What Is The Death Wobble?
December 9, 2021
Have you or any of your buddies ever experienced the death wobble while driving? It can be a pretty scary thing. Keep reading to find out more about the death wobble, and how to stop it.
What is the Death Wobble?
The death wobble is when your rig starts to shake uncontrollably and violently, which tends to impact your entire vehicle, not just your steering wheel. It starts small, almost like a small shudder or vibration, but before you even realize it, you're grabbing the steering wheel trying not to lose control. The death wobble usually occurs at particularly high speeds. If you do notice the mild shaking, pull your rig in the garage and take a look at it. This uncontrollable shaking can make it extremely challenging to be able to control your vehicle which can become a very high safety threat. If you ever experience the death wobble you should immediately slow down and pull over in the chance to avoid an accident.
What Causes the Death Wobble?
It is known that the death wobble has been linked to poorly installed or maintained aftermarket parts, or low tire pressure, or even damaged or worn steering components. Although the death wobble is more common in lifted vehicles, it can still happen in vehicles with stock suspension. The death wobble usually occurs when you are driving over the speed of 45mph and hit a pothole, a bump in the road, or are driving on rough terrain. Some of the most common causes of the death wobble are poorly put together suspension and loose components of the steering wheel. Worn rod ends and bent tie rods can also be the telltale sign of the death wobble and the death wobble is incredibly common in vehicles with modified suspension.
To be fair, this is only happening in rigs where the modified parts have been installed incorrectly, so if you are installing them correctly, you should have nothing to worry about. Some more common causes of the death wobble can also be tire imbalances, worn shocks, and bad alignment. Some common triggers for the death wobble to occur in certain rigs when dealing with the tires can be because either the tires are overinflated, under-inflated, or have mismatched pressures.
Rigs the Death Wobble is Most Common in.
The death wobble is very common in rigs with a solid front axle and coil spring suspensions. For example, the Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee, and even a few Dodge and Ford trucks are known to have common issues with the death wobble occurrence. One of the most common rigs known to have the worst suspension problems for 15+ years and eventually causing the death wobble to be a recurring appearance in its industry is the Ford’s Super Duty F250/F350 pickup trucks. Ford motor company exclaimed that this is caused by a defect linked to unusual wear or loosening of the track bar bushing, ball joints, control arms, damper brackets, and shocks or struts.
Another rig that is commonly known to have extremely bad suspension problems causing the death wobble is the Jeep Wrangler and it has even been known to happen in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The most common Jeep to have reported death wobble issues is the 2007 Jeep Wrangler. For some reason, this death wobble is very common in Jeeps due to one piece of metal, in particular, known as the track bar, which is a key factor to the rig steering mechanisms. Although the track bar isn’t technically the root of the problem, it is the bolts that hold the bar in place that can start the cause of the death wobble. The 2019 Jeep Wrangler is one of the newer models known to have problems with the death wobble but drivers have reported it happening in their 2015-2018 Jeep Wrangler models.
Death wobbles are very problematic in just jeeps in particular because according to the Jeep company itself, many Jeeps are coil-sprung with a track bar setup, and many owners end up getting their jeeps lifted or modified, or put aftermarket track bars installed. Another common vehicle that is susceptible to death wobble is the Dodge Ram Trucks. Dodge recalled over 700,000 trucks made from 2006-2008 due to a defective left tie rod assembly that can be susceptible to breaking or fracturing. As a result of this, this same failure that was recalled can issue a death wobble.
How to Fix the Death Wobble
Many people tend to think that steering stabilizers can always fix the problem. However, this is not the case. Steering stabilizers and the shocks can wear out extremely quickly due to the extreme abuse the death wobble puts them through. One thing people tend to not realize is that the death wobble usually can be caused by something wrong with the rig’s tire pressure. Make sure you are keeping an eye on your tire pressures, especially with the colder weather coming around. During winter, the cold air can affect your tire pressure causing imbalances between your tires which can eventually cause the death wobble. It is important to maintain your tires and keep your rig aligned. Brake calipers can also help stop the death wobble from happening. Inspect your vehicles from anything that looks like it is about to fall off, or needs to be tightened.
What to do if The Death Wobble Happens to You:
If the death wobble occurs to you while driving, don't freak out. The first thing you are going to want to do is to grab the steering wheel firmly but not aggressively and slowly decrease your speed. When you can decrease your speed, slowly pull over to the side of the road to get yourself to safety and help you stop an accident from happening. Some people say that even a hard stomp on the break can get the death wobble to stop, but this isn’t the safest way. It is so important to keep control of your steering wheel. Sometimes, it comes as a shock when someone's steering wheel starts jerking rapidly and can cause them to let go of the wheel. It is important to hold on to the wheel, turn on your hazards, slow down, and get yourself out of traffic to avoid causing an accident and harming you and others that may be on the road. It is recommended that you thoroughly look over your rig to find the source of the problem and to make sure nothing is loosening up underneath your rig.
Are Lift Kits the Problem?
Technically, no, lift kits are not always the problem. Many vehicle owners who do lift their vehicle have not had problems with the death wobble occurring to them, but it has been known that vehicles with a 2.5-inch lift kit or higher can have instances where the death wobble can occur. This can easily be fixed if you check to make sure everything under your vehicle after the lift has been tightened properly and nothing is loose.