Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jeep Death Wobble

Jeep Cherokee Repair Problem

One common problem on the Jeep Trailing Arm front suspension is a wild shimmy that we call Death Wobble. If you have ever experienced it, you know why it is called death wobble. It feels like the whole front axle is going to shake out from under the Jeep. You are sure your are going to die when it happens. Often it is triggered by hitting a bump or just driving a certain speed if you have a tire out of balance.

Some time ago, Dora Fang put together a list for the XJ list.

Here's Dora's Death wobble list:

Front tires out of balance
Front alignment out of spec
Loose track bar
Worn track bar bushings
Worn track bar end
Need adjustable track bar
Bad bushings/joints in control arms
Worn/damaged steering stabilizer
Worn/damaged shocks
Worn/damaged tie rod end
Bad U Joint
Bad ball joint
Loose frame mount
Steering box looseness
Need drop pitman arm
Drive shaft(s) not balanced
Bad front hub assembly
Wrong size wheel studs in hub

Not specifically mentioned on her list is changing the caster. (she does mention alignment specs) However, Stock specs don't always work to remove Death Wobble. Larger tires often require less caster than stock. I have cured it in the past by adding caster as well. We cured it on Scott's Wagoneer by installing Poly control arm bushings. Click here for the story.



Anonymous Joe said...

My first experience with DW was on the highway at 75MPH. Let's just say my entire life flashed before my eyes.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, my Cherokee has persistent death wobble & I am slowly losing what little is left of my mind. I have had 4x4 mechanics check everything in your list. Some things were unnecessary: JKS adjustable track bar & upper control arms brand new; both front wheel bearings brand new although changed after first instance of DW. I still have the stock pitman arm. But every single thing else has been checked, and it happens with different sets of 33" tires. The Cherokee is lifted about 5" and has been lifted for years with no issues. Many suspension parts are new or in very good shape, no cheap parts, all premium quality parts like Old Man Emu & JKS.

Now what?

1:59 PM  
Blogger Tommy said...

I just bought a stock 1994 GC Limited. I'm leaving for a trip to the south of Mexico this weekend. Had 4 occurances of DW since I bought it a few months ago. I'm thinking of replacing control arm bushings, steering damper, track bar, and tie rod ends. Also, alignment and balance. If any of these are a waste of time or money, I'd appreciate any thoughts, as I have little of both. But the roads will be wild and help far away, so I want to err on caution. Oh, already did front shocks. Thanks for the hints I've already gotten from you guys, and in advance for any other help.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Great Article! Now all I need to know is where you got the bushings and what size to get. Any info would be great! Thanks!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Mike said...


I can get you the stock bushing through Crown. They are also available from Quadratec and your local Jeep dealer.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On your section about the bushings, why does it look like you are pushing the new bushings through the stock ones?

10:25 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

The daystar poly bushings are made to use the original metal sleeve of the stock bushings. The poly fits inside the sleeve after the stock rubber is cut away.


2:17 PM  
Blogger jay j brand said...

U might want time investigate a bit more as I dropped 3000 rebuilt front end an shocks front n bk n still have the hop skip n a jump hitting bumps

1:35 AM  

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