Jeep Death Wobble: What It Is and How To Fix It?

Ever experienced a situation when the steering wheel of your Jeep gets entirely out of control, followed by severe jerks and bumps? This is called the death wobble.

Unfortunately, death wobble is real and a potential problem that has plagued a variety of Jeeps. Several steps could be taken to eliminate this issue, but in this condition first, pulling over your Jeep at a roadside is important.

In this blog, you will get all the information regarding death wobble, its causes, preventions, and solutions. So make sure to read this one.

Also Read: Can You Drive a Jeep Without Fenders?

What is death wobble in Jeep?

Death wobble is a term coined by car manufacturers for when the vehicle starts shaking violently. It happens when you take a speed of more than 45 miles per hour. Death wobble doesn’t only affect the steering wheel, but also the whole Jeep starts vibrating vigorously. Furthermore, when you suddenly hit a pothole or a bump, the steering wheel starts swaying left and right, making the drive uncontrollable. 

If you encounter any such situation, try to calm down and stop your Jeep as soon as possible to avoid a severe accident.

Jeep Death Wobble

Jeep death wobble model years

Death wobble is a common issue, and a few units from nearly every model of Jeep has reported it. But the specific models which have been reported often include the Jeep Cherokee XJ (1984-2001), Grand Cherokee ZJ (1993-1998), Grand Cherokee WJ (1999-2004), Wrangler TJ & LJ (1997-2006), and JK Wranglers (2007-present)

What causes death wobble in jeeps

When you travel above 45mph and suddenly hit a pothole or bump, the Jeep starts shaking. It might be an ordinary bump for you, but it could cause a severe disturbance in your Jeep’s actual speed and flow. It could be due to the improper installation of your aftermarket suspension parts, or inadequate alignment of your genuine suspension.

Some other causes include loose or damaged steering parts, worn-out suspension parts like the front track bar, upper/lower control arms, and ball joints. Moreover, death wobble can also occur if one loose component results in other parts’ alignment issues, mainly under the front axle.

However, none of the vehicles developed are immune to death wobble. Still, unfortunately, Jeep Wranglers are the ones that have potentially suffered from this issue over time and again.

How to handle death wobble?

If you pass through a speed breaker and suddenly feel like your Jeep has started shaking abnormally or the steering wheel has begun swaying from the left and right, leading into a death wobble, then don’t take your hands off your steering; grip it lightly but constantly. Try to bring your Jeep to a complete stop as soon as possible. In this situation, lower your speed to 35 mph and avoid sudden lane changes. Don’t press your brake pedals too hard, as it will result in skidding off your Jeep. Handle this situation smartly and with patience.

How do you fix the death wobble on a Jeep?

Fixing death wobble may not be easy for you, but diagnosing it is. Just get down under your Jeep and check which parts are broken. Some of the below parts are readily available in the local shops and can be DIY fixed without taking the Jeep to a garage.

Check the below-mentioned steering wheel components and suspension to inquire about the cause of death wobble.

  • All Bushings 
  • Steering Knuckles
  • Upper and Lower Control Arms
  • Drag Link
  • Steering Stabilizer
  • Front Track Bar

Visually observe whether the front track bar is loose or damaged. Also, check the bushing and mounting points for any breakage. Moreover, using a torque wrench, ensure all the bolts are fastened at 125 lbs./ft.

Ball Joints

For checking the ball joints, lift your front wheel using a jack to inspect the movement of the front tires. If the tires rotate perfectly fine, you must check other components.

Wheel bearing

While the vehicle is lifted through the jack, inspect other equipment like wheel bearings. You can check it by rotating your wheel. If you notice any wiggle, check for the wheel bearings. In case they are worn or lost, replace them at your earliest. Also, check the pressure of all tires to match the wheel balance. 

Jeep death wobble repair cost

The repair cost for the death wobble depends on the part to be replaced or repaired. If the tie rods have worn out, it will take $300 to $500 to get the new ones, while the labor cost will be around $50 to $80 for this job.

If the reason for death wobble is worn-out ball joints, the cost will range between $250 to $400, while the labor cost will be around $100 to $200.

Jeep’s front track bar could also be a reason for the death wobble, then the estimated cost will be around $250 to $500, and the labor cost will be $15 to $60. While repairing the toe angles, cast angles, or transfer angles will cost around $100 to $250.

All these costs depend on the quality of aftermarket parts you choose and the professional level of your mechanic. 

How to prevent death wobble?

Death wobble is a common issue in all the models of Jeep which cannot be wholly bypassed but could be prevented easily if you adopt the following habits:

  • Maintaining adequate tire pressure by regularly checking the tires and air-filling them if they felt deflated.
  • Inspecting the suspension system by lifting the front wheels by a jack. Ensure all the ball joints, bushing, tie rod, bearing, steering wheel, and other suspension components are working fine.
  • Make sure your wheels are adequately aligned and don’t contain any sway or wiggle.

Also Read: How to Reset The Anti-Theft on a Jeep

Final Thoughts

Death wobble is a severe problem and must not be ignored at any cost. Therefore, if you feel your steering wheel is swaying or your suspension is clunking, bring your jeep to a halt at a safer place and inspect the issue. 

In this article, I have provided you with multiple ways to diagnose the issues and techniques to DIY fix them. Hopefully, it was helpful for you. 

Till next time, have a safe drive.

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