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Death Wobble

Hi:

My 2006 Jeep Wrangler has Death Wobble. for those not familiar: when a bump or road imperfection is hit at a certain speed or from a certain ange, VIOLENT shaking from side to side occurs, often necessitating that the vehicle pull over before control is restored. I has Chrysler’s fix done(a new steering damper) but this only caused the problem to worsen. I’m getting new tires and an alignment done tomorrow, but feel that this isn’t a real fix. What is the fix for this problem? This has made my Jeep unsafe and in my opinion undrivable. It’s still under warranty, by the way.

Thanks!

What speed does this only occur at? Is the vehicle modified in any way?

Are you working with a dealership on this? I assume they took it for a test drive. What do they say about the way it handles when they drive it?

That used to happen with my old 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee and the dealer could never figure it out. That’s one reason I’d never buy a Jeep again.

Not modified, 35,000 miles, speed varies but usually 40-45

I love my Jeep and don’t want to drive anything else, so I’m hoping for a fix!

I think you may be exaggerating a bit when you say the shaking is violent and it’s a “death wobble” as 40mph isn’t exactly very fast. Something this severe would be all over the Internet and news and would force the manufacturer into issuing a recall for a vehicle that could be deadly. Things that cause cars to crash are taken extremely seriously.

That said, If the alignment is off, or if there’s an excessively strange wear pattern in the tires you can get some funny front end reactions, so you’ll have to wait and see how it feels after the tires and alignment.

It’s a bit premature for this kind of failure but depending on road conditions and how often the vehicle has been driven through muck and standing water this is likely the problem. It’s easily checked and replaced if necessary.

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductDetail.aspx?MfrCode=RAN&MfrPartNumber=RS5407&PartType=47&PTSet=A

This is usually caused by worn suspension/steering components. But, as stated already, your vehicle is a bit too young for this to happen unless there is a defective component somewhere. Typical suspects are control arm bushings, front track bar, incorrect caster, out-of-balance tires, worn shocks/steering damper, and the steering links. You should still be under warranty for all this (as long as you have taken care of the alignment and tire balance issues). I’d get the dealer to take it for a test drive, and duplicate the problem with the mechanic on board.

I really was not exagerating! I have driven Jeeps since 1979, when I purchased a new CJ5 and have owned 4 others since. Believe me, this is a very dangerous situation and is noted on the internet. My dealer was also aware, as there was a service bulletin from Chrysler to replace the steering damper(which didn’t help). Somehow, that doens’t make me feel better!

If it’s as bad as my Jeep was, it’s no exaggeration. Imagine driving at highway speeds with a cinder block strapped to the outside of each front tire and that will give you a sense of what it felt like.

The wheel alignment may be set to factory specifications…which may be fine for a brand new Jeep; but, maybe not for one with a little wear. If the specs sets the wheels too near a neutral value in caster, camber, toe in/out, or (effective) king pin inclination; any movement of the wheel could set up an oscillation about that center point. An alignment specialist, who actually understands these angles and forces, may be able to set the alignment values with a bias which would lessen the oscillation about a zero point.

put a steering damper on it.(you say it got worse when the new one was installed,Hmmmmm! think your onto something,go aftermarket,RANCHO.among many others)

prob fixed

FORDS are prone to the same thing.

GREAT DAY MATE!

silvergc1 has the right idea on this problem. I would suggest that you go to www.wranglerforum.com and do a search. There are a lot of threads on solving this problem.

I have a 2006 wrangler x and it is a violent shaking. It happened to me and my wife recently. I am taking it to a dealer Saturday. The 3 year warranty is not up yet. What should I tell them or ask them about? I have seen something on the net about a steering wheel damper problem is some models. It just so happens that a man-hole cover on the highway was my first encounter. It has happened at low speeds going down an exit ramp under braking too.

With BOTH front wheels off the floor, slowly turn the steering wheel lock to lock a couple of times. The wheels should move smoothly without any binding or catches in their movement. Then check for any play in the steering, especially the wheel bearings. Check that the steering box is securely mounted to the frame and that the frame is sound…Failing that, a good Wheel, Frame & Axle shop should be able to spot the problem and correct it.

Death Wobble is common. All one has to do is experience this violent shaking and you would agree that the term Death Wobble is appropriate. I have an 05 Wrangler X, no modifications. I first experienced it in June 07 mileage approx 12,000. It has been in dealer shop 9 times since. The dealer has replaced every steering component at least once and the damper four times. Last dealer-installed damper was a Rancho model. The jeep still has the DW and is going back to the dealer next Tuesday. I experience the DW between 45-55 mph. The regional/district service manager, dealer service manager, and lead mechanic don’t even test drive it anymore because they know the problem exists. Sure want some joy from Jeep.

Update 4 Nov dealer appt - Dealer checked alingment and wheel balance again. Next thing they are going to do is replace upper/lower ball joints 13 Nov. I’ve got a lemon in the true vehicle meaning of the term.

Why no NHTSB campaign?

I know all about this death wobble, and it is just that. The only way to calm it is to pull over and regain control. This can be extremely dangerous when travelling on the highway and its difficult to switch lanes and get onto the shoulder. My 96 Jeep Cherokee did this and I had to get rid of it. I bought it used and assumed it must have been in an accident at some point. I did purchase a 99 grand cherokee and have not had this problem ever.

You’re in luck! Truck U just did a whole episode on this . . . I’m sure you can find it on cable. They went through the “death wobble” on a Jeep and showed the exact fix for it. They replay these things often, I’ll let you know if I see it on the preview guide. Rocketman