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Cause of Jeep Wrangler 'death wobble' found, automaker says, promising free fix

Reptile

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marleythefish

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The steering stabilizer is not the cause of death wobble and it shouldn't be relied on to stop the wobble as fiat proposes, this is dangerous and dumb. a new better valved stabilizer can mask the wobble if its minor but will not fix it. At high speeds its necessary that front end steering geometry remain within set parameters. Things such as track bar misalignment,something loose, tie rod end wear, wheel imbalance and other factors will exceed those parameters and cause wobble, there is no single attributable cause of death wobble.. Death wobble is the nature of the beast with a live axle.The only fix is to be sure that all front end components are in good working order. attempting to fix death wobble with a new stabilizer is amateur hour and about what i would expect from fiat. If you have death wobble, there's something wrong with you're front end geometry.
 
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Zappa

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Jeep thinks it knows how to kill the “death wobble.”

The notorious issue presents itself as a violent vibration at high speeds and is a common complaint among Jeep Wrangler owners. It has also been reported in vehicles from several brands that feature solid front axles, including heavy-duty pickups.
I had a 1976 GMC Jimmy that did it from time to time, it was worse with the 33" tires.
I've also had it happen to me on a 4x4 model Ford F-350.
You never know when it'll happen, you need to hit an imperfection in the roadway just right.
Once it starts the wobble, the only way to make it cease is to slow down nearly to a stop.
 

marleythefish

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I find it hard to believe that death wobble isn't a safety issue as they claim, it will scare the shit out of you, you cannot control the vehicle, some would panic, they're massaging the data and misleading you. its not called annoying wobble or inconvenient wobble, its death wobble.
 
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mibro

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The steering stabilizer is not the cause of death wobble and it shouldn't be relied on to stop the wobble as fiat proposes, this is dangerous and dumb. a new better valved stabilizer can mask the wobble if its minor but will not fix it. At high speeds its necessary that front end steering geometry remain within set parameters. Things such as track bar misalignment,something loose, tie rod end wear, wheel imbalance and other factors will exceed those parameters and cause wobble, there is no single attributable cause of death wobble.. Death wobble is the nature of the beast with a live axle.The only fix is to be sure that all front end components are in good working order. attempting to fix death wobble with a new stabilizer is amateur hour and about what i would expect from fiat. If you have death wobble, there's something wrong with you're front end geometry.
Broadly I agree but the textbook fix for any mechanical system that has resonant characteristics is damping. The only other approach is not to excite the system at its resonant frequency, something that's not really possible with a live axle.

Looks like Jeep found a design defect in its current steering damper. Redesigning it will no doubt improve the situation but won't be a comprehensive fix, as you say.
 

VetteGirlMA

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My 2018 Wrangler developed a death wobble on the highway shortly after I bought it. Scared the bejesus out of me. The Jeep dealer replaced the steering stabilizer and it's been fine since.
 

Spanz

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My 2018 Wrangler developed a death wobble on the highway shortly after I bought it. Scared the bejesus out of me. The Jeep dealer replaced the steering stabilizer and it's been fine since.


so, basically, if any of the steering components wear a little over the miles....it can come back unexpectedly?
 

Spanz

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The Jeep only had maybe 3,000 miles on it when it happened.
i am thinking, 20,000 miles from now...does it come back on your jeep?

I am the type of guy that buys top of the line, but then drives it until it is ready to push it off of a cliff. Not sure i could take a vehicle that needed constant front end attention as it ages.
 

mwalsh9152

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My Bronco has death wobble fun occasionally. It shook so hard last time that it loosened the power wire to the starter.

I never put a stabilizer on it when I built it. But I now have new tires and a fancy (expensive) dual stabilizer set up sitting in the basement waiting to install.
 

gscott

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I bought my first Jeep in 1973 , a Cj5 . I've always had jeeps in various models sence then . Never experienced a wobble in any of them . Some of my friends run Jeeps and as far as I know none of them have had it happen . I sure if it did I would have heard about it . The only car I ever had a wobble in was a 66 Corvair. The wobble was the least of its problems
 

67ray

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Broadly I agree but the textbook fix for any mechanical system that has resonant characteristics is damping. The only other approach is not to excite the system at its resonant frequency, something that's not really possible with a live axle.
The death wobble is not resonance per se it is imbalance. Large tires such as on the jeeps when manufactured contain a great deal more variability in their uniformity and tolerances are higher for those tires than standard passenger car tires - acceptable specs are higher for the first and second harmonics.

Modern tire machines do not enable balancing to the degree these large tires need. On the Coates machines there was a trick when turning it on that would let you see greater precision for the wheel weights - for example 1.55 vs. 1.5
That would enable more precise balancing that made a difference for some tires. There is nothing inherently unbalanced about a straight axle or independent suspension that makes one better than the other. Effects can get worse/better depending on how the imbalances are relative to one another that is the right vs. left tires.

Damping hides imbalance but doesn't eliminate it. That's why some report the steering dampers seem to make the problem disappear. Brake rotors and other rotating parts can contribute but compared to the massive tires installed they will be the single determining factor.
 

Sweeney

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Having 'in-spec' components and proper geometry is the solution. When I first lifted my '98 Wrangler I experienced death wobble during the 'sea trials'. I went back home and dialed in a pinch more caster. That and the routine greasing of the front end joints kept it at bay for 120K miles until I sold it. I currently have 75K on my '06 Unlimited with a 4.5" lift and have never had the wobble...because all the components are good and adjusted properly.

There are a lot of things that can agitate the front end... poor alignment, worn or out of spec components, wheel off-set, tire pressure. Most new vehicles get delivered to the customer with the tires at max pressure instead of the prescribed pressure for the vehicle and that can greatly increase shock loads through the front end.
 

Spanz

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The death wobble is not resonance per se it is imbalance. Large tires such as on the jeeps when manufactured contain a great deal more variability in their uniformity and tolerances are higher for those tires than standard passenger car tires - acceptable specs are higher for the first and second harmonics.

Modern tire machines do not enable balancing to the degree these large tires need. On the Coates machines there was a trick when turning it on that would let you see greater precision for the wheel weights - for example 1.55 vs. 1.5
That would enable more precise balancing that made a difference for some tires. There is nothing inherently unbalanced about a straight axle or independent suspension that makes one better than the other. Effects can get worse/better depending on how the imbalances are relative to one another that is the right vs. left tires.

Damping hides imbalance but doesn't eliminate it. That's why some report the steering dampers seem to make the problem disappear. Brake rotors and other rotating parts can contribute but compared to the massive tires installed they will be the single determining factor.
Not sure what a coates machine is. but they have those "road force" balancers, that actually put weight on the tire when it spins to figure out the correct balancing....that might help--you get a dynamic vs. static balance
 

VetteGirlMA

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i am thinking, 20,000 miles from now...does it come back on your jeep?

I am the type of guy that buys top of the line, but then drives it until it is ready to push it off of a cliff. Not sure i could take a vehicle that needed constant front end attention as it ages.
It's not my first Jeep but it's the first Jeep I have owned that had a death wobble. My last jeep was lifted with 35" tires and never death wobbled.
 

VetteGirlMA

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The death wobble is not resonance per se it is imbalance. Large tires such as on the jeeps when manufactured contain a great deal more variability in their uniformity and tolerances are higher for those tires than standard passenger car tires - acceptable specs are higher for the first and second harmonics.

Modern tire machines do not enable balancing to the degree these large tires need. On the Coates machines there was a trick when turning it on that would let you see greater precision for the wheel weights - for example 1.55 vs. 1.5
That would enable more precise balancing that made a difference for some tires. There is nothing inherently unbalanced about a straight axle or independent suspension that makes one better than the other. Effects can get worse/better depending on how the imbalances are relative to one another that is the right vs. left tires.

Damping hides imbalance but doesn't eliminate it. That's why some report the steering dampers seem to make the problem disappear. Brake rotors and other rotating parts can contribute but compared to the massive tires installed they will be the single determining factor.
I've had 2 vehicles in the past that had 37" tires, both Hummers, and to be honest I never had any problems with wobbling, the H1 I would expect to be just fine since it had a 4 wheel independent suspension. When I bought new tires for the trucks they couldn't use weights so they used some kind of lead BBs in the tires I believe. The H1 was an expensive proposition to change the tires and I ran mine without the runflats and it ran much nicer.
 

Broccoli Iglesias

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A properly tuned and maintained jeep will take you to places nothing else can.
The places that 99.9% of Jeep owners never go to either?

The Wrangler has become a joke. It went from a cool, offroad vehicle to a luxury SUV for mostly mall crawlers with ridiculous prices and a bunch of sh*t that should not be needed in a vehicle like the Wrangler. (It is noce to see people keeping the older generations of Jeeps alive).

I wish they sold a version for true Jeep lovers, a bare bones version that doesnt even come with AC for like $15K. Let people add the options they want, kinda like Scion did, but a little more extreme (with less factory junk).

Or they should at least license the CJ to someone so they can make an old school Jeep. Mahindra comes close, but they are not easy to make road legal.

The fact that they have all those engineers and this wobble has been an issue for so long and they cant fix it, tells you how much they care. Either fix it, or just tell people you cant fix it and deal with it. It is part of owning the vehicle.
 
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