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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 09:44 PM Thread Starter
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Steering wheel wobble while turning?

Ok, sorry for all of the questions this month but I just got back from a year and a half hiatus from life and now am trying to piece my jeep back together after sitting for that length of time. And in a hurry!

Ive had a problem with death wobble for a while but one thing at a time. When im turning my jeep at high speeds (40 - 60mph) "thats high speed in my jeep", my steering wheel wobbles back and forth like a car with toasted cv's. It wobbles back and forth about 3" and you can feel it in the front end. I run 33" tires and have gone through allot of wheel bearings in this TJ, 97 by the way, and had replaced them prior to leaving and even with the new bearings it had this wobble so that was ruled out. My next suspicion would be ball joints. I dont have the tools to check these properly and wonder if any one could give any suggestions as to what else it might be that would cause this to happen. My jeep is a 95% trail only jeep and the only time I really drive it on the road is to and from the trail and occasionally on a hot day but I would like to get this front end problem handled before it dominoes on me.

This will be the last of my three question per month limit.

Thank you.

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 09:54 PM
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I'd start with the easy. Look for any looseness underneath while someone wobbles the steering wheel back and forth.

A bent wheel? Lift it up and rotate the tire/wheel - put a jack stand or something next to it as reference.

Try switching wheels and tires front axle to back axle - to see if the problem moves to the rear. A bad tire can do it, even though it looks OK.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 06:40 AM
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Did you check the U-joints when you replaced the bearings?

EVERYTHING's easy for the guy who doesn't have to do it.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 07:59 AM
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You say it happens when you're turning...is that turning:
  • While accelerating, or
  • maintaining speed/power, or
  • While decelerating, or
  • While coasting, or
  • All the above
Also does it happen on a gentle curve such as a freeway, or on a city street turning 90? Does it stop if you hit a bump while navigating the turn?
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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It pretty much happens during all of the above. I should also state that while driving down the freeway at the same speeds, if a strong wind blows by something in the front is loose enough to allow it to drift considerably across the lane without moving the steering wheel. Ruts in the road can be a huge problem.
Ive been under the front shaking things around and I have a pickle fork ,but its a rather small one, that ive used to pry things around under there to see if anything is loose and nothing was obvious. Ive been working on it alone so its been a little tough to get the steering wheel to move back and forth while I look under the front at the same time . I dont know if the ball joint would be something that is obvious when they are bad? The track bar is tight and not very old. It a currie track bar and is still in very good shape. I also have the currie heavy duty steering in there that is all pretty new and still in good shape. The only things left that I can think of would be the ball joints or the steering box. The steering box doesnt seem bad but again im not sure if it should have any play in it at all.

Jim: The ujoints are fine. They were replaced a while back and are still in good condition.

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurosis View Post
The steering box doesnt seem bad but again im not sure if it should have any play in it at all.
Any detectable play anywhere in the steering is too much. Sounds simplistic, but it's the best standard I've ever seen. Lay a finger in the joint. If it's loose you'll feel it as well as see it. To find play in the ball joints, jack the tires a couple inches off the ground and slide a pry bar under.

You'll have to find a helper to rock the steering wheel for you. There's no other way. Break open the piggy and get a six-pack or two. Bribes are allowable for Jeep maintenance.

EVERYTHING's easy for the guy who doesn't have to do it.
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Last edited by Jim_Lou; 03-07-2008 at 07:41 AM.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 07:39 AM
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Something that I keep running into -
The trackbar's bolt at the axle end. You can tighten them till you are blue in the face, but they still move.
What happens is the holes in the axle mount get egg shaped, allowing too much movement. The trackbar can be new, the bolt tight, but if the hole the bolt goes through is too big or worn too much, that little bit of movement causes the Death Wobble."
To check it you need someone to wiggle the wheel back and forth. You cannot tell if it's loose by yourself. Put your fingers right on that bolt while they wiggle the steering wheel. It should not move at all! Even just a tiny bit of movement needs correcting.

The cure - Remove trackbar at that end.
Cut a small piece of 3/16 or 1/4 to the shape of the bracket on the outside front of the existing bracket. Drill a hole exactly the same size as the NEW GRADE 8 bolt you are using. It's a Metric, so you need to get them at a bolt specialty house. Regular parts houses don't carry hardened Metrics. I think the head says 10.5? They don't use lines.

Weld the plate over the old hole, making sure the bolt will go through all 3 holes - the 2 originals and the new one in your plate - use the old bolt to get it aligned.

Caution - you may end up with clearance problems - the drag link hits your new plate. Check it before you drive it. Grind down your welds and the plate until it clears again.
The only other way I now if would be to remove the original trackbar mount and replace it with another stronger one - a real pain.

I've done this fix on probably about 12 now, they are all still doing fine. It cured all except one or two with the DW when everything else seemed OK.

Last edited by RRich; 03-07-2008 at 10:55 AM.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 10:12 AM Thread Starter
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RRich,

I can already tell you that the mount for the track bar on that end is egged. I noticed it when I took the old one off. It wasnt horrible but it was enough to allow movement. I considered that but the movement was only about .025" at the most. I wonder if that is enough to cause death wobble? I considered at that time drilling the hole out and sleeving it with a hardened sleeve but I didnt want to compromise the strength of the mount. I am a machinist but not a welder so that seemed the easiest solution to me. I guess I need to start learning to weld.

I have a feeling that there is something else going on in there but I need more time to investigate and a helping hand to do some wheel turning. This weekend is the gas tank skid plate and adding a tool box to the back. Hopefully there will be enough time to track this problem down. Summer is coming!

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post #9 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 11:37 AM
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A sleeve would do it - but probably impossible too.
A sleeve that goes all the way through both holes is out - the trackbar has to go between the holes.

A sleeve on the rear hole - it's near impossible to see the nut on the backside as it is - can't get a welder in there to attach the sleeve.

Putting a short sleeve on the front hole would be good, but it would have to be really short to clear the drag link - or is it the tie rod?

Welding in that short a sleeve would probably distort the sleeve's hole too much, you'd have to drill it open again, then you are back to an egg shaped hole big enough to get the bolt in.

Hardened sleeve? Not after you welded it in - the heat would anneal the sleeve making it soft and easily wear, defeating the purpose.
And then you'd still have a re-inforced hole in that thin bracket - I think it's 1/8" there.

That bracket really needs to be thicker anyway. Adding the 1/4" plate makes it stronger - combined 1/4 + 1/8 = 3/8".

After you drill the hole in the new 1/4" plate, but before you weld it on - heat the new hole in the plate and the area around it red hot. Then douse it with cold water till it stops bubbling.
That will harden the steel around the hole somewhat to help prevent further wear. Then use a hardened metric bolt and nut.

Tip - when fighting putting the nut back on - use a new hardened nut. Remember the original had a little piece of bent sheet metal on it so you could poke it up into place. You can get it up there on the end of your finger, but it's near impossible to get a wrench on it to tighten it.

Simply weld, or JB Weld a similar "handle" on the nut - a strip of sheet metal, even a piece of coat hanger tacked on the nut helps you feed it up there. If it's strong enough, you won't need to get a wrench on the nut when torquing it down. It'll jam against the bracket and hold while you tighten.

As far as "How loose is loose? Good question. Probably the best answer is "How much DW is acceptable?"

I had one that moved only enough to feel with my fingers when I put them on the bracket and the trackbar at the same time, you couldn't even see it move while wiggling the steering wheel, but I could feel it. The DW wasn't real bad, but doing the procedure really made a difference.

It may not be the answer all the time - look for other reasons first. I usually get those kinds of things (problem childs) after everyone else has had a shot at it and given up.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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My plan was to use more of a bushing to sleeve the hole. A flanged bushing. I dont think that I would have to weld that in. The flange I figure would only be about .1" thick (not quite the 1/4" of a plate". We have tons of excess small pieces of heat treated round stock around here that would do the trick im sure. As I said though, I didnt feel comfortable opening the original hole in the existing bracket. the plate idea sounds good if i knew how to weld.

Peace.

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