The "death wobble"

Greg

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My 1999 Jeep Cherokee has recently developed the "death wobble." What I mean is that when I am driving between 20-50 mph and I hit a small bump, pothole, uneven road etc... The front sometimes begins to shake. The shake can be moderate to extreme. The shaking wont stop until I slow down. It feels like the front end is going to shake itself off.

I have heard off this in Modified Jeeps before. I'm trying to think of a remedy for the problem. I was thinking of a aftermarket dampner or track bars. Any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful.

Has anyone else ever had the fortune of dealing with this problem.

Thanks in advance,
Greg
 

GM4X

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Check ball-joints, wheel-bearings, and steering components (tie-rod ends, etc).

A steering stabilizer will help, but isn't a solution to your problem.

How big a tire you running? Lift kit?
 

Shot

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Hope this helps

DW can be due to a number of things, lift height is not one of those. Here are a list of causes of DW:

1) Worn out tie-rod or draglink ends
2) Worn out steering stabilizer
3) Warped front rotors
4) Worn out lower control arm or trackbar bushings
5) Loose suspension bolts/components (LCA bolts, trackbar bolts, trackbar bracket)
6) Wheels out of balanced
7) Tire tread uneven
8) Alignment out of whack
9) Improper driveline angles due to improper caster

These aren’t all the causes of DW, and there may be others, but these are the major contributors to DW itself. Important: Lift height does not cause DW, but improper parts or installation can cause DW to happen.

So here are some solutions, ranging from easiest/cheapest to hardest/most expensive:

1) Get an alignment, balance tires, check pressure in tires. Make sure toe (the difference of distance between the front two tires and the rear two tires) is at least 1/8” in, no more. Castor should be set close to stock, remember, most alignment shops don’t even bother to add shims to lower control arms since it takes a lot of time and effort. Make sure you ask them to do a full and complete alignment to specs.

2) Replace stock steering stabilizer

3) Check if rotors are warped, replace if necessary

4) Make sure all suspension components (LCA’s, trackbar, trackbar
bracket, shocks, swaybar) are all tightened to spec. Sometimes components get loose or out of whack after a couple hundred miles or a wheeling trip. The bolts that need to be checked most are the lower control arm bolts, the trackbar bolts, the jam nuts on the adjustable components, etc)

5) Check/Replace worn tie-rod/draglink/balljoints. Park next to a curb with the tires along the curb, turn the steering wheel towards the curb and have a friend watch and see if any steering parts have slop or play.

6) Replace stock suspension components with after-market products (adjustable lower and upper control arms [JKS, Rubicon Express, Teraflex, etc] and adjustable trackbar [JKS, ORGS, etc])

7) Dial in pinion angles by adjusting the lengths of the upper control arms

8) Get a new trackbar bracket

9) Check steering box for damage or stress, replace if necessary

10) Buy new tires/rims

11) GO LONGARMS!!! 90% it fixes DW

Death Wobble is not the easiest thing to get rid of, nor is it the easiest thing to find and cure. It can be an expensive venture, and is not the same for every Cherokee. I personally spent fifty dollars on an alignment and it cured everything for me when I put on a Budget Boost. But when I went to 6”, I didn’t have a single issue with DW. Other people have taken off lifts to try and get rid of DW to no avail, so it is not lift height that matters. It is important to be persistent with DW, but remember, it’s not worth spending too much money on unless you definitely want a lift and know what you are doing.

If you do have a case of DW, it is important to check your steering components and suspension components. The violent shaking can sometimes ruin tie-rod ends, bushings, and loosen bolts.
 

larrysogla

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Shot,
That was a very technical reply. Are you an engineer, mechanic, technician????
What exactly is item #11 "GO LONG ARMS!!! 90% it fixes DW". I am technidally minded so you can fire away.
larrysogla.
 

karstic

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Greg

Welcome to the world of lifted Cherokees

First and cheapest thing that you can do is get an alignment. When I went from stock to a 2" lift I started to get DW. I had the XJ aligned and the problem went away. It's been over a year with a few off-road excursions and I'm noticing the onset of DW symptoms again. Time for another alignment.

Go to

www.naxja.org/forums

and do a search on "death wobble". You'll have enough info to make you sick. Basically start simple and cheap and work your way up. Shot's post has some good info. Where'd you find that Shot?

From what I've read, people have had the best of luck with the toe-in set at 0.
 

JDC

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Check for worn parts and replace.

Align

and above all- get a high quality shimmy shock!!! (steering stabilzer)
 

karstic

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Originally posted by larrysogla@Aug 16 2004, 08:13 PM
Shot,
That was a very technical reply. Are you an engineer, mechanic, technician????
What exactly is item #11 "GO LONG ARMS!!! 90% it fixes DW". I am technidally minded so you can fire away.
larrysogla.
Larry

Long arms are longer lower control arms. The basically mount further back on the frame rail of a Cherokee and reduce the extreme angles of the lower control arm on a lifted front end. Here's a pic of a lomg arm setup.




Greg did you ever get your DW fixed?
 

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Greg

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Well I'm sad to say that a month later my Jeep still has the "DW blues." So far I have tried a new steering stabalizer and an alignment. I think its time to give the rotors a check and see how they look.

The steering stabalizer seems to have made a little difference.
 

RJ53

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Been there done that. I put DUAL steering stabilizers on and never had DW again. Might work for you too!
 

Dave in LB

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Greg,

Go to www.kevinsoffroad.com. He has several products to cure the DW blues and will be a great source of help for you. Hope to see that you're cured soon. Also check out his Stilen Rotors for Jeeps. Cross drilled and supposed to last longer than OEM.
 

woodsman

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Have your tires balanced ,I've seen this happen with aggressive tires mud /off road tires .


GOOD LUCK!!
 

Native Instinct

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Had the same problem with my 2000 cherokee "up country". I went all the way to the top with Jeep to resolve the problem - I was on a lease and wanted to by the jeep at the end of the trade in. I was persistant with the dealership to enforce the warrenty - they even had an engineer from Jeep work on it. They ended up putting an aftermarket heavy duty steering stablizer on it. It only treated the symptom. Everyone from the dealership to Jeep had neverheard of this before - even though I found many people on the internet who had the same problem. "Death" wobble is no exageration. If someone like my Mom had the wobble experience she or someone else would be dead - it is very difficult to control the vehical as I am sure you know. I ended up turning the car in at lease end. I insisted that a record of the problem be disclosed to the next buyer. Without exagerating - this could be the next class action lawsuit. Jeep was truely trying to cover up the problem - 2001 was the end of production and I am sure they wanted to put it behind them. Get rid of the car before you or someone else gets hurt or worse. Jeep should be held accountable.
 

karstic

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Originally posted by Native Instinct@Nov 28 2004, 07:29 PM
Jeep should be held accountable.
Why? Most of the time, DW occurs w/ vehicles with high mileage or those that have been modified. Jeeps are not the only vehicles to experience DW. It's a common problem with a solid front axle suspension like those found on the Cherokees. I was having problems with DW on my 92 XJ. A proper alignment cured it for me, when my Jeep went out of alignment it came back. I recently replaced the LCAs with aftermarket arms and urethane bushings. This has greatly reduced my DW issues.
 

rh44mag

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One thing you have to remember with the steering stablizer you aren't fixing anything you are just covering up the problem. If the wobble is severe enough it can and will break the stablizer. Just my 2 cents worth.
 

swampy tim

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My 200 cherokee sport, stock had this problem after abiut 25k miles. I had my wife take it in and ask for a wheel ballance. The shop imidiatly replaced the lower control arm (or some such thing) no tire ballance and no change in problem. Needless to say we don't take cars to that shop anymore. I took the Jeep to my tire dealer and had balance and rotation done. Problem solved. Now my 2000 GMC K 3500 is strarting to get DW at only 117,000 miles. I think it's the rotors this time.
 

Shot

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I don't think its a Jeep problem, I have had 3 Jeeps in the past: 2 cherokees, 1 wrangler, and I am currently driving a 97 Grand Cherokee with 6.5" of lift. All the stock Jeeps were fine, never gave me any problems. Now for my GC I have gotten no "death wobble", only had to change the pinion angle and driveshaft, but my friend has the same setup and his intially had it, problem was bad rotors.
 

Dave in LB

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BAd rotors is a problem I see mentioned on a lot of Jeep owner posts at Edmunds.com. Underthe reviews section that is the number one complaint. What is really surprising is that many if not most of the people who mention it also state that rotors wear out at an average of 7000 miles. that's a little to short on the life span time line for me. I have been looking at getting a Jeep GC and will still continue to do so , but I will order the Stillen rotors from Kevinsoffroad.com and take a look at some of the other DW suggestions he gives. The guy has a lot of seat time in GCs and has dealt with DW.
 

Greg

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I finally gave up on my Jeep this past weekend. I tried it all Rotors, alignment, stablizer, lower control arms... and I gave up. I traded in the Jeep and bought a 2005 Cheverolet 1500 4x4.
 

karstic

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Greg did you pull the KN FIBK or TB spacer by chance?

Sorry to hear that you couldn't resolve the DW issue. What model of Chevy did you get?
 

Greg

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Karstic,

I did pull my air intake out, there was no way I was just going to turn it over to some dealership. It wasn't k&n fibk. It was the air raid quickfit. Why do you ask?
If you're interested in taking it from me for a small nominal a fee I am all ears, but you better hurry up because one of buddies has been eyeing it. The intake sysytem added 15 hP to my Jeep according to the dyno machine at the local Junior College automotive shop.
 

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