all JKs and install 9/16" front trackbar bolts.
Is there a reason we as consumers can't (or shouldn't) simply do this as part of a lift install or general maintenance?
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:31 AM   #82
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Is there a reason we as consumers can't (or shouldn't) simply do this as part of a lift install or general maintenance?
I recommend using 9/16" bolts for the front trackbar for every lifted JK or stock JK that has had DW.
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Old 11-07-2011, 03:12 PM   #83
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What caster correcting gear was used in the lift? Have you had the caster checked since installing the lift? What wheels/tyres and offset do you have?
Downunder Dave,
Thanks for the reply, I used no caster correction gear but I did have the alignment checked by a front end shop after the install. I did not however loosen the track bar and control arms during the lift install. Today I loosed everything as recommended and removed most components for a visual inspection. The death wobble only occurred once and appears there is no component damage. Everything was reinstalled and torqued to spec. For now the wheels and tires are stock 17" with goodyear P255/75R17 wrangler tires. The lift is a 2.5" Rough Country spring and 3/4" bushing lift with n2.0 shocks.Would it be wise to replace the 14mm trackbar bolt with a better fitting 9/16" bolt? Thanks Again and will keep poted on further developements.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:16 PM   #84
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Omg dw!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by planman View Post
DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST

Assuming your tire psi is 28-30, your tires/wheels have been balanced and rotated to make sure the wobble doesn't move with the rotation, here would be my order:
  1. Remove the steering stabilizer.
  2. Have someone turn the engine on and turn slowly from full lock to full lock while I visually, manually (with my hands on the components), and auditorily inspect for any play in the tie rod ends, drag link ends, sector shaft, trackbar ends/bolts/brackets, and trackbar bracket welds.
  3. Then, do the same thing but with short, sharp, quick back and forth turns of the steering wheel between the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions, instead of the slow, lock to lock approach.
  4. Then, I would remove the front trackbar to inspect the bolt holes for ovaling and inspect the trackbar bushings for separation or cracking with a long screw driver through the bolt sleeve and the trackbar in a vise to leverage against the bushing in all directions. If all is good, I would reinstall the trackbar with the tires on the ground at ride height to 125 lbs.
  5. Then, I would inspect the drag link end joints by using a large channel lock wrench that gave me enough leverage to check for up and down play in the drag link ends. There should not be any meaningful up and down play. If there is, the ends should be replaced, or a new drag link with heavy duty joints should be installed. After, I would check the torque of the drag link ends. Taller lifts magnify the problems of bad drag link ends.
  6. Then, I would inspect the tie rod ends with the channel lock wrench for up and down movement. There should be no meaningful up and down play. There should only be rotational movement in the joint end.
  7. Then, I would put the front axle on jack stands with the tires about 2" off the ground and check the front ball joints by using a long pry bar as a lever under the front tires to lift them up to inspect for up and down play in the lower ball joints. There shouldn't be more than maybe 1-2 mm.
  8. Then, I would use the prybar/lever against the frame and the top of the tire to inspect for lateral movement of the top ball joints. There shouldn't be any. If you have a lighter tire/wheel combo, you can do this by hand.
  9. Then, I would remove the front tires/wheels and remove the front tie rod--one knuckle at a time. Then with a large wrench or vice grips, I would inspect the end for side to side play. Then I would reinstall the end and torque to spec and repeat on the other side.
  10. Then, I would remove the brake calipers and brake disks to inspect the unitbearings for play.
  11. Then, I would reinstall the discs, brake calipers, and tires/wheels and set the axle back on the ground.
  12. Then, I would support but not lift the front axle with a floor jack and loosen the front lower control arm bolts. One at a time, I would drop the lower control arms to inspect the bolt holes and bushings (similar to with the trackbar), reinstall without torquing, and do the next one. Afterwards, remove the floor jack so the suspension is at ride height, vigorously rock the vehicle side to side and front and back, then torque to spec.
  13. Next, I would inspect the sector shaft that comes out of the steering box for cracking or twisting.
  14. Then, I would take a test drive without the steering stablizer to feel for any wobbles.
  15. Finally, I would reinstall the steering stablizer or spring $40 for a heavy duty steering stablizer.
If this front end inspection does not diagnose and/or solve it, then I would move to an alignment.
  1. I would use adjustable lower front control arms to set my caster spec between 4 and 5 degrees--with a cross caster that has less on the driver side than the passenger side. I would personally not do more or less, with a target around 4.5-4.7 degrees caster.
  2. If my camber is out of spec, but it is not due to failed ball joints, I would install offset ball joints to get my camber in spec.
  3. I would set my toe-in to spec on the machine--which is about a 1/8" toe-in.
  4. If my front to rear alignment is off, I would install rear lower adjustable control arms to fix this.
With all this, I highly doubt you do not find the source.

The last ditch thing if there is a non-DW, speed dependent range wobble, I would borrow a different set of wheels and tires to see if it changes, and I would try driving it with no front driveshaft to see if that changes anything.

Although it is always a good idea to inspect your axle shaft u-joints, they will not cause DW.


The most common sources of full on DW are:
  • Improperly torqued trackbar bolts
  • Damaged trackbar and control arm bushings because bolts were torqued on a car lift or while the vehicle was not at ride height with the tires on the ground. When you torque trackbar and control arm bolts, the bracket pinches the bolt sleeve in the bushing, as well as the bushing itself. If this is at a geometry other than actual ride height, the bushings are twisted/bound/pre-loaded, and they will eventually fail/separate/etc. If you have a flex joint end, this does not apply for that end.
  • Ovaled out trackbar bracket holes due to DW episodes from loose bolts.
I just had a case of this on the freeway. I was a lunch with a coworker and we were not going much faster that 45-50 on the freeway and the front end just went crazy. I couldn't stop it from happening but just let the Jeep slow down until it stopped. Breaking did not help the situation at all. I was so scared I nearly lost my nice lunch. It's going in the shop tomorrow AM first thing.

Kind of disappointing as I told the salesman when I bought the jeep please check the front end, there is a slight shimmy in the front end at high speed. They thought it was a balance and wheel alignment that needed to be done and I thought I would get that done next week.

CRAP!!!
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:17 PM   #85
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Jk Death wobble

2010 JK with 5000klms on the clock ,, recently experienced horrific "Death Wobble" . Never heard , or experienced it in over 40 years of driving , and over 40 different vehicles.
Took it a dealer, was told they could find no evidence of a problem .I asled them to check the front end , and especially for the upgrades I had heard of .
They cam back , told me there was a slight wheel alignment problem , and one wheel out of balance.
I called Jeep Australia, they were not interested.
I have the Jeep back , and though it seems to be driving ok ,I back off a lot , and get a bit concerned when passing or being around other vehicles, as it feels like it's ready to do a repeat performance at any tick of the clock .
Sought legal advice , was told if I have an accident due to this , I will be held responsible .
Wrote the problem up on CarAdvice, a website for car probs.
Got an E-mail from Chrysler asking me to call them .
Sent a reply stating as there were not interested when I called , and as they are prepared to sell vehicles like this , I doubt very much I'd get any help from them .Told them not to bother replying.
Am now seeking legal advice as to how I stand re My financial contract , as I'm looking to get rid of it , as no confidence, and don't fancy driving another 4 years wondering if I'm going to land in Jail.
Also seeking advice as to the roadworthiness , and how it managed to pass.
Will post more.
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Old 11-12-2011, 06:49 AM   #86
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I am so sorry for you trouble. See my thread "the verdict". I would not give up and keep trying to get your situation resolved.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:42 AM   #87
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Thanks for that , good to see you had a win , hope it works out well for you . That was a nasty one.
Cheers,, I'll keep trying.
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Old 11-12-2011, 03:27 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barrone View Post
2010 JK with 5000klms on the clock ,, recently experienced horrific "Death Wobble" . Never heard , or experienced it in over 40 years of driving , and over 40 different vehicles.
Took it a dealer, was told they could find no evidence of a problem .I asled them to check the front end , and especially for the upgrades I had heard of .
They cam back , told me there was a slight wheel alignment problem , and one wheel out of balance.
I called Jeep Australia, they were not interested.
I have the Jeep back , and though it seems to be driving ok ,I back off a lot , and get a bit concerned when passing or being around other vehicles, as it feels like it's ready to do a repeat performance at any tick of the clock .
Sought legal advice , was told if I have an accident due to this , I will be held responsible .
Wrote the problem up on CarAdvice, a website for car probs.
Got an E-mail from Chrysler asking me to call them .
Sent a reply stating as there were not interested when I called , and as they are prepared to sell vehicles like this , I doubt very much I'd get any help from them .Told them not to bother replying.
Am now seeking legal advice as to how I stand re My financial contract , as I'm looking to get rid of it , as no confidence, and don't fancy driving another 4 years wondering if I'm going to land in Jail.
Also seeking advice as to the roadworthiness , and how it managed to pass.
Will post more.
Read posts #1 and #2 of this thread.

It has most all the information you need to fix the problem.

Do not drive your jeep anymore until you fix it.
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Old 11-12-2011, 04:24 PM   #89
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I totally agree not to drive the Jeep anymore until it is fixed. I hope you an get your Jeep fixed soon. I'll say some prayers to the car gods for you.
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:03 AM   #90
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Dw sucks. All i have left is a small amount of shimmy that i can't find.

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