Death Wobble...Where would you start? (1 Viewer)

Tachycardic

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I have a '94 that is completely stock. The death wobble has caused me to stop 3 times over the past 3k miles and it's time to address it. The vehicle has 285k on original suspension/steering components. I recently bought new tires and they were balanced 4 months ago. Alignment was performed 6 months ago.

I have tried turning the steering wheel while the vehicle is is off and did not notice any play in the tie rods. I jacked the truck up and did not notice any play when I rocked the top of the wheels. The panhard rod feels tight, but I'm thinking of removing it to see if there is any play. Any other thoughts? TIA.
 

clx16

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Original radius arm bushings? Upper and lower control arm bushings?
Bushings don't look cracked until you flex them many times.

How are the tires wearing? Can you feel welt like ridges when you run your hand over the tread.

From what you are saying it could be a lot of things and all of stuff seems due ....TREs, bushings, trunion bearings and wheel bearings, all the bushings. And shocks could use changing along with their bushings. It could be any of those or a bunch of those contributing.

They will have to get done eventually. And if it is really all original probably time ...
 
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Mine was a combo of incorrectly balanced tires (3rd balance at a different shop did it), and warped front brakes (only while braking of course). Brakes were so bad that the entire back of the truck felt like it was going to jump off the road under light braking. Bearings were loose too, but that only caused unbalanced tire wear (no wobble), to the point that I had a blowout at 80mph on the highway.

You'll probably want to give more details, like when it happens (acceleration, decel, braking, etc.).
 
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I’m with @dan1554 ...... More details needed. What speed? Did it just start or Has it been an issue since you installed new tires? Need a better picture of when this issue is happening.
 
Joined
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Olathe, KS, USA
Front wheel bearings
Knuckle studs
Tie rod ends
Tire pressures
Tire balance
Panhard rod bushings/bolts
Control arm bushings/bolts
Trunnion bearings
Sway bar bushings/bolts
Steering gear adjustment

In that order. Do not assume that because something was done 6 months ago that it was done correctly.

Wheel bearings coming loose is very common.
 
Joined
May 26, 2005
Messages
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Phoenix
Original radius arm bushings? Upper and lower control arm bushings?
Bushings don't look cracked until you flex them many times.

How are the tires wearing? Can you feel welt like ridges when you run your hand over the tread.

From what you are saying it could be a lot of things and all of stuff seems due ....TREs, bushings, trunion bearings and wheel bearings, all the bushings. And shocks could use changing along with their bushings. It could be any of those or a bunch of those contributing.

They will have to get done eventually. And if it is really all original probably time ...
Not trying to be a dick (it comes naturally), but @cybrstar is right. There are many threads with tons of good info about this, you'll get a lot of good info by reading them instead of asking people to regurgitate it all over. Folks have invested a lot of time on the subject already, it's a shame to waste that. Plus they are not going to repeat themselves over and over, you'll get more complete answers by searching first. You'll definitely find that people like @landtank have a lot more than three words to say on the subject.
 

Tachycardic

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Not trying to be a dick (it comes naturally), but @cybrstar is right. There are many threads with tons of good info about this, you'll get a lot of good info by reading them instead of asking people to regurgitate it all over. Folks have invested a lot of time on the subject already, it's a shame to waste that. Plus they are not going to repeat themselves over and over, you'll get more complete answers by searching first. You'll definitely find that people like @landtank have a lot more than three words to say on the subject.

i have searched and read quite a few threads about death wobble. However, most of them dealt with lifted trucks, not ones with completely original equipment. I have also searched youtube, but most videos involved jeeps or other vehicles that don't have radius arms like the 80 series. I have an idea of how I will tackle this, but I wanted some guidance on where I should start.

I guess there isn’t a most likely reason for death wobble. It seems like it could be equal parts of everything and anything.

i will add that it occurs at 60-65 mph. The wheel just shimmies right and left until I stop. Sometimes the brake pedal pulses until I come to a complete stop.

I guess I will start with alignment and balancing again—will be my third time since February. Wheel bearings were replaced with koyos about 8 months ago when I did the knuckle job. Replaced the front discs and pads around the same time. Everything else is original to the truck—TREs, bushes, dampers, springs, etc.
 
Joined
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i have searched and read quite a few threads about death wobble. However, most of them dealt with lifted trucks, not ones with completely original equipment. I have also searched youtube, but most videos involved jeeps or other vehicles that don't have radius arms like the 80 series. I have an idea of how I will tackle this, but I wanted some guidance on where I should start.

I guess there isn’t a most likely reason for death wobble. It seems like it could be equal parts of everything and anything.

i will add that it occurs at 60-65 mph. The wheel just shimmies right and left until I stop. Sometimes the brake pedal pulses until I come to a complete stop.

I guess I will start with alignment and balancing again—will be my third time since February. Wheel bearings were replaced with koyos about 8 months ago when I did the knuckle job. Replaced the front discs and pads around the same time. Everything else is original to the truck—TREs, bushes, dampers, springs, etc.

Good to hear that you've done some research. Death wobble is rare in stock trucks. In your case, and especially because of the pulsing brakes, I'd start by checking your wheel bearings. Lift the front axle (or one wheel at a time) and try to push the top of the tire in towards the engine, then pull it back, repeat several times. If you feel any movement, the wheel bearings or trunnion bearings are loose or worn. You can narrow it a bit by doing the same motion at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions of the tire, if you feel the same movement then it's likely your wheel bearings are loose.

As was mentioned, if you haven't already, you likely need to replace most of the bushings, tie rod ends, etc. If everything is worn out, it's all contributing.
 

leonard_nemoy

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Instead of throwing money at another alignment and balance try replacing the OEM parts that have lasted for 26 years and 280,000+ miles. None of the original steering or suspension parts on that rig owe you anything and they are crucial for the vehicles saftey. Besides most of the parts require an alignment if you replace them so you might as well change some parts than do another alignment.
 
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Feb 9, 2020
Messages
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SF Bay Area
Front wheel bearings
Knuckle studs
Tie rod ends
Tire pressures
Tire balance
Panhard rod bushings/bolts
Control arm bushings/bolts
Trunnion bearings
Sway bar bushings/bolts
Steering gear adjustment

In that order. Do not assume that because something was done 6 months ago that it was done correctly.

Wheel bearings coming loose is very common.

Yes!! Wheel bearings, knuckle studs, trunions. Usually not done correctly by unfamiliar mechanics.
 
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Denver
Sounds like a tough one. If you're taking it in for another balance, I'd ask around for recommendations for a local shop. They are NOT all equal, even if they fly the same brand. The Discount Tire across town is far better than the one closest to me. Thats what it took to get imbalance fixed for me.

An alignment shop worth their weight in salt should tell you if you have bearing issues.

Also don't forget that there are really inexpensive ways of trouble shooting tires, like grabbing a buddy's tires you know are balanced right and swapping them on for a test drive.

FWIW I don't see the point in search-shaming. Hope you can figure it out!
 
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bozeman montana
I had a Jeep and death wobble was always a huge concern of mine and now I have an 80 with 301k miles.... and it’s still a concern. If I were you I’d go with the easy stuff first. Checking wheel bearings, knuckle studs, and inspecting your panhard is a super quick job. And the best part of it all is that it’s a cheap place to start.
 

Tachycardic

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Good to hear that you've done some research. Death wobble is rare in stock trucks. In your case, and especially because of the pulsing brakes, I'd start by checking your wheel bearings. Lift the front axle (or one wheel at a time) and try to push the top of the tire in towards the engine, then pull it back, repeat several times. If you feel any movement, the wheel bearings or trunnion bearings are loose or worn. You can narrow it a bit by doing the same motion at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions of the tire, if you feel the same movement then it's likely your wheel bearings are loose.

As was mentioned, if you haven't already, you likely need to replace most of the bushings, tie rod ends, etc. If everything is worn out, it's all contributing.

I pushed and pulled the top of the tires in and away from the engine multiple times. Rock solid and no movement at all. I can feel slight movement when doing the same at the 0900 and 0300 positions. I'll check the wheel bearings thanks!
 

Tachycardic

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Instead of throwing money at another alignment and balance try replacing the OEM parts that have lasted for 26 years and 280,000+ miles. None of the original steering or suspension parts on that rig owe you anything and they are crucial for the vehicles saftey. Besides most of the parts require an alignment if you replace them so you might as well change some parts than do another alignment.

I'm in the camp of "fix what is broken". I'm trying to find out what is broken. But if you're telling me that I need to replace the entire front end, then I'm going to tell you that my wallet, and wife, are going to be very unhappy!
 
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I have systematically worked through a death wobble issue. Over time I’ve replaced all the bushings, bearings, & TRE’s in the front end. In my case The wobble now just comes under very predictable circumstance and I got no wobble at all once the tires get warm. ( in my case, At this point, it’s just the difficulty of balancing oversized bias ply tires.) My advice would be:

Do not pay to redo services already done, move on to the next component in the steering system. No one thing is more likely than another to cause death wobble. All the components are need to be replaced over time anyway.

Without hi-jacking this thread, this is the first time in my death wobble journey I’ve heard the knuckle studs could be a contributor.

What is a test to see if knuckle studs need to be replaced ? Does anybody have the tourque spec handy ? (Meanwhile I’ll search the archives on how to do the job !!)
 
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