Death wobble?

22BlueWilly

Member 2024
Hi all - I’ve read about the infamous death wobble in Jeeps and think I’m now experiencing it. I have a 2022 2 door Willys with the 2” Mopar lift. I just got it back from the dealer for 10k mile service including tire rotation.

When riding to work today, when I hit a bump at 45 MPH+, the vehicle shakes and the steering wheel wobbles back and forth until settling after a couple seconds. Is this what the death wobble feels like?

What’s the cause, and is there any reason to blame the dealer’s work? I’ve had a slight rattle since the lift was installed, and while the dealer was willing to torque the suspension bolts, they wouldn’t address the rattle because they said it’s a function of changing the suspension and steering with the lift.

What’s the fix to the wobble? Recommendations on who in the area is good at this type of work?

Thanks


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Hi all - I’ve read about the infamous death wobble in Jeeps and think I’m now experiencing it. I have a 2022 2 door Willys with the 2” Mopar lift. I just got it back from the dealer for 10k mile service including tire rotation.

When riding to work today, when I hit a bump at 45 MPH+, the vehicle shakes and the steering wheel wobbles back and forth until settling after a couple seconds. Is this what the death wobble feels like?

What’s the cause, and is there any reason to blame the dealer’s work? I’ve had a slight rattle since the lift was installed, and while the dealer was willing to torque the suspension bolts, they wouldn’t address the rattle because they said it’s a function of changing the suspension and steering with the lift.

What’s the fix to the wobble? Recommendations on who in the area is good at this type of work?

Thanks


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Did this start happening after the dealer serviced your Jeep, specifically? It's always hard to tell what's the fix to the wobble because it could be more than one component, or one in specific but without seeing it first hand or a diagnostic there's usually a running list of what to check. I'd say what you have isn't a severe death wobble but it's leading to it, I've been in my JK where ball joints failed on the road and that death wobble did not settle back in seconds.

Tires...those could cause a shimmy, check how it's wearing too. Have they been balanced? Track bar? Drag link? Tie rod? Have you had an alignment? Control arms perhaps? Failing ball joints tend to do this too. You can get a diagnostic from most shops, I usually go to Dirt Nerds as it's closest to me if I need a quick check in.

In regards to your rattle, can you go into more detail of when you experience it? A rattle could be a lose component... worn bushings, and these are just potentials, it could also be that the lift is settling in during this period, especially if its new.
 
When I had death wobble in my TJ, it was the track bar joints being worn out. Replacing the ball joints is a good idea too.

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Hiam addressed most things. It could be rotation with unbalanced tires impacting being out of alignment and worn parts. It boils down to a combination of things usually. But it could have been worsened by what the dealer did.
 
Agree with above. DW stops when you do. Uneven wear or an alignment required. Unusually more caster will help solve this issue.. Look for flex in:
Tie rod
Drag link
Track Bar
Track bar joints
Tie rod Joints, Drag link Joints
Ball Joints and Uni-bushings.

Way to check: have someone steer the rig left right when stopped foot on the brake. Observe movement in these components.

If all was good going into the dealer. Swap the tires front to back and see if the shimmy stops. Likely there is something going south. Dealers today state that some play is acceptable in steering components. In all my years play = worn out.
 
It’s super common on JLs and JTs to have bad rod ends after less than 5000 miles (typically the TRE @ the pitman arm). You can easily take a look and see if you have bad rod ends by having someone shake your steering wheel with the engine on from 10-2 while you look at all your steering ends and trackbar for play. You will be looking for up/down popping at the rod ends and side to side/banging on the trackbar. The JL platform is super picky about having steering components perfectly in spec.

Now if it started right after the dealer touched it, I would have them check their work. Otherwise, you’re more than welcome to come down to our shop if you don’t mind driving to Stafford and we will be glad to look it over for you. We’ve learned a lot about JLs and know how to iron out all of their weird quirks.
 
Well, I contacted the dealer, and they said the steering damper is weak and causing the issue. Not sure why they didn't mention this while the Jeep was still there. At least the parts and labor are covered by the warranty. They also didn't check the alignment after rotating the tires, so will do that when I take it back for the damper. Fingers crossed this does the trick.

@TheGuardianJLU I notice the rattle mainly going over uneven surfaces at slow speeds, and typically need the windows down and radio off to hear it.
 
Well, I contacted the dealer, and they said the steering damper is weak and causing the issue. Not sure why they didn't mention this while the Jeep was still there. At least the parts and labor are covered by the warranty. They also didn't check the alignment after rotating the tires, so will do that when I take it back for the damper. Fingers crossed this does the trick.

@TheGuardianJLU I notice the rattle mainly going over uneven surfaces at slow speeds, and typically need the windows down and radio off to hear it.

Bad news for you, unfortunately... and @OCD Offroad Shop and @CloakedJL will confirm, the dealership is wrong. Hopefully not intentionally lying to you, but absolutely wrong in the diagnosis. A bad steering stabilizer wont cause the problem and replacing the steering stabilizer doesn't fix the problem. Best case, it masks the symptoms until the stabilizer breaks again or the root cause gets so much worse that the stabilizer can't mask it any longer.

There is a common misconception that live front axle vehicles require a stabilizer, but they do not. If your steering and suspension is functioning properly, you should be able to toss the stabilizer in the trash and never have a problem. The reason they are installed is to dampen the felt road vibration and bump-steer. Its literally a shock absorber for your hands and is 100% for driver comfort. That's it.
 
Yea, just as my father said. Steering stabilizers are not a fix. Just a bandaid. On my JL I can run no stabilizer and never get a shimmy or DW. But I will tell you this, due to the weird electric assist steering the JLs have, steering stabilizers play a massive role in the handling characteristics of your steering system. If they are not valved right (much like the 18-20 jeeps) they cause weird feedback which is something Jeep has worked out. Having them replace it with the correct iteration is a good idea BUT it’s not your fix. Shimmy’s and DW only happen when steering or suspension components or damaged or loose. I’ve seen tires cause shimmy’s too when balance is way off or even air pressure too low. So there’s lots of things on the JL/JT platform to look out for.

Between me owning my JL, working on dozens upon dozens over the last 3 years, and my dads JT, I have learned A LOT about the oddities of these jeeps and their pickiness to having perfect suspension set up. I’d be happy to help look over the jeep with you if you would like. Maybe I can find something the dealer doesn’t look for or didn’t see.
 
In agreement with Marc and Nick, it's certainly a common diagnosis dealerships will claim because it's cheap and doesn't require much labor, or time. I would take your Jeep to a local shop and get an official diagnosis.

To give some perspective, a week and some ago I went to the dealership and told them that my steering is loose. The Jeep tracks impeccably and drives great, but loose and I knew from the start the steering box was faulty; that is a more common issue with the JLUs. First service representative said "it's your tires." To which I told him to go get his Service Manager. 30 minutes later, they walk me out and point at my steering stabilizer and tell me, it's adjustable just adjust it... and you'd think... dealing with Jeeps all day, they'd know better! I responded with that doesn't make any sense, and essentially to put their finger where the pitman arm is.

30 minutes later I am underneath the Jeep with goggles at the dealership shop with the mechanic. The mechanic saw faultiness in the steering box, and yet, still came out and said we can't really prove this for warranty work as your modifications interfere. My final response was you'd need to prove it's my modifications, it's very common in JLUs with these steering boxes that they go bad. 20 minutes later I have warranty work signed for a new steering box, alignment and diagnostic fee waived, and an appointment.

Don't let them tell you it's your stabilizer or that they can't service a part, if it's showing symptoms its serviceable and can be proven. Let me know if you need any assistance. I take my Jeep to Koons Tysons for reference, for any dealership or warranty-related work. About your lift rattle, I would also get any lose bolts or suspension parts checked. When I think of a rattle I don't think of a suspension settling in so I would absolutely look into it.
 
Hi all - I’ve read about the infamous death wobble in Jeeps and think I’m now experiencing it. I have a 2022 2 door Willys with the 2” Mopar lift. I just got it back from the dealer for 10k mile service including tire rotation.

When riding to work today, when I hit a bump at 45 MPH+, the vehicle shakes and the steering wheel wobbles back and forth until settling after a couple seconds. Is this what the death wobble feels like?

What’s the cause, and is there any reason to blame the dealer’s work? I’ve had a slight rattle since the lift was installed, and while the dealer was willing to torque the suspension bolts, they wouldn’t address the rattle because they said it’s a function of changing the suspension and steering with the lift.

What’s the fix to the wobble? Recommendations on who in the area is good at this type of work?

Thanks


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Happy to take a look for ya. Drop by this weekend, we can check and adjust alignment, check the suspension and steering for play so you can form a plan from there

Steering box feedback I have no experience with so I will give the nod to OCD
 
In agreement with Marc and Nick, it's certainly a common diagnosis dealerships will claim because it's cheap and doesn't require much labor, or time. I would take your Jeep to a local shop and get an official diagnosis.

To give some perspective, a week and some ago I went to the dealership and told them that my steering is loose. The Jeep tracks impeccably and drives great, but loose and I knew from the start the steering box was faulty; that is a more common issue with the JLUs. First service representative said "it's your tires." To which I told him to go get his Service Manager. 30 minutes later, they walk me out and point at my steering stabilizer and tell me, it's adjustable just adjust it... and you'd think... dealing with Jeeps all day, they'd know better! I responded with that doesn't make any sense, and essentially to put their finger where the pitman arm is.

30 minutes later I am underneath the Jeep with goggles at the dealership shop with the mechanic. The mechanic saw faultiness in the steering box, and yet, still came out and said we can't really prove this for warranty work as your modifications interfere. My final response was you'd need to prove it's my modifications, it's very common in JLUs with these steering boxes that they go bad. 20 minutes later I have warranty work signed for a new steering box, alignment and diagnostic fee waived, and an appointment.

Don't let them tell you it's your stabilizer or that they can't service a part, if it's showing symptoms its serviceable and can be proven. Let me know if you need any assistance. I take my Jeep to Koons Tysons for reference, for any dealership or warranty-related work. About your lift rattle, I would also get any lose bolts or suspension parts checked. When I think of a rattle I don't think of a suspension settling in so I would absolutely look into it.

Thanks. I’ve given up on Koons after I left my Jeep for service only to be told they wouldn’t work on it because it had a lift - even a Mopar kit! I only have about a year left on the warranty so will soon just be done with dealers.


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Happy to take a look for ya. Drop by this weekend, we can check and adjust alignment, check the suspension and steering for play so you can form a plan from there

Steering box feedback I have no experience with so I will give the nod to OCD

Thanks Rob. I’m traveling for the next two weeks starting this weekend but will follow up after I’m back. I haven’t had the wobble since I first sent this post.


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Yea, just as my father said. Steering stabilizers are not a fix. Just a bandaid. On my JL I can run no stabilizer and never get a shimmy or DW. But I will tell you this, due to the weird electric assist steering the JLs have, steering stabilizers play a massive role in the handling characteristics of your steering system. If they are not valved right (much like the 18-20 jeeps) they cause weird feedback which is something Jeep has worked out. Having them replace it with the correct iteration is a good idea BUT it’s not your fix. Shimmy’s and DW only happen when steering or suspension components or damaged or loose. I’ve seen tires cause shimmy’s too when balance is way off or even air pressure too low. So there’s lots of things on the JL/JT platform to look out for.

Between me owning my JL, working on dozens upon dozens over the last 3 years, and my dads JT, I have learned A LOT about the oddities of these jeeps and their pickiness to having perfect suspension set up. I’d be happy to help look over the jeep with you if you would like. Maybe I can find something the dealer doesn’t look for or didn’t see.

Appreciate the offer to help. Will follow up after the dealer looks at it again and I return from travel.


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Appreciate the offer to help. Will follow up after the dealer looks at it again and I return from travel.


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Sounds good, I’m always around to offer a hand where I can. I spend 90% of my time at the shop so it’s easy for me to take a peak at it if need be 🤣
 
@22BlueWilly I've got same issue and same dealership (fairoaks) response on my '21 JLUR (there's a thread in here somewhere on it). I'm waiting for the part to come in and will let dealer install under warranty, but then am taking directly to a local shop [...if only I lived closer to @R3 LOL]. Clearly there is more going on here than the steering stabilizer. I've got just over 36K miles, so it seems early for things to start wearing out but who knows, made by the lowest bidder and all that...when I took it to dealer they tightened all the things and checked alignment and the wobble didn't happen for a couple/few weeks, but now it's back, so definitely needs to be looked at by an experienced eye....will let everyone know, seems to be a fairly common issue set.
 
@22BlueWilly I've got same issue and same dealership (fairoaks) response on my '21 JLUR (there's a thread in here somewhere on it). I'm waiting for the part to come in and will let dealer install under warranty, but then am taking directly to a local shop [...if only I lived closer to @R3 LOL]. Clearly there is more going on here than the steering stabilizer. I've got just over 36K miles, so it seems early for things to start wearing out but who knows, made by the lowest bidder and all that...when I took it to dealer they tightened all the things and checked alignment and the wobble didn't happen for a couple/few weeks, but now it's back, so definitely needs to be looked at by an experienced eye....will let everyone know, seems to be a fairly common issue set.
OEM joints have a form of hard plastic in them as teh wear material. after time they wear and deform. this includes Ball Joints, Drag link, tie rod. All of which contribute to the oscillations known as Death Wobble. Another component is the track bar and wheel alignment including tire wear. To get a responsive steering the caster is set rather low (3 degrees or so) this makes for a twitchy wheel. Adding more caster 5 degrees mitigates the twitchiness. For example the Red Jeep is running 8.5 degrees of caster providing for a solid feel in the wheel.

Steering box can be adjusted to remove excessive play.
 
Stopped by Dirt Nerds today (closest local shop to me). They were able to show me the play/popping in the drag link. Had a chuckle about steering stabilizer being cause or solution. Recommending replacement tie rod and drag link; will inspect ball joints and replace if needed.

Apparently there aren't many heavy duty options (excluding mopar) for replacement steering components for a JLUR without a lift. I'm not intending to lift it, just don't see any need for my use case (85% daily driver on-road use, offroad at peters mill or flagpole 4-5X/yr, and add camp heep this year).

They're checking with some mfrs to see whats available and will send me an estimate. Will keep y'all posted....
 
Stopped by Dirt Nerds today (closest local shop to me). They were able to show me the play/popping in the drag link. Had a chuckle about steering stabilizer being cause or solution. Recommending replacement tie rod and drag link; will inspect ball joints and replace if needed.

Apparently there aren't many heavy duty options (excluding mopar) for replacement steering components for a JLUR without a lift. I'm not intending to lift it, just don't see any need for my use case (85% daily driver on-road use, offroad at peters mill or flagpole 4-5X/yr, and add camp heep this year).

They're checking with some mfrs to see whats available and will send me an estimate. Will keep y'all posted....

Thanks for the update. I’m likewise going to let the dealer replace the steering stabilizer on warranty. I’m at only 10k miles. Keep me posted and I’ll do the same.


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