Severe death wobble stock '99 XJ - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 18 Old 05-22-2016, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
kdawgxj
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Severe death wobble stock '99 XJ

Hey all.
I have nearly 180K miles on my 1999 XJ and have increasingly severe death wobble. First run-in with DW was about two years ago with my mother driving the vehicle. Not terrible, but still kind of scary for the first time. She had to stop the vehicle to get DW to stop. Since then, DW has only gotten more violent and more frequent/easily triggered. It's now at the point where if I hit any medium to large size bump or pothole at >35-40MPH, I get severe wobble. Plan is to get together with a buddy this summer and replace every part in the suspension, however it is still my daily driver. My questions are: can I get ticketed/pulled over for DW? And exactly how dangerous is DW to this degree? I'm sure there are cumulative damaging effects from the oscillation, but just unsure as to how bad it really is.
Also it is important to note I have about an hour commute one way five days a week, on both mountain and city roads in Colorado.

Thanks!

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post #2 of 18 Old 05-22-2016, 08:36 PM
Domengo
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The word "death" is used for good reason. Every time it happens, the wobbling parts are getting more and more worn out. Each death wobble is bringing your jeep closer to a catastrophic failure that will probably result in a car accident.
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post #3 of 18 Old 05-23-2016, 03:58 AM
irishlt
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Start replacing rubber in the front end like yesterday. Most front end parts aren't that expensive for good moog oe replacements and can be even cheaper if you go with other bargain brands if you're on a tight budget.

Wobble was the warning, after 2years of not hunting down the cause and fixing it you're well into borrowed time of what comes after.

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post #4 of 18 Old 05-23-2016, 06:56 AM
blackhullpirate
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This is something you want to dive into, both feet, IMMEDIATELY. You're one pothole away from a condition where you cannot control the vehicle and you're putting yourself and other drivers around you in danger. As mentioned above, start replacing all rubber parts in your front suspension ASAP. Also, inspect all joints and connections in your steering and suspension geometry for excessive play. Parts are cheap. Hospital bills and funerals aren't. There are tons on posts here to help you find what you need to look for and replace. Good luck!
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post #5 of 18 Old 05-24-2016, 05:43 PM
jordan96xj
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When I was a kid it was common to hear my dad or uncles say that they had "rebuilt the front end" of their vehicle. By this, they normally meant they had done all the ball joints, tire-rod ends, and various links and bushings. It wasn't meant to sound like a big deal, and it seemed pretty common when a vehicle was over 150K miles and was just generally pretty loose up front. After reading about 1K death wobble posts, and analysis about causes, and conditions, including articles written by the original engineer who designed the front end of the XJ (who said that DW was inherent in the design, and could never totally be removed, only pushed around to avoid the normal driving envelope)....they all seem to come back to one simple theme. That the front end is worn out and needs to be refreshed. But then I see a lot of follow-on posts trying to identify the single tierod end, or bushing, ball joint, or alignment condition, or bracket that is causing the over-all condition.

Why isn't the answer just a simple "rebuild your front end" like my dad and uncle's used to talk about? Is that rebuilding the front end is a lot more expensive these days than it was then? More complex? I've been under mine a bunch, and although I wouldn't love the job, I could imagine redoing the -entire- front end in a weekend, and then getting it aligned professionally the next day. Parts would probably run in the $500-1000 range (depending on choices and brands and budget).

I don't ask as a trick question, or to be provocative, I am just curious why the discussion never seems to be as simple as that. Is it not that simple? (I mean that sincerely, is it not as simple as it sounds?)

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post #6 of 18 Old 05-24-2016, 05:54 PM
wizardPC
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You are right all around, Jordan. The problem is that rebuilding the front end does cost $500-$1000 if you do it yourself, and you're doing it to a vehicle that's likely worth $1500-4000
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post #7 of 18 Old 05-24-2016, 08:42 PM
jordan96xj
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That makes a lot of sense. I also sometimes forget that XJs are really popular with younger folks because they are cheap to acquire, but not really having the play money to do a big job like that all at once (and depending on the vehicle as a daily at the same time). So I guess what we are seeing is just wishful thinking (I don't mean that in a bad way). Hoping that just fixing one item could correct a systemic problem.

I watched a couple under-car slow motion videos of death wobble, and if it ever occurs on my Jeep, I would want to rebuild the front-end after just seeing what ONE occurrence of it did to those components. Man, they were being vibrated, pushed, and pulled all over the place, way beyond what they were designed for. So any bushing or link that was ok before the first DW, certainly wouldn't be very healthy after (even just once). After what I saw, I was surprised it didn't literally rip the front end apart, and into pieces. Kind of a testament to system's overall ability to withstand forces.

Things I keep around that help fix Jeeps:
AeroKroil and Fluid Film
BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool and Torque Pro OBD2 App for Android
Etekcity MSR-P600 Digital Multimeter
Bernzomatic TS4000 Trigger Start Torch + MAP Gas
1/2 inch sockets, Breaker, Cheater Pipe, and BFH
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post #8 of 18 Old 05-25-2016, 06:14 AM
SemperFiGuy
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Cheap and easy would be to check the tire balance, from my own personal experience, when I got new tires mounted and balanced mine went away.

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post #9 of 18 Old 05-25-2016, 02:59 PM
wizardPC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jordan96xj View Post
That makes a lot of sense. I also sometimes forget that XJs are really popular with younger folks because they are cheap to acquire, but not really having the play money to do a big job like that all at once (and depending on the vehicle as a daily at the same time). So I guess what we are seeing is just wishful thinking (I don't mean that in a bad way). Hoping that just fixing one item could correct a systemic problem.
I think we're only a couple of years away from seeing a shift to people who want to restomod XJs, much like the early broncos starting in the mid-90s. You could get them cheap and they were plentiful, and then all of a sudden they got very popular and they were neither cheap nor plentiful ever again.

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post #10 of 18 Old 05-25-2016, 07:05 PM
jordan96xj
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I think that is already starting to happen. At least regionally, around here. I am seeing the general prices creep up, and the supply of decent ones is dropping pretty fast (because of the rust here, good Cherokees are rarely seen on the road, and mine stands out so much that it gets waves from Jeep people but also just from strangers sometimes). Also the kind of reactions I get from strangers isn't usually the run of the mill "hey, how do you like the old cherokee, i'm thinking of picking one up myself"...its more like "wow, I have ALWAYS wanted one of those and then a ton of questions", both from older folks and younger. Which is more similar to the way people react to restored cars at the flea market. I think younger folks are nostalgic because their parents or family members had one, and older folks are getting nostalgic because they at one time had one and let it go.

I keep an eye on craigslist for 96 XJs almost everyday. And I would say over 80% of them are being parted out or sold as parts vehicles because they have rotted to the point that they won't pass inspection and the owner is not willing to go any further with it. Clean body, good motor, good tranny/tcase, XJs are being brought up here by flippers and sold in the $5000-7000 range with nothing more than a cleanup/detail. They often have 150-200k miles on them.

If you have ever seen "Regular Car Reviews" on youtube, they cover everyday crappy cars from various eras and dig into whey they succeeded or failed in the market, what people saw in them, and generally add some humor in along the way. They typically feature everything that was "wrong" with a design, or product marketing, etc. But interestingly, when they did the Cherokee they really covered it warmly, and I thought really captured why the timing of the Cherokee was right, and why so many people are fond of them.


Things I keep around that help fix Jeeps:
AeroKroil and Fluid Film
BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII Scan Tool and Torque Pro OBD2 App for Android
Etekcity MSR-P600 Digital Multimeter
Bernzomatic TS4000 Trigger Start Torch + MAP Gas
1/2 inch sockets, Breaker, Cheater Pipe, and BFH
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post #11 of 18 Old 05-25-2016, 08:55 PM
Domengo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jordan96xj View Post

I keep an eye on craigslist for 96 XJs almost everyday. And I would say over 80% of them are being parted out or sold as parts vehicles because they have rotted to the point that they won't pass inspection and the owner is not willing to go any further with it. Clean body, good motor, good tranny/tcase, XJs are being brought up here by flippers and sold in the $5000-7000 range with nothing more than a cleanup/detail. They often have 150-200k miles on them.
Yeah, I have seen a lot of that in the NY Capital region. You can't find them locally without rust, but dealers have gems selling for 2x KBB, "FLORIDA CAR" written prominently in the ad. Makes me wonder if it would cost as much to just drive to Florida and find one cheap.
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post #12 of 18 Old 05-26-2016, 05:57 AM
SemperFiGuy
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Well since we're talking 96, my apologies for the hijack, here's mine:



Though back on topic these are the tires, balanced correctly that ended my death wobble.

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post #13 of 18 Old 05-26-2016, 09:29 AM
wizardPC
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new tires may have fixed mine as well.

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post #14 of 18 Old 05-26-2016, 11:37 AM
MantisToboggan
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I had a reeeeaaally bad death wobble with my stock 99 xj with 185k. I originally installed a new steering stabilizer and it covered up the problem but there was still some play in the front. I didn't completely solve the problem until I installed new wheel joints and track bar.....I also put new Michelins on it. But now it drives great. If I were you I would get down and start wiggling parts to find play. If you don't identify anything obvious you can start shotgun replacing parts. I would start with track bar.
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post #15 of 18 Old 05-26-2016, 07:12 PM
TDougsxj
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I have a 99 with the same issue. I also have a 2001 that used to have it, but no longer does. The reasoning behind this? The 2001 has a rebuilt front end... Get under there and pull on your front end parts. Look for slip and warn out bushings. Trac bar, tie rods inner and outer, bad shocks. Anyone saying it will cost 1k to rebuild an xj front end has obviously never done it. I've only done 1, but the trac bar is 50 bucks, stock tie rod ends are about $250. After that the only thing left is your shocks. 100 bucks for both if you're a stocker. All this is way cheaper than an insurance claim, or a hospital bill...
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