What causes DEATH WOBBLE ?????? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
7.3L IDI Diesels (Not Power Strokes) Technical discussion of topics related to vehicles powered by the 7.3 Liter In-Direct Injection Navistar engines.

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

My truck went into the so called death wobble the other day when I was entering a right-hand curve at about 40mph (and decelerating) and I hit a pot hole. The death wobble did not stop until I came to a stop. My dad was with me (he was the original owner of the truck) and he had that happen when the truck was about 4 years old when he was exiting the highway on an off ramp (right-hand curve) going about the same speed. It did not do it again on the rest of the 40 mile trip, and we even went through an almost identical set of curves. I'm at a loss. Everything seems pretty tight in the front end. I'm going to raise it up in the air tomorrow to see if anything looks broke or worn. It seems like there have been a lot of people that have had this problem, and several remedies (new shocks, wheel bearings, alignment, etc). My truck is 2WD, so it's not a 4WD thing.
What could it be? I am heading up to Mackinaw with my 5th wheel on Friday morning so hopefully it is nothing more than an alignment problem.
Thanks for any ideas-
Jeff

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1992 7.3 non-turbo, F-350 2WD Crew Cab Dually E4OD 4.10 limited slip rear (Passed on to younger brother in 2006)
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 07:37 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Jeff, a few years ago I read here that some guys experiencing the death wobble had a crack/cracks in the frame. Others here can tell you where to look.
I experienced the death wobble once after hitting one of those big yellow marker dots in the road. Scarry stuff.


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 09:08 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

One day, about 5 years ago, I hit a very shallow, about 5 ft. long depression. What it was is that water got under the last paving job and froze. So it was only a couple inches deep. I was driving 45-50 mph, with a slight left curve in the road. I hit this depression, it really wasn't a pothole. As soon as I hit this thing, the truck started shaking VIOLENTLY. The truck then had a mind of it's own. It was bouncing and shaking across the yellow lines. As hard as I tried, I had no control of the truck. I like to think I'm a fairly strong guy. I'm 6'3", 260lbs. As hard as I tried to turn the wheel right, it just kept going left. The harder you brake, the worse it gets. Thankfully, the guy coming towards me was alert and saw I was in trouble. He locked 'em up, and I crossed to the other side of the road, just missing him. After I came to a stop on some guys lawn, I checked my drawers and lit a cigarette. The guy that locked 'em up stopped to check on me. After exchanging some holy craps and what not, He said my right wheel was a blur it was shaking so fast. I felt as if I broke both my wrists. Anyhow, it happened a few more times, but nothing like that one. It is a 2wd and was overloaded. It happened to my 4wd too, but I had a couple broken axle pivot brackets. We had my trucks front end completely apart looking for a problem that would cause the wobble. Found nothing wrong. Happened a couple more times. Brought the truck in for an alignment and it never happened again. I gotta say that it was the most scared I had ever been in my life. No joke.

'94 F250, 4X4, 7.3, E40D, 4.10, 147K
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 10:26 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

check king pins for play--tie rod ends for play-- steering box for proper setup--as this can cause a problem if the wobble hits--all of these compounded can cause it-or a tire just at the point of tread seperation--then hitting a rut--sends it overboard--been there--and as one said--not funny!!!!

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-10-2005, 10:28 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Many years back it was explained to me that the steering tie rod ends/idler arms etc will turn on their axis from the play in the joints. This play allows the effected wheel to toe in and out rapidly thus the death wobble. His fix was to rotate the ends in opposite directions so they gently locked travel thus disallowing the joints to move unnecessarily. Never had death wobble on my truck ......




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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 12:22 AM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Another thing to check that is easily overlooked is the 'rag joint' on the steering wheel shaft just above the steering box. It was what caused a bout with 'death wobble' on my truck. a $5.00 part, a ***** to fix if you don't know how. Baja

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 02:11 AM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

I had the exact same thing happen on the trip back from picking up the truck in Pennsylvania. Shaking was very violent and the only thing i could do was let the truck slow down on its own, hitting the brake made it worse. For me it turned out to be the, i might be using the wrong name here, I beam mounting bracket for the front suspension. The bracket on mine was cracked at the top and the bolts were very loose. If you do a search under my name to my newbie post, about halfway down soulpatchr provided me a part number for the bracket. I will warn you though, when i went to ford they told me that the bracket was for the drivers side and my broken bracket was on the passenger side. It is however the correct bracket if its the one on the passenger side of the truck. As far as i know the bracket on the drivers side is part of the engine cradle and is no longer available. If thats the case though i would just have it welded and you should be good to go by friday. Hope this helps you out.

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 10:37 AM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

My 99 f350 was doing the same thing.I replaced the old steering stabilizer and it hasnt done it since.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 01:12 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

I had the same death wobble on a right hand curve. I investigated and found that the drivers wheel is held on by a bracket at the end of the whole axle assembly. I can't remember what its called, but it has 4 large bolts holding it to the cross member, and 1 large bolt holding the axle to it, allowing the axle to float up and down. This bracket is prone to cracks on the two bolts facing downward, not the other two facing horizontal. These cracks allow a small amount of play back and forth which lets the two horizontal bolts work loose. Once loose the arm, under load (turning right), will violently move back and forth causing the wobble. Jack it up and try to move the wheel and it won't move because you can't apply enough load to move it. Look at the bracket and see if any cracks are visible, but also see if the bolts are loose at all. If one is loose, then this is your problem. If one is loose it is cracked even though you can't see it. You can also see if the horizontal bolts have moved by looking for little clean areas around the bolt washers where they moved and rubbed off the dirt, a sure sign of movement. My bracket was really cracked around the bolts, and I replaced it from a wrecker for about 30 dollars canadian. Never had the problem since, and I even took it back to the spot and hammered around the bend to make sure. All good now, and hope this helps you.

1994(Or if you are ford 1993 & 1/2 ) F250 extendacab long box, 7.3L IDI Turbo. (Factory) 250,000 km, E4OD Trans.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Well, I knew this was the spot to ask! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif[/img] I took my truck in today, it needed an alignment anyways, and I wanted them to really look over the front end. On the passenger side bracket that mounts to the I-beam, 2 bolts were sheared off, and 2 were loose. No cracks. The 2 loose bolts were tightened and 2 grade-8 bolts were installed. Hopefully this is it! This makes me feel a little more at ease for my trip to Mackinaw! (Maybe it will tow my 5'er easier now!! Ha!Ha!)
Thanks to everyone!
Jeff

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1992 7.3 non-turbo, F-350 2WD Crew Cab Dually E4OD 4.10 limited slip rear (Passed on to younger brother in 2006)
2004 Dodge 3500 Cummins 4WD Quad-Cab Dually Laramie
2003 Jayco Eagle 325 BHS
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-11-2005, 07:26 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Your welcome

1994(Or if you are ford 1993 & 1/2 ) F250 extendacab long box, 7.3L IDI Turbo. (Factory) 250,000 km, E4OD Trans.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-12-2005, 08:43 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

I've had 2 different trucks which had a death wobble problem. From what i could gather, it can be caused by a number of things. All of which you have mentioned. From worn shocks, worn tires, slop in the steering box. play in the panhard bushings. Too much toe in. Worn shackle bushings. It could be caused by one or a combination of these. Mainly its slop or lack of motion control of the suspension.

I had someone tell my that my front tires were literally bouncing up and down off the ground as well as side to side during one episode. In my case, it happened specifically with one set of tires. When I put on a different set for wheeling, the problem went away. I tried steering stabilizers and shocks, but that didn't help. My steering box was bad, so i decided to change it with an AGR unit with hydraulic ram assist. Problem cured regardless of how bad the road, or how fast I go. I figured that the hydraulic ram does not allow the tires to oscillate left and right, causing the death wobble.

On the other truck i bought, the panhard bar, shocks and steering stabilizer were missing. The steering box was leaking, and the shackle bushings were bad. It would Death Wobble when hitting pot holes or turning at about 30mph. I rebuilt the steering box, Installed shocks, and the panhard bar, as well as replace the shackle bushings. The death wobble was gone. My alignment seemed a little toed out, so toed it in a little too much, and i could feel that Death wobble wanted to occur, so i toed it out again and it stabilized. I didn't want to install a hydraulic assist on this truck cause i don't wheel it as much.

I've seen death wobble on a number of trucks, and each case has a different fix that works. Usually you have to go eliminating the possible problems until its fixed.

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 07-12-2005, 10:31 PM
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Re: What causes DEATH WOBBLE ??????

Wow, sounds like your lucky to be alive! I think he fixed his problem, he mentioned it was the bolts sheared off the bracket I mentioned. Mine cracked, big time. Any way, glad your ok.

1994(Or if you are ford 1993 & 1/2 ) F250 extendacab long box, 7.3L IDI Turbo. (Factory) 250,000 km, E4OD Trans.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-11-2014, 01:58 PM
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I recently just found out from a friend that normally 80 % of the time the
"death wobble" is caused by the cummins torque monster which twists the frame and causes the rails to flex and fatigue. He was able to fix this problem with one of these Dodge Steering Stabilizers and it has lasted a little over a year. You can check them out since that where he got his or shop around, i heard a place called thouroughbred diesel also has decent ones available
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 07:36 PM
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'00 F-250 Death Wobble

11/99 I bought an '00 F-250 Power Stroke brand new. At 195K miles I replaced the front wheel bearings (Noisy and wheel slop). I think the death wobble began at around 198K miles. At 198K miles I had the the truck aligned. At 200K miles I installed new front Bilstein 4600 Series shocks. At 201K miles I replaced the front tires. The death wobble stopped then. At that time I increased tire pressure to 75-80 PSI in front and 70 PSI in rear (currently running 78 psi front, 74 psi rear). Truck now has 225.5K miles and death wobble has not returned. This truck is still stock with no mod's ever.
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