Experienced some death wobble - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-20-2014, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Experienced some death wobble

Experienced death wobble twice this past Thursday and am trying to figure out what exactly is causing it. I have reviewed planman's post about diagnosing death wobble and am in the middle of trying to figure it out. It happened once before an after reviewing his videos I checked my track bar bolts and they didn't seem to be torqued all the way down, so I did that and it didn't happen any more for some time. Well it happened again this past Thursday ( twice actually) and so I've got a friend of mine that is a mechanic checking things out. He looked everything over and said it appears that nothing is worn out. I sent him a link to planman's videos and check list and he is going to check it out.

I've got the northridge4x4 bolt upgrade kit on its way and should be here on Monday. So I'm going to have him go ahead and replace there ack bar bolts.

FYI my JKU is a 2013 and only has about 17,000 miles, has a 2.5 RK max travel lift and running stock wheels/tires riGht now. A couple of questions I have:

1. Can ball joints wear out that fast (see notes on my JKU)?
2. Could just replacing the track bar bolts with the northridge upgrade fix the problem?
3. I'm due for a tire rotation, could that and maybe a tire out of balance or such cause it?
4. If ball joints are good, track bar bolts torqued, tie rod ends good, and such what are some other possibilities?

Thanks. My JKU is my daily driver and I'm finally ready to put my new wheels and 35s on so I am really, really anxious to get this figured out.
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-21-2014, 08:38 AM
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[QUOTE=MAG00;2449609]

1. Can ball joints wear out that fast (see notes on my JKU)?
2. Could just replacing the track bar bolts with the northridge upgrade fix the problem?
3. I'm due for a tire rotation, could that and maybe a tire out of balance or such cause it?
4. If ball joints are good, track bar bolts torqued, tie rod ends good, and such what are some other possibilities?
QUOTE]

I'm no expert, but I did deal with DW 50K miles ago. I believe my TB started my problem. I replaced the bolts and welded washers to correct the out of round holes. My Wobble didn't completely go away until I replaced my ball joints with Synergy ball joints. I believe your situation may be similar to mine, and each time it occurs you are likely damaging other components. My ball joints were toast at 40K after the DW incidents. The OEM ball joints are cheap crap. I don't think they will last long if you are experiencing DW.
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-21-2014, 11:39 AM
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Man I feel your pain but in all honesty, if your rig is new and your experiencing this. Save your self time, frustration, and money. Go ahead and replace balls joints, tie rid and drag link and verify your trac bar is solid. Replace the hardware. You'll be glad in the end. If you replace one and not he other the stress just moves down the line and causes the next factory part to fail.
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post #4 of 17 Old 04-21-2014, 11:50 AM
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Mine started after a tire rotation, leaving me to believe that I must've had some seriously out of balance tires. Had the dealer balance the tires and to an alignment. Also there's is a TSB for steering damper leaking and to install a new one in reverse orientation to prevent possible debris damage. While there are a lot of possible causes it never hurts to have your tires balanced. It's a lot of rotating mass and if it's out of balance the harmonics can be brutal, especially after a few thousand miles and the tires settle. Find a dealer that has a road force balancer instead of just a basic spin balancer. Those balance the tires under load so it's more true to life driving conditions. Good luck!
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post #5 of 17 Old 04-21-2014, 04:32 PM
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Death wobble is tricky to diagnose as it can be something as simple as a track bar or a multitude of other things combining to make it happen.
As for the ball joints, I had to replace mine at 25k miles. While I didn't have DW at the time, it was night and day in terms of driving with the new ball joints making the rig feel like it was brand new all over again.
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-21-2014, 07:04 PM
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There is nothing new that isn't covered in my written checklist.

There is one observation that I do need to add.

When removing, one at a time, the front upper control arms to inspect the bushings and the bracket holes, pay special attention to frame-side bushings that are in close proximity to exhaust components and tubing. The heat can result in premature wear in some bushing and joint material.

My videos are just to provide a general overview and basic inspection. Someone who has had multiple episodes of DW may have damaged even newly installed aftermarket upgraded components, and certainly, somewhat new factory quality components. They need to perform the written inspection checklist.


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post #7 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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If my track bar bolt holes are off a little (oval), besides welding washers, what front track bar bracket would ya'll suggest? Keep in mind I have a RK 2.5 Max Travel lift on which has the RK front track bar, so it has to fit with this application.

I looked at Synergy front track bar relocation bracket. Will this fit with my application without having to purchase other components to make it fit?
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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I have my new wheels now and am in the process of getting new tires 35s. I wonder if it would be a good idea to go ahead and put new HD ball joints in and new tie rod and drag link ends. What would you do?

If so, I would go with the Synergy HD ball joints as they seem to get high marks. What about the drag link and tie rod ends. Any suggestions? Please list manu. and part number if possible. Thanks.

I don't play in the rocks as there aren't many here, although that might change once I get everything done. LOL So I don't know that getting a whole new HD tie rod would be needed now nor do I need to incur that cost right now either.

Really want to fix this DW problem and try to eliminate contributors as well if finances allow.
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-25-2014, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Okay. So after going over all this between myself and my friend who is a certified mechanic along with calls to RK and another 4x4 mechanic in town, we've come up with the following:

- Appears that my track bar and ball joints seem to be okay.

- Did find that my drag link end (at knuckle) needs replaced. We could feel a clunking in the drag link when doing the wheel turn back and forth and it was more defined at the knuckle. We could also see the link moving up and down. So we are going to go ahead and get it replaced once the part comes in.

- Also, I went ahead and installed the northridge4x4 bolt kit as well and the track bars took both 9/16 bolts and seemed to be a tighter fit. Factory bolt and the NR supplied 14mm bolts had a lot more play in them.

- Went ahead and did an alignment to make sure everything was okay and had to adjust the tow just a tiny bit and made sure the wheels were balanced.

Hopefully, after all this we've got it taken care of. I really hope so because I'm about to pull the trigger on some new tires. I'm currently debating on what tires (35s) to go with and I really like the Nitto Trail Grapplers but their weight is my only concern. That's part of the reason for asking about the HD ball joints.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-30-2014, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Well crap! Mechanic friend just called me and said he got the drag link end at the knuckle end put in, checked to make sure everything was tight/torqued and went to drive it. There is a dip/bump in the road right down the street from his shop that you can get up to speed 60-65mph. Hit the bump and it happened again.

He's gonna get back under there, disconnect the steering stabilizer and do the wheel turn back and forth procedure and see what he can find.

If ball joints and tie rod ends are okay and he said he could not see any rounding out/oval in the track bar bolt holes, any other ideas?
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post #11 of 17 Old 05-14-2014, 10:53 AM Thread Starter
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Update:
Hopefully, we found the cause of my DW. I asked my mechanic friend if I could come over to his shop after work and go through it all with me present and helping. So he and I went back thru stuff and here is a break down of what we found.

We had found a clunk in my steering when doing the wheel back and forth exercise and found that my drag links needed replaced which we have done.

We did not notice any movement in the track bar during that exercise and the bolts were really torqued down. However, when we removed it we did find the frame end bracket holes to be rounded out. Not drastically but definitely could tell it. The axle end bracket bolt holes appeared to be ok. If they are rounded any, it is very, very slight...to the point of not being able to see it with the naked eye.

Tie rod ends seemed to be good.

Ball joints did not show any movement/play in them.

Bearings and other components at the wheels appeared to be in good shape as well.

Wheels have been rotated and balanced along with an alignment.

We did notice what seemed to be some very, very slight movement in the sector shaft when turning hard, but it was almost not even noticeable.

Hard to believe that the front track bar bolts holes being a little off while still having the front track bar bolts torqued down can cause or allow so much movement. But when you think about the fact that the front track bar is the only thing holding the body and frame with the weight of the engine right over it centered over the axle and the forces it has to counteract, I guess it makes sense.

So, I went ahead and ordered the synergy track bar frame brace, sector shaft brace, track bar and steering stabilizer HD relocation bracket. I went with the synergy HD steering stabilizer relocation bracket because it mounts in similar fashion to the Teraflex track bar gusset plate and it would also relocate my steering stabilizer as well. Synergy also provides the bolts to mount it. Teraflex just provides the plate. I also went ahead with the Synergy track bar because I figured if my RK track bar ends up not working with the braces, I'll have it right there on hand rather having to wait again on parts. Surely, I will be able to sell one or the other once we get everything figured out.

Parts came in last night and I got them dropped off to my mechanic friend first thing this morning. Hopefully, I will know something by tonight. Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping and praying.
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post #12 of 17 Old 05-14-2014, 11:31 AM
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How did you get the 9/16 bolts through the rk ends? Are these the new ends? The old RK ends were 14mm only. 9/16 would not fit. RK said to NOT open up the joints for the 9/16 as it would removed the case hardened portion of the joint. Make sure your RK joints don't have any play in the misalignment ball (specifically the lowers).

I have jeeps. I do shit to them.
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post #13 of 17 Old 05-15-2014, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAG00 View Post
Update:
Hopefully, we found the cause of my DW. I asked my mechanic friend if I could come over to his shop after work and go through it all with me present and helping. So he and I went back thru stuff and here is a break down of what we found.

We had found a clunk in my steering when doing the wheel back and forth exercise and found that my drag links needed replaced which we have done.

We did not notice any movement in the track bar during that exercise and the bolts were really torqued down. However, when we removed it we did find the frame end bracket holes to be rounded out. Not drastically but definitely could tell it. The axle end bracket bolt holes appeared to be ok. If they are rounded any, it is very, very slight...to the point of not being able to see it with the naked eye.

Tie rod ends seemed to be good.

Ball joints did not show any movement/play in them.

Bearings and other components at the wheels appeared to be in good shape as well.

Wheels have been rotated and balanced along with an alignment.

We did notice what seemed to be some very, very slight movement in the sector shaft when turning hard, but it was almost not even noticeable.

Hard to believe that the front track bar bolts holes being a little off while still having the front track bar bolts torqued down can cause or allow so much movement. But when you think about the fact that the front track bar is the only thing holding the body and frame with the weight of the engine right over it centered over the axle and the forces it has to counteract, I guess it makes sense.

So, I went ahead and ordered the synergy track bar frame brace, sector shaft brace, track bar and steering stabilizer HD relocation bracket. I went with the synergy HD steering stabilizer relocation bracket because it mounts in similar fashion to the Teraflex track bar gusset plate and it would also relocate my steering stabilizer as well. Synergy also provides the bolts to mount it. Teraflex just provides the plate. I also went ahead with the Synergy track bar because I figured if my RK track bar ends up not working with the braces, I'll have it right there on hand rather having to wait again on parts. Surely, I will be able to sell one or the other once we get everything figured out.

Parts came in last night and I got them dropped off to my mechanic friend first thing this morning. Hopefully, I will know something by tonight. Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping and praying.
any update on this?

i thougt i had conquoted the all might death wobble and this morning she came back. luckily i was at about 30 mph when i hit the pothole so i was able to slow quickly and hopefully disnt destroy any tre's or ball joints. the only thing i can find while inspecting is when my wheels are on cocrete and i have some moving the wheel back and forth, the top of my gearbox has what i consider a significant amount of play. could this be the source? i may have to try tracking down a rsp sector shaft brace. i heard someone say they were unavailable at this time though.
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post #14 of 17 Old 05-15-2014, 06:30 PM
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If there's play in your box it's damaged. Replace it ASAP. Don't try and bandaid it with a sector brace.



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post #15 of 17 Old 05-15-2014, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjeeper10 View Post
If there's play in your box it's damaged. Replace it ASAP. Don't try and bandaid it with a sector brace.



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Not play "in it" but the top of the box flexes as you steer with the tires on concrete.
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post #16 of 17 Old 05-15-2014, 10:51 PM
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What's the caster angle? Preferred is around 4.5 degrees but they'll accept down to 3.5 or so.

First thing I would have done is to get a set of the control arm drop brackets, I don't have DW yet and I'm going to get a set anyway to get my caster back to where it should be.

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post #17 of 17 Old 05-16-2014, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ockgator View Post
What's the caster angle? Preferred is around 4.5 degrees but they'll accept down to 3.5 or so.

First thing I would have done is to get a set of the control arm drop brackets, I don't have DW yet and I'm going to get a set anyway to get my caster back to where it should be.
Lack of caster alone does not cause death wobble. If it did mine would wobble like mad. I have almost 6" of front lift and stock arms until I get my MC adjustable arms installed sometime next week.
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