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Old 01-07-2013, 10:04 AM   #1
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New TJ Owner - Tire Questions

Hey all, new TJ owner here. I recently bought a 2004 Jeep Wrangler SE with 35k miles on it. Very clean and runs great, but I am battling the Death Wobble issue. I know there are a myriad of things that can cause this, so I will just have to go through the process. However, I think the timing is right for me to replace the tires.

The left front tire has a leak and won't hold air for very long. I remember the previous owner telling me he had put fix-a-flat in the tire to stop the leak but obviously not working. I don't believe a tire can be plugged after putting that stuff in there, so I want to replace that one. The spare tire that is currently on there is a dummy tire. It's not a full sized tire. I want to replace that with one my other 3 good tires. After that I want to get a good balancing and make sure the alignment is correct. The tires that are currently on there are 31 X 10.5 X 15s. They are BFG A/T. I like the price and look of these tires, but am unsure if the size, brand, or any other aspect could be contributing to the Death Wobble. I believe they are about $138 at Sams, Discount Tire, and Sears. These would be my most likely retailers that I'll use. Anyway, just looking for advice from those more knowledgeable, and if by chance anyone knows a really good Jeep Wrangler front end person in the Houston area (Springbranch specifically) feel free to drop a recommendation. Thanks for any feedback offered.

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Old 01-07-2013, 10:14 AM   #2
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If you have BFG's on there it isn't the brand that is causing your problem. It may be something else to do with the tires but BFG are a highly respected tire world wide.

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Old 01-07-2013, 10:33 AM   #3
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If you have BFG's on there it isn't the brand that is causing your problem. It may be something else to do with the tires but BFG are a highly respected tire world wide.
Thanks GC - that's sort of what I was interested in knowing. Just double checking that those tires and/or size of tires should be avoided.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:36 AM   #4
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First thing I would do is crawl under the front end of your Jeep and feel and watch each end of each suspension component while someone else turns the steering wheel back and forth slightly. Pay particular attention to the track bar, tie rod, and drag link ends. If the Jeep has been lifted check the toe in on your front tires.

There is a difference between a shimmy and dw. Death wobble makes it feel like there is a loss of control and, it is not really caused by tires, but by alignment issues. That is not to say that badly mismatched tires cannot help initiate it. Much like hitting a pot hole can initiate dw; it's not the pot hole that's causing it, it just sets it off.

If you are just talking about a shimmy, it very well could be out of balance tires.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:08 AM   #5
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That fix-a-flat could be throwing that tire way out of balance. One way to check for free is to rotate your tires and then if the problem moves, ya know its tire related.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:28 AM   #6
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First thing I would do is crawl under the front end of your Jeep and feel and watch each end of each suspension component while someone else turns the steering wheel back and forth slightly. Pay particular attention to the track bar, tie rod, and drag link ends. If the Jeep has been lifted check the toe in on your front tires.

There is a difference between a shimmy and dw. Death wobble makes it feel like there is a loss of control and, it is not really caused by tires, but by alignment issues. That is not to say that badly mismatched tires cannot help initiate it. Much like hitting a pot hole can initiate dw; it's not the pot hole that's causing it, it just sets it off.

If you are just talking about a shimmy, it very well could be out of balance tires.
Water Dog, good advice and I will give that a shot. I'd be more comortable with a professional doing this as I'm not the most mechanically inclined, but it certainly wouldn't hurt for me to give it a shot. It would be great to find a mechanic here in Houston who is at least familiar with what to look for. I really don't want to go to the dealer (i.e. your tires are oversized, we can't help you find the problem).

I started by getting the tires rotated and balanced. This was at Discount Tire. I did not notice any difference. I then took it to my normal mechanic who simply started by replacing the steering stablizer shock. Although I think it made it a little better, I don't think it made much difference. The wobble I'm having seems to show up in the 45 to 50 range and it really seems to do it more when there is less power. What I mean by that is if I try to go through that speed with low rpms (i.e. coasting on on decel, or low rpms on accel) I will get the wobble. Giving more power on accel will get me out of wobble. Braking harder on decel will get me out of the wobble. If that makes sense. Thanks again for the help.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:31 AM   #7
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That fix-a-flat could be throwing that tire way out of balance. One way to check for free is to rotate your tires and then if the problem moves, ya know its tire related.
Dextreme I'm really hoping it's that simple. I'm pretty dedicated to getting all new tires, and that will likely happen today, so I will know soon enough if that made any difference. After that, I'll just start going more into the suspension. I'm not sure if this thing has been aligned though. After they replaced the steering stablizer, they wanted to move onto the traction bar, but were holding off on the alignment until after I believe.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:37 AM   #8
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Assuming you have read on DW, tires out of balance are not a cause of DW. Tires out of balance usually result in a steering shimmy/wobble at around 45-55 mph but will go away above and below that speed. DW is violent, will make you crap you pants and will not go away till you stop.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:42 AM   #9
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Have you read this?:
Yucca-Man: Death Wobble

I agree with the guys above, likely not a tire issue, the BFG's are generally great tires (I run em on my work trucks as well as the jeep) never any issues.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:51 AM   #10
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Not casting stones or saying any one else is wrong.

I have had 3 sets of BFG's 31"s on my '04 TJ. I did have an issue ONE TIME after a rotation/ balancing. From the pictures/ videos I have seen, IMO it was DW and was always brought on by hitting a "bump" or "uneven road surface". Went back to the tire shop and had them re - balance. It went away. In over 160K miles that is the only issue I have had with BFG tires.....and averaged about 50K per set of tires.

I went to the Duratracs and like them even more than the BFGs that I have had...will have too see how long they last tread wise.

Wish you were closer have 5 Stock Raven Rims with plenty of tread left on the BFGs...just wanted 33"s...and around here everyone wants to go bigger.

Good Luck!!
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:59 AM   #11
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I have experienced DW in a 35' dually bucket truck, at 35mph and crapping your pants doesn't begin to describe it! Tires are not the problem. Like others look for loose suspension parts, bad(leaking, crushed) bushings.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:55 PM   #12
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Thanks all for advice.

Shark_13 I have read that and that is what I will refer to if the new tires/balance/align do nothing.

The shaking/wobbling/DW is pretty violent. I've just gotten pretty good at managing it with speed/power. I still will get in certain situations where it will occur. Once I feel it start I can get it out of it pretty quick, but if I don't get out of it quick it gets pretty violent and takes longer for it to stop.

In any case, I need at least 2two new tires no matter what, so I'm going to replace all four. It will get balanced and aligned and then I'll take it from there I guess. We'll see. I just hope they balance and align the dang thing correctly so that I can start eliminating what is and isn't needed. There always seems to be the question of whether this shimmy,shake, wobble is a true DW. I'm still not 100% sure it's true DW but it sure seems like it. In which case, I may well still have this problem after my tire replacement.

Will report back. Again thanks for all the advice.
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:11 PM   #13
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Ok, so I now have 4 new tires on. The exact same brand and size. I will reserve final judgement until further testing, but as of now I'm leaning towards problem solved. I just drove at the offending speed for a good distance and not once felt the wobbling begin. It certainly feels much better. Another intersting point on these tires, is that they were made in 2004. Apparently the original owner swapped it out very early on. There was plenty of tread left (36,733 miles on Jeep) but you could tell they were cracking from age. I will report back if I incur further wobbling and shaking. Thanks again.
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:57 PM   #14
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Had pretty bad DW on an 06 TJ X, 40,000 miles. Starting reading the Forum. But my Jeep also had an annoying slight pulsing of the brake pedal at lower speeds just before it stopped (original brakes). Bugged me enough to work this issue first, so I replaced the front rotors and pads. To my surprise, the new rotors also fixed the DW. Haven't seen that mentioned in a post. Probably wouldn't have believed it if I read it. Been several thousand miles and still not a quiver.

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