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

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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!
At 285k miles the majority of the vehicles steering and suspension components will need to be replaced. Replace steering box, drag link ends, tie rod ends, track bar bushings, shocks and steering stabilizer, wheel bearings, trunion bearings, and sway bar bushings. All of these worn out items will add up to significant excess movement in the system as a whole. It is usually less shocking financially to replace these items slowly as the miles pile up. Since no maintenance or repairs has ever been done the components have all been pushed beyond their service life completely resulting in a large lump sum of repairs. As far as cost, when one purchases a vehicle cost of maintenance and repairs needs to be part of the planned budget, not just the purchase price. May be a sensible time to find a cheaper vehicle to drive. A low mileage corolla or camry are great options and are less expensive to repair and maintain.
 
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Knuckle studs torque is 71 LB-FT.

If you don't have an FSM, please get one.

If you go through and check things in order, you'll work through them.

Did you check the wheel bearings with the wheel off the ground?
If you did and you have 3:00 to 9:00 movement, what does that tell you?
 
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Hi, The next time it happens, hold your speed with one foot, lightly press down on the brake with other foot. If it goes away ,the problem may be your torque converter. Mike
 
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I'm in the camp of "fix what is broken".
That's a very foolish camp to be in while trusting your life and others to a 6000 pound 26 year old vehicle with 285K miles on it. Waiting for parts to break before fixing them is how folks get stranded on the side of the road, and that is the BEST case scenario. I hesitate to mention anything else.
Land Cruisers are industrial pieces of equipment and require periodic maintenance to remain safe and reliable. If you've gotten away with more than a quarter million miles without basic maintenance, I'd say you're pretty lucky.
 
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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.
Reason 1 to check them- if you don't know they are tight, you should check. They are a common issue, and if left loose the carnage can be severe.

Reason 2- anything in the steering system that is loose can contribute to death wobble. A loose knuckle definitely qualifies.

Reason 3- Death wobble puts a lot of strain on steering components. If the knuckle studs were questionable before, they may get much worse due to the forces involved, leading to more trouble.
 

Heckraiser

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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.
This. Plus new shocks if that doesn't do the trick.

This really can't be diagnosed over the internet. Time to start working through the list. As @aktundra said, it's a systematic approach. Too many things could contribute this problem for you to pin down just one culprit until, well, you pin it down. At 285k, it's time to replace just about every bit of suspension anyway.
 

leonard_nemoy

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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!

I actually agree with the don't fix it if it ain't broke mentality. You might total the rig tomorrow so don't waste money on parts and repairs that aren't needed. That being said, if you are experiencing death wobble than something is certainly broke and needs fixing because death wobble is a serious issue that is putting your life and others in danger. I don't think you need to replace every suspension and steering part, but you should thoroughly check every suspension and steering component and fix whatever is loose or worn out.

If your truck really has that many miles on all original parts than you can guarantee there are parts that need replacing so it would be pointless to spend more money on another alignment versus worn out parts.
 

Tachycardic

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If you can’t fix these trucks on your own and your wallet can’t pay the freight to have a professional do it for you, you shouldn’t own one.

You are absolutely right. It was foolish of me to purchase the vehicle in the first place. I’ll be selling it soon and will consider something else. Thank you for pulling me back into reality.
 
Joined
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Hi, Try simple ,cheap things first. Most of the time it is something simple. We all come here hopefully to learn and pass on non judge mental information. Mike
 

clx16

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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.
The way I read "occurs at 60-65mph and the wheel just shimmies right and left until i stop" is that it rides fine up until that point. Do you remember if there is a bump or turn or something that happens right before the shimmy starts(pushes it over the edge so the speak)... i.e. something to get that started? . I was going to ask you to measure your height to see how much sag your have from stock springs but that would just mean more caster and i think that wouldn't cause the shimmy. bad shocks or broken rubber bushings can cause some crazy things i think you can almost visually see issues there. Not to contradict those that know more on the subject above, but my process would be to check the most dangerous first and work your way in.. the studs that have been mentioned have to be checked (i am in need to check mine again as i recently did the BIRF job), those can literally kill you and others so I would check those, and the nuts closest to the shield for the brakes may need a socket that is swiveled for you to get to them and check.

Then if those are good, I would disconnect the sway bar and take two jacks and put one on the frame and one on the opposite side but axle and start flexing out both the radius arm bushings (mostly the ones at the frame) and the panhard bar bushings so you can look for cracks and worst to see if any have split and give way to to a geometry change at speed. The geometry change which would allow the wheels to be out of control or out of parallel. do each side with opposing jacks (if that makes sense). While each step ends up with one wheel in the air, check wobble of the lifted wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock and 3 and 9 o'clock. play at 12 and 16 can be bearings loose wheel bearings or trunnion bearings (mind were broken i found a few weeks ago, didn't know it but after cleaning old parts found out: PM for the win here). 3 and 9 o'clock can be wheel bearings too, but is often a sign of tierod ends. might even be something in the steering box, (not sure that is going to be the issue).

really get up close and look during the flexing to see if you have any cracks or breakages of all those rubber bushings.

Just a thought.. you said wheel bearings were changed recently and i assume trunnion bearings were part of that service, there is a shim that is used on those, you might ask the person who did it, if they checked preload and used the shim or threw it away. Mine seemed good with the shim so i didn't mess with it that much, but it is something to think about.

Also on an old Ford Courier i had the same situation you have.... different vehicle... but fixed it once i realized my father hadn't tightened the lugnuts. it was 55 not 60 where its started to make us have to change our underwear...

I really don't think the issue you have is going to be expensive nor is the cost going to be anywhere near the cost of finding another vehicle so i wouldn't be too worried about that.

hopefully this helps and you find it and can post it back what solved it. someone else running original and stock height will likely need this info someday.
 

Tachycardic

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The way I read "occurs at 60-65mph and the wheel just shimmies right and left until i stop" is that it rides fine up until that point. Do you remember if there is a bump or turn or something that happens right before the shimmy starts(pushes it over the edge so the speak)... i.e. something to get that started? . I was going to ask you to measure your height to see how much sag your have from stock springs but that would just mean more caster and i think that wouldn't cause the shimmy. bad shocks or broken rubber bushings can cause some crazy things i think you can almost visually see issues there. Not to contradict those that know more on the subject above, but my process would be to check the most dangerous first and work your way in.. the studs that have been mentioned have to be checked (i am in need to check mine again as i recently did the BIRF job), those can literally kill you and others so I would check those, and the nuts closest to the shield for the brakes may need a socket that is swiveled for you to get to them and check.

Then if those are good, I would disconnect the sway bar and take two jacks and put one on the frame and one on the opposite side but axle and start flexing out both the radius arm bushings (mostly the ones at the frame) and the panhard bar bushings so you can look for cracks and worst to see if any have split and give way to to a geometry change at speed. The geometry change which would allow the wheels to be out of control or out of parallel. do each side with opposing jacks (if that makes sense). While each step ends up with one wheel in the air, check wobble of the lifted wheel at 12 and 6 o'clock and 3 and 9 o'clock. play at 12 and 16 can be bearings loose wheel bearings or trunnion bearings (mind were broken i found a few weeks ago, didn't know it but after cleaning old parts found out: PM for the win here). 3 and 9 o'clock can be wheel bearings too, but is often a sign of tierod ends. might even be something in the steering box, (not sure that is going to be the issue).

really get up close and look during the flexing to see if you have any cracks or breakages of all those rubber bushings.

Just a thought.. you said wheel bearings were changed recently and i assume trunnion bearings were part of that service, there is a shim that is used on those, you might ask the person who did it, if they checked preload and used the shim or threw it away. Mine seemed good with the shim so i didn't mess with it that much, but it is something to think about.

Also on an old Ford Courier i had the same situation you have.... different vehicle... but fixed it once i realized my father hadn't tightened the lugnuts. it was 55 not 60 where its started to make us have to change our underwear...

I really don't think the issue you have is going to be expensive nor is the cost going to be anywhere near the cost of finding another vehicle so i wouldn't be too worried about that.

hopefully this helps and you find it and can post it back what solved it. someone else running original and stock height will likely need this info someday.

This will probably be my last post as the truck is pending sale and I've moved on to a Ford Superduty. I just came to the harsh realization that my 80-series can't practically be a daily driver and tow vehicle without significant time investments.

The wobble has always started while driving on the highway. The highways in question are the 215 in Vegas and the I-15 to Salt Lake City. They are good roads, but like most highways, they have some construction areas that *may* have triggered the wobble.

The trunnion and wheel bearings were replaced at the same time, along with the seals--the full kit was purchased and installed in Nov '19 from Cruiser Outfitters. However, the first wobble did not happen until April '20--should I have expected the bearings to come loose after a certain time? Are they like lug nuts where you should recheck them after a few miles?

Speaking of the lug nuts, they were tightened to 108 ft/lbs because Costco. I should have paid attention to this as many have pointed out on this site (I did search this!) that the lug nuts for aluminum alloy wheels on a '94 should be tightened to 76 ft/lbs.

TREs feel tight and I cannot appreciate detectable slop or play when turning the steering wheel side to side when the truck is on the ground. All of the dampers, springs, and TREs are original to the truck and they probably should be replaced, but honestly, I tend to dying covid patients at work and have neither the time, nor energy, to tend to an aging truck at home--I'm pretty smoked after work.

I checked the stud nuts and they were loose. Tightened those to 75 ft/lbs (I read the range was 71-80 ft/lbs for stock). The studs themselves where tight. The front sway bar bushings were shot. These are the most likely culprits, and ironically, I would have found these issues without posting on the forums. I was just thinking about how things would have turned out without the drama--without the sheppards pouncing on wounded sheep--perhaps my love for the 80 would still be there, but instead, I'm left feeling bitter and abandoned by the very resource that had helped me so much in the past. As a result, my 80 was on the receiving end of my frustration--hence the sale.

Anyways, I hope someone, somewhere, will find this info useful. As I sign off, all I ask is that you respect one another and be patient with the newbies. This, for the most part, is a great community and resource. Please understand that some of us aren't the most mechanically inclined, and don't have hours to spend searching forums and watching videos. A quick shout out to Kernal, who has always been kind and patient with me--even taking the time and effort to reach out to me and point me in the right direction. I wish you all good health and thanks.
 
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Messages
8,688
This will probably be my last post as the truck is pending sale and I've moved on to a Ford Superduty. I just came to the harsh realization that my 80-series can't practically be a daily driver and tow vehicle without significant time investments.

The wobble has always started while driving on the highway. The highways in question are the 215 in Vegas and the I-15 to Salt Lake City. They are good roads, but like most highways, they have some construction areas that *may* have triggered the wobble.

The trunnion and wheel bearings were replaced at the same time, along with the seals--the full kit was purchased and installed in Nov '19 from Cruiser Outfitters. However, the first wobble did not happen until April '20--should I have expected the bearings to come loose after a certain time? Are they like lug nuts where you should recheck them after a few miles?

Speaking of the lug nuts, they were tightened to 108 ft/lbs because Costco. I should have paid attention to this as many have pointed out on this site (I did search this!) that the lug nuts for aluminum alloy wheels on a '94 should be tightened to 76 ft/lbs.

TREs feel tight and I cannot appreciate detectable slop or play when turning the steering wheel side to side when the truck is on the ground. All of the dampers, springs, and TREs are original to the truck and they probably should be replaced, but honestly, I tend to dying covid patients at work and have neither the time, nor energy, to tend to an aging truck at home--I'm pretty smoked after work.

I checked the stud nuts and they were loose. Tightened those to 75 ft/lbs (I read the range was 71-80 ft/lbs for stock). The studs themselves where tight. The front sway bar bushings were shot. These are the most likely culprits, and ironically, I would have found these issues without posting on the forums. I was just thinking about how things would have turned out without the drama--without the sheppards pouncing on wounded sheep--perhaps my love for the 80 would still be there, but instead, I'm left feeling bitter and abandoned by the very resource that had helped me so much in the past. As a result, my 80 was on the receiving end of my frustration--hence the sale.

Anyways, I hope someone, somewhere, will find this info useful. As I sign off, all I ask is that you respect one another and be patient with the newbies. This, for the most part, is a great community and resource. Please understand that some of us aren't the most mechanically inclined, and don't have hours to spend searching forums and watching videos. A quick shout out to Kernal, who has always been kind and patient with me--even taking the time and effort to reach out to me and point me in the right direction. I wish you all good health and thanks.
It sounds to me like you have a lot of stress going on in your life, thus probably why some of the frank responses got to you. Honestly we would hate to see you go, and hate to see you sell your cruiser. Thank you for dealing with Covid patients! That is really very much appreciated! On the other hand because of the age and miles on your 80 series, just know you have to be proactive to make it reliable and safe. It also takes some fair amount of coin, especially if you don't do the work yourself. It sounds like you have already fixed some big ticket items. If you seriously think you can continue to keep up with the repairs a 80 takes to make reliable, stick with it and most here will be happy to help. But if you can't keep up with it, I want you to be honest about that because it can be dangerous to have a unsafe vehicle and nobody wants you or your family to get hurt when a neglected wheel bearing locks up at 70mph-just an example and sounds like you've done some front end work. From what you have said it sounds like new shocks, and a new steering stabilizer would be the likely solution to your death wobble. I myself underestimated how much it took to get my 80 reliable. Was it worth it to me? Honestly Im 50/50 on that. I love driving it now. But looking back part of me wishes I just bought a used 200 series.
 

clx16

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It was good having you around, and I hope you someday move in to the "and" category in place of the "or" category. I think everyone needs something that they can distract themselves with from the pressures of their regular job. I am sure your new purchase will meet your needs, but you probably won't get to enjoy working on it. In this instance you might be making the right choice, I would say that having work that important, sometimes it is good to ask for actually hands on help with these things. I am not good at it, but if you lived closer, I am sure some of the diagnostics could have been done for you by other mud members. Anyway. best of luck to you and thank you for the work you are doing to help others. Keep it up, some of us are not so skilled to fill that gap.
 

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