Since the release of the 1994 Dodge Ram through the current generation of Rams, there have always been concerns with the dreaded Death Wobble.
WHAT IS DEATH WOBBLE? It is basically a violent shaking of the front that can only be stopped by literally slowing the vehicle down to a stop. The most frequent situation in which Death Wobble occurs is driving between 40 and 60 mph, hitting a bump. Then all hell breaks loose.
Now, if you drive a Second Gen Dodge (1994-2002) then you have several possible causes. Most likely, it’s a track bar issue. The bushing ends wear out and cause excessive play and this alone can lead to death wobble. But, its also likely that you have other problems. Tie rod ends tend to wear at 60-80k, sooner if you are offroad a lot. Then, of course there is the steering box. They are basically junk when new, so if yours doesn’t have play, you can consider yourself lucky. There are great aftermarket boxes available from AGR and REDHEAD, or you can go with a fresh rebuild and use an aftermarket steering box stabilizer from BD or Source. These stabilizing braces prevent the sector shaft in the steering box from being able to side-load, thereby preventing the box from failing.
If you drive a Third Gen Dodge (2003+) you have a slightly better steering box, although they still wear. The steering design is pretty much the same until 2008, when Dodge finally changed the linkage design to one that prevents the pivoting motion that allows the Death Wobble to start. Although Dodge never admitted to a problem, you may find it interesting that you can no longer buy individual tie rod ends for the 2002-2007 old-style steering. They only thing they sell is a complete linkage kit to convert the older Third Gens to the newer style steering. This is a marked upgrade and highly recommended.
For all Dodges, balljoints are an issue. The geometry of the front end tends to beat up the upper balljoints, when those fail the lowers are sure to fail soon after. There are some outstanding balljoints available from Carli and XRF. Both are forged construction, no-plastic units and either one is an incredible upgrade from stock.
Death Wobble is scary, its unsafe and it kills tires. If you have a whole lotta shakin goin on, then we recommend you give us a call to check out the front end in your rig and get you back on the road safely!
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