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Old 08-29-2007, 10:44 PM   #1
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Steering wheel shimmy

I have a stock '04 TJ with 35Kmiles. The steering wheel starts to shimmy back and forth at @ 45mph. Increasing speed increases intensity but not too bad-@ 3/16inch at the wheel edge. I checked the front tires and they showed slight feathering on the outside 1-1/2 inch of tread.
I figured it was the steering stabilizer (past problem on' 84), so I changed it. That reduced the shimmy for about a week. The shocks were a little soft so I figure with winter coming, I'd do those too. (I hope the engineer that designed the location of the cheap rear shock bolts has been fired. Did he really think you could get those loose without shearing the bolts?). The ride was better but the shimmy is still there. I had the tires balanced and rotated but that has had no effect. The tires have about 15K as I use snows in the winter, and don't drive the Jeep much in the summer.
I had my wife rock the steering wheel back and forth so I could check out a slight knocking noise. I did find that noise coming from a worn steering shaft knuckle located near the radiator. This is probably a result not a cause.
I do get a little cracking noise when turning into parking spots.
I checked the u-joints for any heat build-up when I got home. There was none.
I do think the rotors were a bit too warm considering I coasted the last half mile after @ 8mi of not using the brakes at all.
Tomorrow, I'm putting the snows on just to rule out a wacky tire.

Any ideas?

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Old 08-30-2007, 12:26 AM   #2
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When was the last time you had the alignment checked?

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Old 08-30-2007, 09:56 AM   #3
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Check your trac-bar bolts, control arm bolts etc etc..All steering bolts etc..
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:52 AM   #4
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I recently bought an 05 TJ with a 2" body lift running 32" tires with stock shocks and steering stabilizer. I do have a slight pull to the left, alignment Im sure, and a shimmy in the wheel at speeds greater than 40mph. I have also noticed the "bump steer" when hitting any ruts in the pavement. Any suggestions? Do I need a beefier stabilizer with the larger tires? Do I just need to align? Any help is appreicated.
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Old 11-15-2010, 06:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by VTDan View Post
I have a stock '04 TJ with 35Kmiles. The steering wheel starts to shimmy back and forth at @ 45mph. Increasing speed increases intensity but not too bad-@ 3/16inch at the wheel edge. I checked the front tires and they showed slight feathering on the outside 1-1/2 inch of tread.
I figured it was the steering stabilizer (past problem on' 84), so I changed it. That reduced the shimmy for about a week. The shocks were a little soft so I figure with winter coming, I'd do those too. (I hope the engineer that designed the location of the cheap rear shock bolts has been fired. Did he really think you could get those loose without shearing the bolts?). The ride was better but the shimmy is still there. I had the tires balanced and rotated but that has had no effect. The tires have about 15K as I use snows in the winter, and don't drive the Jeep much in the summer.
I had my wife rock the steering wheel back and forth so I could check out a slight knocking noise. I did find that noise coming from a worn steering shaft knuckle located near the radiator. This is probably a result not a cause.
I do get a little cracking noise when turning into parking spots.
I checked the u-joints for any heat build-up when I got home. There was none.
I do think the rotors were a bit too warm considering I coasted the last half mile after @ 8mi of not using the brakes at all.
Tomorrow, I'm putting the snows on just to rule out a wacky tire.

Any ideas?
i have a 98 wrangler it shimmied at 45 to50 mph its called the death wobble in wranglers i took 5 pounds of air out of tires and it helped the problem about 90 %.
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:19 AM   #6
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Check the torque on the lugs too, loose lugs will shimmy the wheel like a palsy.....
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:37 AM   #7
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Steering wheel shimmy is invariably always caused by a tire or wheel problem. The tire could be out of round, out of balance, etc. A wheel could be bent or dented. Usually and most commonly, it is simply a tire balance problem.

Alignment can cause uneven tire wear which can eventually cause a shimmy but steering wheel shimmy is always going to be directly caused by a tire or wheel problem... never directly from a bad alignment. Bad alignments will cause uneven tire wear, wandering, pr poor steering wheel return to center after a turn, but never will an improper alignment directly cause a shimmy or vibration.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:33 AM   #8
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I got the death wobble on my stock 04 around 35,000 miles too.
I tried alignment, the dealership replaced, stabilizers, shocks and finally the trac bar which seemed to work.
5 year later I've got it again although it's a not nearly shaking my teeth out of my head as it did the first time. Maybe the trac bar replacement just masked it.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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A good solid track bar never masks DW but it can cure it. Masking DW without curing it is the steering stabilizer's job.
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Old 11-15-2010, 12:48 PM   #10
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I had this problem. I have an 04 Rubicon with ~100k mikes. I put new BFG MT on it and the problem persisted.

First I purchased a new track bar and installed it. ~$70. This got rid of 80% of my problem.

Next I purchased a Crown Heave Duty Steering Kit (Drag link Tie rod and 4 ball joints) ~$170 and an OME Steering Stabilizer ~80. I installed the steering kit and drove it to have it aligned. Everything felt good. The drive home was even better. Next I installed the OME Stabilizer.

Now my steering feels new.

If you learn about the problem and what causes it you can fix it. There is a lot of good information and links to good information on this site.

Search for Death Wobble and read for a couple of hours.

Sounds like you may need some new U joints in your axle too. With your vehicle off and parking brake set try to rotate your axle at the u-joint. There should be very little to no play. If it turns more than a degree or two they will need to be replaced.
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Old 01-08-2011, 10:44 AM   #11
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Thanks guys

I usually never have to ask questions here, I just search what I wanna know about and it seems that Jerry addressed the issue in quick fashion even if a bit technical for my limited automotive knowledge. Just jot my TJ back from my 21 y/o daughter after 6 months (she gets pissed when I switch vehicles and stick her with my Civic..lol). The steering is wretched, wobbly, loose, etc at all speeds. I ordered the Stabilizer and will see if that helps. Its got 70K on all original equipment but I'll hold off on shocks, etc till the summer when I finally give it a lil lift. Running 31's right now and its a daily driver.

I noticed it is running pretty rough. I think I need to do the tune up. Will attempt to do it myself, shouldn't be too tough but I'm still at a loss over the plug debate :-). I'll just go with Champion normal stuff and see how that works.

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Old 01-08-2011, 12:07 PM   #12
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What year Jeep do you have ejg225?
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:51 PM   #13
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My Baby

My TJ is an 03, 4.0 automatic with 70K miles....Paid for at last!!!!
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:56 PM   #14
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For an 03 that has the DIS (distributorless ignition system) I would only go for Champion's 7034 double-tipped platinum if you want to stick with Champion plugs. Or Autolite's APP985 or XP985. The DIS igntion system used on later model 4.0L engines double-fires the spark plugs and will go through a conventional spark plug in half the time of a conventional ignition system.
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Old 01-08-2011, 04:57 PM   #15
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Thanks Jerry, I assume it's as simple as gaping the new ones, putting them in, replacing the wires, etc. Never did a tune up before but I think I can handle it. Do you think the Old Man Emu Stabilizer will help my loose steering?
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:17 PM   #16
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Loose steering is not caused by a bad steering stabilizer. Check your toe-in and make sure your trackbar is snug and can't move when the steering wheel is turned left/right.

The new plugs should come pre-gapped to .035 as the 4.0L requires. Your 2003 does not have plug wires, it has a one piece ignition coil rail with six spark plug boots that pulls off the spark plugs in one piece after removing a couple nuts that secure it in place. Make sure all six boots are properly seated over the spark plugs before putting the nuts back on. You'd be surprised how many miss one boot that got shoved over to the side during the reinsertion process which causes a severe misfire.
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:38 PM   #17
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digging an old one out but here goes;
around 40-50 mpg im getting steering wheel shimmy. just had the jeep lifter, now on 33, new u-joints, new ball joints, new control arm, alignment is in check.

went to 4wheelparts today and went for a ride with a mec. he took a look at the entire jeep and said everything looks proper and good besides a wheel hub thats a little loose. He also commented that my sway bar links (zone 4.25) were straight and should be curved and thats why the links are rubbing the frame. i know im not the only one with these links, i hope i just have to change sway bar bushing (anyways thats another story for later).

back to shimmy:They told me that my steering shimmy is 100% caused because my oem stabilizer is too small for the upgraded 33s and once you bigger than 31s you should upgrade the stabilizer.

Now, was he just trying to get me to buy a new part off him, or what else can be causing this shimmy, 4wheel are the ones who originally balanced the tires and are convinced thats not the problem, they say imbalanced tires will start to shake at around 55-60mpg.
other things to look for? they turned the steering wheel while on the ground back and forth to look for any play, they said all is good.
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:58 PM   #18
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they say imbalanced tires will start to shake at around 55-60mpg.
I always experienced the shimmy starting at ~45mph with my Truck and my LJ. So I'd say you are correct and they are wrong. You'll want to replace that unit bearing if it is indeed bad. I'm assuming your tires are new as well so either you can convince them to re-balance the tires or pay out of pocket at a reputable tire shop.

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other things to look for? they turned the steering wheel while on the ground back and forth to look for any play, they said all is good.
I'd do the dry steer test on your own using either a friend to turn the wheel slowly side to side or using a GoPro etc focusing on the track bar and tie rod ends.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:13 PM   #19
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If it's at 40-50 mph and it goes away above that I'd bet it's a balance issue. That's the speed range where all tire balance issues come into play. Steering stabilizer too small for 33's? That dude should be slapped. He'll have you buying a new steering gear box by selling you an overly tight stabilizer. Sounds like he doesn't know what he's talking about in my opinion.

Edit: I got timken unit bearing hubs here, and they were a better price than I could get anywhere else at that time. I did both at the same time because I'm particularly anal about stuff like that especially on the front end.

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Old 11-18-2015, 09:32 PM   #20
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Mine shakes at 62mph +- about 2mph. It goes away once I'm faster than that. Not sure what that is.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:36 PM   #21
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Mine shakes at 62mph +- about 2mph. It goes away once I'm faster than that. Not sure what that is.
Probably tire balance as well. Out of curiosity what is your tire size and gear ratio?

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