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Old 10-07-2008, 01:44 AM   #1
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Death Wobble help please

I have a 2004 Jeep Wrangler X with a 4" Rubicon Express life with 33" Mud King XT tires. My wife said the steering was shaking violently like when you overload a washing machine and it starts to jump. After driving on it for a while I test drove it and it about threw me off the road. It tore up the inner section of tread on the tires so I took it AAMCO to get it looked it they said tie rods needed replaced.

I took it to BIG O Tires to get a second opinion since that is where I bought the tires from. They said the tie rods were fine. I bought a steering stabilizer and put it on myself. Then I rotated the tires. Still the problem was there. I had put the less worn tires up front and bought 2 new tires for the rear. I also had all 4 balanced and the alignment checked. Everything is fine and noone knows what is wrong.

It does it usually in 3rd gear around 40 MPH but can do it in 4th gear or neutral at that speed also.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 10-07-2008, 12:06 PM   #2
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update

I put the steering stabilizer on by hand.

Went back into BIG O today they said all they saw semi-loose was that so they tightened it down.

I drove around for like 15 miles back and forth from 35-45 trying to make the DW happen again. Around 40 I sometimes get the steering jerk like it wants to do it but wont go into a full out DW. Hopefully the problem is solved and I just have to deal with vibrating steering at 40MPH.

Any suggestions what might make the steering keep doing this?

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Old 10-07-2008, 12:30 PM   #3
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The stabilizer will only mask the problem, not solve it. You could have :

Bad ball joint.
loose connections on track arm.
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Old 10-07-2008, 06:22 PM   #4
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Death wobble

I had the same problem..I installed a Rancho 5000 steering stabilizer....NO JOY!!...I was advised by a "Jeep mechanic" to replace my tires...which I did (procomp a/t 31x10.5) and WALAH!! the problem went away, only to reappear about 2 mos later...I had my suspension checked out by 4wheel parts and was advised that everything was fine....OH MAN!! the allignment was out of wack!! After that everything was OK...for a short time...I have to have my allignment rechecked every 3 months or so when the wobble appears....I know that probably does'nt help, but I understand!! I did notice that my tires are worn on the outer half....if anyone can advise another fix that would be great!!
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:11 PM   #5
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Well apparently tightening down the Steering Stabilizer helped but i still get the vibrating steering wheel. I looked about the ball joint test with a pry rod or 2x4 and they mechs did that and said it was fine. So....

1.) if the steering stabilizer is fine (Brand new)

2.) the tires are all in balance (As of 3 days ago)

3.) the alignment is good (As of 3 days ago)

4.) the rear tires are BRAND new the front tires (used to be rear) are worn normally not oddly at all with about 30,000 miles on them

6.) they said the bushings looked good

7.) the shocks looked good (25,000 miles on them)

8.) they said the tie rods were fine

What else could it be???
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Old 10-08-2008, 07:18 AM   #6
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Take a look at the steering componentry while your wife or your friend turn the steering wheel back and forth. Look real close for loose items.
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Old 10-08-2008, 11:58 AM   #7
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Loose track bar at axle or frame end.
Worn out tie rod holes on knuckle
Looseness between drag link and tie rod.
Rounded holes at track bar mounting points (esp axle end).
Control arm bushings worn OR bent control arm.
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Old 10-08-2008, 09:46 PM   #8
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anybody got a diagram to show what some of those things are....track bar, control arm bushings... bout the only think i know what it is is the tie rod
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:37 AM   #9
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:31 PM   #10
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hell yea, i wont expectin that, thanx
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:49 PM   #11
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if you find a solution, let me know. Mines been doing it for over a year now, same wobble at 40. Ive tried everything.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:50 PM   #12
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If the tires are perfectly balanced, I'd be surprised. Most shops only balance tires to "good enough" which for a TJ with big tires, isn't always good enough. The bigger the tires, the more important it is to preventing Death Wobble that they be perfectly balanced.

And when the front trackbar is not tight enough through a worn/wallowed-out mounting bolt hole, loose passenger-side mounting bolt, or worn trackbar mounting bushing, that is a common source of Death Wobble. For your 2004, the passenger-side mounting bolt should be tightened to 45 ft-lbs. Looser than that can allow DW to develop after being triggered by something else like a bump in the road or an out of balance front tire.

Next in line of possibilities are bad control arm bushings, bad front-end ball joints, improper toe-in, or... and this is important... too much caster angle. With 33" tires, you should not be running the factory 7 degree caster angle. You'd be better off with around 5.5 degrees. I'm running 4.5 to 5 degrees with my 35" tires which is about right. Too much caster angle can encourage Death Wobble.

And as others said above, a new steering stablizer is not the fix. You shouldn't be getting DW even without the steering stabilizer present. Installing a new steering stabilizer to cure Death Wobble is like placing a band-aid over a skin cancer. Good luck with it.
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Old 10-09-2008, 07:05 PM   #13
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we have gone through this with multiple jeeps and the item that seems to fix it no matter what your problem is..........put hydro assist steering on it and that ram will no let any shimmy at all.........i run unbalanced 39" tsls on beadlocks with 15 lbs of air and can go 65mph........its scary but it can be done
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Old 10-10-2008, 07:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by flattietj View Post
we have gone through this with multiple jeeps and the item that seems to fix it no matter what your problem is..........put hydro assist steering on it and that ram will no let any shimmy at all.........i run unbalanced 39" tsls on beadlocks with 15 lbs of air and can go 65mph........its scary but it can be done
That's crazy... running 39"'s at 65 alone is a handful but with 15 lbs? Talk about a potential for disaster. Those tires must get REAL hot.
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:36 AM   #15
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i havent done it for any extended period of time but i have been on the highway.......i usually go no more than 45 on my way from the trailer to the trail head.......and just to add to the scarieness........i have no track bars front and rear.......all double triangulated
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Old 10-10-2008, 10:41 AM   #16
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I hope you have a lot of insurance...
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Old 10-10-2008, 11:19 AM   #17
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15 lbs. with 39" tires if they are bias-ply wouldn't be bad at all. Are those radial or bias ply tires FlattieTJ? Bias-ply tires don't even start flexing well until you get down to 4-5 psi.
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Old 10-10-2008, 06:07 PM   #18
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they are bias tsls.........i air them up from 3 lbs to run on the road......i only go up to 15 lbs b/c it takes forever to fill a 39.5x15x15........thats alot of air
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:20 PM   #19
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I think Jerry is on to something here, I just met a Jeeper up here in Michigan who has a 05 rubicon unlimited, the original lift he installed was fine, not sure what it was, but it had the factory 31" tires. He had new mickey thompsons installed after awhile, 32" MT's and thats when the Death wobble started. He said it nearly ripped him off the road. He then had a RE 3.5" lift installed professionally because he didnt like the first one. He told me that after the lift install the mechanics were in a circle talking amongst themselves, when he asked if everything was okay they said yeah no problem. well guess what? they felt the death wobble and said nothing. He drove it and turned right around back to the shop because it was undriveable. Is this a connection with the RE lifts or due to alignment shops not setting the camber correctly? He also said that once his front tires wore to about half life the wobble was gone, however he just had the tires rotated and the wobble is back!!!! On my Rig I had a pretty good front end vibe and shake only at exactly 53 mph, if I tapped the brakes or accelerated through it went away. Now with my Lift that I installed it had a new front adjustable track bar, to which I had to Drill holes in the frame to attach the new drop down bracket. I have not felt the vibe or shake since, however I do have a bone to pick with the alignment joint, not mentioning any names. When I took my rig to them for a four wheel alignment and to have them check the suspension over and make sure my axles were straight, they used a F&*#ing tape measure, it never made it on the rack, so now my wheel is not straight and it pulls right. But thats a different story.

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