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Old 11-12-2012, 01:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Death Wobble Problem

I've done a lot of searching and even though there seems to be lots of info on death wobbles none really seem to match my case. Or maybe I just don't have the right background to understand that what they are saying is really the same thing.

Anyway what I seem to have can start at any speed but seems to be more likely on rough roads or higher speeds. Once the rattle starts it won't stop until either I stop the truck or a lot of times it will stop if I sharply jerk the wheel in either direction. Not enough to actually turn much but just to forcefully get out of the dead zone. I have quite a bit of dead space in my steering wheel, maybe 2-3 "hours" You can pretty clearly feel the boundaries of the dead space. I've noticed that it's less likely to start if I hold the wheel with some tension meaning that I'm out of the dead space but just barely. Long lane changes do wonders but I don't want to get pulled over for DWI

One other thing is that if the truck is not moving and I turn the steering wheel the entire front end moves from side to side. I can probably get a good 2-3" of movement in either direction

Any ideas?
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Old 11-13-2012, 02:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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jack up thefront wheel and see if you can move it around...try both sides...if you have alot of movement..could be the swivel balls...
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Be methodical on your diagnosis:
With the wheels on the ground have someone move the steering wheel back and forth.
While they are doing that start with the steering wheel to steering gearbox shaft and find where there is movement on the steering wheel side of a connection and none, or less, on the road wheel side of the connection.

It could be (probably is) also any combination of:

Steering shaft u-joint loose on shaft or steering gearbox (least likely)
Internal play in steering gearbox (adjusting nut on top)
Loose pitman arm
Loose steering box mounting bolts (or any other loose bolts in the steering system)
Ball joints
Panhard rod fixings/bushings - Sounds likely (Not directly connected to steering, but centralizes axle with chassis to prevent relative side to side movement)
Loose wheel bearings
Swivel pin preload

Other worn suspension bushings will contribute, as will worn tires (which they probably are if the steering is that sloppy)
Check everything in the list and make sure they are all up to par. If the problem persists then you need to adjust the swivel pin preload. If needing adjustment I'd go for a rebuild rather than just removing shims which is nearly always only a short term fix anyway.

Edit: removed irrelevant first line
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Last edited by antichrist; 11-21-2012 at 04:56 AM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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After having replaced most of the stuff mentioned above, And it all needed it.... I STILL had the death wobble...

Mine turned out to be caused by a stuck adjuster on the track rod keeping the adjustment from being correctly made.. It was either toed too far out or too far in.....like 3/8 of an inch.
When I finally got the track rod where it could be adjusted and the front wheels aligned correctly. The wobble went completely away..


So. Check all that stuff. Free movement is NOT good.. Mine is down to zero now.. Steering wheel moves.. Wheels move... But the death wobble was caused by alignment in my case...
Definately check all the tie rod ends.. There are four.. Three right hand thread and one left hand...Panhard rod bushings keep the front end from moving L/R as it goes up and down...
Check the bolts holding the steering box to the frame.
Especially go over the steering colum ujoint bolts.. You need to get that play out of there...

But, First, Check the alignment.. I took the front wheels off and measured the front and back sides of the brake rotor with a tape measure.. When correct I was I believe spliting 53.5 inches.. The back side a hair under, The front side a hair over...I hope that measurement is correct.. Whatever yours is they should be essentially the same just front over back under..Split whatver line you get...Do this FIRST...

Good Luck


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Old 11-21-2012, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I second the middle of antichrist's post.
A loose bolt can be hard to diagnose, especially if when sitting in your driveway its under tension (and doesn't appear loose).

good luck
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