Spend any time around a bunch of four-wheelers and you're sure to hear the term "death wobble" mentioned around a campfire. For once, it's actually as scary as it sounds, at least when you're behind the wheel. It happens when a vehicle's suspension geometry is all out of whack and a bump in the road sends it shaking at speed, making it all but impossible to control. Many folks have experienced it in lifted Jeeps or pickups with solid front axles, but I've never seen it captured so clearly and close up as in this GoPro video.
The clip was shared by Rocky Top Customz, an off-road garage in Knoxville, Tennessee. In the caption, the shop explains that the vehicle in question is a Jeep Gladiator with a fresh four-inch lift kit from ReadyLift. Now, the kit was apparently provided by the customer and no extra parts were supplied to correct the suspension geometry. That's why things went wrong so quickly after the upgrade.
Thanks to the handy dandy action camera mounted underneath the truck's front bumper, you can see where the death wobble initiates. From what I can tell, it starts with the drag link getting thrown into violent motion. This affects the steering as the drag link is a main component of that system, with the pitman arm relaying all this action through the steering column to the wheel inside. The tie rod then starts shimmying back and forth, and with all these connecting components going nuts, it's just a matter of time before the Dana 44 front axle is hopping like a bunny rabbit. Even the engine is getting tossed to and fro.
It's rather unpleasant when you're cruising at 60 miles per hour and your rig starts shaking apart. That's why it's vital to consider how a modification will affect your vehicle, even in ways you might not expect. Rocky Top Customz got this Gladiator back in the shop and installed a Steer Smarts drag link because the original one was wearing out, and after that, they added a Steer Smarts track bar relocation kit. This corrected the suspension and steering angle so death wobble isn't a worry for the Jeep owner anymore.
It could very well happen again in the future if more parts start to fail. That's often the culprit, and components can give up the ghost sooner than you'd expect, especially in heavy-duty applications. I owned a 2015 Ford Super Duty with stock suspension and even at 50,000 miles, I experienced a pretty serious case of death wobble on a local two-lane highway. Just because a truck should be good to go doesn't mean it is.
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