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Old 04-18-2013, 04:59 PM   #1
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Angry The Saga: Death Wobble and Shocks

Okay so I will try to keep this short and sweet. We installed a 2.5" lift on our Wrangler back in September and we instantly started experiencing a horrible DW. We immediately got the tires balanced and the alignment adjusted with no success. We then replaced the track bar which helped slightly but not for very long. We then replaced the tie rod and steering stabalizer. Again these helped slightly but did not fix the problem. Through the winter my husband would still experience the DW but at least it was to the point where he could anticipate it and take steps to minimize it, whereas when it orignally started it was so bad he had to pull over and stop completely before it would stop. Starting a few weeks ago it came back with a vengenance. We have determined there is a correlation between the outside temperature and the severity. We finally took it to yet another mechanic who inspected everything and discovered the track bar end with the bolt was too large. They welded some washers into the end of the bar to fix that problem. They also told us the shocks were "bad." Since they were under warranty I first called "Four Wheel Parts" and had a horrible experiencing talking with their staff at our local store (I encourage you all to avoid them at all cost). I then called the manufacturer, these were SkyJacker Hydro 7000's, and after quite a bit of back and forth I was told these shocks were meant to be super soft to the point where they can be manipulated by hand when they are off the vehicle and you should be able to push on the vehicles bumpers and get the car bouncing enough to where it continues even after you stop pushing. (I am no expert but this sounds like a bad feature to have in a 4x4 shock.) Anyways at this point I do think the shocks need to be replaced but I guess I am so tired of dumping money into this that I am hoping someone can shed some light on the subject regarding 1)if it sounds like we are on the right track, 2) if this whole things with the shocks sounds legit, and 3) what shocks would you recommend that aren't crazy expensive (at this point we are pretty much tapped out)? Ok sorry not so short and sweet but there it is. Thanks!

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:15 PM   #2
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The shocks may or may not be bad, but they won't cause death wobble. Read the "sticky" on death wobble at the top of the TJ Forum. Death wobble is the energy of loading a tire sideways by worn steering/suspension parts, or excessive toe-in, and then having that engergy suddenly realeased when one of the front wheels looses traction, many times on a rut or pothole. The violent shaking caused by dw has the ability to drastically shorten the life of other components in the suspension and steering. Track bar end play is probly the most common cause, followed by tie rod ends, and ball joints. You said it had been aligned, but if I were you, I would check the toe-in just to make sure. It's easy to do yourself.

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Old 04-18-2013, 05:32 PM   #3
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i had this same problem replaced my track bar & my steering dampner shock with a high quality one and it went away. i cant give you a real price on the dampner shock i used because i get huge discounts on parts from work
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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Dennis what do you mean the "Sticky" on death wobble? We have had the alignment checked multiple times and replaced all the steering parts we can think of. When you say that suspension parts could cause it doesn't that include the shocks?
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:38 PM   #5
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We actually replaced the steering dampner with a really good one right after this whole issue started. Ugh so frustrating!!
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:56 PM   #6
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A SS don't fix DW. His was fixed probably because he replaced a messed up TB. And yes shocks are technically part of the suspension but they don't do anything to keep the axle stationary. They only dampen the effects of a rough road. Post up some pictures of your front end, it may help.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by NDMcG View Post
Okay so I will try to keep this short and sweet. We installed a 2.5" lift on our Wrangler back in September and we instantly started experiencing a horrible DW. We immediately got the tires balanced and the alignment adjusted with no success. We then replaced the track bar which helped slightly but not for very long. We then replaced the tie rod and steering stabalizer. Again these helped slightly but did not fix the problem. Through the winter my husband would still experience the DW but at least it was to the point where he could anticipate it and take steps to minimize it, whereas when it orignally started it was so bad he had to pull over and stop completely before it would stop. Starting a few weeks ago it came back with a vengenance. We have determined there is a correlation between the outside temperature and the severity. We finally took it to yet another mechanic who inspected everything and discovered the track bar end with the bolt was too large. They welded some washers into the end of the bar to fix that problem. They also told us the shocks were "bad." Since they were under warranty I first called "Four Wheel Parts" and had a horrible experiencing talking with their staff at our local store (I encourage you all to avoid them at all cost). I then called the manufacturer, these were SkyJacker Hydro 7000's, and after quite a bit of back and forth I was told these shocks were meant to be super soft to the point where they can be manipulated by hand when they are off the vehicle and you should be able to push on the vehicles bumpers and get the car bouncing enough to where it continues even after you stop pushing. (I am no expert but this sounds like a bad feature to have in a 4x4 shock.) Anyways at this point I do think the shocks need to be replaced but I guess I am so tired of dumping money into this that I am hoping someone can shed some light on the subject regarding 1)if it sounds like we are on the right track, 2) if this whole things with the shocks sounds legit, and 3) what shocks would you recommend that aren't crazy expensive (at this point we are pretty much tapped out)? Ok sorry not so short and sweet but there it is. Thanks!
I am on my second set of skyjacker hydro shocks. They are very soft but that is why I like them. I had them with my 2 inch lift and now with my 4 inch. They may be fine.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by NDMcG View Post
Okay so I will try to keep this short and sweet. We installed a 2.5" lift on our Wrangler back in September and we instantly started experiencing a horrible DW. We immediately got the tires balanced and the alignment adjusted with no success. We then replaced the track bar which helped slightly but not for very long. We then replaced the tie rod and steering stabalizer. Again these helped slightly but did not fix the problem. Through the winter my husband would still experience the DW but at least it was to the point where he could anticipate it and take steps to minimize it, whereas when it orignally started it was so bad he had to pull over and stop completely before it would stop. Starting a few weeks ago it came back with a vengenance. We have determined there is a correlation between the outside temperature and the severity. We finally took it to yet another mechanic who inspected everything and discovered the track bar end with the bolt was too large. They welded some washers into the end of the bar to fix that problem. They also told us the shocks were "bad." Since they were under warranty I first called "Four Wheel Parts" and had a horrible experiencing talking with their staff at our local store (I encourage you all to avoid them at all cost). I then called the manufacturer, these were SkyJacker Hydro 7000's, and after quite a bit of back and forth I was told these shocks were meant to be super soft to the point where they can be manipulated by hand when they are off the vehicle and you should be able to push on the vehicles bumpers and get the car bouncing enough to where it continues even after you stop pushing. (I am no expert but this sounds like a bad feature to have in a 4x4 shock.) Anyways at this point I do think the shocks need to be replaced but I guess I am so tired of dumping money into this that I am hoping someone can shed some light on the subject regarding 1)if it sounds like we are on the right track, 2) if this whole things with the shocks sounds legit, and 3) what shocks would you recommend that aren't crazy expensive (at this point we are pretty much tapped out)? Ok sorry not so short and sweet but there it is. Thanks!
Ndmcg go on your computer and check out kevins off road he has an exelent write up on death wobble issues and his cure works believe me i know ive been there!
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by NDMcG View Post
Dennis what do you mean the "Sticky" on death wobble? We have had the alignment checked multiple times and replaced all the steering parts we can think of. When you say that suspension parts could cause it doesn't that include the shocks?
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http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/death-wobble-25090.html
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:28 PM   #10
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A "sticky" is a post stuck to the top of a forum. Important enough to keep from rotating down with time.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:32 PM   #11
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When he says "sticky" he is referencing the member who started the thread....Just go to the TJ forum and at the top there will be a thread about DW started by "sticky"
I posted the link ^^^^^^
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by NDMcG View Post
Dennis what do you mean the "Sticky" on death wobble? We have had the alignment checked multiple times and replaced all the steering parts we can think of. When you say that suspension parts could cause it doesn't that include the shocks?
A sticky is a post that stays one top of the forum threads...look near the top of the thread column for "death wobble". Shocks dampen the verticle movement of the suspension. Death Wobble is caused by worn parts in the horizontal plane. You said you changed the track bar. By chance did anyone observe the condition of the bolt hole on the axle end of that bar when it was changed? A new track bar will do little good if the bolt hole is wallowed out and it can move around. That's the first thing I would check.
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Old 04-18-2013, 10:41 PM   #13
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Old 04-19-2013, 12:54 AM   #14
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My brother installed the new track bar and he said the hole was in perfect condition so it got enlarged by the DW I would assume. I'll check out the sticky and the links provided. In the meantime here are some pictures of the front end as requested.
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Old 04-19-2013, 04:09 PM   #15
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I'm just guess'n here.... might as well play the game....I see ball-joints with lots of grease on the knuckle. I'd guess worn ball joints. I've seen old/hot grease run out of the joint over time and leave a dry worn-out joint. Or, I've seen a less than reputable used car lot/person pump the worn out joints full of hard grease to 'stiffen up' the joint and make it drive better; for while. Just saw this on a used Dodge Caliber--when I pried the joint to test it, it almost seperated. It just got warm...where I live.

Obviously, I'm just guessing--but it's fun.

On my LJ, it was older joints (with little or no grease) and a bad tire that had been balanced back to life. One bump and GEEZE-and-RICE we're all over the road. New tires and some grease stopped it dead. It's still there though--just hiding. New TR's and BJ's are on the way with the lift.

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Old 04-19-2013, 06:07 PM   #16
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If you have high mileage tires try replacing them. I know when my km2s are due to be replaced when I get a slight wobble after ruts/pot holes around 45mph
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Old 04-19-2013, 06:20 PM   #17
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I also had dw I replaced my tie rods ball joints stabilizer steering box control arm and 4 point alignment then still had it replaced tires and it went away and never been back I had 33/12.50/15 bfg went to 35/12.50/15 cooper stt and no worries now
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Old 04-23-2013, 04:17 AM   #18
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So just thought I would give a quick update. After reading the thread you all provided earlier I decided to start working my way through the checklist (so to speak) and went to another alignment shop. They first determined the caster angle was to high (5.xx degrees) so they installed a specially designed bolt and got the caster down to around 3. In the process it was still DWing pretty badly but was getting better. We then replaced the front brake pads and rotors (I was noticing a slight pedal flutter when applying the brakes). That really helped. Then today we replaced the rear shocks with a new set of Hydros and it seems to be gone. So after spending about $600 I don't have in the last 4 days it seems the drama may be over. Thanks for all the help!!!!
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:38 AM   #19
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5 is close to stock caster spec. Lowering that spec should of "loosened" the steering feel ??
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:02 AM   #20
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Caster spec is 5-7 degrees. With larger tires, that can be reduced, but not 3 degrees. I'm surprised you can keep it on the road.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:09 AM   #21
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Caster spec is 5-7 degrees. With larger tires, that can be reduced, but not 3 degrees. I'm surprised you can keep it on the road.
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Old 04-23-2013, 08:16 AM   #22
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So now you have caster at 3°, replaced shocks and brakes...

I'm going to guess that your DW will be back soon. Although the changes you made address some possible DW triggers, they do not address the root cause.

What have you noticed about the steering feel, with caster now at 3° ?
Twitchy? Harder to keep between the lines? Slower return-to-center?
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Old 04-24-2013, 06:54 PM   #23
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Actually it feel most stable than its felt in months. The way they explained it 5-7 is stock but with the lift you want the caster closer to 3. In addition to the brakes, alignment, and shocks we also tightened the track bar. Lynn why would you think none of these would be the root cause and cure the issue? The steering feels stable and I have not noticed any issues with responsiveness.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:13 PM   #24
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Actually it feel most stable than its felt in months. The way they explained it 5-7 is stock but with the lift you want the caster closer to 3. In addition to the brakes, alignment, and shocks we also tightened the track bar. Lynn why would you think none of these would be the root cause and cure the issue? The steering feels stable and I have not noticed any issues with responsiveness.
The one thing they did that would have made a major difference in the dw is tightening the track bar. If it was loose, that was the cause. The other things you mentioned, while maybe needed, would not cause death wobble.
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Old 04-24-2013, 08:44 PM   #25
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I don't think I would go back to a shop who tried to convince me that shocks had anything to do with DW. They are either ignorant, or more likely, decided you were a woman who would fall for it and they took advantage of that.
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Old 04-24-2013, 11:22 PM   #26
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Actually it feel most stable than its felt in months. The way they explained it 5-7 is stock but with the lift you want the caster closer to 3. In addition to the brakes, alignment, and shocks we also tightened the track bar. Lynn why would you think none of these would be the root cause and cure the issue? The steering feels stable and I have not noticed any issues with responsiveness.
Lift height does not change how much caster is required to maintain stability, straight tracking, and ability to return to center.
So, while they were "explaining" this, what was their reason for less caster being needed with the lift?
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Old 04-25-2013, 12:29 AM   #27
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I'm thinking that if you replace the "want" in that statement with "end up with" the story would make more sense.

Though I've seen plenty of stories that don't make sense no matter how you tell it.
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Old 04-25-2013, 08:50 AM   #28
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The root cause of death wobble is always going to be inadequate constraints on the axle, or how well the axle is "attached" to the frame. The attachment points are control arms and track bar. Looseness in these devices allow DW.

There can be many other triggers, but if the axle is adequately constrained the triggers will not set of DW. For example, You may feel a vibe from improperly balanced tires, but if the axle is properly constrained it will not set off DW. If there is looseness in the constraints, then improperly balanced tires can trigger DW. If you balance the tires and eliminate that trigger, you may think you have cured DW when in fact the looseness in the constraints will eventually find another trigger.
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:52 AM   #29
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The root cause of death wobble is always going to be inadequate constraints on the axle, or how well the axle is "attached" to the frame. The attachment points are control arms and track bar. Looseness in these devices allow DW.

There can be many other triggers, but if the axle is adequately constrained the triggers will not set of DW. For example, You may feel a vibe from improperly balanced tires, but if the axle is properly constrained it will not set off DW. If there is looseness in the constraints, then improperly balanced tires can trigger DW. If you balance the tires and eliminate that trigger, you may think you have cured DW when in fact the looseness in the constraints will eventually find another trigger.
Good explanation...!
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Old 04-25-2013, 09:56 AM   #30
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Trac bar was a major issue on my daughters 02. The bolt kept coming loose and actually had one break. All this happened while I was out of town. The solution I came up with was to drill out the trac bar mount and bar bushing because it was wallered out. Used a grade 8 bolt and tightened the dog sh** out of it and have not seen the problem again.

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