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 So, as the title says, I had my first experience with the dreaded death wobble early this morning on my way home from work. I was on a rough city street that I've driven many times. Running about 40-45mph and hit a really rough patch then the front end went bat sh*t crazy. I tapped the brakes and slowed her down to about 20 and it stopped. Made it the rest of the way home with no issue.

 Been doing some searching as to the cause and it seems there are multiple reasons as to why it did this. Most seem to point to the trackbar and/or the bushing. I have checked the tierod end of the bar before and it seemed tight. I'll have to check again to be sure. 

 Any other advise here? Anyone else have experience with a diagnosis?

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On my TJ it was the track bar and a new one solved the issue. 

 

Before spending the money I did go over everything and couldn't find anything loose, which is why I presumed it was the trackbar bushing. 

 

Many things can cause it thou. 

 

Do you run BFG AT's? They are the only tire I recall hearing that can contribute to DW. 

Edited by AH64ID
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38 minutes ago, Doubletrouble said:

Been doing some searching as to the cause and it seems there are multiple reasons as to why it did this.

 

Death wobble can be hard to diagnose because there can be many causes and because the right conditions must be present to make it occur.

 

Some things that I would be looking at....

 

Do you have oversize tires and wheels?  Heavy rotating masses can enhance the triggering of death wobble.

Has the truck been lifted?

Are tires worn evenly?

 

Every steering linkage joint and every suspension linkage joint should be inspected for looseness including shock absorber mounts and shock absorber condition.  Sometimes minor play or wear on multiple components can trigger the event.

 

- John

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I went thru it about 6 years ago. My only time experiencing it and it will open your  eyes. Mine shook so  bad it emptied the door pockets and scared the bajeebas out me. My tires were old, 265 75 16's, so between replacing them and my track bar the problem has never come back.

Edited by dripley
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@Tractorman, my tires are stick size (265/85/16 I think) and no lift. Truck is mainly stock as delivered. She does have nearly 150K on her so I imagine things are beginning to wear out. I'll check all the steering linkage and track bar for wear or slop and see what I find.

 

 

@dripley, your right. The first time is does scare the living crap out of ya.

 Shook my phone out if the little cubby and spilled some of my soda in the cup holder.

 I have seen poly bushing kits for these trucks, any pros or cons to those? Just curious.

Also, tires are wearing evenly, they were new when I got the truck, might have about 12K on them now. Cooper tires, highway tread. Don't remember the name on them other than cooper.

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If the tires are wearing evenly then it's likely not ball joints. 

 

Take a good look at steering and tie rod for play. I am sure there are youtube videos of where to apply leverage to check for movement. 

 

On my 05 I did replace the OEM track bar bushings from mevotech when I did the steering. I don't think they were poly, but not 100%. 

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2 hours ago, dripley said:

My tires were old, 265 75 16's, so between replacing them and my track bar the problem has never come back.

 

Just curious - did you find an obvious cause for the death wobble when you inspected and replaced those items?  Or, was it more that they just looked like they needed replacement, so you replaced them?  Just wondering because for many the death wobble has been hard to figure out.

 

@Doubletrouble, be sure to let us know what you figure out.

 

So far I have been fortunate and have never experienced the death wobble and I know that I am not exempt from it occurring to me.

 

- John

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53 minutes ago, Tractorman said:

Just curious - did you find an obvious cause for the death wobble when you inspected and replaced those items?  Or, was it more that they just looked like they needed replacement, so you replaced them?  Just wondering because for many the death wobble has been hard to figure out

The tires were near replacement anyway and the DW just happened out of the blue. Always happened on the same highway and the same expansion coming off of the same bridge in Mobile Al. Figured since they were worn replacement was coming soon so I did. It did stop it but I did notice play in the track and replaced it also and have never had it return.

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4 minutes ago, dripley said:

Always happened on the same highway and the same expansion coming off of the same bridge in Mobile Al

 

Sounds like a faulty bridge to me.  

 

That was an attempt at humor.  Actually, it seems that your solution was a good one.

 

- John

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I would check your toe in, they need some, about 1/8". 

 

Picture of my 285/75x16 tires with only 4/32's tread left, all original front end parts, 350K miles. Still has a good wear pattern for a 4x4 with a slight edge wear. I rotate about every 6-7k miles. I haul heavy, mostly off highway so I am hard on tires, about 28k on these.

 

 

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If you have a factory track bar I bet it's shot. Hard to check it by yourself, need to start the truck and have someone wobble steering wheel back and forth while you look at the end with a stupid ball joint. With the truck weight basically resting on that joint it will feel tight if you just went under the truck and pulled on it. I would highly recommend adjustable track bar with bushing instead of ball joint. I made my own a while back and haven't had any issues. But for the amount of time I spent it makes more sense to buy one, probably safer too. I'm pretty confident in my fabrication so I did it, I would not recommend making your own to everyone as it's an important steering component. 

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1 hour ago, Doubletrouble said:

 I have seen a 3ed gen conversion, is that similar to what you fabricated?

 The conversion kit comes with a bracket that bolts on to give you the proper mounting point for the bushing end where the ball joint is now.

Yes, most important part is it's adjustable. With time your front springs sag a little this puts extra pressure on the track bar and shoves the axle to the passenger side. Every time you go over bumps it gets yanked back and forth, really it takes a lot of abuse. That's why when you go to install one, most of the time you have to lift up on the frame to get holes linend up and then you let it down and all that pressure is put on the ball joint. I'm surprised they last as long as they do to begin with. Add a lift and that will offset the axle because the track bar is too short at this point and that joint will wear out even faster. I wish 4 link suspension was legal, that's the way to do it. Newer dodges kinda got the 4 link going but not a true one. I liked some buggies where front and rear end can be on opposite hills angles crawling up a cliff and cab is centered, smoother ride with coilsprings too. 

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 Not sure how a true 4 link would work under the front with a solid front axle. You still need to keep the axle located correctly under the vehicle for safe handling. Off road it would probably be ok like you mentioned rock crawling.

 I don't understand why the designers would have used the ball joint on the driver's side though. Not a very heavy duty link point there but they probably went for ease of install on the assembly line. Seems like a weak link to me. 

 Wasn't able to get under it today, been raining/snowing and cold all day. Miserable weather, good day to stay inside.

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I am currently on my 3rd track bar. Moog with the big ball joint on it. They are about 100 bucks to the door. I looked back a RA to see the price now and its about the same. But I did see this which I have never seen before. Cant seem to link it for some reason but it is a Proforged  10610109. It is adjustable but has the ball joint to fit the stock mount. Dont know a dang thing about them though.

 

I noticed the other day a tad of play in mine. It has a little over 120k on it. The last one went about 140k so I will be do for a change soon. When I replaced the last one all I did was turn the steering wheel until the the hole and the stud lined up. Extra hands would have saved me several trips to line it up. I also had to recenter the wheel a little, spring sag I guess.

 

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