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2.5" Coil Spring Lift on a 2001 WJ has Death Wobble

1559 Views 20 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Steve Obermark
I need help!

My 2004 WJ was at the end of it's life and I really liked that series. Therefore, rather than buying newer, I picked up a 2001 WJ that was very well maintained, with much lower miles and wear than mine. However, the pervious owner piecemealed a 2.5" lift on it that makes it unsafe to drive. He took it to all the shops in Tulsa and nobody could figure out the issue. He sold it to me for $1500 and now it is my problem. On the front he put new longer springs, shocks, 1" longer sway bar links, 2" longer(lower) pitman arm on the steering box, and a 2.25" track bar frame rail bracket. On the back he put new longer springs, shocks, 2.25" longer sway bar links, and he put 2.25" worth of spacers between the differential and the upper suspension arm.

I think he did the lift a few years ago and has put on probably 50,000 mi since then. The ride is very soft (too soft) and there is body roll so that when it rolls right, it makes it yaw to the left causing you to have to steer right to compensate. You have to constantly adjust steering as you drive down the highway. The more people and weight you have in it the more worse the situation. I took it to a reputable alignment shop and they agreed with the previous owner that the jeep is properly aligned. They installed a new steering damper on it to see if that would improve the situation but it didn't.

My first question has to do with the 2.25" of spacer between the rear diff and the upper suspension arm. That seems odd and I don't see people doing that in lift kits. If the body is lifted 2.5" then I would think the lower and upper suspension arms should both angle down together. As it is, the lower is pointing more downward than stock, but the upper is angled more like stock. I would think this would fight eachother and put the rear axle in bind. Do people put spacers above the rear dif on 2-3" lifts or is that just an awful idea?

Concerning the springs, should springs on lift kits be stronger or weaker than stock? These seem to have lower spring constants than my 2004 that I still own or the 2000 that I owed previously. It certainly bounces more but I can't tell if it is shocks or springs that make it so soft feeling. I cannot find any markings on the springs or shocks that tell me what they are. The springs measure 0.600" whereas my stock rear springs measure 0.567" and my stock front springs measure 0.525". The rear springs have fewer wraps (5-6) compared to my stock rear (6-7) but the front has about the same number of wraps (8 or 9).

Finally, I think I want to replace the springs and shocks with something I know is reputable just so I know what is on there. I've looked at Old Man EMU OMEWJLKS. That's an expensive kit. Is there something out there a little cheaper that would be a good match for my situation? I could take it back to stock but I don't have any of the stock parts (unless I part out my 2004) and the track bar frame bracket was welded extra well by a 4x4 shop thinking that was the issue. It will take a lot of grinding to cut that thing off.

Thanks for any and all the advice you can give,
Steve
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On mine I lept chasing DW wovble took it to several offroad shops here in az desert rat and 4 wheel parts and both failed at finding what the problem was. I have adjustable control arms from core 4x4 which I regret installing and the polyurethane bushings they come with didn't last more than a year. Upon removing front upper right was smashed replaced and DW went away drastically, I still got DW once on a very rough freeway and I believe is because I didnt replace the front bottom control arm bushings because they forgot to send me 2 pairs, they sent me the ones I needed already but I'm being lazy. Check your control arm bushings, theyre hard to see unless removing or maybe you can figure out a way put tension on them to make the axle turn slightly. I've heard caster has to be like 7 degrees positive but things have to be tight to prevent DW too. That 2.5" spacer on top of your rear differential is just to put less stress on the balljoint that goes on top of the differential and dont pry too much upon flexing.

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On mine I lept chasing DW wovble took it to several offroad shops here in az desert rat and 4 wheel parts and both failed at finding what the problem was. I have adjustable control arms from core 4x4 which I regret installing and the polyurethane bushings they come with didn't last more than a year. Upon removing front upper right was smashed replaced and DW went away drastically, I still got DW once on a very rough freeway and I believe is because I didnt replace the front bottom control arm bushings because they forgot to send me 2 pairs, they sent me the ones I needed already but I'm being lazy. Check your control arm bushings, theyre hard to see unless removing or maybe you can figure out a way put tension on them to make the axle turn slightly. I've heard caster has to be like 7 degrees positive but things have to be tight to prevent DW too. That 2.5" spacer on top of your rear differential is just to put less stress on the balljoint that goes on top of the differential and dont pry too much upon flexing.

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Thank you. I will check on these. Seve
 

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same set up even a jk has basically front. 2.5 lift is not much for a 5 link. But what is the caster angle and rest align. Tires must be zeroed out in balance, any bad wear. Main issues tend to be track bar or many of the other Link ends/ball joints. the drop pit, they did the frame drop sounds rather permanent. Dont think that is the issue anyway. On Jk its a bad idea to DP unless you are like over 6" of lift. Its not a great idea anyway. there is another way to move the steering and tracbar roll centers.

Unless you can inspect it "Dry steer" and be sure ball joints are tight and the rest. There is always a reason and if everything has been really looked at, that we will never know. But last one is tires they can be off. Just a bit out of balance you can feel most times its very slight shimmy hardly noticed at first. Fact is one could have say a bad lower ball joint and not have DW........I have set a front axle with straps after a lower arm was ripped off and he drove it like 10 miles at speed to get it to welder in the town we were near...No Deaths no Wobbles...only a winch/strap pulling it forward and big ratchet strap pulling it aft.
 

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First off, Death wobble is a misnomer cause your axel is hopping, not wobbling or shimmying. Second, if you lift a short arm 2.5 inches, you're driving on an over extended suspension that is not road legal and does not function properly on paved surfaces at speed. Third, a 4link pan hard set up is designed to operate from a parallel to frame neutral position where the tires tuck extended as well as compressed and have minimal effect on length of wheelbase side vs side during articulation compared to control arm starting from 30 degree down neutral position. Forth the track bar suffers the same effect from increased down angle as the control arms and causes side to side movement to be exaggerated and biased to one side. I know what I'm saying does not help your situation, but I have yet to see anyone on the internet or parts pusher that even know what death wobble is let alone know how to remedy it. Your options are. Throw money at upgrade parts and get more frustrated, buy a daily driver and jeep never sees 40mph again, go with a long arm, Rough Country makes a great one for a great value btw, or fab up drop brackets that maintain the million-dollar suspension geometry. Also note clevite rubber bushings are the best option unless the vehicle is a dedicated crawler and will outlast poly or hard joints in paved road operation, poly degrades and hard joints, while more articulate, are prone to wear if not maintained properly and subject to stress wear and cause bracket fatigue. Wj is a unibody assembled with pinch welds and over time the bodies rigidity degrades and is a very poor platform to rely on in stock form to handle increased stress of off-road lifts and larger tires. JEEP...just empty every pocket



























































































































































































Fourththe lifted jeep walmore so have ill ,
 

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Death Wobble IS NOT the axle hopping. It is an oscillation back and forth of the steering linkage and axle assembly in opposing directions. Plenty of undercarriage videos on YT showing it in action.
 

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All these shops probably already looked at all this, but FWIW ...

Sounds to me like you have control arm issues and (anti)sway bar issues. Some people remove the rear sway bar altogether which can produce a boaty feel on the highway, so check to see if it is there. Depending on your off-road needs, consider upgrading the rear bar to a thicker model (say, Addco 634 or 684); that should help with roll stability.

If it were me (but I am nuts like this), I would replace all the control arm bushings with fresh rubber wherever possible and install a heavy duty adjustable rear upper control arm with flex joints. You can get all of these items from Iron Rock Offroad or source elsewhere, but Kolak can hook you up with IRO for a good deal ... they also have replacement springs. I would also replace all bushings in the sway bar links and sway bars. Tie rod ends as well. And spring isolators. Shocks. Steering damper. Check ball joints.

And do not forget new track bar bushings.

Yeah, I would do it all, and all at once. Parts shotgun? Maybe. Guaranteed to work? No. But nobody else has solved the problem yet so what option do you have? Refresh the suspension/steering and see if that works or dump it.

The welded in 2.25" track bar drop bracket is a new curve ball for me. Important bit here as I understand it is matching it to the pitman arm drop; you got to have them both, and it sounds like you do. Are they well matched? I cannot say, but I would try the suspension rework with both drops as-is. Essentially, what you want here is that the track bar and drag link are parallel-ish to each other and close to horizontal (parallel to tie rod and axle) when the Jeep is down on its wheels.

I am not a WJ DW expert, but I play one in my head.
 

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Death Wobble IS NOT the axle hopping. It is an oscillation back and forth of the steering linkage and axle assembly in opposing directions. Plenty of undercarriage videos on YT showing it in action.
Your axel sets up in an orbital oscillation which would create opposing forces to the linkeage, bumpsteer on steroids, and because your geometry and suspension travel is off, the axle is predisposed to twist as your suspension articulates due to extreme control arm angles causing noticeable wheelbase differences in a side to side relation, You tires have to move forward to compress which is fighting against inertia on the vehicle and will require more energy to compress and unload at exponentially multiplied force setting up for the next bounce
 

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First off, Death wobble is a misnomer cause your axel is hopping, not wobbling or shimmying. Second, if you lift a short arm 2.5 inches, you're driving on an over extended suspension that is not road legal and does not function properly on paved surfaces at speed. Third, a 4link pan hard set up is designed to operate from a parallel to frame neutral position where the tires tuck extended as well as compressed and have minimal effect on length of wheelbase side vs side during articulation compared to control arm starting from 30 degree down neutral position. Forth the track bar suffers the same effect from increased down angle as the control arms and causes side to side movement to be exaggerated and biased to one side. I know what I'm saying does not help your situation, but I have yet to see anyone on the internet or parts pusher that even know what death wobble is let alone know how to remedy it. Your options are. Throw money at upgrade parts and get more frustrated, buy a daily driver and jeep never sees 40mph again, go with a long arm, Rough Country makes a great one for a great value btw, or fab up drop brackets that maintain the million-dollar suspension geometry. Also note clevite rubber bushings are the best option unless the vehicle is a dedicated crawler and will outlast poly or hard joints in paved road operation, poly degrades and hard joints, while more articulate, are prone to wear if not maintained properly and subject to stress wear and cause bracket fatigue. Wj is a unibody assembled with pinch welds and over time the bodies rigidity degrades and is a very poor platform to rely on in stock form to handle increased stress of off-road lifts and larger tires. JEEP...just empty every pocket

Fourththe lifted jeep walmore so have ill ,
Not sure where you got the info that a 2.5" lift is not road (street?) legal and does not function properly on paved surfaces. Although not ideal, a short-arm lift up to 4" will work just fine. How do I know? I've been running an IRO 4" lift for years and if all the other suspension parts are up to snuff, it works just fine.
 

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Your axel sets up in an orbital oscillation which would create opposing forces to the linkeage, bumpsteer on steroids, and because your geometry and suspension travel is off, the axle is predisposed to twist as your suspension articulates due to extreme control arm angles causing noticeable wheelbase differences in a side to side relation, You tires have to move forward to compress which is fighting against inertia on the vehicle and will require more energy to compress and unload at exponentially multiplied force setting up for the next bounce
You are correct in you assertion that the axle moves forward during compression and that one side could move forward more than the other in situations. That movement however is not the root cause of D/W. This scenario causes harshness, maybe some strange steering inputs but that is about it. Your own last sentence says it, your theory would result in bounce, aka wheel hop, not the side to side motion that characterizes D/W. Track bar to drag link relation, roll center, instant center, scrub radius, bushing integrity, etc, these are the root causes of D/W. When lifted ALL of the geometry parameters change, put some spacers on or some wheels with more outboard stance increasing the scrub radius with bushing designed for maximum elimination of HVH, in other words soft, very compliant rubber, and one has all the ingredients for D/W. And it is not just a Jeep thing, any live steer axle vehicle on coils and a track bar is fair game. Plenty of vids showing Ford Super Dutys and HD Ram pickups with D/W.
 

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Don't forget the pan hard bar moves the axle side to side during articulation as well, So compress one side and wheel moves forward and sideways simultaneously, take your shocks of and bouce the front end and see how it bounces up down side to side and forward and back, really doesn't matter what ya call it, My main point is that DW is primarily a result of bad suspension geometry and poor tuning of its ability to dampen harmonics vs. bad parts. I've had two Wjs with "absolutely no bad parts. Got DW on 3 - and 4-inch spring based short arm lifts. One got long armed, and they other got drop brackets. The first was my dad's and would get it towing behind his RV, so we went long arm. My son's got every part new but still couldn't cure it. Drop brackets cured that one. No sweat hitting a rough patch of highway at 85mph. It does need an alignment and new tires, though. All clevite bushings sitting on 31s on a 3-inch lift, no scrubbing
 

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First off, Death wobble is a misnomer cause your axel is hopping, not wobbling or shimmying. Second, if you lift a short arm 2.5 inches, you're driving on an over extended suspension that is not road legal and does not function properly on paved surfaces at speed. Third, a 4link pan hard set up is designed to operate from a parallel to frame neutral position where the tires tuck extended as well as compressed and have minimal effect on length of wheelbase side vs side during articulation compared to control arm starting from 30 degree down neutral position. Forth the track bar suffers the same effect from increased down angle as the control arms and causes side to side movement to be exaggerated and biased to one side. I know what I'm saying does not help your situation, but I have yet to see anyone on the internet or parts pusher that even know what death wobble is let alone know how to remedy it. Your options are. Throw money at upgrade parts and get more frustrated, buy a daily driver and jeep never sees 40mph again, go with a long arm, Rough Country makes a great one for a great value btw, or fab up drop brackets that (y) . Also note clevite rubber bushings are the best option unless the vehicle is a dedicated crawler and will outlast poly or hard joints in paved road operation, poly degrades and hard joints, while more articulate, are prone to wear if not maintained properly and subject to stress wear and cause bracket fatigue. Wj is a unibody assembled with pinch welds and over time the bodies rigidity degrades and is a very poor platform to rely on in stock form to handle increased stress of off-road lifts and larger tires. JEEP...just empty every pocket

Spot on Gaffer


























































































































































































Fourththe lifted jeep walmore so have ill ,
I need help!

My 2004 WJ was at the end of it's life and I really liked that series. Therefore, rather than buying newer, I picked up a 2001 WJ that was very well maintained, with much lower miles and wear than mine. However, the pervious owner piecemealed a 2.5" lift on it that makes it unsafe to drive. He took it to all the shops in Tulsa and nobody could figure out the issue. He sold it to me for $1500 and now it is my problem. On the front he put new longer springs, shocks, 1" longer sway bar links, 2" longer(lower) pitman arm on the steering box, and a 2.25" track bar frame rail bracket. On the back he put new longer springs, shocks, 2.25" longer sway bar links, and he put 2.25" worth of spacers between the differential and the upper suspension arm.

I think he did the lift a few years ago and has put on probably 50,000 mi since then. The ride is very soft (too soft) and there is body roll so that when it rolls right, it makes it yaw to the left causing you to have to steer right to compensate. You have to constantly adjust steering as you drive down the highway. The more people and weight you have in it the more worse the situation. I took it to a reputable alignment shop and they agreed with the previous owner that the jeep is properly aligned. They installed a new steering damper on it to see if that would improve the situation but it didn't.

My first question has to do with the 2.25" of spacer between the rear diff and the upper suspension arm. That seems odd and I don't see people doing that in lift kits. If the body is lifted 2.5" then I would think the lower and upper suspension arms should both angle down together. As it is, the lower is pointing more downward than stock, but the upper is angled more like stock. I would think this would fight eachother and put the rear axle in bind. Do people put spacers above the rear dif on 2-3" lifts or is that just an awful idea?

Concerning the springs, should springs on lift kits be stronger or weaker than stock? These seem to have lower spring constants than my 2004 that I still own or the 2000 that I owed previously. It certainly bounces more but I can't tell if it is shocks or springs that make it so soft feeling. I cannot find any markings on the springs or shocks that tell me what they are. The springs measure 0.600" whereas my stock rear springs measure 0.567" and my stock front springs measure 0.525". The rear springs have fewer wraps (5-6) compared to my stock rear (6-7) but the front has about the same number of wraps (8 or 9).

Finally, I think I want to replace the springs and shocks with something I know is reputable just so I know what is on there. I've looked at Old Man EMU OMEWJLKS. That's an expensive kit. Is there something out there a little cheaper that would be a good match for my situation? I could take it back to stock but I don't have any of the stock parts (unless I part out my 2004) and the track bar frame bracket was welded extra well by a 4x4 shop thinking that was the issue. It will take a lot of grinding to cut that thing off.

Thanks for any and all the advice you can give,
Steve
Put it back to stock St.
Use used parts where you can.
Sell your non-stock parts to cover your costs.
 

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2002 jeep WJ 4.7 / 2001 Jeep XJ 4.0 L
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I need help!

My 2004 WJ was at the end of it's life and I really liked that series. Therefore, rather than buying newer, I picked up a 2001 WJ that was very well maintained, with much lower miles and wear than mine. However, the pervious owner piecemealed a 2.5" lift on it that makes it unsafe to drive. He took it to all the shops in Tulsa and nobody could figure out the issue. He sold it to me for $1500 and now it is my problem. On the front he put new longer springs, shocks, 1" longer sway bar links, 2" longer(lower) pitman arm on the steering box, and a 2.25" track bar frame rail bracket. On the back he put new longer springs, shocks, 2.25" longer sway bar links, and he put 2.25" worth of spacers between the differential and the upper suspension arm.

I think he did the lift a few years ago and has put on probably 50,000 mi since then. The ride is very soft (too soft) and there is body roll so that when it rolls right, it makes it yaw to the left causing you to have to steer right to compensate. You have to constantly adjust steering as you drive down the highway. The more people and weight you have in it the more worse the situation. I took it to a reputable alignment shop and they agreed with the previous owner that the jeep is properly aligned. They installed a new steering damper on it to see if that would improve the situation but it didn't.

My first question has to do with the 2.25" of spacer between the rear diff and the upper suspension arm. That seems odd and I don't see people doing that in lift kits. If the body is lifted 2.5" then I would think the lower and upper suspension arms should both angle down together. As it is, the lower is pointing more downward than stock, but the upper is angled more like stock. I would think this would fight eachother and put the rear axle in bind. Do people put spacers above the rear dif on 2-3" lifts or is that just an awful idea?

Concerning the springs, should springs on lift kits be stronger or weaker than stock? These seem to have lower spring constants than my 2004 that I still own or the 2000 that I owed previously. It certainly bounces more but I can't tell if it is shocks or springs that make it so soft feeling. I cannot find any markings on the springs or shocks that tell me what they are. The springs measure 0.600" whereas my stock rear springs measure 0.567" and my stock front springs measure 0.525". The rear springs have fewer wraps (5-6) compared to my stock rear (6-7) but the front has about the same number of wraps (8 or 9).

Finally, I think I want to replace the springs and shocks with something I know is reputable just so I know what is on there. I've looked at Old Man EMU OMEWJLKS. That's an expensive kit. Is there something out there a little cheaper that would be a good match for my situation? I could take it back to stock but I don't have any of the stock parts (unless I part out my 2004) and the track bar frame bracket was welded extra well by a 4x4 shop thinking that was the issue. It will take a lot of grinding to cut that thing off.

Thanks for any and all the advice you can give,
Steve
what gets me is that you can buy the lift kits yet i have not seen one seller of there own lift kits offer to install it to take care of the issues of D/W or the many other issues. just my input
 

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Getting a Watts link setup to work off road is dicey. A few have tried and there was even some companies selling kits to convert, Full Traction IIRC though their website shows nothing now. I have seen some custom set ups in rally cars and high speed desert buggies as well. A 4 link gives the same advantage, no lateral axle movement through the travel unlike a panhard (track) bar.
 
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Getting a Watts link setup to work off road is dicey. A few have tried and there was even some companies selling kits to convert, Full Traction IIRC though their website shows nothing now. I have seen some custom set ups in rally cars and high speed desert buggies as well. A 4 link gives the same advantage, no lateral axle movement through the travel unlike a panhard (track) bar.
Is a 4 link the way to escape the dreaded Death Wobble in a WJ then please cD?
 

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There are not many 4 link front steer suspensions around, I have seen a few custom setups on YT however. I think it goes a great deal toward stopping it seeing it does not allow the axle and frame to move in opposing directions laterally as a panhard bar does. Steering shimmy which could be seen as death wobble is still possible with worn joints in the steering and linkage. In the old days when 4x4's with live axles were suspended by leaf springs D/W was much more rare again because the leaves also keep the frame and axle located together laterally rather than forcing it to move in an arc.
 
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There are not many 4 link front steer suspensions around, I have seen a few custom setups on YT however. I think it goes a great deal toward stopping it seeing it does not allow the axle and frame to move in opposing directions laterally as a panhard bar does. Steering shimmy which could be seen as death wobble is still possible with worn joints in the steering and linkage. In the old days when 4x4's with live axles were suspended by leaf springs D/W was much more rare again because the leaves also keep the frame and axle located together laterally rather than forcing it to move in an arc.
Thanks Cd.
 

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You have a whole lot going on here. Maybe more than more than one thing.

2" longer(lower) pitman arm on the steering box, and a 2.25" track bar frame rail bracket.
You should never need to use those with that small of a lift.

I think he did the lift a few years ago and has put on probably 50,000 mi since then.
Assuming that everything was 100% when it was new, this would be enough to be worn out if it was stock stuff.

The ride is very soft (too soft) and there is body roll so that when it rolls right, it makes it yaw to the left causing you to have to steer right to compensate. You have to constantly adjust steering as you drive down the highway.
Sounds like the rear end lower arm bushings are shot. As you increase the torque on the axle, it increases the yaw on the axle, forcing you to add more steering angle to compensate for the skew. You'll have to take them out to inspect them.

The stock arms get a bad rap. They work fine to about 2 1/2 or 3", but by the time someone lifts these they are usually worn out IMO.

Are you doing your own work?

If it were me I'd take the rear LCA's apart and inspect them first, and if they are bad, I'd replace them and the upper and the spring mounts and the sway bar bushings just on general principal.

If that fixes the torque steer, I'd start working on the front end. The first thing I'd do is inspect the bushings on the upper control arm at the axle. You need to take the uppers off to do that, but I'd expect that they were junk.
 
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