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Old 12-23-2010, 04:02 PM   #181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SKIDPLATE View Post
Guys,
To elaborate on the track bars a bit. Some of the cheaper lift kits out there are selling track bars that are not adjustable. Because of that, they are not allowing for the adjustment of your castor angle. You ask "why isn't the factory bar adjustable?" Probably because they new they could save money on something that isn't needed as long as no changes are ever made to the suspension... like maybe a lift. This angle is best described using the shopping cart as an example. When there is not enough castor in the cart wheels, the wheels will wobble instead of track to whichever direction they are being pushed. We've all seen it at least once at Walmart and that is exactly what your jeep is doing. Becasue you have a straight axle on the jeep, the only way to adjust your castor is to rotate the axle forward or backward. You do this by adjusting the track bars longer or shorter. If the bar is short, the axle is rotated too far forward and you have too little castor. Your turning radius will be really short and you can turn on a dime. But the wheels will wobble at speed. If the bar is too long, the axle is rotated too far backward and you have too much castor. It'll go straight really good but won't turn worth a damn and will actually make your turning radius longer. The object is to find the happy medium. If it wobbles, increase your castor. If your track bar isn't adjustable, start looking for a replacement because everything else that you do is only masking over what really needs to be done.
Your really confused about the trackbar/control arm thing aren't you? The Track Bars centre the differentials under the Jeep and when parts wear out they are usually the cause of the dreaded DW, the Control Arms attach the differentials to the jeep. Some control arms are adjustable upper/lower front & back some are solid, if you need to adjust the solid type of control arms you can get what are called Cam Bolts which will give you a small amount of adjustability to adjust pinion angles/castor the only other option is to get adjustable upper control arms, adjustable lower control arms help with keeping the wheelbase length or extending it, when you lift a jeep the wheelbase actually gets shorter. Camber isn't adjustable on most solid axle vehicles but there are offset balljoints that can be purchased to do so but they are not highly recommended, if your camber is off you more than likely have a bent axle.

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Old 12-23-2010, 08:20 PM   #182
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Had the death wobble too. It was on my 97 Wrangler that I sold a while ago. I suspect it was from an idiot that I had tow that jeep with his wrecker. I'm guessing he probably winched it incorrectly. I eventually had it looked at and the shop replaced a steering bar which fixed the problem

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Old 12-29-2010, 05:03 PM   #183
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Just a note and hope it might help others. I have a 97 TJ that after installing new tires from the big mudders I had a DW from around 50 to 70 mph. After installing new trans and motor mounts the DW is gone.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:18 AM   #184
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mine disappeared with new tires Santa brought me. old tires were worn and must have been out of balance. ceahp solution, you ask me!
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Old 01-08-2011, 11:16 PM   #185
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I put a 2" BB on my 2006 and have been dealing with DW for about six months. Never had any problems before.

I never really had to drive over 45 mph in the area where I live , running on dirt roads, etc. so kept it under the DW speed of around 50.

Tires were about 1/2 worn 31X10.50X15's. Tried various things, alignment balancing, etc. No change! Still had DW around 50 mph.

Was getting ready to take the BB out but, after reading all the info on the forum, decided to go ahead and try tires first, kinda needed them anyway.

Put new BFG A/T's, same size as before. Absolutely no problem, no DW. Drives great! Apparently the others were cupped or something enough to through it off. Glad I tried tires before pulling out the BB. Even had it on the freeway today and just like you like it!!

Thanks for the good advice from those who shared their experience.
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:07 AM   #186
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When I had the tires rotated, I began to experience death wobble at 40-50 mph. I replaced the Wrangler GSA 30's with BFG AT KO's 33's and the stock steering stabilizer with a Rancho one. I also had the alignment done. The death wobble disappeared. By the way, how to you like the BB. What kind of shocks you have? I'm thinking about going the BB route or a BDS 2" lift.
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Old 01-10-2011, 04:51 PM   #187
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i have an 03 TJ with a 4" suspension and 33" tires. within 4 miles of me driving i had the fun experience of DW on the highway...not too happy about my purchase. did some reading and decided to balance the tires...some improvement. then i put on an old man EWU steering stabilizer. i dont think it was the specific brand that fixed it, but i think it was the fact that it was a much beefier stabilizer. never had the DW since. hope this helps.
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Old 01-15-2011, 11:20 AM   #188
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My '06 LJ began to DW after I installed an OMU 2" lift kit. What was sort of strange was it gave no indications during my test drive or when I drove it across town for work twice (40 miles round trip including interstate) before it ever started doing it. I set up an appointment to get it aligned and in the mean time put on a rancho stabilizer and adjustable cams (set all the way forward) and it continued to do it. During the alignment I had them install a Rubicon Express adjustable track bar as well. It drove fine for about 4 days then started doing it again. I am taking it back to get the alignment rechecked since it does pull just a bit and to see if they can find anything else, does anyone who has dealt with this extensively have any suggestions for where they should also look? I talked to the shop and they said they checked the ball joints when they aligned it.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:29 PM   #189
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I have a 2007 wrangler that got the DW and it was the steering stablizer, got a new one and its been fine so far.
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:06 PM   #190
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i found that the reason i used to get death woble was because a bolt on the trackbar mount for my 6in lift was comming loose, and just that tiny bit of play cause it to go out of wack and give me the wobbles, hope it helps
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:19 PM   #191
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THIS COMPANY SAID THAT MOST DEATH WOBBLE, IF ALL ELSE IS IN GOOD SHAPE, THAT THE CASTER IS OFF. THIS WILL FIX THE PROBLEM. i FIXED MINE WITH A TRACK BAR BUSHING AND RESIZED THE BOLT TO FIT THE BUSHING TIGHT.
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:44 PM   #192
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From another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by planman View Post
Death Wobble is no mystery.
It is caused by loose bolts, damaged components, or improper
installation.



Look at the picture below and follow along:


First, the tie rod (yellow) has ends that attach to a knuckle on the driver side and the drag link on the passenger side. As you could imagine, if either ends of the tie rod were broken or bad, that could be a culprit for a shimmy (not Death Wobble). A common place to damage the tie rod is on the driver's side at the adjusting collar (not in the picture). That collar/sleeve allows the width of the tie rod to be expanded or contracted. There are threads on that end that can be damaged, causing play on that driver's side and allow an up and down, or circular play movement. Again, this would cause a shimmy, not Death Wobble.

Next, look at the drag link. On one end, it attaches to the pitman arm (light green), that attaches to the steering gear box. On the other end, the drag link attaches to the passenger side knuckle. When you turn your steering wheel, a shaft turns that goes to the steering gear box. The steering gear box turns the pitman arm, and the pitman arm pushes or pulls the drag link, which pushes or pulls the knuckle. Your steering wheel is straitened by loosening the two nuts on the sleeve/turnbuckle on the drag link and rotating the sleeve/turnbuckle to lengthen or contract the length of the drag link. If either end of the drag link is damaged, this would cause a wobble or shimmy, but not Death Wobble.

Next, look at the trackbar (aqua). It attaches to a bracket on the frame on the driver's side and to the axle on the passenger side. The purpose of the trackbar is to center the axle on the frame. With the axle centered on the frame, it provides some resistance to the steering system to allow you to turn. If there was no trackbar and you turned the steering, the whole front frame would shift. As a result, there is significant force applied to the trackbar in driving and steering.

Now, imagine that the bolt and end that holds the trackbar are loose in their bolt holes, or that the axle side bolt holes are wallowed out (oval) and the end at the frame side is damaged, or that the bushings at the axle side trackbar end is damaged, or that the bracket at the axle side has come loose because the weld has broken/cracked, or that the axle side bushing is all twisted up because the rig has been lifted without the installer loosening the bolt and then retightened them at the new ride height and the bracket has pinched the bolt sleeve in the bushing at a different ride height--twisting the sleeve away from the bushing. All these things would allow play in the front trackbar. When you steer or go around a corner, these loose or broken things would allow the axle to shake or slide side to side. If you hit a bump in the road, it could knock the trackbar towards the driver's side. Then, the rest of the suspension (springs, etc.) would try to bring the trackbar back to the passenger side. If you were going at any sort of speed, you could develop a kind of harmonic resonance as the axle more and more violently slide/rocked/shaked from side to side. It would feel like your whole front end was being voilently torn apart. You would have to bring your vehicle to a complete standstill to stop the harmonic resonance. This is Death Wobble.

Also, look at the picture of how the frame side of the trackbar has something similar to a tie rod end. When the suspension droops in a TJ or XJ, the design of the frame side ends binds the end and can damage or break the end--leading to the scenario described above.

Even one incident of violent Death Wobble related to the front trackbar can cause significant damage. The voilent harmonic resonance of the back and forth shaking is more than the trackbar bushings, trackbar frame side end, bracket bolt holes, and brackets and welds are designed to handle. A severe Death Wobble occurance can crack or break the welds on the axle side trackbar bracket, or the bolt can wallow out the bolt hole in the bracket, or the bushing can be permanently damaged.

This is the most common source of Death Wobble because inexperienced installers either do not remove the bolt from the trackbar when they install a lift--leaving the bushing pinched in the bracket and bound up, or they do not properly torque the bolts after the lift has been installed with the tires on and the full weight of the vehicle on the ground at ride height, or (maybe the most common) they do not retorque the trackbar bolts after the first 50 miles, after every heavy wheeling trip, and at every oil change interval.

Next, look at the lower control arms (orange) and the upper control arms (purple). In the picture, they are stock arms. The stock control arms have a rubber bushing at each end. When the control arms are properly torqued, the bushing is somewhat pinched in the mounting brackets on the axle and the frame. Sometimes, an installer will make the mistake of not loosening the bolts for the control arms when they install a lift. What happens sometimes is they really bind up the bushings because they are pinched/sandwiched at stock ride height, but then forced to the new lifted ride height. These bound up bushings can cause weird handling, bushing failure, and lead to Death Wobble. The proper way is to loosen the bolts, install the lift, reinstall the wheels so the suspension and jeep are at the new ride height, rock the vehicle/suspension back and forth and side to side, then re-torque the bolts to spec, then after 50 miles re-torque them to spec, then after every oil change or very heavy wheeling trip re-torque them to spec.

Improperly balanced tires, too much air in tires, bent wheels, improperly installed wheel spacers, bad tires (with separated plys), and poor alignment specs (caster, camber, and not enough toe-in) can cause wobbles and shimmies that lead to Death Wobble. However, these precipitate Death Wobble, but they are not the cause of Death Wobble.
Although not specifically identified in the picture, the ball joints that are at the top and bottom of each knuckle where it attaches to the axle C can go bad. Bad ball joints can cause shimmies, wobbles, but usually not full on Death Wobble.

The swaybar links (red) have bolts that can work themselves loose. This also can lead to bad wobbles.

Next, allthough not identified in the picture, the unit bearings can go bad and be a cause of shimmy and wobble, but not Death Wobble.

Hope this helps--assuming you read it all.

Death Wobble is no mystery.

The reason that the steering stabilizer masks it is that it can absorb some of the side to side voilent harmonics of a loose trackbar or damaged mounts. However, this masking is dangerous because it will not prevent the eventual failure of trackbar bracket welds and bolt holes from trackbar Death Wobble.

It is extremely important to immediately diagnose and fix Death Wobble.

Even one episode of DW can damage other components.

Multiple episodes of DW are almost guaranteed to damage other components.






Multiple episodes will often damage your:
  • ball joints
  • tie rod ends--including the adjusting sleeve end on the driver side
  • trackbar bushings
  • trackbar bracket bolt holes
  • steering sector shaft (where the pitman arm attaches to the steering box)
  • steering stabilizer
  • front lower control arm bracket bolt holes
  • unit bearings
  • trackbar bracket welds
  • drag link ends
There are many, many examples of jeepers who with 5-6 episodes of trackbar related DW even on an a stock jeep have ended up "chasing their tails" for many, many months. It is not uncommon for people to end up replacing almost everything in the above list--sometimes more than once chasing sources of DW and non-DW wobbles and shimmies.




Without repairing/replacing everything that was damaged at once, the remaining damaged components continued to cause DW problems, further damaging the remaining components.


This is Death Wobble on a JK (and the guy is unwise for repeating it on purpose):
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:45 PM   #193
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Also from the thread:


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 axle bracket 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. I would also inspect the frame side bracket for damage and the frame side end of the trackbar for up and down play using a channel lock pliers. If all is good, I would reinstall the trackbar with the tires on the ground at ride height to 55 lbs at the axle side and 65 lbs at the frame side.
  5. Then, I would inspect the drag link end joints by using a large channel lock pliers 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 pliers for up-and-down and in-and-out movement. There should be no meaningful play. There should only be rotational movement in the joint ends.
  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 or just my hands on the top and bottom 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 (20 ft. lbs.) 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. (LCAs frame side 130 ft lbs, LCAs axle side 85 ft lbs, and upper CAs 55 ft lbs.
  13. Next, I would inspect the sector shaft that comes out of the steering box for cracking or twisting of the splines.
  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 1/16" to 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.
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:28 PM   #194
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Mine was from a loose trackbar/worn bushings at the pass side. Went ahead and replaced the stock to a JKS adj trackbar and prob solved! Steering stab does NOT fix, just hides the problem!
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:30 AM   #195
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death wobble

Planman has written on of the best posts on wobble that I have ever read. But, 1 thing that he didn't mention is that everything can be tight and good but you still have the death wobble. Caster set to high will cause death wobble. Shopping cart being pushed to fast and the front wheels shaking, death wobble by caster to high. Read my posts on the 3rd page of the YJ forum, that will give you an idea of what I do for a living and how long I have been dealing with wobbles. Thanks for reading this and good luck.
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Old 02-06-2011, 12:32 AM   #196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98dyna View Post
Planman has written on of the best posts on wobble that I have ever read. But, 1 thing that he didn't mention is that everything can be tight and good but you still have the death wobble. Caster set to high will cause death wobble. Shopping cart being pushed to fast and the front wheels shaking, death wobble by caster to high. Read my posts on the 3rd page of the YJ forum, that will give you an idea of what I do for a living and how long I have been dealing with wobbles. Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Thanks. I understand you are a 30+ years ASE Tech. So that means something to a weekend jeeper like me.

In my inspection checklist, I do suggest between 4 and 5 degrees caster.

I run between 4 and 4.5 degrees on my JK and between 3.5 and 4 degrees on my son's TJ. With larger tires, I run about 0.2 degrees cross caster to lessen the drift to the right.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:20 PM   #197
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wobble

Planman, I'm sorry I didn't read your second post. You are right on again with the lower caster spec. But people need to relay that info to your alignment tech, if they don't the tech will set it to factory spec and you'll be back at square 1. Any idea how many times I have heard "I had it aligned and it still does it". Find an alignment tech that is willing to think out of the box, not one who just alignment for a paycheck. I read these death wobble posts and wonder how many could be cured on an alignment rack with a good tech doing the work needed, not just selling parts that most of the time mask the problem. I have had one reply already that tried the lower caster adjust and it improved the wobble problem so far. 1 down, thousands to go.
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:20 PM   #198
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
The trackbar, identified in the pic below, is what holds the axle centered left-to-right underneath the Jeep. If where it bolts to the axle on the passenger side is loose in even the smallest amount, it commonly allows DW to fully develop after being triggered by a bump in the road, out of balance tire, etc.



When everything in the front-end is tight and in good condition, DW can be triggered by a bump/out of balance tire etc. but not be allowed to fully develop into full-blown DW which is an EXTREMELY violent shaking of the entire front end that is guaranteed to make you think you're going to either crap or lose control of the Jeep.
Awesome post Jerry. Very informative. I have been having DW and it's already driving me crazy looking for the source of the problem. I love my Jeep, but this DW has to stop already. With DW where would you start.
1st: Track bar must be tight.
2nd:?
3rd:?
4th:?
This would really help. I have been looking non-stop throughout this forum, but have not found a concrete answer to fix DW which seems to be a problem with many jeeps.
Thanks
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:57 AM   #199
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wobble

First, have the front end completely checked out by someone who knows suspensions.Everything has to be tight but not frozen solid.A front axle cv/u-joint can cause death wobble if 1 cap is frozen up. I just had to deal with a vibration in a Ford Explorer with a frozen cv joint in the front driveline. Now, document everything you do on your Jeep from now on until the wobble is gone so you know what fixed it. If you know someone who has a Jeep with tire/wheel assemblies that will fit your Jeep and his doesn't wobble put his tires on yours or put your tires on his. The reason to do that is sometime tires are damaged on the inside and you can't see it,broken or slipped belts, tread separation,etc. After all of the above is done and you are sure everything is good to go in the front end, read my posts above this one.Find a alignment tech that knows what death wobble is and how to lower caster to fix it. Most local 4x4 clubs has atleast 1 guy they go to for their front end work. If you find out that your caster is in the 5 to 8 degree positive range have them lower it to between 4-5 degrees,I know that is way below factory specs but in most cases it will cure death wobble if it caster caused. By the way, I have been a ASE certified front end tech for 30 years and I work on cars to semi tractors, mini Indy race cars, trailers, if it has wheels I work on it.LAGear in the next forum down from this one has already tried my idea and it worked for him.Good luck and let me know what you find.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #200
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MUDDY87 View Post
Awesome post Jerry. Very informative. I have been having DW and it's already driving me crazy looking for the source of the problem. I love my Jeep, but this DW has to stop already. With DW where would you start.
1st: Track bar must be tight.
2nd:?
3rd:?
4th:?
This would really help. I have been looking non-stop throughout this forum, but have not found a concrete answer to fix DW which seems to be a problem with many jeeps.
Thanks
Post #193 above.
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Old 02-14-2011, 11:03 PM   #201
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I have to get new tires anyways. I am just going to go ahead and get some new road tires and see what happens from there with the DW. Really tired of beating around the bush with this nightmare DW. We need more Jeep mechanics in the world. I already have a dictionary of parts in my head just from reading so much to find a cure to my DW.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:35 PM   #202
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wobble

Keep in touch with planman or myself, we would like to know how things turn out.Good luck.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:00 AM   #203
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Hey everyone. I live in South Florida and have been in love with my TJ from the moment I drove it off the dealer. I got a 4' lift, and suited it up to be a beauty. Once i get something else to become my everyday driver I am dying to go bigger. BUT.... I got the nightmare, DW. I have been going loco looking for the source doing different things, looked for shops and through forums. But, I found a shop that just might be my solution. If you live in Miami or close to it, Rocco's is a great place. They have a lot of experience with all models and do a lot of work. THEY ARE EXPERIENCED WITH DW'S. They knew exactly what to look for and solve it. 4WheelParts was my place where I did all my stuff at before. However had a bad experience with them and dumped them. All i do is order my parts from them from time to time. MY MAIN PROBLEM Were.

1. ADJUSTABLE TRACKBAR.
2. NEW TIRES W/ BALANCE.

CAN'T BELIEVE THE NIGHTMARE IS OVER. NOW BACK TO JEEP LOVING.
I NEVER THOUGHT THERE WAS A SOLUTION. BUT THERE IS. JUST KEEP SEARCHING THROUGH FORUMS SO YOU LEARN THE JEEP LANGUAGE. IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO GO TO ANY PLACE KNOWING WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT. IF NOT THEY WILL MOST LIKELY DO SOMETHING ELSE AND TAKE YOUR MONEY. THANKS EVERYONE FOR ALL YOUR POSTS, YOU GUYS HELPED ME A LOTTTTT.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:31 PM   #204
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I had a bad DW develop on my last jeep (02TJ) after I installed a 2.5" spring lift. Here is a video of how it would start. This is not the full blow death wobble that I would sometimes get, just the initial vibes that turn into the wobble. The problem was that my lift caused increased toe in. I adjusted the toe in and the problem went from a BAD pull off the freeway DW to a tiny vibe at ~50-55mph from my out of balance tires. The bad balance of the tires would kick the DW into motion.

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:27 PM   #205
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“Death Wobble”

“Death Wobble”©


By Jerry Smith

HappyTrails4WD.com


The dreaded “Death Wobble”. If you have ever experienced one, we don’t have to tell you it’s one of the scariest experiences you’ll ever have. If you’re still a Death Wobble “virgin”, count your lucky stars!
What Is A Death Wobble?

You are driving down a street or even out on the open highway cruising along like usual. Your speed could be anywhere between 30 and 85 mph. Your vehicle hits a very small bump or depression. One so small, you never even saw it.
It could have been something as simple as where the pavement changes as you cross a bridge approach or departure. Nothing sinister.
From out of nowhere, your steering wheel begins shaking violently back and forth so hard you can’t hold it still no matter how hard you try. You cannot turn. The front of the vehicle feels like it will shake apart any second.
Your only recourse is to slow down… as fast as possible! That by the way is the only known way to stop a Death Wobble.
This phenomenon will catch you off guard. If you are lucky, the first one will be of the “light-duty” kind. Consider this to be a warning of bad things to come it you don’t get it repaired NOW!!
Any shimmy that starts all of the sudden… from no shimmy to any shimmy, take it seriously. Once in a while you will receive this little warning if you are lucky. Most of us don’t get a warning. We go from normal to totally out of control in a micro-second. That’s the way a Death Wobble works.
What causes a Death Wobble?

** The experiences talked of here are mostly related to lifted Jeep Wranglers. Other experiences may vary.**
That question causes “fear” in even the best of auto repair shops. The vast majority of them are not experienced with a Death Wobble and will have a devil of a time repairing it.
Even a shop full of experienced technicians will often have their hands full. This is not an “easy fix” very often. As a consumer with this problem, you will be convinced the shop is incompetent before it is over. You may be right in this particular instance. But before you decide though, give them a lot of rope to hang themselves. They may be very competent in most repairs, just not this one.
Most shops will have “some ideas” of what to do. Others will just be experimenting. One thing you may want to ask is “have you repaired any other vehicles with this problem?” That is about the only way you will know if they are “experimenting” on yours.
Finding a shop that specializes in suspension and alignments would be your best choice. They will need skills in those areas above the average.
When looking for a shop, if the first thing they ask is when you had your tires balanced, just turn around and walk away. Unless your tires were just installed, that won’t have anything to do with your problem.
A Death Wobble is seldom a “this is your problem” type of repair. It won’t be that simple. The exception will be if your track bar end on the frame side is really worn. That is the first place to look.
The vast majority of the time, it will be a combination of several slightly worn parts adding together to cause the entire problem.
Those parts will include things like the ball joints, tie rod ends, drag link ends, the trackbar ends, control arm ends, and occasionally the need for an alignment and/or toe adjustment.
Only if the Death Wobble was one of the light duty “warning” types will the alignment help. It may “hide” the wobble for a while, but it will just be temporary.
One “trick” that will sometimes “mask” the problem will be to either add or replace the steering stabilizer. This will not cure the problem… just hide it temporarily it at all.
Lifted vehicles are maybe slightly more prone to the Death Wobble. The reason for this is the change in all the angles of your steering and suspension. Most will have a much more acute angle than a stock parts would have.
If you have just recently lifted your rig, an alignment should have been done. If not, when they do it, ask them to make double sure the ball joints and all the steering ends are in very good condition, not “just OK”. Small wear in each when added together make for a lot of wear as far as a lifted suspension goes.
Be prepared to have several new parts installed. The first will probably be the track bar ends. Next will likely be the ball joints and then the steering linkage ends. After that, the control arm ends. This is by no means an “always” order of things, but experience with several of these has shown this to be “normal” if there is such a thing.
You may be warned ahead of time, unless you have all of these items replaced all up front, there is a good chance you will get your vehicle out of the shop “repaired and ready to go”. Don’t be surprised if the problem continues.
Things will go well for a while and all of a sudden, it will be back!
If a technician is really good, they may know of a particular street where they can “make it happen” more often than not. But there is no guarantee about this. You normally can’t just go out and create a Death Wobble.
In Grand Junction, I know of such a stretch of road where I have experienced the Death Wobble many times. (they’re still not fun). With that kind of background, I can tell pretty much when a vehicle is really “repaired”, but I still will not guarantee that.
I hope you never have to live through this problem, but if you begin lifting a rig, don’t be surprised if it rears its ugly head after you get some miles on. Keeping a good alignment will help… for a while. But when it is time, the only help is proper repair.
Happy Trails to you.
Copyright 2010 - 2011 Happy Trails 4WD.com All rights reserved
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Old 02-23-2011, 04:36 AM   #206
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Very detailed info. It's actually the best put for people that are having nightmares with DW and are figuring out how to fix it. Thankfully my problem was my tires were really worn and they were causing unstable conditions with the front suspension of my TJ. I had them check the whole front suspension after I did a check up of it myself and everything was nice and tight and nothing worn. 90% of the time is an adjustable trackbar is needed. I'm just so happy I'm done with DW. It is literally a JEEP FUN LIVING KILLER!!!! Take care of it. It's a
Combo of things but the more you read the easier it will be for you yourself to find the source and point it out to any mechanic. My opinion keep reading and find out more and more info from peoples experience. KNOW YOUR CAR. It's best way to go.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:01 PM   #207
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I had this problem on my 2000 Sahara, took a while to figure out. Finally found out that I had broken U-bolts on the front end and the tires had worn out of true. They are stock Firestone 30" tires and I've ran several sets on it, so I think it was the U-bolts that really caused that. Had it aligned as well and it was still in alignment. Once I replaced the U-bolts and tires it was fine.
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:52 PM   #208
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First experiance with death wobble just recently was quite scary. But I think I had a seperate problem when I had runout on the rotors it would pick up the front passenger tire. Has anybody had a similiar experiance is this different from DW? I am going to start the checking of all the components as described above. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 02-27-2011, 10:00 AM   #209
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wobble

You can have a broken belt in a tire that will cause a DW and won't be able to see it.Hunter has a road force balancer that can detect that problem in a tire,that is why we ask if you have had your tires balanced lately.Cheap brand X new tires can have a belt problem in them right out of the factory,tire salesmen believe all tires are perfect when new.Tire recapping shops have NDI machines that look inside a tire to find belt problems before they recap the tire and cause problems.Badly cupped tires will also cause wobble and bounce.Remember to tell the mechanic that you were out trail blazing with your Jeep last weekend and the wobble started on the highway coming home.I had a Jeep in our shop last week that the owner took through a Tuff Truck competition last year and now it drives funny,but he didn't tell me that.I found out from another driver that works at our shop.Information is the key when trying to solve a death woble problem with a Jeep.By the way a new Jeep can have a Death Wobble in it from the factory and the dealership can't solve it.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:17 PM   #210
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I first got DW when I had original GY Wrangler tires rotated. I had a new Rancho SS and four new BFG AT KO tires installed, and the problem disappeared. Three weeks ago I had the alignment done. They rotated the tires as well even though it wasn't needed because they were rotated a short time before when the oil was changed. I drove on a frontage road with a lot of cracks running perpendicular to the path of the Jeep and that is where the DW started. I took it back to the shop and had them check the alignment and balancing of the tires. One of the mechanics told me that I need to replace the TRE's, track bar, and drag link. Today, I drove the Jeep and hit a spot with more cracks and it felt that the vehicle was going to fall apart. I had to slow down and pull off on the center lane. After reading most of these posts, I think the problem has something to do with the tire rotation and balancing or alignment. I had no DW for 25k until the tires were rotated and the alignment was done. I'm going to take it back and have them put them rotate the tires and re-check the balancing. I might have them check the alignment again too. If that fails, I'll start with the track bar. I just need to find a good quality replacement. Unfortunately, I live in a small town and there aren't too many garages, so I'm dealing with the "Three Stooges" chain. I heard of someone who owns a Jeep and opened a shop, and I'm going to see if I can track him down because this DW takes the fun out of owning a Jeep.

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