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What Is a Jeep Death Wobble and How to Correct It?

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Is there something deadly in a jeep death wobble?

In this article, we’ll tell you if it’s really something you should be concerned about and how to make it stop.

WHAT CAUSES A JEEP DEATH WOBBLE?

faulty spark plugs

A jeep death wobble happens when your jeep produces violent shakes that make it hard to maneuver or control, especially during high or increased levels of speed. It can happen to both factory jeeps and jeeps with suspension lifts. Some reasons why a jeep death wobble occurs are the following:

  • Faulty spark plugs – is obvious when your jeep misfires or stops every now and then and resumes its normal momentum afterwards.
  • Clogged air filter – makes your jeep sluggish or slow to react because dirt and carbon deposits get in its way of receiving enough air.
  • Uneven tread wear – is when your tires are slightly deformed or irregularly shaped as a result of misalignment and wrong tire pressure.

IS DEATH WOBBLE DANGEROUS?

is death wobble dangerous
Photo Credit: Witoki via Wikimedia’s Creative Commons License

Yes it is. While there may have been no reports of grim fatalities due to a jeep death wobble, it’s still something to be taken seriously. The fact that there’s an excessive shaking of your entire vehicle and your wheels aren’t uniform in movement can cause you to lose control of your steering ability; hence, the term “death” because they give you a feeling that your jeep is about to be broken into pieces.

Encountering it on highways can be dangerous because vehicles follow a standard speed limit where stopping abruptly is an ingredient for a collision.

AT WHAT SPEED DOES THE DEATH WOBBLE HAPPEN?

when does death wobble happen

Death wobble usually happens when you’re running around 45 miles per hour. Under normal circumstances, it won’t manifest itself unless you hit a bump or a “hump” which is a slightly raised ground surface, or a pothole which is the opposite of the latter.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN A DEATH WOBBLE?

what to do when death wobble occurs

The moment death wobble starts, the first and most obvious thing to do is to avoid panicking. Maintaining presence of mind in a surprising scenario can be difficult but doing so helps you clearly think of what you should do next. Don’t forget also to:

  • Slow down – because maintaining a high level of speed while your jeep is shaking weakens your traction.
  • Hold the steering wheel lightly – because gripping it tightly can hurt your fingers.
  • Stay on your lane – because zigzagging increases your chances of hitting other vehicles.
  • Park your vehicle properly – because you need to be somewhere safe when you need to do some minor D.I.Y. jeep repairs.

HOW DO YOU FIX A DEATH WOBBLE?

steering wheel wiggle

At a glance, death wobble is indeed very alarming but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Here are a few jeep death wobble fix ideas you can try on your own to get you back on track:

  • Inspect your track bar bolt – Loose track bar bolts are the normal cause of a jeep death wobble because it can no longer keep the track bar in place. This means you must tighten them.
  • Do the steering wheel wiggle test – Lightly moving the steering wheel back and forth while your jeep engine’s off let’s you properly see if there’s too much or adequate movement among the ball joints and other suspension parts.
  • Do the pry bar test – Means putting a pry bar in between your jeep’s control arms or ball joints. If they easily shake at the slightest touch, they should be tightened too.

If tightening certain suspension parts still doesn’t do the trick, then you need to enlist the help of a professional to see if a wheel alignment is necessary. It’s when your wheels are rotated and adjusted according to the manufacturer’s standards.

WILL A STEERING STABILIZER FIX DEATH WOBBLE?

jeep death wobble fix

A steering stabilizer can only dampen your jeep’s disturbing movement for quite some time but it can never totally eliminate it or its sources. This is because a steering stabilizer is just one component of your suspension system that’s responsible for maintaining a smooth ride.

What are the other parts I need to check?
  • Track bar – prevents the suspension from swaying from one side to another.
  • Drag link – connects the steering gear box and tie rod ends.
  • Steering knuckles – are the fulcrum or point from which your jeep’s wheels spin.
  • Bushings – regulate noise and vibrations on your jeep’s suspension.
  • Upper and lower control arms – move together with the wheels.
  • Ball joints – connect the wheel hubs to the control arms.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO FIX A DEATH WOBBLE?

There are 2 things to look at when you’re going to the path of spending some cash to fix a death wobble – type of jeep and durability level. But generally, the prices depend on the suspension parts involved including the labor.

Estimated Replacement Cost Per Part with Labor

Part Track bar Drag link Steering Knuckles Bushings Upper and lower control arms Ball joints
Price $200-$400$300-$400$800$100-$400$200-$600$400-$800

CONCLUSION

Witnessing a jeep death wobble whether for the first time or on a regular basis can be stressful. However, by carefully following the steps on how to properly address it with a couple of deep breaths, are a huge help when things go south. What’s your annoying experience on jeep death wobble and how did you solve it? Comment your answers below.

 

 

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