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Old 09-29-2012, 08:11 PM   #1
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New guy looking for advice

Nice forum! I have been searching for answers and honestly found too much conflicting information!

Here is what we have stock 2002 Jeep 4.0L 5 speed converted to hard top.

Here is my problem. 57mph it develops a bad shimmy or shake however you want to word it. Same thing happens when crossing railroad tracks at virtually any speed. Goes away by slowing down below 55 or speeding up to 60 or more.

This also happened a few years ago and we did the basic, tire pressure, replaced all 4 stabilizer struts, balance and rotate problem continued. Purchased new tires problem went away until now. We are due for tires again soon, but would like to go larger 33" maybe.

So here is what we would like to do. 3" lift, replace all bushings under the vehicle, we bought it with 60k miles on it and now have 130k miles. Possibly all original suspension components? Thing rides horrible but the wife claims she likes it? Its in great shape and has cost us nothing other than regular maintenance, it's a daily driver that rarely goes off road. I have the tools and shop needed to perform any suspension work as needed.

Let the suggestions fly please. However we are not up on all the jeep lingo so refrain from acronyms. I know TB is track bar but that is the extent of my limited knowledge.

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Old 09-29-2012, 08:32 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Bullseye, at least you're in good company with your problem.

Exactly how bad is that shimmy? It almost sounds like the notorious Death Wobble but that you can accelerate up and out of it pretty nearly eliminates Death Wobble as a possibility. True DW can be so bad you'll believe your Jeep is out of control and others around you will get out of your way. True DW can't normally be accelerated out of and to stop it, you pretty much have to come to a full or near-full stop.

The first thing I'd do is this... with the tires firmly on the ground, have a helper turn the steering wheel back & forth repeatedly (engine can be running to help the helper) while you look at the front-end for unwanted side-to-side movement.

The track bar's passenger-side mounting point is where I'd first look to see if there is ANY side-to-side movement... there should be zero side-to-side play at that point. A trackbar that can move side-to-side can cause or at least allow a lot of problems including Death Wobble to develop. You can identify the track bar from the below photo.

Most of the items in the front end do allow rotational movement... i.e. many items including the driver's side of the track bar, both ends of the tie rod, and the drag link are connected via ball joints. Ball joints allow the joint to rotate, you can twist them by hand, but ball joints should not allow any side-to-side movement or side-to-side slop.

Look at everything for unwanted movement... control arm bushings, shocks, ball joints, etc. but especially the drag link, track bar, and tie rod ball joints or where they are mounted.

Finally, are your tires perfectly (!) balanced? Imperfectly balanced tires are a common cause of speed-sensitive shimmies and wobble. In fact, imperfectly balanced tires can serve as a trigger for Death Wobble which only needs something like the track bar to be loose to allow the DW to fully develop once triggered. A tight front-end will cancel out/not allow DW to develop after a trigger like imperfectly balanced tires or a bump in the road has initiated the DW cycle.

Finally, when is the last time you had your toe-in checked and set? Improper toe-in can encourage problems like DW.

This isn't meant to be a total answer but it should at least start the process and get the conversations going. Good luck with it.
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Old 09-29-2012, 08:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for the ideas, alingment was checked with new tires 4 years ago. I have crawled under it and checked for loose suspension components and ball joints, that is how I found the sway bay links all rattling! I will crawl under it tomorrow and check again. I saw the toe in check post and will do that as well. As far as the tires being perfectly balanced? That is what the tire shop claims?

The wobble feels like all four wheels lost their lug nuts!

Looks like I have something to tomorrow now!
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:32 PM   #4
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Just spent the last couple months chasing similar scenario. Started after new shocks. Experienced the "death wobble" on 3 occasions; washboard asphalt 2x and railroad track 1x. Understand the name now! Ended up going to Kevin's offroad website and researched. I now have replaced tie-rod ends (precautionary), new track bar with harder bushings on axle end, front end aligned ( 1st before upgrades without resolve and again after additions), tires balanced and rotated, and new steering stabilizer. Kevin's Offroad has excellent description and fix suggestions. One thing I would like to emphasize is that I nor any of the helpful mechanics could see any "slack" in the track bar. Only after it was removed could we see the wear on the back of the bushing! Also (after replacing track bar), we were able to re-center the front axle which was off to passenger side @1/16 in. Hope this helps give you some direction. I took expensive route with a little overkill, but no more death wobble! I now have confidence in driving safely again! Good luck.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:00 AM   #5
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mine would shake something terrible between 57-60 mph-anything above/below that it was fine. mine was tires out of balance. take it somewhere they spin balance(not the old bubble type) and let the guy know what it's doing(maybe he will be more precise) did this last summer and it's been fine ever since.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:41 AM   #6
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mine would shake something terrible between 57-60 mph-anything above/below that it was fine. mine was tires out of balance. take it somewhere they spin balance(not the old bubble type) and let the guy know what it's doing(maybe he will be more precise) did this last summer and it's been fine ever since.
I didn't think they even have bubble balancer anymore, good times.. OP, do as JerryBransford suggested. I would get the tire rebalanced at a 4x4 that can also do a quick front end check for you. You definitely need to fix your current setup before thinking about a lift and 33s, which could enhance your issues. I would also recommend adding a 1.25" bodylift with the 3"lift for 33s.
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #7
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Update after visual inspection: The correct milage is 120k. No shinny spots on any suspension components, however a lot of rust which is not unexpected for a Wisconsin vehicle, nothing feels loose even with applied pressure. Only item that was maybe suspect would be the upper control arms at the axle they look like they are not centered on the mount (they look high) and have more play than other components.

With the front axle on jack stands there is about 1/2" of play (at the tire) in the steering box. Meaning the tire would move left to right 1/2" freely before solid engagement at the steering box. I can rotate the drag link and tie rod by hand but no apparent side to side movement.

Only notable issue would be cupping on both the inside and outside of both front tires. Wife says there were rotated in July, technician informed her of the cupping at that time and criss cross rotated the tires. The rear tires (formerly front) feel fine now. It has been a long time since shop class but isn't cupping caused by bad shocks or imbalanced tire?

There is a local 4X4 shop that maybe I will run this down to and have them check it out tomorrow. Otherwise maybe trade it in? Are the newer Wranglers better riding?
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:45 AM   #8
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Those worn upper control arm bushings can definitely allow shimmy to develop far more easily. And yep cupped tires are usualy caused by tire imbalance and/or bad shocks... bad toe-in can make it worse. Make sure your toe-in is where it should be.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:36 PM   #9
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Well, took the TJ to a local 4X4 shop and they drove and inspected it and say it needs a new track bar and steering stabilizer. I was skeptical but they are the professionals in this area not me. $400 installed and guaranteed to resolve my problem.

They have been in business in this area for a long time so they should be trust worthy. I will post an update when I pick it up later today.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:51 PM   #10
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A new steering stabilizer is never (!) the fix for that type of problem. A new steering stabilizer can serve to temporarily mask such symptoms but that's it. Installing a new stabilizer to cure shimmy is like placing a band-aid over a skin cancer which will hide but not cure the cancer.

And usually, when the problem has to do with a track bar that is moving where it shouldn't be, the usual course of action is to replace the bad/worn bushing in the track bar that is allowing the movement... not to replace the entire track bar.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:56 PM   #11
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Also installing a new track bar Jerry. If they had told me steering stabilizer only I would have walked away!
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Welcome to the forum Bullseye, at least you're in good company with your problem.

Exactly how bad is that shimmy? It almost sounds like the notorious Death Wobble but that you can accelerate up and out of it pretty nearly eliminates Death Wobble as a possibility. True DW can be so bad you'll believe your Jeep is out of control and others around you will get out of your way. True DW can't normally be accelerated out of and to stop it, you pretty much have to come to a full or near-full stop.

The first thing I'd do is this... with the tires firmly on the ground, have a helper turn the steering wheel back & forth repeatedly (engine can be running to help the helper) while you look at the front-end for unwanted side-to-side movement.

The track bar's passenger-side mounting point is where I'd first look to see if there is ANY side-to-side movement... there should be zero side-to-side play at that point. A trackbar that can move side-to-side can cause or at least allow a lot of problems including Death Wobble to develop. You can identify the track bar from the below photo.

Most of the items in the front end do allow rotational movement... i.e. many items including the driver's side of the track bar, both ends of the tie rod, and the drag link are connected via ball joints. Ball joints allow the joint to rotate, you can twist them by hand, but ball joints should not allow any side-to-side movement or side-to-side slop.

Look at everything for unwanted movement... control arm bushings, shocks, ball joints, etc. but especially the drag link, track bar, and tie rod ball joints or where they are mounted.

Finally, are your tires perfectly (!) balanced? Imperfectly balanced tires are a common cause of speed-sensitive shimmies and wobble. In fact, imperfectly balanced tires can serve as a trigger for Death Wobble which only needs something like the track bar to be loose to allow the DW to fully develop once triggered. A tight front-end will cancel out/not allow DW to develop after a trigger like imperfectly balanced tires or a bump in the road has initiated the DW cycle.

Finally, when is the last time you had your toe-in checked and set? Improper toe-in can encourage problems like DW.

This isn't meant to be a total answer but it should at least start the process and get the conversations going. Good luck with it.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:30 PM   #13
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A new steering stabilizer is never (!) the fix for that type of problem. A new steering stabilizer can serve to temporarily mask such symptoms but that's it. Installing a new stabilizer to cure shimmy is like placing a band-aid over a skin cancer which will hide but not cure the cancer.
While I agree with this, there is (or was) a TSB from Chrysler for extreme shimmy (DW) and the factory authorized fix for dealers to perform is to replace the steering damper....
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:47 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
A new steering stabilizer is never (!) the fix for that type of problem. A new steering stabilizer can serve to temporarily mask such symptoms but that's it. Installing a new stabilizer to cure shimmy is like placing a band-aid over a skin cancer which will hide but not cure the cancer.
Quote:
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While I agree with this, there is (or was) a TSB from Chrysler for extreme shimmy (DW) and the factory authorized fix for dealers to perform is to replace the steering damper....
Yep. Because it was a cheap way to address the problem, and remove their liability from the problem.
Gotta remember, dealerships don't make money by going the expensive route, when a cheaper one will show the same results - for a while.

EDIT: This point has been discussed several times on the forum(s). And I just noticed how OLD this thread is
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Patrick H View Post
While I agree with this, there is (or was) a TSB from Chrysler for extreme shimmy (DW) and the factory authorized fix for dealers to perform is to replace the steering damper....
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeee2002 View Post
Yep. Because it was a cheap way to address the problem, and remove their liability from the problem.
Gotta remember, dealerships don't make money by going the expensive route, when a cheaper one will show the same results - for a while.

EDIT: This point has been discussed several times on the forum(s). And I just noticed how OLD this thread is
X2. And once again (!), replacing the steering stabilizer is not a permanent fix for DW despite what some think or hope for. At best, a new steering stabilizer may temporarily suppress the symptoms of DW... but it will not actually provide a long-term cure DW by resolving the root causes of DW.

Trying to cure DW by replacing the steering stabilizer is like trying to cure a Melanoma skin cancer by placing a band-aid over the top of it so you can't see it. Both may temporarily make you forget about the problem but neither problem was cured by what was done... both will come back to get you.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:11 PM   #16
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X2. And once again (!), replacing the steering stabilizer is not a permanent fix for DW despite what some think or hope for. At best, a new steering stabilizer may temporarily suppress the symptoms of DW... but it will not actually provide a long-term cure DW by resolving the root causes of DW.

Trying to cure DW by replacing the steering stabilizer is like trying to cure a Melanoma skin cancer by placing a band-aid over the top of it so you can't see it.
Jerry has been spreading this truth since the days of the old Jeep-L and Jeeptech mailing lists. Very good advice, one which has served me well over the years.

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