Death wobble and a loose castle nut - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 06:42 PM Thread Starter
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Death wobble and a loose castle nut

Short story:
I'm chasing death wobble and found a loose castle nut below the lower passenger ball joint. Is this a sure indication of a bad ball joint? Or a damaged knuckle? Checking track bar next...

Long story:
I (stupidly) had someone else align my Jeep cuz I was feeling lazy. Ever since, I thought I maybe noticed a slight wobble on some bumps. I figured they didn't tighten something and tightened down the adjuster sleeve on the tie rod and drag link.
Fast forward to today and I start hearing a progressively louder clank whenever I hit the brakes. That and I have an incident of full out death wobble (or so it seemed to me). So I get home and try checking out the right front wheel where I heard the sound, and I find the aforementioned loose castle nut.

Does death wobble have to be track bar related? My bolts are upgraded and pretty much torqued to spec when I checked just now, maybe the one had a eighth turn to go before I hit 125 ft lbs.

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post #2 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 06:47 PM
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How was the nut loose with the cotter pin intact?

And no not always trac bar related.

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post #3 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fklein6768 View Post
How was the nut loose with the cotter pin intact?

And no not always trac bar related.

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Interesting point. I guess either the nut was installed loose or else the knuckle got damaged off road? There's just a tiny bit of play with the cotter pin in there, but enough I can tell it's 100 percent loose, no torque, tiny gap between the nut and the knuckle.

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post #4 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chitown35 View Post
Interesting point. I guess either the nut was installed loose or else the knuckle got damaged off road? There's just a tiny bit of play with the cotter pin in there, but enough I can tell it's 100 percent loose, no torque, tiny gap between the nut and the knuckle.
Something amiss. Sounds like that bj is toast. Bottom is 80 ft lbs upper is 75 ft lbs for the castle nut I believe and no gap/no how. Would be surprised if it was the knuckle/damage.

Tighten it up and see what kind of play you have.

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post #5 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fklein6768 View Post
Something amiss. Sounds like that bj is toast. Bottom is 80 ft lbs upper is 75 ft lbs for the castle nut I believe and no gap/no how. Would be surprised if it was the knuckle/damage.

Tighten it up and see what kind of play you have.

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Yeah that's what I did. Put a 2 ft bar under the tire and most it moved up and down was a couple mm as far as I could tell.

I also found something else. I knew the boot on my steering stabilizer was scraped up, but I took it off and that thing was TOAST. Rod under the boot was bent and it took a little work to manually extend it. So that wasn't helping things either (hadn't noticed any problems driving though except for a little pull, which I had stupidly figured the alignment would fix).

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post #6 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Took it for a drive again without the stabilizer and couldn't reproduce the wobble, but it was a short drive.

I'm honestly more concerned about the clank sound when I hit the brakes at this point, sounds like it's coming from front passenger. It also seems to clank when I take a hard right. I couldn't figure it out yet though, any ideas?

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post #7 of 20 Old 05-22-2018, 11:29 PM
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How serious is this clank sound? My brakes make all sorts of clanks, clunks, squeaks, and squeals on all four corners. I just can't keep them quiet with the vibrations of off-road driving. I've given up trying to quiet them down at this point and just live with all the crazy noises as I really am quite positive there's no safety issue with my brakes, the pads just move around too much in the caliper to be quiet.

If it's actually a loud concerning clank I imagine you have a real problem.
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post #8 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by christensent View Post
How serious is this clank sound? My brakes make all sorts of clanks, clunks, squeaks, and squeals on all four corners. I just can't keep them quiet with the vibrations of off-road driving. I've given up trying to quiet them down at this point and just live with all the crazy noises as I really am quite positive there's no safety issue with my brakes, the pads just move around too much in the caliper to be quiet.

If it's actually a loud concerning clank I imagine you have a real problem.
It's fairly loud if I'm moving at any decent rate. I can tell something's definitely not right. I took the caliper off and the pads seem secure in there.

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post #9 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 05:48 AM
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im super familiar with the clunk-clank densely metallic based thunk you refer to when you’re braking; please check your lug nut torque as , when even slightly loose and with alloy wheels it seems more common (?) but that occurs, primarily on front pssgr , whenever I don’t have a few lugs torqued enough. It’s the wheel or more likely the brake rotor lug holes clunking against the lugs as you brake and the rotor amplifies it allowed by under torqued wheel lugnuts.

The BJ sounds like someone over torqued it maybe. There should not be any up/down play in your wheel at all. Even “just a few mm




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post #10 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 05:58 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j3ff3ry_j33p View Post
[COLOR="MediumTurquoise"]im super familiar with the clunk-clank densely metallic based thunk you refer to when you’re braking; please check your lug nut torque as , when even slightly loose and with alloy wheels it seems more common (?) but that occurs, primarily on front pssgr , whenever I don’t have a few lugs torqued enough. It’s the wheel or more likely the brake rotor lug holes clunking against the lugs as you brake and the rotor amplifies it allowed by under torqued wheel lugnuts.
What do you consider torqued? I had that thought, but I've re assembled and torqued them to 105 ft lbs multiple times since yesterday and still no change.

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post #11 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 06:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chitown35 View Post
What do you consider torqued? I had that thought, but I've re assembled and torqued them to 105 ft lbs multiple times since yesterday and still no change.
well, that is the torque I run mine at so..ok. You don’t have those little stock clips that retain the rotor on still, I guess? Not if you know to torque to 105, no I guess not.

Then I’d move to checking if the caliper was secured and then if the dust shield was not inverted or flipped or something. Moving on up , I’d start to look at unitbearing torque and integrity.

Now that your wheels are confirmed tightly on, lol, it’s gonna move to the requisite uploading of a YouTube video of the sound by you & then pasting its share link into a reply to this thread is really gonna be the only way any of us could potentially help diagnose this.


I assumed it was the clunk I hear so often but you have lug torque covered.

Check the big 36mm nut on the actual axle shaft yet? You see where I’m goin with this..




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post #12 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chitown35 View Post
Took it for a drive again without the stabilizer and couldn't reproduce the wobble, but it was a short drive.

I'm honestly more concerned about the clank sound when I hit the brakes at this point, sounds like it's coming from front passenger. It also seems to clank when I take a hard right. I couldn't figure it out yet though, any ideas?
FYI those front caliper bracket bolts need to be torqued to 120 pounds with blue Loctite. I would make sure those bolts are torqued to spec as well as the axle nut which is 100 pounds of torque
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post #13 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CrazyLarry View Post
FYI those front caliper bracket bolts need to be torqued to 120 pounds with blue Loctite. I would make sure those bolts are torqued to spec as well as the axle nut which is 100 pounds of torque
Yeah I had checked and done that. I was hoping it was something simple. I also checked all control arm bolts with no luck.

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post #14 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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I'll upload a video tonight. @j3ff3ry_j33p - what do you mean or how would you go about checking unit bearing torque / integrity?

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post #15 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by chitown35 View Post
Yeah I had checked and done that. I was hoping it was something simple. I also checked all control arm bolts with no luck.
Ok. I would also check all front control arm bushings. I know you checked the bolts but I would drop the joints out the brackets and inspect the bushings thoroughly. I had a bang/clank for a while on my front end when I would hit the brakes. It turned out to be a toasted front lower control arm bushing on the axle end. Inspect the trackbar bushings while your at it
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post #16 of 20 Old 05-23-2018, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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UGH! Well I found the source of the clank. I was able to get my wife to reproduce the sound while I listened, and realized the sound was actually coming from the REAR passenger wheel well, not the front. A quick check and voila - a ƒ΅’k!ng bolt missing from the rotor mounting bracket in the back. I don't know how the heck that could've happened, I can't even remember the last time I would've had those off. Or if it was even me who did. Maybe it wasn't torqued to spec? Anyway, that is solved.

I also took it for a longer test drive and couldn't replicate the wobble. I guess I will attribute that to either the loose lower castle nut, and/or the 1/8th of a turn of the one track bar bolt, combined with the utter lack of any effective steering stabilizer? Anyway, I'm probably going to check the remaining bolt holes and bushings this weekend to be sure. And maybe order a new steering stabilizer if all looks well?

Anyway thanks to everyone who chimed in, I'll update if I find anything else.

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post #17 of 20 Old 05-24-2018, 05:46 AM
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you mean one of the two brake caliper bolts? I suppose those could vibrate free if loose but glad you caught the issue. Use of some blue loctite +proper torque on those recommended.



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post #18 of 20 Old 05-24-2018, 03:46 PM
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I know more than a couple folks that have had the same thing occur. I just check everything (within reason) each oil change.

Glad the op got it sorted
Quote:
Originally Posted by j3ff3ry_j33p View Post
you mean one of the two brake caliper bolts? I suppose those could vibrate free if loose but glad you caught the issue. Use of some blue loctite +proper torque on those recommended.

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post #19 of 20 Old 05-29-2018, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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I finally got some more time to walk through a bunch of the famous planman guide to diagnosing death wobble tonight. A video is worth a million words. I found some definite bad ends on my drag link, and one questionable one on my tie rod.

Anyway the jeep will be sitting in the garage until my new metalcloak steering system (drag link, tie rod, steering stabilizer and relocation brackets) comes in. I got lucky timing with an extended sale.

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post #20 of 20 Old 06-24-2018, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
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So in addition to the drag link and tie rod, I also ended up replacing a bad left front unit bearing. Wobble completely gone after that. So in the end, no idea why my the ball joint castle nut was loose, other than maybe it was installed first and settled in further after the upper was installed? But seems to be fine. Also my steering seemed to tighten up quite a bit after the wheel bearing install. What's odd is that there was hardly any detectable play in the wheel bearing. I could just barely feel it, and only once did I get the dial indicator to indicate more than .05 of play, and even then I wasn't sure if maybe I had accidentally nudged the base of the indicator.

Anyway, happy to finally have my jeep back in good drivable shape.
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