by Pat Goss
This time I want to explain a common problem that we see on a lot of 4- wheel drive vehicles, and every once in a while on a passenger car; but especially on Jeeps, and the problem is what’s called a death wobble; and what this is you're going down the highway; you’re doing highway speed; you hit a bump; and all of a sudden the vehicle the steering wheel everything starts shaking violently to the point that it’s difficult to even control it.
The only way to get rid of it is usually to pull off the side of the road, stop and then re- accelerate, and it will be fine until you hit the next big bump at speed.
Alright now, what are some of the things that you should look for. Well you want to look at all of the different bushings, and everything underneath; like here, we have a worn out sway bar link bushing, we have a worn out sway bar frame bushing.
We want to look at the bushings in the trailing arms. If the car is equipped with that anyone of these rubber bushings any place in here can allow movement so that when you hit a bump and your wheels start wobbling back and forth and they can’t be controlled.
Now here we have a track bar that of course wants to be checked.
There is a rubber bushing over there on the other end, but the number one problem right here this is a steering damper. It’s like a shock absorber for the steering system and it dampens out the sideways movements of the steering linkage, these things go bad, and when they do it doesn’t make any difference on how good or bad the rest of the system is, you will wind up with a death wobble.
So you check that very carefully because that’s the number one culprit right there; or of course you could have bad shock absorbers as well, and you could have a situation where none of these bushings are really badly worn but they and they all have a little bit of wear, and the cumulative effect of that is that there is enough free play in the entire suspension to cause the death wobble.
Also, if you’re going to do it you may want to do something like this. This is a master kit, this kit is a couple hundred bucks a little over two hundred with new shocks, and everything. This is poly urethane and it tightens up the suspension and the steering and makes it feel a lot more modern so poly- urethane is a good way to go, keep in mind though that putting some of these in can be a lot of labor, so in some cases you may find that it’s cheaper to buy new replacement arms and things like that.
Any way the problem can be solved and in most cases it’s not a huge expense.
And if you have a question or a comment drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.