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Old 01-30-2014, 11:15 PM   #1
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Um, could I bother you folks for some...HELP?

I posted this on the new members page and was kindly advised to repost here. Want to say that I've been doing some reading on some of the threads and realize now how much less I know than I thought! Now I see there is a "death wobble", wonder if I have that? Then there is the 2" or 3" lift, wonder what mine is? "Sway bars"? I think maybe its those. I would truly appreciate anyone who will read about my newly acquired Jeep and offer their 2 cents.

Earlier post:
Hi, My name is Karin. I quite possibly have made a terrible mistake and a friend suggested I find a Jeep forum. Since I have a Wrangler you look perfect.

I bought my 22 yo mildly autistic son a Wrangler. He knows about it but won't see it until mid Feb. I've been told I paid the dealer too much, that with the very wide 33" tires it could be deadly if I don't get them calibrated, that the fenders are not street legal, you can imagine more. Yet a couple of Jeep loving guys (who don't own Jeeps) say this car is awesome, just need to get it looked at.

I could use any advice because, well, I'm a gal. I realize a lot of women know a lot about Jeeps, just this one doesn't. I can run a large laser for our hobby company but just don't have the luxury of time to figure my new Jeep machine out alone.

The Jeep:
'97 Wrangler Sport 4.0 6cyl manual
92,000 miles
No accidents on record
hard top, tinted windows

Biggest concern is how squirrelly it is at slow to moderate speeds. It sways back and forth as if it was on slick roads. Husband not happy I bought it (yes, I did it w/o him knowing, my bad).

I have found that we have a good tire place here that specializes in lifted vehicles and vehicles with oversized tires. I will be going there to get it looked at. I could use some advice as to what to ask, what to know before I go, etc.

One more thing...my son hasn't gotten his drivers license yet. Yes again, my bad for getting this as a starter car.

Thank you in advance...

Karin

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Old 01-30-2014, 11:19 PM   #2
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Death wobble is the shake or side to side movement you feel in your jeep, usually at highway speeds. Sway bars basically connect your frame to your axle through 'sway bar links'. If you do a google search, you will come up with a diagram showing these components as well as the components that create a 'lift'

Not sure what autism has to do with it though :P

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Old 01-30-2014, 11:22 PM   #3
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I should clarify that not all jeeps experience death wobble and it can be remedied.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:26 PM   #4
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This might help. This is death wobble. Watch the front tires of this JK.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:29 PM   #5
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A few photos of the vehicle will help a lot...

Check proper balance of the tires and wheels, check to make sure the sway bar is connected, check if there is an aftermarket sway bar setup (currie antirock), double check the track bars, check alignment, check to make sure the steering components arent shot, etc. A lot of variables could be responsible for this.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:29 PM   #6
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:30 PM   #7
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Karin, Don't freak out. The handling problem with your Jeep can be diagnosed and fixed and it is probably something simple and not too terribly expensive to fix. I suggest finding a local specialty 4x4 shop and have them test drive it and inspect all of the suspension and steering components, alignment and tire pressure. The tire shop you have in mind may be adaquate, but make sure they really understand modified Jeeps if your Jeep has a suspension lift on it.

How much of the tire tread is allowed to stick out beyond the fender flares varies state by state so it may not be an issue where you live. If absolutely necessary, you can always buy wider flares or skinnier tires if needed.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:30 PM   #8
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Death wobble is your steering wheel shimmying back and forth when you hit a bump most common at medium speeds. It is not a gentle swaying type thing. You would notice it for sure if it happened. A swaybar is on every vehicle made that I know of. It helps prevent body roll when cornering. It should still be there. I would have an alignment done to ensure your drifting isn't just not being used to a lifted jeep. You could ask them to see if the sway bar is attached while there if you know no one that knows what it is. As far as fenders most places I know of require them to cover the tire if you are looking down. For example if you looked straight down at the fender from a ladder and could see the tire it may not pass a state inspection and it can be used as an excuse to pull over people to give tickets. Like when you watch cops and they are like "oh look a broken taillight! Let's go see what's going on!" Then the guy has a pound of weed. I'm typing from my phone and can't see your post so I hope I helped some from memory. They are great vehicles. Welcome to the forum!

Edit tires don't get calibrated. If they vibrate at high speeds they need to be balanced but that's all tires not just 33"s. Not saying yours need balanced. Just re read and seen the deadly comment about 33"s. They are only deadly to squirrels.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:34 PM   #9
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That's a relief. I am confident that it isn't death wobble.

As far as the autism, he didn't learn to ride a bike until he was 15. Not because he is retarded or slow, he's actually quite smart. He has some fear (for lack of a better word) of getting behind the wheel, that he might crash. But he loves Jeeps and he needs independence. This, for me, seems like a very physical vehicle to drive as opposed to my cush automatic Honda Odyssey. Probably shouldn't have bothered mentioning it. Just seems to me NOW that maybe it shouldn't have been the car he learns on.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:42 PM   #10
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First thing to do is get out and take a few pictures under the front end (suspension parts) and post them here on the forum. If we can see what you're dealing with, it would be much easier to help. One thing you can check very easily is how much air is in the tires. Some people have a habit of severely over-inflating tires which can make the steering very squirrely. Post up what size the tires are and how much air pressure is in them.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MedfordMom View Post
That's a relief. I am confident that it isn't death wobble. As far as the autism, he didn't learn to ride a bike until he was 15. Not because he is retarded or slow, he's actually quite smart. He has some fear (for lack of a better word) of getting behind the wheel, that he might crash. But he loves Jeeps and he needs independence. This, for me, seems like a very physical vehicle to drive as opposed to my cush automatic Honda Odyssey. Probably shouldn't have bothered mentioning it. Just seems to me NOW that maybe it shouldn't have been the car he learns on.
You can make this vehicle work to your/his needs. It just needs some attention!

Best of luck, my knowledge has already shown its extent lol
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:48 PM   #12
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I'm on several model railroading forums and I gotta tell you, you guys answer fast!! Great, thank you! I have a couple picks I'll throw on here then will go back during the day and use something other than my phone camera.


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Old 01-30-2014, 11:53 PM   #13
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Take one (or more) like this too
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:55 PM   #14
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Great looking Jeep Karin. Just google "4x4 specialty" along with your city and state and I'm sure you'll find a qualified shop to check it out for you. When you pull up to the place, you'll know your in the right hands if there are a bunch of lifted jeeps and other trucks in the parking lot.
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Old 01-31-2014, 12:07 AM   #15
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As far as the tires sticking out you can check with an inspection station, some states, (like mine), have rules regarding how much of the tire needs to be covered by the fenders. If you are in such a state simply adding a larger plastic flare can make the jeep legal.
The swaying back and forth may simply be the lift itself, since it's higher it will tend to roll alot more in corners and such. (Especially depending on HOW it was lifted, which is why they are asking for pictures from underneath). As the others have said, though, a competent 4x4 shop will be able to make it right for you.
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Old 01-31-2014, 09:08 AM   #16
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As I mentioned earlier, check the air in those tires, they shouldn't be more than about 28 psi. Set them to that, and see if it drives different.
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Old 01-31-2014, 09:15 AM   #17
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I'd suggest getting the correct psi in the tires as that can affect handling to some degree.

With 33s you'll likely want around 30-31 psi. Most dealers will have them maxed out which makes them way to hard for a light wrangler.

A balance and alignment could help as well.

After that's done you'll be able rule the tires out as the issue.
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Old 01-31-2014, 09:15 AM   #18
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As I mentioned earlier, check the air in those tires, they shouldn't be more than about 28 psi. Set them to that, and see if it drives different.
Missed your post. I agree with the above.
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Old 01-31-2014, 02:58 PM   #19
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Took some photos a bit ago. Instead of putting them within this post I'm just giving the album link. Thank you for checking them out, and please be blunt
https://plus.google.com/photos/11437...63270747019377
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Old 01-31-2014, 03:50 PM   #20
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It appears to me that most all of your suspension is stock except that someone installed about 2.5" or 3" pucks on top of the springs. This is commonly called a budget boost (or BB) It doesn't look like to me that they extended the Jounce bumper cups or added bump stops, and whether or not they installed longer shocks is anyone's guess. The sway bar links also look stock. I couldn't tell from the pictures whether or not there is also a body lift. If you want to know that, snap a picture where the tub meets the frame inside a rear tire.

I'm fairly confident that at least part of you handling issue is the size (height) of the spring pucks, and the fact that they are being used with the stock suspension hardware. Another possibility is that maybe it was never aligned after being lifted.

I think you have a couple of options. Get rid of the pucks, install stock shocks, and go with closer to stock tires.

Buy and install a suspension lift kit the same height as the current pucks (most likely 3")

Here are some steps you can take in the meantime to help you figure out if something else is going on. Check the pressure in the tires. Look in your area for an alignment shop that can do an alignment for you, and check for worn parts (pay particular attention to the track bar, and tie rod ends). It probably will cost you about $50.
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Old 02-02-2014, 03:12 AM   #21
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Found a great place to take the Jeep this week. Any opinions about the fender flares, my tires extend past legal limit? How about these:
Amazon.com: Rugged Ridge 11632.10 Black ABS Plastic Stainless Hardware All-Terrain Fender Flare Kit - 6 Piece: Automotive
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:01 AM   #22
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I'm not sure, but it looks to me like the pitman arm nut is loose. I just went outside with a flashlight and looked at mine after seeing the pic,and it seems mine is snugged up a lot tighter. Please correct me if I'm wrong,because now I'm wondering if something may be wrong with my set up. Thanks guys This forum Rocks!!!
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:24 AM   #23
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I'm not sure, but it looks to me like the pitman arm nut is loose. I just went outside with a flashlight and looked at mine after seeing the pic,and it seems mine is snugged up a lot tighter. Please correct me if I'm wrong,because now I'm wondering if something may be wrong with my set up. Thanks guys This forum Rocks!!!
Pitman arm? Oh my, what is this??? If I know which part it is I'll point it out to the mechanic. I'm tellin' ya, I'm going to use words I never knew when I take it in. I'll either fool them into thinking I know my Jeep or I will be the fool.

I agree, this forum is great. You all seem to know everything about Jeeps. Wish one of you was in my neighborhood!
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:28 AM   #24
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Pitman arm? Oh my, what is this??? If I know which part it is I'll point it out to the mechanic. I'm tellin' ya, I'm going to use words I never knew when I take it in. I'll either fool them into thinking I know my Jeep or I will be the fool.

I agree, this forum is great. You all seem to know everything about Jeeps. Wish one of you was in my neighborhood!
Dont get scared yet, I could easily be wrong. Someone with a lot more knowledge will be along shortly and let us both know if it looks right. These folks on this forum are always glad to help out and they dont seem to have a problem with answering questions.
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:36 AM   #25
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I think the slightly smarter move might be to get the pucks removed and get a set of 31x10.5x15 tires which translates to tire diameter X width X rim diameter (you said you didn't know anything about cars) and some new wheels. This way you don't need to spend the money on wider flares and won't open the can of worms that is lifting a jeep. You could also sell those wheels and tires already on there, they look like they are in really nice shape. Get the pucks taken off, run the correct pressure in your tires, tighten up the front end, and get it aligned. It will be a more stable vehicle closer to the ground which might make your son feel safer.

Of course if you want to keep the larger tires then disregard this post. Good luck and let us know how it goes at the shop!
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:52 AM   #26
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Beautiful Jeep. You did god for your son. Whatever you feel now will be gone as soon as you get that handling issue resolved. The thing about Jeeps is that for even the complete novice wrench turner, in due time you will realize this vehicle is only slightly more complicated to work on than a riding lawnmower.He can do most of the maintenance himself. Could NOT do that on any other modern vehicle.

It's a beautiful Jeep that from the few pics we have here, seems very well maintained. 97 is a great year for Jeeps. Probably the best. Of all time. Ever.

Your son will be indebted to you forever. Remind him to take it easy for about a year while he learns how to drive the jeep. I take turns in my 97 a lot faster than I did on day one. My confidence in the stability is a lot better now as a long term owner as opposed to all the chicken littles saying "jeeps roll over too easy". Simply not true.
If you flip a jeep taking a turn too fast you are an idiot.

We are here for you. Where do you live so maybe some of our members can recommend a reputable shop for you
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:23 AM   #27
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Pitman arm? Oh my, what is this??? If I know which part it is I'll point it out to the mechanic. I'm tellin' ya, I'm going to use words I never knew when I take it in. I'll either fool them into thinking I know my Jeep or I will be the fool.

I agree, this forum is great. You all seem to know everything about Jeeps. Wish one of you was in my neighborhood!
There is nothing wrong with your pitman arm. First off, did you check the tire pressure as suggested? Excessive tire pressure in larger tires will make your rig feel like it is floating on the road. If your tire pressure is set at approximately 28PSI and the vehicle still feels "off" then an incorrect toe setting is your likely culprit, which can be fixed with an alignment.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:33 AM   #28
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There is nothing wrong with your pitman arm. First off, did you check the tire pressure as suggested? Excessive tire pressure in larger tires will make your rig feel like it is floating on the road. If your tire pressure is set at approximately 28PSI and the vehicle still feels "off" then an incorrect toe setting is your likely culprit, which can be fixed with an alignment.
Thank You for the answer, I was looking at the #2 pic she posted and saw that nut was a lot different looking than mine. I went out and checked under mine and it is really up there on the splines. Reckon I'll be taking mine in to have it looked at tomorrow. Mine is driving great and absolutely no issues with handling, I just want to make sure something isnt getting ready to turn loose on me.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:21 AM   #29
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Good looking Jeep. It looks like the tires are overinflated which will give you a rougher ride. I run mine around 28psi. The dealer and service shops like to inflate them to 45psi.

Tire width may or may not be an issue depending on whether local law enforcement want to make it an issue. My tires stick out past the flares about the same distance and I've never had an issue (Ohio). I like the look of the bigger tires. If I had to choose between putting the proper lift under it or going smaller tires I'd put the proper lift under it ($500?) and keep those wheels and tires instead of buying new wheels and tires ($2,500 less whatever you can get from selling the current ones).

Really just wanted to say you found a good looking Jeep and your son should be very happy with it. I'm sure the shop can get it tightened up for you.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:11 AM   #30
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As it stands, purely from a looks perspective....
I'd get fender flares that cover the tires. It will make the Jeep look a lot bigger and more "badass"
Sorry about the handling problems, and I hope you can sort them out swiftly and without breaking the bank

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