VIDEO TIP: #1 Cause of Death Wobble

I can’t count how many times we’ve come off the trail and heard someone on the CB yell out that they’ve got death wobble. After pulling over and giving things a quick look to make sure nothing is broken, I have the driver help me perform this simple test.

Turn your key to the ON position but do not start your engine. Have the driver slowly turn the steering wheel to one side and then the other while you keep an eye on the front track bar. 9 out of 10 times, this is the problem…

Some times it’s on the frame end and some times it’s a blown bushing instead of a loose bolt but the one thing for sure is, the problem is almost always track bar related. Normally, a 21mm socket and a torque wrench set to 125-130 ft. lbs. of torque would be all that you need to fix things up. However, on this Jeep, the mounting hole was pretty wollowed out and we ended up having to tighten the bolt to about 140 ft. lbs. of torque in order to get this Jeep rolling safely again. Once back at home, a washer was welded up to the mount to make it a tight fit again.

For more information about death wobble and how you might be able to fix it, click on the link below:

DEATH WOBBLE : What it is, What it isn’t and What You Can Do to Fix it

42 Comments so far

  1. tonya October 9th, 2010 7:34 pm

    I have a 2008 4 door. 2.5 inch rough country suspension lift. and my death wobble seems incurable. I have road force balanced the tires, new steering stabilizer, adjustable cam bolts, new trackbar, new upper control arm bushing, alignment, and my castor is +4.9 degrees. I’m almost ready to trade in my jeep bc this seems like it will never go away. please help!!
    more caster?
    remove lift?

  2. wayoflife October 10th, 2010 1:56 am

    just to make sure we’re on the same page here, death wobble is a sudden, severe and violent shaking of your entire jeep and the only way to make it stop is to come to a complete stop. this is not to be confused with a bad shimmy in the steering wheel or even bad vibration. if you do indeed have death wobble, have you checked your ball joints? it’s not uncommon for them to go bad prematurely and if they are bad, they would definitely cause death wobble.

  3. Luke McDonadl November 8th, 2010 2:08 pm

    I have only had this experience once…thank god. It was while test driving an ‘08 Unlimited down the highway. Needless to say, that one stayed at the lot, especially after the salesman blamed me. So far no shaky Jakes in my ‘07 Rubi. Fingers crossed!!

  4. jkco December 10th, 2010 4:17 pm

    had the death wobble due to warn upper and lower tie rod ends, both side ball joints and fron stab shock. 07′ 4 door wrangler has 81,000 hywy miles on it. Shop wants $1,428.60 to correct problem. Still under warrenty and insurance inspector is coming to verify needed parts.
    left/right upper tie rod ends
    left/right lower tie rod ends
    Both sides upper /lower ball joints
    front stab shock
    bolt / nut
    new bracket now to be used per Jeep
    alignment

  5. Andrew K April 1st, 2011 10:49 pm

    My 2010 Rubi started jerking really bad when in Four Wheel drive at low speeds (like pulling into a parking space) and only when I try to turn left and right. Thje wheel actually jerks and the entire vehicle surges. Is this the same thing???

  6. wayoflife April 3rd, 2011 1:16 am

    no, it is not the same thing and you should NOT use 4WD on pavement. you will end up breaking an axle.

  7. pete hansen April 25th, 2011 10:12 pm

    I have a 09 jeep jk 4 door I bought it with 3000 miles on it last july. Around 17000 mile it developed the death wobble. It has now been to the local Jeep dealer 5 times in the last month with no real fix. The steering stabilizer has been replaced twice the front end torque specs have been checked and an alignment was checked . The dealership was told to change the front tires and see if it continues. Now I rotated the tires and the problem still continues. Chrysler also wants the tires balanced. Does anyone have any ideas? This is my daily driver and I don’t live near the dealership. Would a dual steering stabilizer help? this isn’t my first jeep but it is my first one with coil springs.

  8. wayoflife April 27th, 2011 5:19 pm

    a steering stabilizer won’t do anything but mask or hide your problem. check your ball joints, they are most likely bad.

  9. Christina May 25th, 2011 5:30 pm

    I have a 09 jk 4 door and Have experienced death wobble 4 times now. First time it happened I just thought maybe I hit the crazy potholes on my street the wrong way (live out in the country). Then I realized not being able to control my jeep or even slow it down when it happens can’t be good. I know its death wobble, I’ve watched videos and I have NO control over this thing it feels like I’m about to die!

    Obviously the thing is still under warranty, I only have 20,000km on it. My question is, what should I say to teh dealership? I am POSITIVE they are going to change something stupid and send me on my way without looking at anything else. Is there anythign in particular I should tell them ? I’m so close to putting this thing up for sale…I love my jeep…and it’s sad that the moment I want to go ahead and put some 32s on it I’m afraid to even mess around with the thing.

    Do you have any advice at all?

  10. wayoflife June 1st, 2011 10:13 am

    the #1 reason for death wobble is a lose track bar or one with worn out or failing bushings. the #2 reason is ball joints that are going bad. i can almost guarantee you that one of these two things is your problem.

  11. Jason June 5th, 2011 7:34 pm

    Thanks for the video. Great example.

  12. Brad June 21st, 2011 5:33 pm

    Hey guys,

    Hi from down under, I own a Four door JK and have a 2.5 inch lift running 33’s, I have had the same issue with the wobbles, I have replaced the factory ball joints twice under warranty but have now replaced them with after market heavy duty ball joints, the problem has gone completly, I had already placed an adjustable track bar with better bushes in it already when the lift was done , the wobbles only went after changing the ball joints. Three other JK owners were having the same trouble in the club and they have also replaced the ball joints which has resolved the problem. The factory ball joints are not worth a pinch of s*##*.

    Cheers
    Brad from AUS

  13. Barry November 15th, 2011 8:36 pm

    Another from Aus.

    Two things they I’m curious about …

    Doesn’t this come under warranty?

    How do these things get a roadworthy??

    My 2010 stock wrangler( purchased new 12 months ago .) now has 50000 ( 95% highway towing small work trailer), recently experienced my first time with Death Wobble.
    Dealer told me apart from slight out of alignment , and one wheel out of balance , he couldn’t fault the car.
    Chrysler told me to take it to a dealer and prove it happened….. go figure!!! ha ha ha.
    Sounds like it a ” Go it alone ” job.

    So much for warranty.

    I travel the hills a lot , if this has happened up there,, doubt I’d be writing this now .
    Might try the after market ball joints ,sounds like they’re a winner .
    After 40 years on the road , and over 40 different vehicles,, this is crap.

  14. slater December 25th, 2011 9:20 pm

    I just netted a 2008 rubi with 15k miles. death wobble for sure. 4″ sky jacker ( looks good not for offroad) previous owner was decived. I started with adjustable HD track bar front and rear, helped but no cure. now waiting on adjustable lower control arms and some adjustable sway bar end links. After reading the doing your own jk alignment here at project-jk I’m pretty sure I can fix It. I’m not quite all familiar with the sway bar and ESP thing yet but I think this is where our problems are coming from.
    The steering wheel centering with the alignment seems to be important

  15. slater January 1st, 2012 6:02 pm

    got the adjustable control arms and sway bar end links. no more death wobble. centered the steering wheel and ESP does not come on in turns anymore. now waiting to do the drag link flip. the steering is tolerable but I expect it can be better.

    the skyjacker kit came with swaybar disconnects which allowed to much play and they are not needed with an E-disconnect. The lower control arms were not geometricly aligned with the mounting points,which caused the bushings to be tweeked on the bolts and prematurely worn.

  16. gene January 9th, 2012 8:51 pm

    I have a 2007 had terrible wobble went with dual steering stabilizer and new aftermarket ball joints I have 4 inch lift and no problem now I also run a little lower on the tire pressure

  17. wayoflife January 10th, 2012 3:53 am

    your new ball joints most likely fixed the DW. your steering stablizers will not have done anything and if they did, they only hid what the real problem is.

  18. graham April 17th, 2012 11:50 am

    I bought my 2010 jk mountain used from a dealer with 19k miles on it. It came with a 4 inch lift but i can’t figure out what type of lift it is and the dealer didn’t know either. I developed the DW and took it to a shop and the mechanic told me its commonly caused by the track bar failing. This was a FREE inspection so I don’t know how thorough it/he really was. I put on a pro comp steering stabilizer(which has started to leak) before I developed the DW so obviously it made no difference in preventing the DW. Is there a track bar or ball joints that you would recommend?

  19. wayoflife April 17th, 2012 11:30 pm

    with 4″ of lift, i would recommend you get an Off Road Evolution drag link flip/track bar relocation kit. this will help correct your steering geometry and make your jeep handle better. you can run a factory track bar with it. as far as ball joints go, there really is nothing better out there than the dynatrac pro steers. they are expensive but, they will be the last set you’ll ever need to buy.

  20. Ben October 29th, 2012 1:28 pm

    I have had my jeep into the shop multiple times for death wobble as well. All Ball Joints replaced, alignment done with each oil change, stabilizer shock replaced, new front tires. Next try Tie Rod! I love my jeep, and have been slowly putting money into making it “Mine”, but I’m like many others on here, thinking of selling just to get out from behind the wheel of this circus. Any other possible causes, like shocks and struts? Or Rims being out of whack? I did buy it used with aftermarket rims on it.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  21. jk matt November 29th, 2012 9:47 pm

    my air bag light come on about a month ago and was wondering if it could have somthing to do with loose steering componets. yesterday i had the DW bad. i c a little bit of play in the trackbar bushing but not much. what do u think

  22. wayoflife November 30th, 2012 7:28 pm

    the air bag light is most likely unrelated to your DW - you probably have a bad clock spring. a loose track bar or worn out bushing would cause your DW for sure.

  23. pcross December 16th, 2012 7:36 pm

    My Jk when reached 50k miles started very often DW. It is lifted 2inchs and DW was always when speed reached 60.After changing Tbar ball joints steering bar and so on Changed tyres (general Grabber).I installed 2 Steering Dumpers (instead of only 1 )This resulted in old NISSAN PATROL and until now (78k miles)I think it resulted because DW disapeared with the 2 dumper.

  24. wayoflife December 18th, 2012 2:00 pm

    You’ve only hidden the real problem. You haven’t fixed it.

  25. thomas December 30th, 2012 9:50 am

    Thanks to this web site I fixed my DW. I have a 2010 jk Wrangler with 20 k miles and 4″ Rough country lift.The DW happened about 35 to 45 mph and i hated to drive it and wouldn’t consider letting anyone else drive it. I check out the frontend several times and it seemed ok I thought the drag link and ball joints had a little play.The Dealership said it was in spec.So I changed both upper and lower ball joint with HD moog ball joints and it fixed my death wabble. thanks again

  26. Brian Walsh May 17th, 2013 7:47 am

    Here’s the absolute cure for death wobble. Mine is a 2007 JK Unlimitted. I started noticing the wobble early on, but only when I’d hit a bump in a certain way. The dealer assured me there was no issue. A year ago I put a 4″ lift kit and 35″ tires. The death wobble became severe, but the answer from the dealer and the shop who did the lift kit was a bigger stabilizer. In the mean time, I dig a little digging and investigating and learned through a few other sites that all the bolts in the front end … but most expecially the track bar … are too small. The holes are 9/16″ but Chrysler installed 14 mm fully threaded bolts! They won’t admit that’s the problem, probably because of ongoing litigation issues. But, before changing out the stabilizer, I replaced the track bar bolts with full shoulder 9/16″ (fine thread) and almost all the death wobble disappeared. I cured the remainder with a stronger track bar (Teraflex)and a new stabilizer. With the larger tires, the stock bar is just too slight and will actually bend like a spring under load. The control arm bolts should also be replaced. Hope that helps. PS. I think I heard the 2012 and later models have the correct bolt sizes … don’t take that to the bank as it might be incorrect.

  27. wayoflife May 20th, 2013 10:01 am

    IF you fail to maintain your Jeep and check the torque setting of your bolts on a regular basis, they will move around and wollow out your mounting holes. Once that occurs, yeah, a bigger bolt may be needed to help prevent your track bar from moving. To suggest that 1 million JK’s on the road all have the wrong size bolts is just silly. If what you are saying is true, all of them would be having the same problem and that simply isn’t the case.

  28. kraig June 29th, 2013 11:44 pm

    I have a 2010 JK 23,000 miles never had a problem until I installed 2 1/2″ pro comp lift kit now if I go above 55 MPH I get the DW. every things tight nothing seems worn. should I upgrade track bar and ball joints? currently running stock tires want to go to 33’s but until I figure out what to do about DW I will keep it stock.

  29. wayoflife July 1st, 2013 12:52 pm

    If you really are having a violent shaking to the point where you feel like your Jeep is going to rip itself apart, I would double check the torque settings of your track bar bolts. Being that this only started after you installed your lift, it would be something you need to check.

  30. Mike July 6th, 2013 2:23 pm

    I have a 2012 rubicon got 35,000 miles on it. had dw and done had to change all the ball joints. Took back to dealership before that and they told me the bolts was to small in the trac bar

  31. wayoflife July 23rd, 2013 10:15 am

    That is complete nonsense. If you do not check your bolts for being tightened to the proper torque setting, they will wollow out your mounting holes but to suggest that the bolts are too small is ridiculous. There are over 1 million JK’s out there now and only a very small percentage of people have DW and most of that is due to poor maintenance.

  32. Nathan August 4th, 2013 6:48 am

    I have a stock 2010 wrangler which had DW’s on 6 occasions. I Recently had ball joints and tie rods replaced but it hasn’t fixed the problem. I’ve had 4 more DW’s and although they are not as server and will stop when I slow down as a opposed to completely stoping like before, they are still happening. Also now a lot of the times I go over bumps I feel as though my jeep is swaying side to side…. It just doesn’t feel right! The work was done at my jeep dealer but as it hasn’t been fixed I’m not that confident in them to take it back and spend more money if they dont fix it. Would love some advice on a cure.

  33. wayoflife August 4th, 2013 2:53 pm

    Click on this link for some suggestions on how to get your problem fixed:
    http://wayalife.com/showthread.php?311-DEATH-WOBBLE-What-it-is-What-it-isn-t-and-What-You-Can-Do-to-Fix-it

  34. kraig August 8th, 2013 11:18 pm

    would a pit man arm with a drop effect the DW? I thought about replacing stock with skyjacker (part#sj-ja770)pitman arm. I installed a hd teraflex trackbar (part# 1753418)seemed to help. now I am getting a clanking noise when I turn or hit a bump the tie rod ends have a lot of play, problem? jeep only has 23,000 miles mostly on pavement. appreciate the help

  35. wayoflife August 9th, 2013 12:55 am

    Installing a dropped pitman arm will NOT cause or eliminate DW. If you do install one, you will NEED to install a track bar relocation bracket at the same time. Failure to do so will cause a lot of handling problems. Rotation movement in a tie rod is normal. You don’t want any up and down or side to side movement.

  36. desertjk September 27th, 2013 8:33 am

    So I too have dw. When I hit a small bump in the road the front shakes really bad along with the steering wheel moving back and forth. I have replaced all the ball joints with us alloy ball joints. A jks adjustable track bar front and rear. Jks sway bar disconnets and replaced the drag link and tie bar with heavy duty. Still having the death wobble. I have had an alignment. Should I install front and rear upper and lower adjustable control arms? Could this be caused by my front tires being worn uneven? I have a 4″ lift with 315 75 16.

  37. David Baldwin September 30th, 2013 3:04 pm

    Will tires with a lot of negative offset lead to DW?

  38. wayoflife October 1st, 2013 3:19 pm

    No, that should make no difference.

  39. wayoflife October 1st, 2013 3:21 pm

    Did you check the condition of your tires? DW will sculpt them and that can help instigate DW to occur again. Have you checked the condition of your track bar bolt holes? If they’ve been wollowed out like they tend to get after previous episodes of DW, they will need to be repaired. I would also check your brackets, DW can cause them to crack and tear and that will allow for enough movement to cause DW to occur.

  40. Alex March 2nd, 2014 11:47 am

    I have a 2010 jeep wrangler sport that I have been fighting with because of the death wobble I installed a 2.5 inch rough country lift shocks and springs it went very well but after driving for about 50 miles I got death wobble it was bad so I got the steering stabilizer replaced, new caster bolts, 2 front end alignments and it was still bad, I than got got my tires balanced and it was way better now the death wobble only happened if I hit a bad bump or really rough road. After I inspected everything I found out that my pitman arm had a little bit of play and my passenger side tie rod end had play (I found out with my big set of plyers) could these 2 give me deth wobble? Everything else seems pretty good track bar is stiff and there isn’t any play in the bolts I also noticed my upper control arms had a little play if anyone could help me out a little that would be awesome thanks
    -Alex

  41. Christy March 14th, 2014 7:10 pm

    I have a 2008 Unlimited Wrangler, purchased in Aug 2012 with 60k miles. Death wobble occurred within one week. They replaced the steering dampner and sent me on my way. 2 months ago, at 80k miles, DW came back. I’ve taken it to the same Jeep authorized service center at the dealership. First, they replaced the steering dampner (again) & rotated/balanced the tires. DW returned in a week. Next, they replaced tie rod ends and ball joints. DW returned yet again. Now it’s back for a 3rd time, for 4 days, and no call letting me know what’s up. I’m asking for their help to find a replacement Wrangler. I’m scared to drive this thing again. I just want to start over - maybe I’m nuts, but I’m hooked on these Wranglers. Any tips on what to look for with my next purchase if it’s a used stock Unlt’d again? Or, suggestions of talking points with the service center?

  42. johnnyalonso April 7th, 2014 5:57 pm

    hi,
    i own a 2007 jeep wrangler jk. i love my jeep. its the only reason i didnt pour gasoline all over it and set it on fire after repeatedly trying to exorcise the death wobble from her. but i finally fixed the problem. after doing the usual inspection for anything loose etc - i started replacing parts - steering stabilizer, added a heavy duty track bar, replaced the drag link, upper and lower control arms, shocks, even did the tire rotation and balance act - nope - still had death wobble. until i came here and read what “wayoflife” has been replying with for many years. i finally replaced my ball joints - and THAT was the issue. ball joints. after almost a year and a half of waiting for death wobble to occur every time id hit a bump between 55 and 65 (i even kept off the beltway and used local routes because i didnt know what else to do) ive finally gotten rid of DW by replacing the ball joints on my jeep. its been a month and so far so good - and if you have DW you know when another jeep rider says “so far so good…” he means it. ball joints.

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