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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
OK, I just bought a 2006 Jeep TJ with 65,000 miles a couple weeks ago. It's in great shape and test drove just fine. I didn't really like the wheels and tires that were on it at the used car lot and I wanted them switched with wheels tires from one of the others they were selling but the wife kinda liked these more and figured when new tires were needed we could sell the wheels we and get something better. Seemed OK to me.

Fast forward to about 15 miles from purchasing the Jeep, hit an area in the road with a bunch of not severe pothole patches and there it was. The dreaded Death Wobble! Had to slow down from about 45 to about 30 MPH do eliminate it. Made it home the next 30 miles no problem but it happened a few random times after that. Two or three times when crossing a small bridge over a small creek where leaving the bridge is like jumping off a step of about 2" or so.

This irritated the crap out of me. I knew it was possible and happens to various Jeeps all the time but 65,000 miles don't seem like alot.

I did some searches online and came up with everything from needing a new steering stabilizer or tires balanced ("yeah right," I initially said about both) to needing any number of various random suspension parts if not every part.

My son and I noticed the track bar having what looked like a ton of play on both ends. Well there's the problem we figured and swapped it out with one from Moog for $135. Others ranged in price from about $39.99 to over $200.00. The Moog (and most) were unadjustable. The first time it was driven the steering wheel was turned an 1/8th turn to go straight. OK we have something to adjust when we get back from this test drive. Well wouldn't you know what happened while "jumping" the little bridge, the Death Wobble.

Checking it out back at home there was still what seemed like too much play where the track bar mounted to the axle so we made sure it was tight enough, which it was. The track bar to frame had no play whatsoever. But we did notice that when turning the wheel back and forth the frame is pushed left to right about 1/8". The Jeep was not jacked up so that's why the frame was doing the moving instead of the axle. OMG! Do I have to replace every damn control arm or bushings at only 65,000 miles?

Well I made an appointment to take it to a repair shop that doesn't specifically work on Jeeps or anything specific for that matter, but they do work on everything. I trust them more than any shop. They even beat the dealer at fixing anything but if you want the warranty stuff done for free you have no choice.

Well last Wednesday afternoon in it went, after 3 or 4 episodes of Death Wobble just getting on a freeway that's under construction but not too bad surface-wise.

While talking to the shop owner, Jack, who used to work for a Chrysler/Dodge dealer, he said that about 15 years ago all the mechanics had a day long personal training by Chrysler engineers about "Death Wobble" mainly related to the 2500 and 3500 Dodge Rams. It seems to boil down to "scrub radius" which is where the centerline of the tire intersects the centerline created by the location of both upper and lower ball joints. They should intersect as close as possible on the road surface. IIRC the biggest problem on the trucks was that the factory wheels used a maximum backspace. This brings the intersection above the road surface. To fix that problem wheel spacers were installed to move the wheels out and the intersection down. Easy enough.

This brings the opposite issue, minimal backspaced wheels, usually aftermarket, to be causing the same problem, "Death Wobble". Minimal backspace puts the intersection below the road surface. Adding taller tires will move the intersection up but a lift kit may be needed to get tall enough tires to put the intersection where it should be.

After getting that information from him while they were setting the Jeep up for an alignment test, they checked all the suspension parts and felt that none were in need of replacement. OK, nice to hear that. Then they checked the "scrub radius" which the alignment machine doesn't. Checking it really just creates a rough estimate of what it is. Mine looked to have the two lines about 1 1/2" apart on the surface of the rack it was sitting on which puts the intersection about 2 1/2" to 3" below the surface. Thanks aftermarket wheels!

Next was checking the alignment, which started with toe in being manual checked with a tape measure showing about 1/2" toe in. Whoa! That seems like alot... because it is. The machine showed toe in as 1.16 degrees which works out to pretty darn close to the 1/2" measured.

Everything else was well within tolerance so toe in adjustment was all that was done. Adjusted to .24 degrees pretty darn close to the minimal requirement of .18 degrees. And even though the alignment machine doesn't check the steering wheel angle they straightened that up too.

Well I haven't had the jeep back on the freeway under construction but did "jump" the bridge and absolutely no "Death Wobble" there. I do randomly feel a second long or so minor shake of the steering wheel after hitting a slight pothole patch. I think may only happen when the right side hits the bump, not sure yet and it may be somewhat due to the backspacing of the aftermarket wheels.

Considering that the only adjustment that brought the alignment back in spec was the toe in and that nothing was replaced after the track bar, which may have helped but certainly didn't fix it, the problem causing "Death Wobble" on my Jeep was the toe in being almost 5 times higher than it should have been.

FWIW, I will be on that freeway again tomorrow, I'm pretty sure there won't be a problem there, man I hope not, but either way the results will be posted.

Jeep on alignment rack:


Wheels I really don't like even if they had original backspacing:


Wheels with new BF Goodrich ATF tires I should have asked for when buying Jeep:
 

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I have fought death wobble on 2 different dana 30 front ends, where 5 other Jeeps I had never had it. It's not ever 1 part. It's typically tires and ?. A steering stabalizer masks the problem until it's damper can't anymore, then it comes back.

I do agree that tires & wheels play a BIG part in creating the environment where it happens, and the toe in numbers you're reporting are so wrong it's not surprising you had it. Not those wheels though. The black & silver ones are not a wrong enough offset for scrub radius to be the problem. I bet they're 15x8 with about 4.5-5BS, which is 1/2" from OEM numbers. The black steel wheels are probably 15x8 with 4" bs, so they'd have an inch more scrub than the black/silver wheels. A steel wheel will sometimes have runout which creates it, where the center locking tire balancing machine can get it to balance with 0 weight, but if you lug mount it on the vehicle then there's runout. DW everytime.

First I would always recommend a tire rotation. Its the tires 9/10ths of the time.

Second I recommend control arm bushings. It looks like you've bought a nice low mile TJ Rubicon, and clean examples are getting to be few & far between. OEM control arms come with 2 new bushings for about $30, you need 4 for the front, that only gets you 14 of 16 bushings though, the last 2 are pressed into the axle housing for the uppers, replace those UCA bushings at $7 a pop along with 4 new OEM control arms, and your TJ will ride like a DREAM. Most times I'm recommending them to someone that just came out of pocket $3000 for a lift kit that only came with 14/16ths of the bushings they needed...

Then the steering box. Unfortunately at this point we are playing russian roulette with steering boxes. Your new Rubi has a 4 bolt box, so you've got a more rare unit, the 3 bolt boxes reman'd are 50/50 for getting a crap one and having DW out of the box.

Ball joints are in question, but you should have other shakes & shimmies that never go away if those are the problem. Spicer or nothing. Do not replace them with anything other than Spicer.

Last is the steering you replaced. Moog is a good name for your drag link & tie rod. A 1994 V8 Grand Cherokee uses a slightly thicker tie rod, you could bolt that in and still be OEM with a little beefier steering. It's only so stoudt though, as it mounts to the OEM drag link and they all got the same part number for that.

Good luck with your Jeep, you picked one of the best ones they ever made, and if you keep it as clean as the day you bought it, I doubt it depreciates. To that end, drop the center skid plate, clean it, clean the frame where it mounts to the frame, and re-install it. Rust likes to start in the intersection of the two. It will also be eating your rear upper spring perches at the frame, and the rear crossmember the gas tank hangs from. Do your best to remove everything from inside the frame rails and get a few cans of Eastwood internal frame coating, they're spray paint cans specially formulated for painting over rust with flexible nozzles that you can jam 2 or 3 feet up inside the frame rails. Rust is the only thing that can stop that thing.

Ben
 

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Agree with everything above.
It's good to start with the simplest things and move from there. I fought with DW on my WJ after a 3" lift.
Luckily for Jeeps there is no shortage in the aftermarket for beefy steering and suspension products. I used my misfortune to upgrade many parts... death wobble was a nice excuse to do so. I ended up with long arm suspension, JKS adjustable track bar, beefy tie rod and tie rod ends.
Pics for clicks
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses guys.

Here's an update, ending not so good.

Two days ago I decided to rotate the tires to try to do away with the random minor shake of the steering wheel. I figured it should help due to both front tires being more warn on the outer edge than the inner edge with one front tire being slightly more warn than the other while both rear tires were just about identical to each other.

While the wheels were off I checked the backspacing. The black/silver 17" wheels have 5" backspace while the spare is a 16" alloy Jeep wheel that I figure is original with a 4.75" backspace. Not as different as I expected.

Rotating really didn't seem to make much difference.

And tonight it happened. Not due to hitting any pothole patches, randomly hitting those was fine, and no "Death Wobble" from "jumping" the bridge on our way to the same restaurant as every other time we've "jumped" it. But it happened about 50 MPH on pretty much normal flat road and then 2 or 3 more times on the next road we were on. That next road was repaved last week and felt OK. We eventually ended up where paving wasn't finished so we were down to just one layer and no problems there.

Gitcha Sum, I've read your post a couple of times and really appreciate all of it. Just a couple of questions.

Would the control arm bushings be going bad at 65,000 miles or is it due to 12 years of age?

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at control arms from a couple sites. Here's one example: https://www.moparpartscorp.com/auto...ont-suspension-cat/suspension-components-scat

I'm pretty sure those are OEM.

The lower arms were around $70 the uppers around $35 but I couldn't find anything for the bushings in the axle. Do these bushings need to come from the dealer or maybe everything should come directly from the dealer?


Thanks again guys.
 

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Rotating DID make a difference, it brought DW back. My first response was "it's usually tires and ?". Do you know anyone around that would switch wheels & tires with you long enough for you to take a ride & see if it changes drastically?

Part of your wheel problem stems from the fact that your Rubi had 16" wheels from the OEM, and now 10 years later you're pretty much being pushed into either a 15 or a 17.

Death Wobble itself is a harmonic event. In a TJ wrangler, it truly only happens in the 45-55mph range, and by 20mph you're confused, pretty sure you're not gonna die, and starting to realize you've s*** yourself.
It's always right around 50mph, when tires are horrible or wheels have RUNOUT (not imbalance but are out of round), this sets off a shake of the entire suspension where it is transferring massive amounts of energy from the wheels toeing out then toeing in. On the inverted Y steering, as your suspension lifts & lowers your toe changes in & out, and during DW the body of the jeep is floating/shaking while the axle is bouncing up & down toeing in & out as it's turning left & right. This absolutely hammers parts. Your steering box is likely used up now (or at very least has more backlash), your steering damper/stabalizer is toast, your shocks are tired of it and burnt up if they werent new, your tie rods are closer to needing replaced, and your knuckle ball joints certainly didn't get any tighter in their press fit housings. I don't know how many times you've set off true death wobble, but if it's been a few then you gotta consider not only what was letting it do that, but what that did to other things.

With that said, you've got a really good vehicle and you're not a lot of money from a nice ride, tires are your main cost.
I would start with new tires on wheels you like, they will roll great and stop beating up all your parts, I'd bet they "cure" death wobble (even though you haven't really yet).
Then I would evaluate shocks, spending good money on good shocks is directly related to how nice your car will ride.

Then I would plan a time to roll the front axle out from under the Jeep. I'd take all 4 arms off the Jeep, the shocks, & the steering, and pull your whole Rubi 44. I'd put new Spicer ball joints in the knuckles, new Spicer 760x joints in the axle shafts, new UCA Bushings in the housing, and 4 new arms in, and roll it back up under. I'd pop the cover dump the fluid and wipe out the inside of the housing & put new fluid in. Now your front end is rock solid.

I would not replace the steering box unless it was checked for slop and determined to be bad inside.
I would not recommend any steering assembly other than OEM with a ZJ tie or Currie Ultimate. Do the OEM one or the undisputed best one, all the others are distractions - if you want me to tell you exactly why each aftermarket steering system is **** I will but that's for another reply...

At that point, I'd bet if you put those old mastercraft tires on you could hit a pothole with 1 tire at 52mph and NOT get death wobble.

As for the parts...

Here is the arms:
https://www.quadratec.com/products/56005_0110_07.htm
If you change them, bolt them back in, but let the Jeep back down & sitting on level ground before you do final tightening of the bolts. These will also force you to maintain the factory cam alignment bolts, you'll find a lot of information about adjustable arms out there, in your case I'm not sure they're the right move unless you plan to do a lift or some offroading. OEM arms are more than fine for fire roads & any camping you might encounter.

Here is the front uppers:
https://www.quadratec.com/p/omix-ad...-jeep-wrangler-tj-unlimited-00-01-cherokee-xj
They press in & out. The driver side is in a casting ear on the diff, it's a very stoudt mount, somewhat easy to press the new one in. The passenger side is 2 sheets of steel, you have to fit a socket in between them for pressing in/out or you will collapse the bracket. I usually weld a little strip along the front to box it in, that also keeps it from collapsing on a more permanent basis.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks again for more information.

I guess I'll be looking for some new tires/wheels.

The black wheels I pictured seemed OK to me but my main reason for wanting those in trade during the sale was the BF Goodrich ATs that still had dye on the white lettering. Oh well, those are the tires I'm still thinking about but I'm not really sure about wheels. Being in my early 50s it shouldn't surprise anyone when I say something like I need some Jackmans, even though I don't think they were the best, they certainly looked it back then. Jeeps, Broncos, dune buggies, OH YEAH!! And FWIW, I know white wheels won't work on any color modern vehicle especially a silver Jeep.

As for swapping tires to test the Jeep, I only know two people with Jeeps. The one guy's multiple Jeeps only have 5 x 5.5 bolt pattern, ahhh.. the good old days, and my son's rusty YJ with BF Goodrich ATs that are way too tall and wide to put on the TJ. Also his wheels look like they have less than 4" backspacing on 10" wide wheels. Probably wouldn't help the death wobble on the TJ but certainly isn't a problem with the leaf spring front end. Damn it, what were they thinking when going to coils?

Also, I saw a not rusty, yet no longer shiny, TJ in a store parking lot. I waited until the owner came by and found out it's 16 yrs old with about 125,000 miles and decent BF Goodrich ATs on aftermarket wheels. Nothing replaced besides tie rod ends and no death wobble, yet his axle shifts slightly when turning the wheel back and forth just like mine does.

Hopefully tires/wheels are my last attempt at getting this taken care of. I guess we'll see.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well time seems to be moving pretty fast while fixing the Jeep is just taking it's time.

FWIW, I had the Jeep back at the shop to tell Jack about the DW being worse since I rotated the tires. He looked around for some wheels/tires that would fit to test out the Jeep. Turns out he had removed the winter wheels/tires from his Mazda and they had the correct bolt pattern (formerly used on his Magnum). The tires were 225/60 R18. I had them, on the front only, for one day and had no DW at all. not on patched roads, not at 60 mph on the repaved road and not at 70 mph on the freeway.


Went back to Jack's figuring I'd trade his wheels/tires to get mine back but he had found a set of two used 265/70 R18 Firestones and put them on the rims his winter tires were on.

Had them on for a day also and the only problem I had was around 60 mph on the freeway everything wanted to vibrate. I slowed down before DW took over, if it was even going to. I'm sure they were balanced correctly so I don't know what's up there. Even so they were better than mine.


I weighed the wheels while at the shop. Not sure how accurate the scale was but it showed my wheels/tires about 63#. The wheels/tires with no problems at about 54# and the Firestones about 66#.

Jack says the narrower tires seemed to help the most. Not sure how accurate that is. His wheels were also somewhat different than mine, slightly more backspace while slightly narrower than mine which might have helped more, or not.

After getting my tires back on I personally went to DaveysJeeps (.com) about 15 miles from my house. I couldn't believe they had a set of the wheels that were only available on the 2006 Rubicon. Since I already had one as the spare, these were just as good as mine and I need some kind of new wheels, I'm glad they took a debit card. They weigh in at about 22#s each.


I've wanted to add some BF Goodrich AT radials. But not sure what size. I don't really want to get too narrow and the height seems to not vary directly with the width. Whatever tires I end up getting, if the DW continues with it's bad habit I can see some front end parts getting replaced.
 

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I need some Jackmans
Shooooot. Now you're talking. I haven't seen a set of Jackmans in decades. I'll take mine painted white & wrapped in a 16.5" Buckshot Mudder.

:thumbup: :beer:

In all honesty I agree with running a tire on the skinny side. I really like how 17x7 with a 255/75r17 (about 32x10) makes these ride. But you scored the OEM wheel which is the right move. I would just wrap them in a tall/narrow metric whatever, if it's 12 or 13" wide that's too much. They look cool that way, but they just don't need it. Not for sand. Not for mud, snow, whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
And here's the latest update Gitcha Sum and everyone:

I've pretty much always been wanting another set of the BF Goodrich AT radials since my first, and only, set about 25 years ago, long before any KO was added to the name. I was seriously looking at 235/85R16. They're not super narrow and they're 31 1/2" tall. Also thinking about the 245/78R16, (the original factory size). Went to get them from Jack's shop. He seemed to prefer Goodyear Duratracs.

I had seen Duratracs online but by the looks of them I thought they were more of an off-road tire than an all terrain. Oops, guess I was wrong on that. Anyway, Jack looked up both brands from his supplier and found that each comes in both those sizes. While Jack's opinion of narrow (we tested the DW with 225s) seemed considerably narrower than the less than 12 or 13" you mentioned, the main reason I was even looking at these particular sizes is that I don't want too wide and tall to possibly effect DW, yet I do want as tall as possible (with no lift), and based on BFG's pricing I found online, I saw 31" height can jump the price by $50 or so each.

As much as Jack has impressed me in the past, he took yet another step up, and ordered one of each size and brand, 4 total. The delivery truck shows up at least once a day and Jack's cost on that is nothing, so that's cool.

Then there they were, sitting on a shelf side by side. They all looked really good, and I really did like the "muddier" look of the Duratecs.
On the 235/85R16s I knew the 235 would be pretty much the whole width of the tire but wanted to make sure the tread would look wide enough on the stock wheels because the specs called for a 7 1/2" wide wheel max. Low and behold, the tread width of the BFG was about 7 ½”, the Duratrac about 7 ¾”. Based on that, the 235/85R16s fit the bill OK in my book. Add the more aggressive look of the Duratrac and the somewhat thick rim protector and Goodyear beat out the BFGs.

Three more 235/85R16s ordered and installed on Thursday afternoon and later that day I came to find out that the Bantam Jeep Festival started the next day. Only 50 miles from my house! I went on Friday for the better weather. I stayed off the freeway because this was my first drive over 4 miles with the new tires. Did around 50 to 55 mph a few times with no DW. Since that was so good I took the freeway home. A little farther but a little quicker. 65 to 70 mph for me. No real problems there either. Did get a couple of very minor random short vibrations when hitting some bumps at no particular speed. More so if hitting with the right side but still totally drive-able until something wears more. These tires are Load Range E. There was no lower Load Range option on this size like the 245/75R16s and most of the other sizes have. I wouldn't have gone lower anyway, they're hard and they ride the way a Jeep (or truck) tire should.

And here they are, at a coffe shop on the way to Bantam:
 
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