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Are Death Wobbles Common

author
Maria Johnson
• Saturday, 21 November, 2020
• 9 min read

Death Wobble is an uncontrollable, violent shaking of your entire Jeep. Personally, I have never experienced it behind the wheel of my own Jeep, but I have been in the passenger seat of Eric's while it has happened, and it ain't pleasant.

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(Source: www.fourwheeler.com)

Contents

DW can happen to any vehicle with a solid front axle but, with that being said, if you recently upgraded or tinkered with your suspension or steering linkage, you are more likely to experience it over a stock Jeep. It typically occurs at speeds of 40 mph or over and hitting bumps, potholes, driving on uneven terrain, etc can trigger it.

Usually DW is caused my loose, damaged or broken steering components or improperly installed suspension parts. There are fairly easy diagnoses and solutions for fixing and preventing death wobble; none of which involve a steering stabilizer so erase that from your memory asap.

In fact, steering stabilizers only aid in masking the problem and could potentially cause more issues down the road. Your front track bar, tie rod, ball joints and wheel bearings are usually the culprits behind DW and should be checked for wear, damage or missing components.

Check out the Death Wobble Recreation video from Rare Parts Inc. With the motor off but the key in the “on” position, move the steering wheel back and forth.

We have had great experiences with the Rock Trawler, Teralux and Synergy track bars. Again, Rock Trawler, Teralux and Synergy make some beefy AF replacements and upgrades for tie rod.

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(Source: www.davidreviews.tv)

The next step if everything looks fine with your track bar and tie road, is to check the ball joints. The ball joints are enveloped in a rubber boot filled with lubricating grease.

If the visual assessment isn't enough, you can jack the jeep up and use a pry bar to push against the tire. We have had great luck and reviews of the Teralux and Dynamic HD ball joints.

* Before bringing your Jeep in for an alignment, it's always a good idea to check on your control arms while you're already under your front end. Once everything has been assessed on your front end, it's a good idea to bring your Jeep in for an alignment.

By doing so, you can correct or re-align the angles of your tires, which will affect how they make contact with road surfaces. An alignment will also help recenter your suspension components for a smoother, straighter, more responsive ride.

When lifting your Jeep, one of the main differences you notice, besides the height, is the steering. Check your caster angles at an alignment shop; 4.5-5 degrees is what it should be set to.

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(Source: www.wranglerforum.com)

If you have a lift of 3.5” or higher, normally doing an over-the-knuckle high steer kit and raised track bar bracket (drag link flip) will alleviate the issues. Death wobble is a blanket term that is often used to describe a series of sudden and violent frontend vibrations exhibited by some solid axle suspensions.

Death wobble, if ignored, can lead to serious damage to other components and even loss of vehicle control. It is important to understand that there is no one problem that causes death wobble, but rather any combination of things, such as tire balance, loose hardware, damaged components, bad alignment, and improper installation of parts.

All of these things can conspire together and start a domino effect that could ultimately lead to death wobble. Next, crawl under the front of the rig and check for any obvious loose bolts, fresh rust, and wallowed-out holes, especially on the track bar bracket.

If your truck is vibrating a little all the time, being slightly annoying, this is NOT Death Wobble. When Death Wobble happens, your heart rate elevates, you are afraid, and it is very intense.

I have experienced Death Wobble in many vehicles, from a brand new Dodge Ram, to a 1964 Lincoln Continental. It's normal reason for happening, on most vehicles, is when suspension and steering parts are very worn out.

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On these Dodge Rams, even when the truck is almost brand new, poorly designed parts are also big players. We'll do our best to steer you straight here, in regard to the Dodge Rams, and what is going on with Death Wobble(DW from here on out).

Most common causes of Death Wobble, on the Dodge Ram platform, in order of importance. Installing 2 piece soft Polyurethane bushings in the stock track bar is no help, and can almost end up performing worse, after the first week of driving.

To clarify the track bar's importance, if you remove the track bar, you can't even get out of your driveway. If the track bar is allowed to compress and extend, the truck can basically steer itself when you encounter forces at the wheel, which can turn into DW oscillations.

This is why death -gripping your steering wheel when you get DW, almost makes it worse, as you are HELPING the truck have a mind of its own. This starts the oscillation, as the quick turn force kick makes tire quickly skid sideways(yes white tire smoke is normal when DW happens), then it bounces back the other way.

2013+ Ram “radius arm platform” track bar notes. The bends have been relaxed, so the bar is less “springy”, and the rubber bushings have been improved by having less deflection.

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(Source: ridermagazine.com)

Still, with std rubber torsion bushings, it's only a matter of time before they do go soft or fail. I estimate that approximately around 20,000 miles, you will want to plan on upgrading the front track bar, especially if having increased suspension travel and a bit of lift.

I felt all it really did was help to keep the steering wheel from being jerked out of your hands, and that was its main purpose. I changed my thinking, when I started specializing in these very heavy Diesel trucks over a decade ago.

A good steering damper can kill the opposing caster forces, before they really begin to amplify, and get overpowering. I feel the steering damper MUST be on the axle direct mounted to the tie rod.

There are a lot of trusted brands out there producing steering dampers, but they are often very lacking, in actual effectiveness. This OEM damper being actually good, makes it a common unknowing mistake to try and upgrade the steering damper, so you throw on a Einstein 5100 thinking you are, but you are generally making the integrity of the front end/handling worse.

This IFP is creating a separate air reservoir, which is MANDATORY on a steering damper. If you are running less than 100psi in your high end IFP steering damper, it is basically doing nothing for you.

david magician
(Source: www.davidreviews.tv)

In regard to steering dampers, the best units will always use a design, with an actual solid bearing on the end. Then last straw you throw on good Too Tires or something, and the truck handles better than ever and the DW is LONG GONE.

If I had to choose a tire brand to run, Too is hands down #1, and I would say Nitro #2. My thinking is that the stored force when you hit a bump, with some tires like BFG's, can recoil and over-ride the front end/steering damper/ etc.

Again, just my guess, as it seems to always be more “square” profile tires, which in regard to design could kick harder, as the more straight sidewall would snap back with more force to the ground. Believe it or not, things like the front end alignment, tie rod ends being a little loose, gearbox a little sloppy, and ball joints with a little vertical play, really don't play that big of a part in DW.

The handling may feel better, and maybe even stop DW for a week or so, but it's still hovering right below the surface. Collectively many small issues CAN add up to the cause of DW, but simply adjusting the alignment, one loose ball joint, or one loose tie rod end alone, is not the cause.

Have been reading about it on google, and it seems pretty dangerous am I getting a 2010 sport, so just thought I would ask you guys how common it is or if it has ever happened to you Keep up on your maintenance and inspect your suspension joints for play at every oil change and after every off-road trip.

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(Source: www.davidreviews.tv)

Replace anything that's loose, and you shouldn't ever have a DW issue. It's almost unheard of in a stock jeep and relates to poor maintenance or improperly installed aftermarket components.

No more than a handful of folks out of the thousands on this forum have experienced it. This past Friday night was awful...

I have a 2007 Sahara, the death wobble happened to me about a year ago. When I had the stabilizer bar fixed I was told it the part has since been upgraded on newer models, you might be ok with a 2010.

I have a 2007 Sahara, the death wobble happened to me about a year ago. When I had the stabilizer bar fixed I was told it the part has since been upgraded on newer models, you might be ok with a 2010.

Read posts #1 and #2 of the sticky at the top of the JK section that has my DW thread. The steering stabilizer did not fix the source of the problem. Because it isn't fixer, your new steering stabilizer will fail eventually.

Could someone please post a video of how a common death wobble looks likened an exaggerated one Death wobble is violent enough that it damages components if not immediately fixed, and it requires coming almost to a complete stop in your rig to stop the suspension/steering oscillation.

Speed dependent wobbles that you can drive out of by going faster are almost always wheel/tire related (balancing, bent wheel, etc. Had to drop to around 80 km/hr (50mph) to stop them (have Rubicon Express 3 in springs netting about 2.75in lift on the front). After checking everything twice it was decided the cause was low caster, sitting at about 3.6 degrees (basically a speed wobble).

Have since increased caster by installing AEV control arm drop brackets. Had to drop to around 80 km/hr (50mph) to stop them (have Rubicon Express 3 in springs netting about 2.75in lift on the front). After checking everything twice it was decided the cause was low caster, sitting at about 3.6 degrees (basically a speed wobble).

Have been reading about it on google, and it seems pretty dangerous am I getting a 2010 sport, so just thought I would ask you guys how common it is or if it has ever happened to you There has been multiple posts of people asking about DW recently, huh--weird.

There has been multiple posts of people asking about DW recently, huh--weird. I have owned 4 Jeeps and never had it happen BUT, I had a 1973 Ford F250 with their patented Ford I Beam front suspension that only did it at 45 mph when making a right turn (like freeway off ramp) but would violently shake the front end till you came to a stop.

It's some kind of gyro-physics thing that could happen in a Mazda. The bigger the wheels and tires (in my experience) the more likely and radical.

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