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Unread 07-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #1
dsant5389
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NY, NY
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Jeep Cherokee Death Wobble

Hi guys, this is my first post here and the only reason I am making this thread is because it is kind of an emergency and I'm at wits end.

So, for a little background information: I bought my 1999 Jeep Cherokee 2 years ago in September for like $1k with only ~74k miles on it. It was a good deal at the time because I had just totaled my other car after falling asleep at the wheel and I needed something cheap and I needed it fast. My father's friend sold me the car who previously belonged to some old man who barely drove it anymore.

The first day I drive the car, I get on the high-way and get up to speed (around 55 mph) and all of a sudden the steering wheel and front end start shaking uncontrollably. I slow down (to about 40 mph) and the shaking goes away. My first experience with what I'm assuming is death wobble, correct?

Well, fast forward to today, two years later, and after a couple of brief periods being wobble free (I think the longest was like 4 months) after various fixes that I guess weren't REAL fixes, the problem obviously still persists. I have a friend who owns/runs a meineke and is a good guy who seems like he knows his stuff take a look at it multiple times. He doesn't have much experience with this problem thought, and he said he had another guy come in with the same problem and they never could get it fixed . At one point I went online and researched the problem myself and gave him a list of things to check like the "trac-bar", tie-rod, and I told him to make sure everything was "tight" in the front end. None of this fixed the problem.

As you can tell, I know next to nothing about automobiles, so I figured I'd join a forum and see what you guys think. To detail the problem again: The death-wobble occurs in 2 different scenarios. It either happens when I'm going over 50 mph and I hit a pot-hole or even just a slight bump in the road, or it will happen randomly once I get over the same speed without hitting a bump. The entire car feels like it's shaking (especially the steering wheel) and the only way to stop the shaking is to slow down to ~40 mph (super embarrassing when you were previously going 60 mph on a high-way lol).

The reason why this is an emergency is because I'm about to drive my Jeep across the country from NY to Cali (I'm moving there with my GF). Having to endure the death-wobble on such a long trip would be unbearable due to the fact that I'd rarely be able to go over 50 mph.

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm sorry if there is a sticky on this issue somewhere, I really just wanted to give y'all my version of the story. Thanks!


TL;DR version: Death wobble in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee. Not lifted or modified in any way. About 90k miles on the car. Wobble occurs when I reach speeds over 50 mph, either randomly or after hitting a slight or significant bump in the road.

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Unread 07-18-2013, 10:48 AM   #2
cwadej
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2000 TJ Wrangler 
 
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try Cherokee tech forum for more knowledgable answers
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Unread 07-19-2013, 10:23 PM   #3
SchizophrenicMC
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1997 ZJ 
 
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You need to replace your track bar bushing and probably just go through and make sure all your front end bushings are intact and solid. Make sure you have proper caster (I think it's between 3 and 9 degrees) and that you have between 0"-1/16" toe in. While you're in there, replace your steering damper because it's shot at this point. Check for yourself to see the steering geometry. I don't trust the evaluations of big-box auto chains, because they usually don't know what they're doing and tell the rookie to follow the computer. If you take it to a shop, find a good dedicated 4x4 shop in your area, preferably locally owned. Chances are they'll have some old timey mechanic who knows what he's doing. Have him make sure everything's in check. If you go in and say "I need some help with my death wobble" and somebody laughs a bit and offers help, you're in the right place. If you have to explain the problem, walk out and find another shop.

My fellow Arlingtonian is probably right about finding in-depth answers about Cherokee-specific stuff, but since XJs, TJs, and ZJs all have basically the same front end, and it should be a cheap fix, you're in the right place in my opinion.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 09:28 AM   #4
McMahan
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I had the same problem two years ago. 99 Wrangler. After3 mechanics and no luck, I found a guy who had heard of death wobbles. It can be any number of problems combining to create the issue but mine was the steering damper. It would wobble off and on until finally that's all it would do. Pretty easy fix. Good luck.
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Unread 07-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #5
SchizophrenicMC
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Generally speaking, a steering damper is never a cause of wobble, just a way to hide wobble. If your front end is all squared away properly, you don't actually even need the damper. All it's supposed to do is reduce steering wheel kickback from sharp bumps in the road. (Or off)
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Unread 07-24-2013, 09:43 PM   #6
mylyf
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We had the same problem with my wife's 08 jk, and after five trips to the local dealer and about 400.00 later I replaced the ball joints myself..That fixes ours..The dealer said they were in specs and would not replace them..It has been my experience that if something on the frontend is loose replace it.
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Unread 07-26-2013, 10:19 AM   #7
NissanGuy23
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1996 ZJ 
 
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Location: West Chester, PA
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All you need to do is replace the front track bar, buy a whole new bar they are around $60 and install it. 90% Chance of the problem being solved then. I also have a ZJ grand cherokee that had death wobble, and replacing the track bar completely fixed it.
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Unread 07-27-2013, 11:08 PM   #8
caiha
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I see this all the time in the shop. Replace track bar and steering stabilizer. Let me know how it goes
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Unread 08-11-2013, 09:44 AM   #9
vizro
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my 93 wrangler had same kind of problems put a steering stabilizer on and it was gone made a huge diff. hope it helps and good luck on the trip
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Unread 08-14-2013, 10:02 PM   #10
turpehar
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Anyone mention tire balance?

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Unread 08-14-2013, 10:23 PM   #11
caiha
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turpehar
Anyone mention tire balance?

Tire balance won't cause a death wobble unless the tire is separated. He's complaining of an uncontrollable shaking in the steering wheel and front end. Tire balance will not do that.
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Unread 08-18-2013, 01:54 PM   #12
JeepNicholson
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1996 ZJ 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caiha View Post

Tire balance won't cause a death wobble unless the tire is separated. He's complaining of an uncontrollable shaking in the steering wheel and front end. Tire balance will not do that.
It sure did on my old Ram

Had the dw at about 55, shaking violently and acting like it was about to leap off the road, had my wheels re-balanced, bam, no more dw

Tires were fine
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Unread 08-18-2013, 10:11 PM   #13
holliewood61
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1981 CJ7 
 
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maybe this will help


but seriously every experience ive had with the death wobble has either been the track bar or caster related
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Unread 08-23-2013, 12:01 AM   #14
turpehar
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The last DW I had in an XJ was cause by 1 bad unit bearing, Both upper ball joints were bad, 1 bad tie rod end, and a wollered lower control arm bolt hole. Oh, and I had tires out of balance.

It all adds up. Some things won't show wear until you take it apart
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Unread 09-25-2013, 10:11 PM   #15
01laredodirtyDW
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 12
I've replaced

All tire rod ends
New sleeve
New track bar
2 upper controll arm
2 lower controll arms
Wheel alignment
And the death wobble still occurs wtf am I suppose to do now
Help me now help me please
Thank you
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