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Old 07-06-2010, 10:47 AM   #1
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Shaking front end or death wobble

I have seen a few post on what some are calling the death wobble, and I assume they are referring to the front end shaking.
Mine started doing this at about 18,000 miles just a tad. It would usually ac cure at speeds above 50 mph and after crossing RR tracks or bridges with a bump. It started getting a little worse and at 22,000 miles I was crossing a bridge doing approx 65 mph and when I hit the transition bump, this time it shook violently. So when I got home I raised it up and started trying to find any excess play in the front end. Everything seem to be tight except there was a little bit of steering play. Anyway I decided to tighten up the steering play a bit, and either I have just been lucky so far and haven't put all the elements together to cause the shake or I have fixed it. I have put about 1,000 miles on it since I adjusted the steering play, and no wobble yet. I am knocking on wood as I type

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Old 07-06-2010, 11:28 AM   #2
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I am a relative noob to suspension problems on jeeps but I've read enough of these types of threads that the experts will want to know some specifics about your jeep such as the year, and if there are any modifications to the suspension such as lift, springs, shocks etc. So if you post that, they will get down to brass tacks sooner rather than later.

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Old 07-06-2010, 12:03 PM   #3
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Bone stock 07 2Dr jk.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by larry53 View Post
Bone stock 07 2Dr jk.
That says it all.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:36 PM   #5
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Put it this way.....if the shaking/wobble went away with anything short of bringing the Jeep to a complete stop and if your undies stayed clear of brown streaks.....it wasnt death wobble.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:39 PM   #6
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So what is this death wobble, and how is it fixed?
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:53 PM   #7
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Put it this way.....if the shaking/wobble went away with anything short of bringing the Jeep to a complete stop and if your undies stayed clear of brown streaks.....it wasn't death wobble.
with the exception of the undies comment, that is exactly what happened last time. Passing a semi. Doing about 75 and hit a small duo on a bridge. I t started shaking violently and did not stop till I slowed to approx 15 mph
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:36 PM   #8
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There is another phenomenon that folks have been describing called bump steer. Similar to DW but not as violent. Doesn't require a complete stop and a change of pants before it settles down.
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:30 PM   #9
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There is another phenomenon that folks have been describing called bump steer. Similar to DW but not as violent. Doesn't require a complete stop and a change of pants before it settles down.
That is what mine had done in the past. Normally from speeds of 50 and up I would get a shake after hitting a bump or something, and it was irritating but not that bad and no corrective action needed to be taking to stop it other then maybe letting off the gas for just a moment.
I am no real stranger to front end parts being a automotive machinist and mechanic most of my life. I have replaced a lot of front end parts before, and my first thought on this was a idler arm. Now this last time it shook so violently, I thought the whole front end was going to self destruct, and what ever was causing this was now going to leave me stranded on the HWY. Lucky after slowing down to just about a crawl, it ceased and I was on my way again, but I new now I was going to have to figure it out or take it to the dealer. And like I said, the only thing I could find that was even remotely loose was the steering play, and I would have even considered that in the acceptable range. But that being the only thing I could find, I went ahead and tightened it up a bit, and so far so good.
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:32 PM   #10
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Also may want to check your tire balance and alignment
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Old 07-06-2010, 03:59 PM   #11
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generally with stock jeeps, you get bumpsteer, not DW.

bumpsteer has numerous causes, much like death wobble, and both are often confused.

death wobble, like jk'n mentioned, is simply out of control, holy f'ing sh*t, stop the jeep, slam on the brakes type of wobble. there have been accidents and fatalities with it..hence the term.

DW is rare in stock jeeps. JK's shouldn't have any that are stock. if your stock jeep's problem is what I just described...check the track bars for damage, or slop. loose control arms, and control arm bushings are also a cause...along with way out of spec caster, a bent axle, anything really.

9 times out of 10 folks that cry DW are actually experiencing bumpsteer. it's a wobble or shimmy in the steering wheel that doesn't cause you to lose control, and leaves quickly.

with stock, and lifted jeeps, primary cause is too low of a caster angle, or too much toe in. what's going on is the exact same thing as the front wheels on a shopping buggy. the have 0 caster, therefore the wheels have trouble getting back to center after a sharp turn, at high speeds, or hitting potholes and bumps at weird angles.

an alignment shop corrects this by resetting the axle angle. with lifted vehicles, alot of folks lift the jeep, and don't get an alignment afterwards. they assume they don't need it because the jeep tracks straight. in reality...installing bigger tires increases toe in due to the new width. the tires basically start fighting each other, leading to tire wear and bumpsteer.

picture your 2 feet, toes straight ahead. you can easily walk straight. now point your toes together so each big toe touches. you now have too much "toe in". now walk. not as easy huh?

your tires do the same thing. they tend to skip and bounce hitting bumps with too much toe in.

with messed up caster, the tires can't find center, or "straight" as easily. so they hunt back and forth rapidly like the shopping cart. and like the cart, you don't lose control, but get a quick wobble or shimmy in the steering wheel.

caster and toe in aside, out of balance tires, or an overdue tire rotation are causes in stock jeeps.

sorry for the long post. I just wanted to explain a little about alignment to folks that might be confused about why shimmy or wobble occures when the suspension appears sound and tight.

my advice...rotate/balance the tires. if it still shimmies, check the alignment specs. the caster is probably off.
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Old 07-06-2010, 04:41 PM   #12
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Thanks for the info GroundHawg. If mine acts up again, I will definitely take it to an alignment shop. I did rotate my tires a while back, and I have a smooth ride at all speeds, and tire wear is very even across the tread on all four tires. So it is wait and see for me. Thanks again.
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Old 07-06-2010, 04:41 PM   #13
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Wow, great info GroundHawg!

Thanks for that. Very enlightening
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:17 PM   #14
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yinz are all welcome.

if it was indeed DW Larry, use caution after the repair. I've only seen about 3 cases of real DW personally, but all 3 were similar...

all 3 jeeps I found a loose/broken part on. 2 front trackbars and one with a busted ball joint. one of the jeeps I checked out I replaced the trackbar. few days later it returned to the shop with the same problem. this time I found a front control arm that bored itself out of the frame. so I repaired that and all was well, but strange...

fast forward...jeep #2. same thing. problem with the front TB and DW. this time though, I gave the entire suspension a close look. this jeep had not only a loose TB, but a worn bushing, and bent tie rod.

what happens is 1 component screws up. with each violent shake, it stresses everything else...thus wearing other parts out. what starts as a loose drag link, then death wobbles the track bar loose, then a couple wobbles later a bushing fails, all adding to the wobble and spreading like a disease.

this makes it difficult to get rid of it. my mistake was I found a bad part, and didn't check out everything else. 1 bad part causes a wobble, wearing out all the other parts with each event. the whole suspension falls like dominoes, and it's frustrating trying to find where the DW is hiding.

the jeeps I've cured of DW, afterwards I drive them like a mad man and try to "bring it out". drive fast, hit bumps with the wheels turned, hit a bump with only 1 tire, etc. to make sure it actually is indeed cured and not lurking, hidden away somewhere in the suspension.
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Old 07-06-2010, 06:22 PM   #15
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Thanks again GroundHawg for the heads up. If it rears its ugly head again, I am going to really look things over again. I know from the last time it shook, that it was so violent, I thought there was a chance of more damage occurring during the shaking. Like I said before, I had experience some shaking or wobble, but the last time, it was off the hook

Here is some more info I dug up for anyone else that may be interested.


Cures and Fixes for Death Wobble



As you have already found out, Death Wobble, the horrible front end vibration that starts when one wheel (usually the right) hits a bump around 40~50mph, is the worst possible downside to having a coil-sprung vehicle with a track bar setup. Vehicles affected by this design are the Jeep Cherokee XJ, the Grand Cherokee ZJ and WJ, Jeep Wrangler YJ, TJ, and JK, and also include Ford and Dodge trucks and early Ford Broncos. Death Wobble is also extremely difficult to try to diagnose, because it is actually caused by slop in the entire steering system as a whole, not by one component. To diagnose correctly, your mechanic needs to look for "play" everywhere there is something that could have "play" in it. It's time consuming, and downright dangerous while you are in "test phase", trying to exorcise this demon from your Jeep or Truck.

The thing I tell people to start with is a visual inspection. Spend 10 minutes under the front end and visually inspect each one of the steering components for shiny steel, which would be indicative of metal that's moving around when it's not supposed to be. Pay careful attention to the track bar (also called a Panhard Bar Internationally, as well as a tracbar, trackbar, and trak-bar), as it's usually the culprit in most cases. If any of your bolts are even the least bit loose, Death Wobble can manifest itself and make your life a living hell.

If everything looks to be "normal" and you've checked bolt tightness on the track bar, the next thing to do is to start with a front end alignment, making sure that caster is set correctly as well as toe-in. If you have been offroading and have bent your tie rod even slightly, it'll throw off the alignment. Plus, it's only $40 or so. DO NOT let the alignment shop talk you into a four-wheel alignment, as this is only useful on vehicles with independent rear suspension in my experience, and since there are no adjustment points in the rear of a live-axle vehicle ANYWAY, you're just paying for a service that you won't get anything out of. If you have a lifted vehicle, make sure that the alignment shop you choose knows the variant specifications for lifted vehicles, and that they do NOT set it to the "default/stock" settings. A good quality alignment shop familiar with 4x4 vehicles will know these settings, and a poor quality shop will likely tell you that it doesn't matter whether it's lifted or not...they still use the same specs. Hang up the phone and call the next shop, if so.

If you are *certain* that the front end alignment that it's set correctly and you've not replaced any other front end components recently that may have caused the oscillation to begin, I tell people the next most suspect thing is the factory front track bar. Over time, the tie rod end on the upper portion of the Panhard or track bar (some applications like the WJ Grand Cherokee, the Ford and the Dodge have a rubber bushing instead) develops "play" in it, and the same goes for the lower end, which has a rubber or polyurethane isolator bushing in it, which allows the Dreaded Death Wobble oscillation to occur.

Aftermarket trackbars generally come with urethane bushings that allow much less "play" in the way of movement than the factory rubber bushings do. The problem with most aftermarket track bars for the Jeep is that they also come with either a heim joint, Johnny joint, or tie rod end on the upper end of the bar, which works fine for a while, but wears out over time, leaving you right back where you started, with a mess in your shorts, a temporarily deaf right ear from the wife screaming, and the frustration with your entire rig in general...NOT good.

The reason why I created my Track Bar Conversion for XJs and ZJs is to eliminate that problematic (and expensive to have to replace when it wears out) joint as well as for the additional flex benefits. If you are running an XJ or ZJ with more than 3" of lift, I highly recommend you check it out. A complementary product we have found to work VERY well in getting rid of Death Wobble is our exclusive Hard-KOR brand SuperDurometer Track Bar Bushings, which are also available for the Track Bar Conversion. They are about 2x as hard as the typical polyurethane bushings that come in most aftermarket track bars, which are typically made by Daystar or Energy Suspension for the various aftermarket manufacturers. The polyurethane bushings are also one of the least expensive replacement parts in the steering components, so they make sense to try first.

Many aftermarket track bars as well as the stock track bar are completely ineffective in managing Death Wobble due to their "effective angle of operation" if you are above 3" of lift. Bear in mind that another alignment is necessary after replacing any front end components if Death Wobble still remains. Sometimes you get lucky and don't need one...but be forewarned.

The next thing to check is your steering stabilizer. I recommend replacing the stabilizer at the same time as whatever worn components that you find under the front end, as this
"combination punch" is very often more effective than the change caused by each of the parts alone, since Death Wobble shakes EVERYTHING, and loosens up OTHER components at the same time. I've found that replacing the stabilizer my itself often times doesn't eliminate death wobble directly, but that it usually helps with some additional poor handling characteristics that cause the onset of Death Wobble, such as wandering, and a new one seems to tighten up the entire steering system. I ONLY recommend the OME SD40 stabilizer or our Hard-KOR Steering Stabilizers, because it seems to be tighter and work better for stopping Death Wobble than the other stabilizer models on the market. They are also the most heavy duty that I'm aware of. This stabilizer is something that I recommend to everyone who is having trouble with Death Wobble, because it's one of the least expensive parts to replace.

Here are some other components to check over for looseness or improper movement:

Tie Rod Ends, ball joints, Track bar mounting bracket bolts, steering box bolts, and track bar ends. Another product that we've made due to a need, is our XJ Steering Box Brace for the Jeep Cherokee XJ, and our ZJ Steering Box Brace for the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ, which holds the steering gear box tightly on those two models, allowing the additional stresses of running larger-than-stock tires be directed to the frame rails, rather than to the three little bolts that hold the gear to the frame, which get loose and if they do, will snap and leave you stranded.

Another source of Death Wobble is over-inflated tires (you should have around 30psi in stock tires and far less the larger your tires are. See Boyle's Law and consider how much more volume of air you have in your 33" tires compared to stock. I run around 18psi in my 37" tires).

The last thing that I can mention that has caused Death Wobble in the past is hub bearings. If there is a little slop in them over the years and miles, they MAY indeed help to cause the oscillation as well. I mentioned them last because they are the most expensive to replace and least likely to be the root of the problem. While you have the front end apart, you should consider adding some offset upper ball joints to your Jeep if you're running a lift kit, in order to return the caster back to what a stock Jeep would be if you are running say 4" of lift or more. Be aware that on full-time 4x4 models, changing the ball joints to the offset type tends to add more vibration to the front drive shaft since you are also turning your pinion angle downward in conjunction with the caster angle improvement...you can't have one without the other, and on the full-time 4x4 models, you'll get a little vibration at highway speeds by doing so. Compared to Dreaded Death Wobble, however, this is a VERY small price to pay, lol.

Hopefully this short checklist gets you started on the right foot and helps to cure your Death Wobble.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:23 PM   #16
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I am not going to lie, this post gives me diarrhea.........I hope this never happens to me......lol

That is me shitting bricks

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Old 07-06-2010, 11:37 PM   #17
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I am not going to lie, this post gives me diarrhea.........I hope this never happens to me......lol

That is me shitting bricks

Now shorty, everybody knows that when you have diarrhea that it doesn't look like bricks, so which is it?

Most likely you will never experience the DW. Compared to the number of Jeeps out there, the percentage experiencing this is pretty low if you gauge that from the posts that you see in JK forums. At least when it is new it is less likely. If you put a suspension mod on it or larger tires, you should have the alignment looked at. And you will still be DW free. So save your bricks or the other stuff
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:50 PM   #18
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Now shorty, everybody knows that when you have diarrhea that it doesn't look like bricks, so which is it?

Most likely you will never experience the DW. Compared to the number of Jeeps out there, the percentage experiencing this is pretty low if you gauge that from the posts that you see in JK forums. At least when it is new it is less likely. If you put a suspension mod on it or larger tires, you should have the alignment looked at. And you will still be DW free. So save your bricks or the other stuff
jk'n

LOL

It's both!!!!
I want a little bit bigger tire with a 2' lift........I hope this doesn't happen sometime down the road.....
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Old 07-07-2010, 12:02 AM   #19
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I got myself into a war on an Aussie 4x4 site b/c I called what I had a death wobble & they said all I had was a steering shimmy. I really don't care what it's called it's the same thing just varies in severity & is scary
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Old 07-07-2010, 07:49 AM   #20
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jk'n

LOL

It's both!!!!
I want a little bit bigger tire with a 2' lift........I hope this doesn't happen sometime down the road.....
The general advice has been after the work is done to have a shop look at the alignment. This is a project that I am also looking at. If I do it, I'll put it into a shop that specializes in either jeeps or lifted 4X4s to have my alignment checked. GroundHawg's explanations really help you to understand the dynamics.
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Old 07-07-2010, 08:01 AM   #21
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I got myself into a war on an Aussie 4x4 site b/c I called what I had a death wobble & they said all I had was a steering shimmy. I really don't care what it's called it's the same thing just varies in severity & is scary
You may create a stir here but at least the comments will stay well meaning and light. The moderators will make sure of that as they frown on flaming.

That being said, I would consider myself a relative noob to the lift and big tire game but have read enough posts from people who I trust to know that there is a difference. When they say that after DW you may have to change your shorts because of skid marks (pun intended) and it won't stop until the jeep comes to a complete stop I get it. Besides the skid marks, another apt description is that it will shake the fillings out of your mouth. Or it can cause accidents and has caused fatalities because there is a lack of control of the jeep I get it. That is DW.

On the other hand bump steer is when a bump is hit that causes the steering to wobble but none of the above happens combine that with GroundHawg's explanation of what bump steer is it is easy to see that it is not as violent as DW. So, others will probably chime in and let you know in their own way that there is a difference, it is just the nature of forums. Hopefully most of them will be on the light side. There is a comedian in every crowd. Here on this forum we have lots of them! It is what makes this place so special and fun to hang out here.
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:07 AM   #22
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Absolutley!!!
I am waiting for my spacers for the front to come in, and alingment is on my service contract since they are messing around with lifting the front to match the back. (36' to 37') I will probably just wait on the lift and new tires. I don't think it looks bad at all with the stock tires and the new wheels...........
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:39 PM   #23
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I have fixed my 55 mph shaking!

A jeep dealer fixed my jeep (2003 wrangler sahara manual). I had a extreme shaking at 55 mph and after hitting bumps. They only replaced the steering damper and problem fixed!
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:37 PM   #24
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need some advice.

i have a 2009 unlimited wrangler with death wobbles, which have occurred about ten times. ( so scary!)
i've taken it to the dealership multiple times, and no the problem has still not been fixed. I've gotten the steering damper replaced, the trackbar replaced, the tires balanced and rotated, and the alignment done twice and i am still getting death wobbles.

the 'esp/bas' and traction light are also on. any relation to getting death wobbles?
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by QtMcShorty View Post
I am not going to lie, this post gives me diarrhea.........I hope this never happens to me......lol

That is me shitting bricks

Now I have to go and look at the picture of you and Windy to get that image out of my head!
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:19 PM   #26
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To fully understand DW you need to understand pneumatic trail, scrub radius, etc.. I have posted in several DW threads on this issue..
Bump-steer is a result of bad steering geometry as a result of lifts. Drag link and track bar should run as parallel as possible,... If not get another pitman arm or some brackets to assure parallelism.. There is also such a thing a like "roll steer" (drag link needs to pass front suspension roll center to avoid this)..

Also for the DIY Jeepers.. Be sure that all components with rubber bushing inserts (track bar, control arms.) are left loose (bolts finger tight) until wheel and tires are assembled and the Jeep is on the floor (not on the hoist with the suspension hanging free).
Now you tighten (read torque) all the affected fasteners.. This process will eliminate pre rotational stresses (torsion) and pinched bushings and inserts..Once the insert bonding shears, DW is a given..
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:26 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jk'n View Post
Now shorty, everybody knows that when you have diarrhea that it doesn't look like bricks, so which is it?

Most likely you will never experience the DW. Compared to the number of Jeeps out there, the percentage experiencing this is pretty low if you gauge that from the posts that you see in JK forums. At least when it is new it is less likely. If you put a suspension mod on it or larger tires, you should have the alignment looked at. And you will still be DW free. So save your bricks or the other stuff
I only have 31,000 miles on mine and its been doing it for the last year. its so scarry. I have to completely stop the car to get it back to normal. and as a women I feel if I take it to the dealer, they will check and say "everything looks fine" must have just been the road. wtf! wish me luck .
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:29 PM   #28
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I would say 8 out of 10 times is the trackbar bolt or bolts
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Old 08-25-2010, 04:41 PM   #29
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death wobble

may be from a dented or leaking sterring dampner this will make the frontshake jc
Quote:
Originally Posted by larry53 View Post
I have seen a few post on what some are calling the death wobble, and I assume they are referring to the front end shaking.
Mine started doing this at about 18,000 miles just a tad. It would usually ac cure at speeds above 50 mph and after crossing RR tracks or bridges with a bump. It started getting a little worse and at 22,000 miles I was crossing a bridge doing approx 65 mph and when I hit the transition bump, this time it shook violently. So when I got home I raised it up and started trying to find any excess play in the front end. Everything seem to be tight except there was a little bit of steering play. Anyway I decided to tighten up the steering play a bit, and either I have just been lucky so far and haven't put all the elements together to cause the shake or I have fixed it. I have put about 1,000 miles on it since I adjusted the steering play, and no wobble yet. I am knocking on wood as I type
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:56 PM   #30
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My Jeep is well maintained has less than 40.000 miles is a 2007 and I experienced the Death Wobble on the Highway going 65 mph with my 10 year old in the back seat. I thought we would die and take vehicles around us with us. We need Chrysler to step up and do a recall and fix their manufacture issue and reimburse their faithful consumers of the money spent to diagnose and repair an issue that is well known by Chrysler... Please call1-800-992-1997 and report your incident and demand a recall and or reimbursement to all their faithful jeep owners they are taking advantage of. Please call NHTSA and report incident 1-888-327-4236. Lets Save Live and stop being taken advantage of. The Death Wobble is not our fault for purchasing a jeep. I am appalled after looking at the internet and seeing all the Death Wobble incidents and Chrysler does nothing. Please lets save lives and demand a Recall...Miss jeep

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