Jump to content

  • Welcome to Auto Parts Forum

    Whether you are a veteran automotive parts guru or just someone looking for some quick auto parts advice, register today and start a new topic in our forum. Registration is free and you can even sign up with social network platforms such as Facebook, X, and LinkedIn. 


What Causes Death Wobble?

Recommended Posts

Imagine you are driving your

link hidden, please login to view
or heavy-duty truck down the highway when you hit a bump and suddenly the steering wheel starts shaking violently. The shaking is so bad you can’t stop it no matter how hard you try to steady the wheel and it only goes away once you are nearly stopped. This situation is known as “death wobble” and it has troubled drivers of mostly offroad and heavy-duty vehicles for decades. So, what is a death wobble and how can you stop it?

What Is Death Wobble?
link hidden, please login to view

The term “death wobble” is not a technical term, but one made up to describe an occurrence when driving. While traveling straight at normal speeds and on flat roads, the vehicle has no issues. But if it hits a bump, an oscillation begins in the front wheels. The oscillation increases causing the front wheels to “wobble” violently back and forth. The wobbling motion is then transmitted to the steering wheel through the

link hidden, please login to view
. The forces are usually so great that the driver is physically unable to steady the steering wheel. Some drivers have come to accept the event as a normal part of driving their vehicle, while those who experience it for the first time are usually left shaken both literally and physically. 

What Causes Death Wobble?

The simplest explanation for what causes death wobble is looseness in the front-end components. Here are a few common causes:

  • Loose steering joints
  • link hidden, please login to view
  • Track bar bushings worn
  • Worn ball joints
  • Sway bar bushings worn
  • Worn out wheel bearings
  • Out of spec alignment

Depending on which part is worn out, it may only take one of them to induce death wobble. The more likely scenario though is that several parts are degraded allowing for a greater combined amount of looseness in the system. And as one part wears and creates more movement, it speeds up deterioration of connected parts

There are reports of Jeep Wrangler death wobble stemming back for years, which are now joined by reports of

link hidden, please login to view
. While Jeeps are a large part of death wobble issues, there are also Ford truck death wobble reports (mainly in the
link hidden, please login to view
) and even some in the Dodge Ram truck line. The main connecting theme to these vehicles is a solid front axle. While some drivers have reported death wobble with independent front suspension vehicles, it is uncommon. 

Oftentimes, tire shimmy is misidentified as death wobble. A vibration that appears at one speed but goes away at another speed is more likely tire shimmy or an out of balance tire.

Most people peg it as Jeep death wobble though because of lifted aftermarket suspension parts, but stock suspensions are susceptible as well if worn. Larger tires, which cause more stress on suspension and steering components, can cause death wobble to worsen. Adding larger tires to a vehicle with no death wobble issues won’t cause an immediate change, but it can speed up the breakdown of components.

Is Death Wobble Dangerous?

Anything that affects your steering and interferes with your ability to control the vehicle is a dangerous condition. The greatest danger from death wobble comes when driving on slippery roads (rain, snow or ice) where reduced vehicle control can prevent an effective response in an emergency situation. 

How to Stop Death Wobble

Once the front wheels start to shake violently back and forth, the only reliable way to stop it is to bring the vehicle to a halt. Do not slam on the brakes, just slow down the vehicle in a controlled manner. You may still have some steering control, but it is difficult to grip the wheel, so don’t expect to make any sharp turns before stopping. Once the vehicle is no longer in motion, the shaking will stop.

How to Fix Death Wobble

The best Jeep death wobble fix is to replace loose or worn suspension and steering components. You must take the entire front end into consideration as a unit with every part having an effect on the others. All pieces need inspected for wear and looseness while leaning towards replacement of any questionable pieces. It is unlikely that death wobble is caused by a single loose component and is far more likely brought about by the sum of multiple loose joints.

To inspect the steering components, have an assistant move the steering wheel back and forth quickly while the vehicle is flat on the ground. Observe the steering joints. You should see no delay in the movement from one part to the next connected part. Movement from the steering wheel should create movement at the front wheel nearly instantly. Any loose joints need replaced.


link hidden, please login to view
whenever trying to fix death wobble. This ensures that all the front-end components are pointing the right direction and with the correct angles. Some
link hidden, please login to view
can affect the front axle caster, which you should check and correct if found out of spec. Sometimes vehicle owners will add a heavy-duty aftermarket steering stabilizer to remedy death wobble, but it is not a solution and may not stop the problem. You still need to address the underlying worn component issues.

If your Jeep or truck is affected by death wobble, you need to deal with the problem sooner than later. Death wobble is curable, so there is no reason to live with it.

Check out all the

link hidden, please login to view
available on
link hidden, please login to view
or trust one of our 17,000
link hidden, please login to view
for routine maintenance and repairs. To learn more about how to fix death wobble, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your
link hidden, please login to view

Photo courtesy

link hidden, please login to view

The post

link hidden, please login to view
appeared first on
link hidden, please login to view

link hidden, please login to view

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By Counterman
      Pick a parking lot, any parking lot, and you can tell what spaces get used the most by the number of oil spots. It’s easy to think of it as just a mess, but the unfortunate reality is it’s a bigger cause of pollution than meets the eye.
      Who remembers the Exxon Valdez? It was huge news in 1989 as the damaged oil tanker spilled almost 11 million gallons of oil into the ocean. If that seems terrible, think of this: It’s estimated that in America alone, we contaminate our water supply with approximately 180 million gallons of oil every year, and it comes out of our cars!
      When an engine is running, oil is everywhere inside. It splashes and runs all over the place, so just like a rainstorm will find a leak in your roof, if oil can find even the tiniest of holes, it will seep out. Aside from the environmental affects, it tends to coat the outside of the engine and the engine compartment, making it difficult to pinpoint the source.
      Most of the time, oil leaks aren’t discovered until there are drops in the driveway, or when a look under the hood discovers the problem – which means it’s already had plenty of time to make a mess. Professionally, they sometimes can be hard to find, but generally speaking, there are only a few common causes that make up the majority of the leaks “on the road.”
      Starting From the Top
      Valve-cover gaskets are one of the most common leaks. They’re on the top of an engine (the majority of the time), and when they leak, the oil runs down over everything. The big problem with this is if there’s another source of an oil leak, it will be hard to identify because it will be overrun by the oil from the cover gasket.
      In addition, oil can be very damaging and when it comes from the top down, it gets on hoses, wiring and other components that can slowly degrade from continuous exposure. This leads me to another point.
      Often, cleaning is the first step to finding a leak and to prevent it from damaging other components. Engine degreaser, cleaning brushes, shop towels and some form of oil-dry are excellent upsells.
      Valve-cover gaskets also are a common culprit for causing hidden leaks. A vast majority of the vehicles on the road feature a combustion-chamber design that locates the spark plug in the center of the combustion chamber, meaning access is through the valve cover. This requires spark plug tube seals to prevent oil from getting into the plug well and on the plug-wire boots. Regardless of the type of ignition, the plug-wire boots will be damaged if oil gets on them.
      If someone is replacing this style of valve-cover gasket, it’s a perfect time to sell plugs and wires while they’re in there, or if they’re doing plugs, why not sell a new cover-gasket set to prevent these leaks before they happen?
      Pressurized Leaks
      Most leaks are oil that simply finds a way out due to an aged gasket or seal, but some have a little extra help. Pressurized leaks (at least that’s what I call them) originate from a component that is directly connected to the oil-pressure circuit, such as an oil-pressure switch or the oil filter itself. Filters are easy to see, but switches, oil-galley plugs and filter flanges often are buried. An indication of a pressurized leak is one that starts to drip shortly after the engine is started and continues dripping at a consistent pace.
      Common Mistakes
      One of the most common service mistakes in general is not replacing the oil-pan drain-plug gasket during an oil change. Sure, you might get away with it once, but they’re designed to be replaced every time, and the telltale drop of oil that always hangs off the bottom of the drain plug is the giveaway. Who knows how many gallons a year this mistake alone could add up to!
      When replacing the oil filter, it should be routine to clean the filter flange and make sure the old seal isn’t stuck to it. But many people still ignore the practice. A dirty flange will prevent a good seal, and if the old seal is stuck to it, you’ll be faced with a major leak.
      Another common cause of leaks originates from using the incorrect gasket. There’s something to be said for quality, but there’s something to be said for the original design of a gasket too. Cork and cork-rubber gaskets are old news and old technology, but in many cases, they’re still the best for their application. This generally is a reference to vintage automobiles. The easiest way to know is to look up what the original style of gasket was.
      If a cork variation was original, and the engine still features original components, then stick with cork. Many of these engines featured rough cast surfaces on which a cork gasket would conform. In some cases, a rubber replacement will work, but generally, many new rubber seals are designed to work with smooth, machined surfaces. I’ve seen the most advanced gaskets in the world leak like a sieve, only to have an original cork seal it up in an instant. If you stick with the OE style of gaskets, it’s an easy way to ensure success.
      Shaft Seals
      Shaft seals, referring to crankshaft, camshaft and/or intermediate shaft seals, are common leak sources when an engine starts to get some miles on it. These seals see a lot of abuse due to the fact that the shaft is continuously rotating inside it when the engine is running. A thin film of oil keeps the shaft from instantly gripping the lip of the seal and ripping it to shreds, and on most seals, a small spring on the inside keeps the lip tensioned against the shaft.
      When these begin to leak, the oil has a tendency to get on the timing belt, if equipped, which can spell disaster. Often, the leaks can be seen originating from the area of the shaft, and if oil is present after removing the timing-belt cover, you can bet one or more is leaking. These seals can harden and leak with age, but lack of oil changes creates acidity in the oil that will damage them and shorten their life. This is yet another reason that regular oil changes are important.
      Any gasket or seal is only as good as the installation. Many gaskets or seals are designed for low-torque applications, and some have very specific spots to apply a sealant. Following manufacturer instructions is the only way to do it. Too high or too low a torque can ruin the job, and “more is better” is not the slogan of any sealant company I know of. Since many gaskets call for small amounts of sealant, this also is another great upsell.
      When it comes to shaft seals with a spring-tensioned lip, a common practice is to use a small amount of grease to hold the spring in place, preventing it from falling out during seal installation. A good engine assembly grease should be used for this, since it will dissolve in engine oil. Fixing oil leaks is good for business. You sell parts. But it’s even better for the world and future generations.
      The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view
    • By NAPA
      Chase Elliott started the 65th running of the DAYTONA 500 from the eighth position on Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion finished 38th in the race after getting caught up in an on-track incident on Lap 119 that caused heavy damage to the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Next weekend, Elliott and the No. 9 team head to Auto Club Speedway for second race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Chase Elliott and the No. 9 link hidden, please login to view team started eighth in Sunday’s 65th running of the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The five-time Most Popular Driver stayed within the main pack and ran inside the top 10 for several laps. However, the field became single-file as teams grew closer to green-flag stops, causing Elliott to lose some positions. Several Chevrolet drivers made their way to pit road on Lap 38, with Elliott getting two right-side tires and fuel for his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1. Once the field cycled through pit stops, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion was running in the bottom lane near the front of the field. He worked his way inside the top five on lap 53, but the top lane grew stronger as the first stage went on and Elliott was shuffled back to 17th by time the green-and-white checkered flag waved on lap 65. Under the stage-ending caution, crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. 

      Elliott chose the outside lane for the start of the second stage and raced mid-pack as the field stayed double-file for the opening laps. At the race’s halfway point, he was scored in the 24th position and moved to the bottom lane just a handful of laps later in preparation for another round of green-flag pit stops. The Chevrolet drivers came to pit road on lap 107 and the NAPA Auto Parts team opted for fuel only, which helped propel Elliott back into the top 10 on Lap 113. Just six laps later, Elliott’s day took a turn when an on-track incident occurred ahead of him. The 27-year-old had almost worked his way through the chaos, but another car came back up onto the track and Elliott had nowhere to go. His NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet was collected in the incident and was too damaged to continue in the race. Elliott was ultimately scored with a 38th-place finish.

      “It looked like some guys got tangled up front,” Chase Elliott said. “Those of us in the back were just scattering to kind of miss it. It looked like the No. 5 (Kyle Larson) and the No. 43 (Erik Jones) kind of went to the apron. By the time we got slowed up, they were coming back across the track and I was there first. It’s a bummer. Hate to end the day, but it is what it is.”
      Start / Finish: 8 / 38
      Points Standing / Total: 29th / 9 pts. (-43)
      Next Race: Sunday, February 26, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
      How to Watch or Listen: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM
      link hidden, please login to viewChase Elliott:  link hidden, please login to viewHendrick Motorsports:  link hidden, please login to viewNo. 9 Team:  link hidden, please login to view The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view
    • By Mighty Auto Parts
      The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view. LOW FLUID LEVEL CAUSES POWER TRANSFER UNIT FAILURE Are you accurately checking those fluid levels and recommending fluid flushes or exchanges, where applicable? Unfortunately, many service technicians fall into a pattern of just performing lubrication services requested by the customer, which is usually triggered by a service reminder light indicating that it is time for […]
      The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view

  • Create New...