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Friday, June 21, 2024

How to Pinpoint the Reasons Behind Death Wobble

 photo by JackF via iStock

Death wobble has been haunting lovers of trucks for decades. You are cruising along on the motorway and suddenly it strikes. 

It feels like the whole truck is getting shook to pieces while you hold on to the steering wheel for dear life. Not fun.

However, just like any problem, it can be fixed. Therefore, in today’s article, we are going to cover the steps you need to follow to eliminate the issue!

Death Wobble Can Occur Due to Incorrect Modifications

Modified Truck

 photo by ilangam via iStock

In many cases, cheap suspension lifts will only include the coils and shocks. This leads to a change in the caster angle of the truck’s suspension and those few degrees can lead to death wobble. 

The axle can also get shifted off-center if the panhard rod isn’t changed which will promote death wobble even further.

The best way to cure this issue is by going for castor corrected radius arms and an adjustable panhard rod. These upgrades will bring the suspension geometry back to where it used to be.

Get the Alignment Correct

Mechanic tuning aligner for wheel alignment

 photo by golubovy via iStock

On a new rig, having alignment that is off may not lead to death wobble as everything is still new and tight. As you rack up the miles and joints and bushes start to wear out you may start experiencing death wobble.

In most cases, this is where people believe that the suspension is worn out and needs replacing. While that may be true, for the majority of times the issue is the alignment of the vehicle and not the suspension. 

The suspension might have started to wear out, but it may not need replacing yet. It’s just that the slight wear has enabled death wobble to show its ugly face!

Any professional 4×4 shop that does 4×4 alignments will be able to get your truck exactly where it needs to be; therefore, eliminating death wobble without spending a bunch of money on new parts!

Learn More:

The Wiggle Test for Death Wobble

Truck with lift kit

 photo by Bulgnn via iStock

If your alignment and suspension modifications are done correctly you then need to move on to the wiggle test

Get someone in the truck to wiggle the steering slightly and get underneath to check every steering joint there is. 

What you are looking for is play in the steering components. If there is play you will be able to see it, hear it, and feel it. 

When one or more of the steering components wears out beyond a certain extent, death wobble is almost certainly going to appear.

In this case, it doesn’t matter if your vehicle is stock or not. Worn-out parts will lead to this issue anyway.

The Shake Test 

All terrain tire coated in

 photo by shaunl via iStock

If the test above didn’t work, you now need to move to the shake test. 

For this, you will need to jack up the car and grab the wheel that is in the air with one hand on the top and one on the bottom. 

Try shaking the wheel, if you feel any play in it you need to take the wheel off and inspect areas such as ball joints or even wheel bearings.

The Torque Test for Death Wobble

Torque wrench with spanner heads and work glove on the table in a workshop

 photo by Fotokot197 via iStock

If nothing has worked, you may be feeling discouraged. However, there is one last test remaining and it is one most people never do.

The test requires you to simply get a torque wrench and go over every single bolt on your suspension and steering. 

A bolt that has worked itself loose may be the reason behind your death wobble and if you do not check them all, you will never find it! 


Rock Crawling

 photo by molchanovdmitry via iStock

So, there are many ways one can experience death wobble and just as many tests to pinpoint the reasons behind it.

It can be a pain to find and fix; however, with some time in the garage, it can definitely be done!

If you have any questions regarding death wobble, feel free to post them in the forum section of our page! 

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