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Jeep Wobbles At 40 Mph

author
Brent Mccoy
• Monday, 17 January, 2022
• 10 min read

I need help determining the source of wobble in my 08 SKU Rubicon at approximately 40MPH. Before anyone says “death wobble” it's been ruled out, and I'll explain. I've been working with a very experienced local Jeep shop and this problem has us all stumped and a bit demoralized.

wobble jeep death wrangler
(Source: www.youtube.com)

Contents

This symptom first started is when 37" Fallen Wild peak MT tires were installed. At the same time we installed Rock hard 3-piece skid plates and welded the rear bumper to the frame.

Since tire size seemed to affect the wobble, we thought axles. -Replaced the rear axles with a known good set from a loaner Jeep.

-Removed rear DS and ran in 4HI as front-wheel drive: No change. -Replaced yoke at transfer case rear output shaft: No change.

-Removed rear diff cover and axles, inspected and spun carrier/ring & pinion: Nothing notable. -Checked all ball joints, tie rod ends, replaced the front track bar.

-Brand new brake rotors front and rear and there is no pulse in the pedal. We have replaced and ruled out every rotating part on the vehicle: No change.

(Source: www.pirate4x4.com)

As you can see from the above list we have tried everything short of replacing the rearview mirror. If anyone has any suggestion(s) we are at the point of entertaining any logical(or even illogical) ideas.

Did you remove the rotor retainer clips when you installed new wheels? Possibly a bad motor mount which is felt more when the engine is working harder to run larger tires.

I had a bad shake once, and it was a front lower control arm bushing that popped out partially. Before anyone says “death wobble” it's been ruled out, and I'll explain. I've been working with a very experienced local Jeep shop and this problem has us all stumped and a bit demoralized.

This symptom first started is when 37" Fallen Wild peak MT tires were installed. At the same time we installed Rock hard 3-piece skid plates and welded the rear bumper to the frame.

Since tire size seemed to affect the wobble, we thought axles. -Replaced the rear axles with a known good set from a loaner Jeep.

jeep collage wave stuff truck willys thing fucking had wrangler cool control forward remember keep yj alive wagon jeeps rubicon
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

-Removed rear DS and ran in 4HI as front-wheel drive: No change. -Replaced yoke at transfer case rear output shaft: No change.

-Removed rear diff cover and axles, inspected and spun carrier/ring & pinion: Nothing notable. -Checked all ball joints, tie rod ends, replaced the front track bar.

-Brand new brake rotors front and rear and there is no pulse in the pedal. We have replaced and ruled out every rotating part on the vehicle: No change.

As you can see from the above list we have tried everything short of replacing the rearview mirror. If anyone has any suggestion(s) we are at the point of entertaining any logical(or even illogical) ideas.

If you’re still a Death Wobble “virgin”, count your lucky stars! You are driving down a street or even out on the open highway cruising along like usual.

jeep favorite
(Source: www.cherokeeforum.com)

(click here or go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwiv23dLhMY to see a video of a death wobble) It could have been something as simple as where the pavement changes as you cross a bridge approach or departure. We go from normal to totally out of control in a microsecond.

Other experiences may vary, though not by much** That question causes “fear” in even the best of auto repair shops. The vast majorities of them are not experienced with a Death Wobble and will have a devil of a time repairing it.

As a consumer with Death Wobble, you will be convinced the shop is incompetent before it is over. One thing you may want to ask is “have you repaired any other Wranglers with Death Wobble?” That is about the only way you will know if they are “experimenting” on yours.

Finding a shop that specializes in suspension and alignments would be your best choice. When looking for a shop, if the first thing they ask is when you had your tires balanced, just turn around and walk away.

A Death Wobble is seldom a “this is your problem” type of repair. The exception will be if your track bar end on the frame side is really worn.

(Source: www.wranglerforum.com)

The vast majority of the time, it will be a combination of several slightly worn parts adding together to cause the entire problem. Only if the Death Wobble was one of the light duty “warning” types will the alignment help.

One “trick” that will sometimes “mask” the problem will be to either add or replace the steering damper. Lifted vehicles are maybe slightly more prone to the Death Wobble.

If not, when they do it, ask them to make double sure the ball joints and all the steering ends are in very good condition, not “just OK”. (This will require a new track bar in most cases) Next will likely be the ball joints and then the steering linkage ends.

Most well-trained technicians will know how to check ball joints for wear, but the following may be new to most of them. Both visual and touch or “feel” inspections should be done to each joint (tie rod ends, drag link ends, track bar ends, ball joints, and the control arm ends… both upper and lower).

First, take a wrench and check the bolt on the axle end mount for tightness. If it is even a little loose, it is a very good idea to remove it and check the boltholes in the mount for elongation.

jeep favorite antenna muddy tried mount cb got custom
(Source: www.cherokeeforum.com)

You can also loosen the nut and watch the bolt for lateral movement as the pressure changes from one direction to the other as someone violently moves the bumper up and down to see if it moves or the steering is rocked side to side. A better way to check for this is to observe the bolt as someone moves the steering wheel back and forth loading and unloading the pressure on the track bar mount bolt.

Often, the tapered stud (on the TJ) will move in the bore of the hanging tower as well as the ball joint can be worn. Often, (on the TJ) you will want to check the torque on the nut with the cotter pin.

The stud stretches and then the tapered bore begins to wallow out. You’ll need to remove the cotter pin and torque the nut to specs.

The leverage on the tower can overcome the frame and weaken it over time. Next check the steering gear for movement on the frame and in the gearbox.

Check the control arm ends for movement. Here again, like the axle end on the track bar, make sure the mount boltholes are not elongated as well as checking for wear in the bushings.

jennifer build sport
(Source: www.cherokeeforum.com)

This will require loosening the nut(s) on the control arms as a minimum. You may want to remove the bolt to check the bore in the mounts for being tight and round… not elongated.

Note: If you do loosen the control arm nut and/or remove the bolt, put the full weight of the vehicle on the suspension BEFORE torquing the nuts. Otherwise, the bushings will be twisted out of shape when the load is reapplied and premature wear will occur.

Make sure the wheel bearings have the proper preload and then lift the front tires off the ground enough to be able to rotate the tire and wheel. Look for cupping or other abnormal wear patterns in the tire tread.

“Reading” tire wear patterns can tell you a lot about a suspension and alignment with a little experience. While the tires are up is a good time to check the ball joints for vertical wear.

This is a lot to check for, but if you don’t, expect to repeat it sooner than later. When replacing any parts, especially if you’re Jeep is lifted, if you can afford them, upgrade to the most heavy duty and adjustable you can find.

(Source: www.jeepforum.com)

The ability to adjust everything is a great benefit to “dialing in” you're steering to make your rig drive like a new one or even better. While doing your road tests it is a very good idea to remove or at least disconnect the Steering Stabilizer (damper).

The SS will often mask your true problem and make recreating a Death Wobble harder. You want to duplicate the problem, not cover it up until you’re out driving along, and it surprises you in a bad way.

You may be warned ahead of time, unless you have all of these items replaced all up front, there is a reasonable chance you will get your vehicle out of the shop “repaired and ready to go”, and the problem will persist. You normally can’t just go out and create a Death Wobble at will unless it is a severe problem.

In Grand Junction, I know of such a stretch of road where I have experienced the Death Wobble many times. With that kind of background, I can tell pretty much when a vehicle is really “repaired”, but I still will not guarantee that until most or all joints are replaced.

As you lift a Jeep, the angles on the steering and suspension change. One trick that has been learned over time is to adjust the caster a little toward the negative as the lift increases.

jeep
(Source: www.wranglerforum.com)

Doing this will also take vibration out of your front driveling when done properly. Occasionally, your toe-in/out will be “tweaked” while driving in the larger rocks or even in extreme rough conditions.

Toe-in is critical when related to Death Wobble and you want it close to perfect. I hope you never have to live through this Death Wobble problem, but if you begin lifting a rig, don’t be surprised if Death Wobble rears its ugly head after you get some miles on.

NOTE: Jerry is a Journeyman Heavy Equipment Mechanic who started as an Alignment Specialist right after 4-years in the Navy. In later years, he worked in a 4×4 shop installing suspensions and other accessories.

I used my fingers to tighten the lugs in the star pattern and then used a hand torque wrench. I would only make about 1/2 turn per lug in the star pattern until they were all torqued down.

We’ve used a completely different set of wheels and tires off another Jeep that runs smooth. We installed my wheels and tires on the other JK, and they ran smoothly.

(Source: www.wranglerforum.com)

The lift was on it when I bought it and there were no wobble issues until the 37s about 3 weeks ago. We’ve run with the Falcon through shaft stabilizer (very aggressive) and without it all together.

I installed new Teralux refundable/adjustable ball joints about 5,000 miles ago. They appear to be good and there was no sensation of wobble until the 37s, mine or another set from another SKU.

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3 www.newsleader.com - https://www.newsleader.com/story/sports/2020/02/05/tyler-zombro-spring-training-tampa-bay-rays/4666580002/
4 www.oursportscentral.com - https://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/tyler-zombro-named-bc-relief-pitcher-of-the-month/n-5513372
5 953wdae.iheart.com - https://953wdae.iheart.com/featured/home-of-the-rays/content/2020-02-25-rays-bats-awaken-bludgeon-orioles-in-sarasota/
6 themajorsleague.freeforums.net - https://themajorsleague.freeforums.net/thread/1671/tampa-rays-minor-leagues-current
7 www.novabaseballmagazine.com - https://www.novabaseballmagazine.com/news/driscoll-dealt-to-tampa-bay
8 www.tampabay.com - https://www.tampabay.com/sports/rays/2019/10/12/tampa-bay-rays-seemingly-knew-tyler-glasnow-was-tipping-pitches-but-there-wasnt-much-they-could-do/
9 www.cbssports.com - https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/players/playerpage/2068548/tyler-glasnow