'Jeep Death Wobble' Gets Technical Service Bulletin
Members of Congress call for Chrysler to alert drivers that Wranglers can shimmy after hitting potholes and bumps.
"Chrysler's decision to issue an official method of repair for this problem is the right thing to do for its customers and for the safety of others on the road," Eshoo said.
The usual suspect is, get this, out of balance tires. When you take your jeep through a mud puddle or otherwise, and sling a wheel weight off the wheel, your wheel is now out of balance and cranking on those suspension components with unusually high forces in lateral directions. Over time this will develop in to the wobble. Other culprits are over-sized tires that your run of the mill shop has a hard time balancing on antiquated machinery.
The usual sequence on jeeps is balancing the tires, alignment, then you go to the steering components: trac bar joints are a popular "slop" point, tie rod ends, etc.
I worked for Dodge/Jeep for many years. I only came across a hand full of death wobbles so they are not that common. I takes a weak steering damper system and the right bump in the road to set it off. The jeeps got a damper that was very weak from the factory that a stock jeep can encounter death wobble. The fix was to use a more robust after market damper and problem solved. We were able to get it taken care of under warranty for the 2 instances we had after a lot of fighting the corporate machine. They still insist its the alignment or something else that wouldn't incite a recall so definately not the damper that actually caused it. And yes I did check/adjust alignments before replacing dampers. Note: I did adjust to the sugested caster specs the alleviate this condition. Did not work hence I had to replace damper.
On the trucks they get death wobble when you lift them and/or add super heavey (but cool looking right????) after market tires and rims that over power the stock steering dampers. Dodge has a kit for the older 1500's that can work on the newer DR's that adds a second damper and that has fixed all the death wobbles I have seen so far. but again it has to have been the alignment or a worn suspensin component on a brand new vehicle right?? ofcourse what was I thinking.
this is NOT a 'to do' for Chrysler. They have published before the warnings of aftermarket items, and how/when to check for off-road damage to suspension items. They are NOT responsible to now have to look after some nitwit who damaged his Jeep off-road and is to stupid or uncaring to check it out... So get off Chrysler back and make the owner responsible like they are supposed to be !!!!!
It's a shame the dealers seem to kow so little about these vehicles. The sad thing is that if people want their still under warranty vehicles fixed, their best bet is to go to an independent shop that specializes in Jeeps. It's a safe bet that a Jeep shop would be able to diagnose and fix this problem correctly in no time. Especailly as they're not required to use factoy arts - it's been proven that for the most part, aftermarket Jeep parts by reputable manufacturers ar far superior to the OEM parts.
Most Jeep enthusiasts look at needing to replace an original parts as a GOOD thing, as it's an oppertunity to upgrade.
As far as the offroading comment, it's not entirely true. I htink most of these vehicles have never been offroad- whan is the last time you saw a muddy newer Wrangler? They're far and few between. Most people who buy these nowadays do it to look cool, and would have been better served by buying a RAV4. But, they buy Jeeps, and know nothing about them or how to fix them.
And Rose, your CJ does not have DW. You may have a shimmy due to worn out 30 year old parts, or bad tires. Leaf spring vehicles don't get true Death Wobble, that seems to be reserved for coil spring/control arms solid axle suspensions, like XJ Cherokees, 93-2004 Grand Cherokees, and '87 -present Wranglers have. A shimmy is annoying, true Death Wobble makes you fear for your life.
Someone is also correct on out of balance tires being a culprit/contributor. And often, it's not just ONE thing, but a number of small things that alone wouldn't be very noticeable, but together help to form DW.
I had this on my '97 Grand Cherokee about 10 years ago. It was my own fault, I lifted it and did not correct the steering geometry properly. After buying the correct parts, I have not had DW once since.
Worn suspension parts, or lifts w/out propper steering correction are the most common causes to this. I'm surprised to hear it's effecting low mileage, stock Jeeps though.
Someone mentioned a steering damper. That's a bit of a band aid fix, the real issue is the Panhard bar (or "Track Bar" in Jeep-speak). One end connects to the axle, the other end connects to the frame. This bar lets the axle move up and down, but keeps it from shifting from left to right. As it wears (usually the ball joint on the frame end), it allows a bit of side to side play, and thus DW.
IMO it's an easily fixable issue, it just requires a trip to the aftermarket for the proper part, since Jeep seems to ignore the need to redesign the track bar (that ball joint attachemnt point is the problem). An aftermarket version has better ends, is built from stronger tubing, and is adjustable to accomadate different lift heights.
I installed one on my Grand Cherokee, and it cost me under $200. The steering feels much better now, and NO DW, even with 163k miles and all original ball joints and bushings.
It's a short changing moment when it happens, trust me this is no mere shimmy (it's a VIOLENT shaking ), however with a few hunderd bucks it can be easily solved.
It's unfortunate to have to do this to a newer vehicle though, this design really should be changed. BUT, knowing what I know about Jeeps, it wouldn't deter me i nthe least from buying a Wrangler.
When they say that the cause of this in Jeep Wrangflers is due to suspension changes that are non-factory or due to suspension damage I believe them as in my career in automotice sales I've seen more jeeps with radical off-road suspension upgrades as well as those that have been subbjected to the kinds of offroad treatment usually reserved for inexpensive ATV's. This won't stop a bunch of ambulance chasers however.
I wonder why Ford got away with it?? Or are they next?
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