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Old 01-30-2012, 04:39 PM   #1
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DW help

So I recently purchased a 2003 TJ Sahara and decided to lift it with new wheels and tires. I went with Rubicon express 3.5" standard lift with 15" steel wheels and 33"x 12.5" AT's with 1.5" spacers. Control arms, tie rod, drag link, track bar are all stockers except for sway bar ends links. I have recently installed a sye w/ new shaft. Approximately two months had gone by since the lift and sye w/o DW. Within the past few weeks I have started experiencing play in my steering wheel (so it seems) and a bump could initiate the harmonic resonance we dub death wobble(around 45-65) mph. It eventually got to the point that braking could initiate the wobble (around 35-45 mph). Furthermore, if, when going slow, I turn very sharp I will hear a click like sound from my front end. I have retired my TJ for the time being until I properly diagnose the situation.

Today I started the investigation by checking for loose bolts, bad ball joints and bushings. The track bar bushing looked quite good for 97k miles. I have read that up-sizing the bolt for the track bar will prevent the onset of DW but is not a causing factor. What was odd is that my tie rod is able to articulate at both spindles and at its attachment to the drag link . My ball joints seemed to be in good condition but in need of grease. All the bolts were tightened down well and wouldnt be the source of any problem i dont think.

If anyone has had similar problems or has any insight let me know please I need to fix this problem before my school year truly gets going. HELP!

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Old 01-30-2012, 06:34 PM   #2
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Old 01-30-2012, 06:37 PM   #3
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Wheel bearing
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:39 PM   #4
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I would hear the bearings go up though
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:55 PM   #5
Knows a couple things...

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Originally Posted by blindside9704 View Post
So I recently purchased a 2003 TJ Sahara and decided to lift it with new wheels and tires. I went with Rubicon express 3.5" standard lift with 15" steel wheels and 33"x 12.5" AT's with 1.5" spacers. Control arms, tie rod, drag link, track bar are all stockers except for sway bar ends links. I have recently installed a sye w/ new shaft. Approximately two months had gone by since the lift and sye w/o DW. Within the past few weeks I have started experiencing play in my steering wheel (so it seems) and a bump could initiate the harmonic resonance we dub death wobble(around 45-65) mph. It eventually got to the point that braking could initiate the wobble (around 35-45 mph). Furthermore, if, when going slow, I turn very sharp I will hear a click like sound from my front end. I have retired my TJ for the time being until I properly diagnose the situation.

Today I started the investigation by checking for loose bolts, bad ball joints and bushings. The track bar bushing looked quite good for 97k miles. I have read that up-sizing the bolt for the track bar will prevent the onset of DW but is not a causing factor. What was odd is that my tie rod is able to articulate at both spindles and at its attachment to the drag link . My ball joints seemed to be in good condition but in need of grease. All the bolts were tightened down well and wouldnt be the source of any problem i dont think.

If anyone has had similar problems or has any insight let me know please I need to fix this problem before my school year truly gets going. HELP!
You've got some good thought processes going.

First, the tie rod is supposed to be able to rotate about its axis where it attaches to the tie rod ends, and where it attaches to its drag link. Perfectly normal and required.

I would have someone turn your steering wheel repeatedly back and forth with the tires on the ground while you pay close attention to the steering components. Especially look for any lateral (side-to-side) movement where the track bar bolts to the axle... there should be zero (!) side-to-side movement there. Any side-to-side slop in anything should be taken care of.

The usual cause of DW is a combination of two or more things and the most common combination guaranteed to cause DW is imperfectly balanced tires together with a loose passenger-side track bar mount. When I say "loose" track bar mount, that means any (!) side-to-side movement in the least. It should not move side-to-side even .01".

And when I say imperfectly balanced tires, I mean just that... they have to be perfectly balanced. Perhaps a wheel weight fell off or the tire jock didn't spend enough time getting your tires balanced perfectly. Many tire balance guys will say "that's good enough" and give you the Jeep back. But in the case of oversize tires with the type of suspension our TJs have, "good enough" tire balance is nowhere near good enough.

Hope those thoughts are helpful.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:35 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford
You've got some good thought processes going.

First, the tie rod is supposed to be able to rotate about its axis where it attaches to the tie rod ends, and where it attaches to its drag link. Perfectly normal and required.

I would have someone turn your steering wheel repeatedly back and forth with the tires on the ground while you pay close attention to the steering components. Especially look for any lateral (side-to-side) movement where the track bar bolts to the axle... there should be zero (!) side-to-side movement there. Any side-to-side slop in anything should be taken care of.

The usual cause of DW is a combination of two or more things and the most common combination guaranteed to cause DW is imperfectly balanced tires together with a loose passenger-side track bar mount. When I say "loose" track bar mount, that means any (!) side-to-side movement in the least. It should not move side-to-side even .01".

And when I say imperfectly balanced tires, I mean just that... they have to be perfectly balanced. Perhaps a wheel weight fell off or the tire jock didn't spend enough time getting your tires balanced perfectly. Many tire balance guys will say "that's good enough" and give you the Jeep back. But in the case of oversize tires with the type of suspension our TJs have, "good enough" tire balance is nowhere near good enough.

Hope those thoughts are helpful.
Thanks for the advice man this is my first jeep and had no idea about rotation in the tie rod. I'm going to do what you had said to diagnose the problem. I think in the end I will just install a new cross over and track bar. Thanks again I'll update the thread with my findings this afternoon.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:04 PM   #7
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I just fixed DW on my 97 tj. It's a long lonely journey and expensive. First i drilled out the track arm bush as u described, didn't work. New ball joints, no work. Finally took it to a good front end guy. Replaced sway bar bushings $35, sterring knuckle at pitman arm $50, sway bar arms $50 each.I replaced the sway bar rods because i had a set of quick disconnect type and i dont really need them. They allowed a little movement because of the pins. Then finally a lifetime front end alignment, because its a jeep.

Just remember if it seems like its at all worn replace it. Just like mentioned earlier, its not usually one thing wrong it's going to be a couple of parts that are bad. The problem didn't start from day one it happens after it wears in later years. Good luck and be thorough, don't give up.

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death wobble , shimmy , tie rod , track bar problem

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