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Dodge Death Wobble
Common Causes & Fixes for the Dodge Death Wobble
The Dodge Death Wobble is a condition in which the front tires begin to move violently from side to side and often the entire truck will shake uncontrollably. The issue is more than a little "play" in the trucks steering. The Dodge Death Wobble can cause the driver to lose control, potentially causing an accident. In extreme cases, the truck may literally sway side-to-side uncontrollably. The condition is most prominent in 1994 - 2009, 4 wheel drive Dodge trucks. 2 wheel drive trucks may also experience the problem, but are much less prone to it. The chances of your Dodge Ram experiencing the Death Wobble are greatly increased if your truck is lifted, leveled, or has larger than stock tires. Hitting bumps in the road at moderate to high speeds can also cause the steering to act up and the truck to experience death wobble. Once the death wobble starts, your only option is to bring the vehicle to a stop as quickly and safely as possible. The condition has been known to be experienced at both highway and city traffic driving speeds, but obviously can be magnified by vehicle speed.
The most common causes of the Dodge death wobble are:
• Track bar wear. A track bar, or panhard bar, is a metal rod that aligns the front axle laterally, following its movements and maintaining its relative position as the axle moves upwards and downwards with the suspension.
• Steering box deflection, which occurs when the frame bends or deflects from the force of the steering box as the wheels are turned.
• Worn tie rod ends, causing excessive "play" in the steering and ride of the pickup.
The cause is always always related to the steering system. Steering box deflection where the steering box mounts to the frame stops driver input from accurately controlling the vehicle. The track bar controls side-to-side movement of the front end. When it wears out there will be slack/play in the steering. The front tires can begin to shake, vibrate, and steering becomes erratic. Worn out tie rod ends cause the death wobble for the same reasons.
Unfortunately, Dodge's steering problems have been the cause of many auto accidents. Chrysler is well aware of the problem, as they released the H46 recall to address the issue on 2003 - 2009 trucks. The recall requires an inspection (and free replacement as necessary) of the truck's steering components, including the steering damper bracket, inner drag link joint, and tie rods. Another recall was announced July 2011 that calls for a replacement of the tie rod ends on select 2003 - 2011 models.
Dodge Death Wobble Fixes
Visual inspection of the truck's steering is a good start, but not always enough. More often than not, a truck experiences death wobble and even skilled mechanics are unable to find the source of the problem. The best way to fix the Dodge death wobble is to prevent it. Many companies produce steering upgrades for the Dodge Ram that will prevent the problem from occuring. At the very least, examine the condition of your tie rod ends, track bar, and steering box on a regular basis and replace any worn components immediately.