Dodge Ram DEATH WOBBLE?? What’s that??

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!

In the SF Bay Area, Norcal, North or East Bay, San Francisco, Oakland, or Concord and looking for diesel truck service? Give Left Coast Diesel a call.

6 Replies to “Dodge Ram DEATH WOBBLE?? What’s that??”

  1. I live in Regina Saskatchewan Canada. My 2005 Dodge 3500 has the wobble bad any suggestions as to who can fix it up here. Many have tried and failed .

    1. Sadly I dont know anyone up there. If the steering linkage, steering box, ball joints and hubs all check out good and it isn’t lifted, consider a set of 1/2″ longer lower control arms from Top Gun Customz. The longer arms will add castor to the front and and stabilize it. Make sure the other stuff is good first though! Good luck!

  2. Hello, just read about Dodge Ram “death wobble.” Do you know if this information applies to Dodge Ram vans also? (Specifically the Dodge Ram van 3500 (15-passenger bus.) Thank you for any information you can pass along to me, as it involves a serious accident.

    1. Tammy,

      The issues we see are on 4×4 Dodges from 1994 to 2007. The vans are pretty much all 2wd, so they have a different front suspension setup and we don’t have any experience with them or knowledge of a widespread death wobble issue. Sorry we couldn’t help!

  3. Hello, I have a 2005 dodge ram 3500 4×4, while in Florida I hit a bump and had shaking so bad I could barely control the steering wheel. I am 230 lbs and am quite strong(ex-powerlifter). That time the people at Pep Boys said the tires had separated, the tensile fibers that hold the rubber had splayed. I did see the tires and they looked very bad when taken off the rims.

    I had the same rough vibrations today(4 months and 30,000 miles later) and took my truck to Les Scwabb(Sp?) and was told that the tires were not bad.

    I am very concerned because where I drive at speeds of 55+ are very curvy with large drops into the ocean. When I was is FL it was all I could do to hold onto the steering wheel, had skin pulled off of three fingers.

    What should I do?

    Thank you.

    1. Man, that sounds pretty scary. What tires are you running. It seems crazy, but we have seen tons of problems with the BFG AT tires, even the new style. They seem to be much harder to balance, take a lot of weight and a large percentage of the truck with death wobble issues seem to be running them. We have swapped wheel/tire combos for a test drive and the problem has disappeared with other tires. Are you stock height? What size tires? If lifted, how much and with what kit? What are your alignment specs?

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