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Old 05-28-2007, 05:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question death shake

i have an 89 XJ, 2 door, AX-15 5 speed, 4.0, i put a Ford 9" in the rear, 4:56 gears, locker, a high pinion D44 in front 4:56 gears and locker. YJ leaf springs, shackles with custom crossmembers. NP231 case with slip yoke eliminator, double cardigans on both driveshafts, Bilstein 5150 shocks, Braded stainless steel brake lines. 37" MT Baja Claws. Everything front to rear is new, all bushings, bolts, etc...

while driving intermittently, only every so often, the front end will shake like a tire is going to fall off. it doesnt stop untill you come to a complete stop. Start driving again and no problems. Nothing loose in front end, cannot find any problems.
a friend has a 92 XJ with 33" tires, with a rough country 4.5" lift, and he experiences the same problem.
any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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sounds like death wobble. it could be a number of things, front end out of alignment, tires not balanced, loose track bar, wheel bearings, loose steering components, if none of those work replace your steering stabilizer. the stabilizer only covers up what could really be messed up. if that dont work trash the xj and build a buggy..

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Old 05-28-2007, 06:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Post some pics of the steering setup...The steering stabilizer is just a band-aid, not an actual fix...
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Old 05-28-2007, 06:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just did about the same thing,longarms,D44,front,highsteer and 36" swampers on beadlocks and everything in the steering new.

I got DW bad this morning and could'nt drive it to work.I played with the tire pressure and found 22+ Lb solved my DW.

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Old 05-29-2007, 01:09 AM   #5 (permalink)
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... only every so often, the front end will shake like a tire is going to fall off. it doesnt stop untill you come to a complete stop.
Some useful information for curring death wobble from Kevin at Kevin's Offroad:

As you have already found out, Death Wobble, the horrible front end vibration that starts when one wheel (usually the right) hits a bump around 40~50mph, is the worst possible downside to having a coil-sprung vehicle with a track bar setup such as the WJ, XJ, ZJ, and TJ use. Death Wobble is also extremely difficult to try to diagnose, because it is actually caused by slop in the entire steering system as a whole, not by one component. To diagnose correctly, one needs to look for "play" everywhere there is something that could have "play" in it. It's time consuming, and downright dangerous while you are in "test phase", trying to exorcise this demon from your Jeep.

The thing I tell people to start with is a visual inspection. Spend 10 minutes under the front end and visually inspect each one of the steering components for shiny steel, which would be indicative of metal that's moving around when it's not supposed to be. Pay careful attention to the track bar, as it's usually the culprit in most cases. If any of your bolts are even the least bit loose, Death Wobble can manifest itself and make your life a living hell.

If everything looks to be "normal" and you've checked bolt tightness on the track bar, the next thing to do is to start with an alignment, making sure that caster is set correctly as well as toe-in. If you have been offroading and have bent your tie rod even slightly, it'll throw off the alignment. Plus, it's only $40 or so.

If you are certain that it's set correctly and you've not replaced any other front end components recently that may have caused the oscillation to begin, I tell people the next most suspect thing is the factory front track bar. Over time, the tie rod end on the upper portion of the bar develops "play" in it, and the lower end has a rubber isolator bushing in it that allows the oscillation to occur. Aftermarket bars generally come with urethane bushings that allow much less "play" in the way of movement than the factory rubber bushings do. The problem with most aftermarket track bars for the Jeep is that they also come with either a heim joint, Johnny joint, or tie rod end on the upper end of the bar, which works fine for a while, but wears out over time, leaving you right back where you started, with a mess in your shorts, a temporarily deaf right ear from the wife screaming, and the frustration with your entire Jeep in general...NOT good. The reason why I created my Track Bar Conversion for XJs and ZJs is to eliminate that problematic (and expensive to have to replace when it wears out) joint as well as for the additional flex benefits. If you are running an XJ or ZJ with more than 3" of lift, I highly recommend you check it out. Another product we have found to work VERY well in getting rid of Death Wobble is our exclusive SuperDurometer Track Bar Bushings, which are also available for the Track Bar Conversion. They are about twice as hard as the typical polyurethane bushings that come in most aftermarket track bars, which are typically made by Daystar or Energy Suspension. They are also one of the least expensive replacement parts in the steering components, so they make sense to try first. Many aftermarket track bars as well as the stock track bar are completely ineffective in managing Death Wobble due to their "effective angle of operation" if you are above 3" of lift. Bear in mind that another alignment is necessary after replacing any front end components if Death Wobble still remains. Sometimes you get lucky and don't need one...but be wary.

The next thing to check is your steering stabilizer. I recommend replacing the stabilizer along with whatever worn components that you find under the front end, as the combination-punch is typically more effective than the parts alone, since DW shakes EVERYTHING, and loosens up other components at the same time. I've found that replacing the stabilizer alone often times doesn't eliminate death wobble directly, but that it usually helps with some additional poor handling characteristics that cause the onset of Death Wobble, such as wandering, and a new one seems to tighten up the entire steering system. I ONLY recommend the OME SD40 stabilizer because it seems to be tighter than the other models on the market. It's also the most heavy duty. This stabilizer is something that I recommend to everyone who is having trouble with DW because it's one of the least expensive parts to replace.

Here are some other components to check over for looseness or improper movement:

Tie Rod Ends, ball joints, Track bar mounting bracket bolts, steering box bolts, and track bar ends. Another product that we've made due to a need, is our ZJ Steering Box Brace, which holds the steering gear box tightly, allowing the additional stresses of running larger-than-stock tires be directed to the frame rails, rather than to the three little bolts that hold the gear to the frame, which get loose and if they do, will snap and leave you stranded. I don't currently make one for the 6cyl ZJ, but if you have an XJ, you can find one at www.barnettperformance.com.

Another source of Death Wobble is over-inflated tires (you should have around 30psi in stock tires and far less the larger your tires are. See Boyle's Law and consider how much more volume of air you have in your 33" tires compared to stock. I run around 18psi in my 37" tires).

The last thing that I can mention that has caused Death Wobble in the past is hub bearings. If there is a little slop in them over the years and miles, they MAY indeed help to cause the oscillation as well. I mentioned them last because they are the most expensive to replace and least likely to be the root of the problem. While you have the front end apart, you should consider adding some offset upper ball joints to your Jeep to return the caster back to what a stock Jeep would be if you are running say 4" of lift or more. I don't necessarily recommend this for the '93~'95 full-time 4x4 (NP249 transfer case) ZJ models, though, because it tends to add more vibration to the front drive shaft since you are also turning your pinion angle downward in conjunction with the caster angle improvement...you can't have one without the other.

Hopefully this short checklist gets you started on the right foot and helps to cure your Death Wobble.

Very Sincerely,

-=Kevin=-
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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double cardigans on both driveshafts,

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Old 05-29-2007, 07:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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ok? Whats with the coat?
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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ok? Whats with the coat?
Cardigan = Sweater

Double Cardan = Double joint on a driveshaft
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Old 05-29-2007, 01:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would have gone with the band

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Old 05-29-2007, 04:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had a hell of a time finding the DW problem on my old XJ, and finally after double-triple checking EVERYTHING I found out that the cause of it was my caster being way out of whack. So I tossed it up on the alignment rack adjusted the caster and PRESTO problem solved!

I've noticed on a couple different rigs that if you don't have that axle dead nuts centered and it pushes back towards the rear of the jeep at all, you are going to fight DW like crazy!
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:39 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Were the ball joints replaced when you built it? Double check the track bar by turning the wheel and a buddy under it watching the ends for play. Then get it aligned.
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Old 06-06-2007, 06:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I had a hell of a time finding the DW problem on my old XJ, and finally after double-triple checking EVERYTHING I found out that the cause of it was my caster being way out of whack. So I tossed it up on the alignment rack adjusted the caster and PRESTO problem solved!

I've noticed on a couple different rigs that if you don't have that axle dead nuts centered and it pushes back towards the rear of the jeep at all, you are going to fight DW like crazy!
BINGO!!!

I do agree that excessive wear in any of the steering components can propogate DW, but assuming that all the TREs and DLEs are solid and the track bar isn't fucked, my bet is that putting the caster back to factory spec with fix your problem... Many people ignore caster angle on most vehicle simply b/c it isn't a tire wear or pull adjustment. When a truck comes into our shop with DW, after verifying the integrity of the front end components we check caster...9 times out of 10, its fucked...
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Old 06-07-2007, 05:28 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So most likely you have to buy new ball joints and with the uppers being offset type to get your caster back to factory settings. Then back to the alingment shop.

I had a death wobble but it would only happen at slower speeds around 20-25 mph. I've never had one in my XJ at highway speeds, but I had on in my Bronco. It turned out to be a spring bucket. Helps to check everything!
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Old 06-08-2007, 12:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I pitty the person who built a jeep and never had a single bout with Death Wobble. I've fought mine since day 1 and have never not had an issue with some kind of wobble.

I'm just curious how you can do a SAS on a XJ and have never heard of Death Wobble before :P Unless you've never built a jeep I guess
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Old 06-08-2007, 12:57 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm just curious how you can do a SAS on a XJ...Unless you've never built a jeep I guess
That would be my variation on your question
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:05 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I had a DW once. I put a RE long arm kit on my 89 and replaced the stabilizer, and had no problems, at first. I put the kit on, then went straight to the con, same day. No issues on the way up or all weekend. But once I hit pavement after our trip, BAM, Death Wobble. All parts were new, so I thought WTF. One thing I didn't think of was the amount of abuse that it went through off road. Having all necessary tools, we stopped, adjusted the steering box(about 20mins) No more wobble since. It is just another thing to check out. Stock it usually isnt a problem, but put a lift on and it shows all of your weak(or unadjusted) parts. In another case we did all of the above and still got wobble. Then we checked the axle shaft u-joints. They were rusty and binding, causing a wobble at just the right driving scenario. Just a little advice from my experience. Jeremy
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:36 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I have the same thing you describe, though mine is not intermittant, it's when I hit certain bumps that my steering goes crazy. Check the stabilizer (i know that's one of my problems....I punctured it and the gas escaped), but also check the TREs. I have one loose (new TR sitting in the garage with new ends), and that also could cause it. Good luck.
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Old 06-11-2007, 08:32 AM   #18 (permalink)
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As stated above the stabilizer does not correct DW just masks it. Mine was the frame side bracket. Best thing I found to do was put somebody in the driver seat see-sawing the wheel and looking for play. took about 10 minutes. kevins off-road stuff above is good info as well.
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Old 07-11-2007, 02:40 PM   #19 (permalink)
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My take on "DW"

The “DEATH WOBBLES” are caused by the self-centering characteristics (Steering Inclination Angle and Caster) of the front suspension and wear. When one front tire, say the Right Tire/Wheel, is deflected away from center by hitting a bump, rain groove, tire problem, alignment problem or whatever, it in turn effects through the steering components, the Left Tire/Wheel away from center also. Because there is wear and flex within the steering components (tie rods, tie rod ends, drag links, idler arms, etc.) and suspension components (I-beam bushings, Radius Arm bushings, Ball Joints, etc.) there is a delay between the initiating Right Tire/Wheel and the reacting Left Tire/Wheel. Then, because of self-centering, the Right Tire/Wheel tries to move back to center just before the Left Tire/Wheel tries to move back to center, which because of the above wear and flex, is also being forced back over by the Right Tire/Wheel through the steering components. What happens is that the Right Tire/Wheel and Left Tire/Wheel get out of phase with each other and start a resonance that compounds until both Tire/Wheels are fighting each other as they are oscillating wildly back and forth out of phase. This harmonics will generally only stop when something disrupts it like turning the steering wheel quickly one way, slowing down, slamming on the brakes or even by hitting another bump.

So, the reason that you get so many different recommended fixes for the problem (new I-beam Bushings, new tires, new shocks, re-alignment, etc.) is because that all of them individually or several combined can be the trigger for “DEATH WOBBLES”. My experience has been that incorrect caster and toe settings are the biggest culprit. By incorrect, I do not mean based on the factory settings; those are for stock setup. Once you have lifted or modified the suspension or changed the Tire/Wheels factory setting may not be optimal. New components, being tighter will help to solve the problem, but I have found that more caster is the best solution assuming all good parts. Adding more caster increases the self-centering characteristic and helps to keep the Tire/Wheel tracking true and less likely to deflect away from center. “That same effect is what makes the truck want to go straight down the road at speed b/c each front tire is trying to get to it's lowest (unloaded) position. The lowest position for the left front is at full right turn and vice versa. At some point (hopefully going straight) they reach a balance.”
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:54 AM   #20 (permalink)
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check your trac bar bushings and replace them. it cured my death wobble for good.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:10 PM   #21 (permalink)
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check your trac bar bushings and replace them. it cured my death wobble for good.
Dead post....
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:19 PM   #22 (permalink)
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91 MJ... leafs up front with a HP 44. I had horrible death wobble, adjusted my toe-in and it is gone.

Check your alignment first. I run less than 1/16th toe measured off the inner lip of the rims.
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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i had a death wobble with the stock dana 30 changed a few parts and then figured out my axle houseing was bent! so i trashed the dana 30 and put a bronco dana 44 with long arm never had a wobble sense!
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Old 09-19-2007, 07:35 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Don't ignore the wobble....!
I had a "mild" case and could hit the brakes and it would go away. Then this past Sunday I hit a pot hole in the road at 30mph...the front end went ape pooop and shot me into the oncoming lane upside down






The Front Bumper/Stinger held up great!
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Old 09-19-2007, 08:25 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Now listen kids..........

This is what happens when you lift your XJ/TJ to the sky to fit little 35" tires and not "fix" everything that goes with that size lift. First of all, you don't need +8" lift ot fit 33-35's. Secondly, If you lift over 4.5" without doing drop brackets or long arms, you are asking to trouble. Can it be done yes, but you end up with very sh!ty arm angles, along with your castor being low if not negative.

This is not the first XJ I've seen with a sky high lift, 33-35, short arms and upside down. Do it right the first time, learn from all of our mistakes and experiences.

theHenz33 - I bet your problem is that your castor angle it very low (1-2 degrees) and the unbalance of your 37 claws are a starter of the DW. As soon as one of the claws hits a bump or something to cause an oscillation, you tire starts bouncing back and forth and the low caster set-up on your front axle can't correct it. Throw a 2 degree wedge under your front srings to bring the pinion down and caster somewhat back into spec. With your locking hub, the low pinion shouldn't matter at highway speeds because the front d/s isn't turning.
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