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Unread 12-21-2013, 05:02 PM   #1
KDMatt
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1996 ZJ 
 
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Front-end Help (Shaking, Vibration, not Death Wobble?)

Hiya Folks, I'm new to the Jeep world, but not new to cars.

I've become the default caretaker of my girlfriend's '96 Grand Cherokee (which makes sense, seeing as I'm the one with all of the tools, haha), and seeing as I'm pretty new to the world of 4x4's I could use some sage advice on rectifying a front end "shaking" she is describing while driving it. I'm much more of a sports car/muscle car guy, so you'll have to bare with me on some of the growing pains in SUV lingo.

I've been lurking around the forums for a good long while, soaking up threads about the infamous "death wobble," and knowing that the ball-joints on our ZJ were already bad, I went ahead and replaced them... that is to say I replaced the driver's side joints myself, and was so frustrated by the time I finished that side, I hired out the other side.

The Jeep's riding on a fresh steering alignment as well, and while both the new joints and good alignment have definitely helped, my other half has reported that there is still a noticeable, and scary amount of shaking from the front end, happening at random times, while at highway speed.

I examined the track bar, as I've seen mentioned on numerous occasions by other owners, but as far as I can see and feel, it's firmly in place. Is there something else about it that's less obvious I could be missing?

I also noticed that the sway bar links on either side are very, VERY loose. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with what's going on.

The shop also tells me that our tires are pretty worn out. Would bad/out of balance tires alone be enough to cause this, seemingly at random?

It's a bone-stock ZJ that (as far as we know) has never done serious off-roading. At the moment it's serving as our winter-warrior up here in MN, as nothing beats four wheel drive in mountains of snow!

If anyone could help point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it. (It's also about 20 degrees outside, so the less time I have to spend in my garage fiddling around, the better!)

Thanks in advance!

- Matt

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Unread 12-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #2
WhiteOut
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Can you drive through the wobble or do you have to really slow down to stop it? Which transfer case do you have? (What does the T-Case shifter say on it)

If you can drive through it, I'd definitely look at the tires being poorly worn. Maybe warped rotors if you're getting the wobble when you're braking.If the rears are in better shape than the front, try swapping them front to back and see if it improves.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 06:17 PM   #3
PolkaPower
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Fix what you know is broken first.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 06:26 PM   #4
1shotwonder
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Cracked frame at or near trackbar will do it... Also (which alot of people forget) steering box bolts... Control arm bushings.. It doesn't always have to be one major thing.. Could be a bunch of small crap that all adds up to this shaking...
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Unread 12-21-2013, 07:21 PM   #5
KDMatt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteOut View Post
Can you drive through the wobble or do you have to really slow down to stop it? Which transfer case do you have? (What does the T-Case shifter say on it)

If you can drive through it, I'd definitely look at the tires being poorly worn. Maybe warped rotors if you're getting the wobble when you're braking.If the rears are in better shape than the front, try swapping them front to back and see if it improves.
Hi. Thanks for the quick reply. ('Like the avatar, btw)

The one time I was in the car with her when this happened before, I can recall distinctly being able to drive faster to get the vibration to lessen. Perhaps things have changed, but... tires, then?

Also, we have the Selec-Trac transfer case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
Fix what you know is broken first.
'Not sure what you're referring to, could you please be more specific?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1shotwonder View Post
Cracked frame at or near trackbar will do it... Also (which alot of people forget) steering box bolts... Control arm bushings.. It doesn't always have to be one major thing.. Could be a bunch of small crap that all adds up to this shaking...
Okay then, if these are possibilities, what are some good, sure-fire ways for me to inspect these components? I'm not keen to throwing replacement parts at the problem hoping it goes away, afterall.

Thanks again for the replies guys, please keep 'em coming.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 08:11 PM   #6
WhiteOut
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Like Polka said, I'd fix the swaybar links first. You can buy complete OE replacements from any parts store.

From your description, it sounds like the tires could be the root issue.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 08:26 PM   #7
JasonStebbins
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I just watched a video the other day on YouTube where this guys death wobble was caused by two bad sway bar links. The sway bar would shimmy back and fourth while driving. Cheapest and easiest place to start.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 08:34 PM   #8
WhiteOut
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Explanation of how the swaybar would cause the axle to oscillate back and forth please.

Because for your claim to be correct, you need to make the point that the swaybar locates the axle and is NEEDED. You'll also need to account for all the vehicles running no front swaybar without death wobble.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 09:02 PM   #9
KDMatt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteOut View Post
Like Polka said, I'd fix the swaybar links first. You can buy complete OE replacements from any parts store.

From your description, it sounds like the tires could be the root issue.
Oh, THAT's what he meant.

Alrighty. I'll fiddle with those things, and report back.

If not, tires next I guess?
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Unread 12-21-2013, 09:13 PM   #10
JohnCrabtree
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If your tires are bad then it would always cause vibration at highway speed. You said it is random. If it is random then the tires are not the issue.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 09:23 PM   #11
JasonStebbins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteOut View Post
Explanation of how the swaybar would cause the axle to oscillate back and forth please.

Because for your claim to be correct, you need to make the point that the swaybar locates the axle and is NEEDED. You'll also need to account for all the vehicles running no front swaybar without death wobble.
I could be completely wrong, but I was going by this video I stumbled across the other day. He said it was the cause of his DW. The OP mentioned his links were bad so I figured I'd mention it.

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Unread 12-21-2013, 10:13 PM   #12
PolkaPower
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Yea but I have driven at highway speeds without the front sway bar connected on a windy but clenching day with no DW. That is not a cause if the suspension is in good shape. It's the track bar 95% of the time. Even if it feels tight by hand does not mean it's not loose. The bolt holes could be wallowed out allowing it to move with forces that you can't make by shaking it.

Have you laid under the front end whole someone turn the wheel back and forth to watch all the steering parts move? It might help but if you don't no what to look for then it might not.

The only time I have had DW was because of the track bar. I have had really worn out control arm bushings and no DW along with terrible shocks. Not saying it won't be those things but that's just my exp.

I would start with the obvious parts and replace them. If you don't get new tires at least rotate the front to the rear and see if that changes anything. I would get new tires though because driving around on **** tires is just going to be an issue in the future that might be a blow out or leave you stranded.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #13
JasonStebbins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
Yea but I have driven at highway speeds without the front sway bar connected on a windy but clenching day with no DW. That is not a cause if the suspension is in good shape. It's the track bar 95% of the time. Even if it feels tight by hand does not mean it's not loose. The bolt holes could be wallowed out allowing it to move with forces that you can't make by shaking it.

Have you laid under the front end whole someone turn the wheel back and forth to watch all the steering parts move? It might help but if you don't no what to look for then it might not.

The only time I have had DW was because of the track bar. I have had really worn out control arm bushings and no DW along with terrible shocks. Not saying it won't be those things but that's just my exp.
Didn't think it was likely, but I posted it just for good measure. His bar was actually moving back and fourth in the video because the link bushings were so bad. Just a thought. Track bar and control arm bushings are the most common things.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 10:25 PM   #14
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonStebbins View Post
Didn't think it was likely, but I posted it just for good measure. His bar was actually moving back and fourth in the video because the link bushings were so bad. Just a thought. Track bar and control arm bushings are the most common things.
Damn that is some bad grammar lol. Darn vodka, can't edit it now.
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Unread 12-21-2013, 10:39 PM   #15
JasonStebbins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
Damn that is some bad grammar lol. Darn vodka, can't edit it now.
Vodka.

I'm playing Halo 4 and drinking Captain.
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