Skip to main content

Ford F-150s Have Felt 'Wobble Of Death' Now Impacting SuperDuty Owners

It has been quite a week for the vehicles with the "wobble of death." First a "death wobble" suit was launched against Fiat Chrysler Autos. And, a second was launched against Ford's SuperDuty series of pickups, the F-250/350. And, in researching the F-250 issue, the Ford F-150 series has been plagued by the "wobble" since at least 1995.

Some say that the auto industry has known about the “wobble of death” since the 1960ss, while others say it dates from the 1980s. Still, others state that manufacturers have known about it since the early 2000s. Who is right? Perhaps every person who makes a statement about the “wobble” is correct. The reason: it is common for vehicles with solid front axles. Which vehicles have those axles? Since the 1960s, the vehicles that have had those axles have been pickup trucks and SUVs (full-sized SUVs use a brand’s pickup platform), the hottest portion of the market.

Now, this might seem to be the limit of the issue, however, in researching this article for publication, Torque News checked several F-150 websites and it turns out that until 2013 -- not long ago for pickups which tend to stay on the road longer than cars -- the "wobble of death" was a big topic.

’Wobble Of Death’ Sparks Lawsuits

For example, last week Torque News discussed the Jeep “wobble of death” that has roiled sales of Jeep Wranglers. Fiat Chrysler Autos (FCA) keeps on saying they have the fix for the problem, replacement steering dampers. It might indeed make the problem disappear for a short time. However, the issue will return quickly as the bolt holes stretch out of round. Owners of Jeep Wranglers received help last week as a class action suit started. Suit Asks For Jeep Wrangler Buyback in "Wobble of Death."

In a second "wobble" lawsuit, William Lessin charged early this month that Ford knowingly sold heavy-duty pickups with the “death wobble.” He claims that the automaker has known about the defect in its vehicles for at least the last 14 years and has failed to take actions such as notifying consumers or warning customers of the problem. The suit came about the same time as the automaker recalled 1.3 million vehicles for transmission and suspension problems. Ford Recalls Pickups To Address Transmission, Steering

The suit links the problem to a defect in the pickups’ steering and suspension. The defect causes intense shaking, even under normal conditions.

Interestingly, though the F-150 has had similar complaints about the "wobble of death," the pickup line has managed to escape lawsuits, however, it may not have escaped recalls. As we have noted in our coverage of Ford recalls this week, there were 1.3 million 2013-18 F-150s recalled for tranny and steering issues, the same type of issues that owners have complained about for years. Indeed, the F-150 owners have pointed to many of the same problems found on their SuperDuty siblings such as bushings, ball joints, control arms and the like, all key parts of the steering system.

’Wobble Of Death” Occurs At Normal Highway Speeds

Lessin’s suit argues that the “Death Wobble” is typically triggered when pickups are traveling at speeds above 50 miles per hour with one of the tires hitting a dip, bump or groove in the road. It causes the vehicle to shake violently. The shaking can only be controlled by stopping or reducing speed.

“The Death Wobble is typically triggered when the class vehicles are traveling at speeds above 50 miles per hour, and one of the tires hits a groove or bump in the road,” Lessin argues in his Ford truck class action. “This causes a violent shaking of the vehicle, which can only be controlled by a sudden reduction of speed.”

The suit alleges that the defect may present itself as the abnormal wearing of several vehicle components. The wearing includes:

  • The track bar bushing
  • The damper bracket
  • The ball joint
  • The control arms
  • The shock absorbers
  • The struts

’Wobble Of Death’ Defense Unknown

You have to wonder how FCA or Ford will defend the suits as it turns out that this problem is very common to vehicles with solid front axles. It has also been common on Ford's F-150 series of pickups. Indeed, the F-150 "wobble" starts under the same conditions as the SuperDuty problem and acts in the same manner. About the only thing that stops it is turning off the ignition. Does that sound oddly familiar?

What happens is that when a front end encounters a bump, dip, or stick -- some sort of jouncing object -- a harmonic incident sets up like as not in the F-150, F-250, and F-350. The harmonic rumble is then picked up by loosened components and manifests itself as the "wobble of death." Ford F-150 owners have complained on Ford F-150 forums of the same issues.
Ford’s F-250/350 line of SuperDuty pickups has faced this problem for some time. One SuperDuty owner complained that as the vehicle was being driven along at the speed limit, it encountered some rough road near a bridge. The road conditions caused the harmonic that kicked off the wobble. The wobble grew in size and strength to the point where the Ford SuperDuty F-250 was undrivable at any speed other than a stop. Getting to that stop turned out to be quite an issue and the owner was thankful that other drivers were able to see what was happening and were able to give the vibrating vehicle a wide birth. The owner asked a question at the end of a statement: “Why isn’t Ford doing more about the issue?” It is not unlike the complaints raised by Ford F-150 owners, one of whom asked, "Is there a fix for the "wobble of death?"

’Wobble Of Death.’ Has Owners Upset

It’s a good question because more than one statement about the issue concludes essentially the same way: why isn’t there a recall; why isn’t there more hubbub, why, why, why? (Perhaps the 1.3-million truck recall last week, will address F-150 owner concerns better than they have been addressed so far.) It is a good question since Ford claims to have had the fix for the problem for a long time. The Ford fix involves repairing or replacing some parts of the front end. For example, one driver had the bushings replaced, and that worked for a bit, but the ‘wobble” came back. Returning to the dealership, the dealer tried a different steering track stabilizer bar. Again, it was like aspirin. It was a temporary fix. One Ford SuperDuty was repaired three times in six months, and it still wobbled. Some F-150s have been repaired multiple times as owners have tried shims, as well as steering parts to fix the issue.

The SuperDuty fix was found by an independent Ford technician. He swapped out components until the real fix appeared. He found that he not only had to do Ford's fix, replacing the steering track stabilizer (steering damper), but he also had to:

  • Replace the bushings
  • Tierod ends
  • Fix wheel misalignment
  • Make sure the wheels were balanced properly
  • Install parts that would allow wheel caster to be advanced at least three degrees

Indeed, the last step proved to be the clincher for this problem. There has not yet appeared to be a final fix for F-150s as owners have replaced the bushings, tie rod ends, wheel alignment, balance, and other pieces and the "wobble" still exists. Some owners have turned to new shocks, as well.

‘Wobbe of Death’ Fix Isn’t Rocket Science

As they say, it is not rocket science. Who knows, the F-250/350 fix may have been identified many times in the last 65 years or so, but, somehow:

  • Manufacturers either forget about the steps needed to correct the problem.
  • Or, manufacturers are happy with band-aid fixes to major problems that are endangering and scaring drivers.
  • Or, perhaps manufacturers don't honestly know what the problem and fix or fixes are.

In fact, according to a video that Torque News has found and is presenting, the major fix was found by the independent technician whose work culminated in a way to add caster to the front steering gear. His finding this fix was serendipitous (a happy circumstance).

The technician/YouTube Channel Host said that his shop found the answer almost by accident. The answer involved installing new steering parts that enabled the shop to increase the effective amount of caster in the front end. Caster is a function of steering. It involves adding greater steering angles to the front end. Normally, manufacturers allow only about one degree of caster adjustment in the steering gear. The shop found, after welding on new steering pieces, that when they increased the caster to three-and-a-half-degrees the "wobble of death" disappeared and the diesel-powered F-250 on which the steering parts were installed has been solid ever since.

The amazing part to us here a Torque News, as well as to others out there is that a diesel shop and parts supplier (BD Diesel) have found a way to cancel out the problem, while Ford keeps on using the simplistic steering damper fix. As to the F-150 issues raised by the million-truck-plus recall, we will have to see what owners say, the jury is still very much out on this issue.

If you have a comment or question, you can ask me via the comment lines at the bottom, I do answer every question or comment I receive. See you in the next story where I am discussing how to choose wheel offset for your Ford F150 and explaining tires.

If you like my work, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


James E Navan Sr (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 9:04PM

Do you know if ford fixed the death wobble in new 2020 F350 I ordered one not knowing that this problem existed Thanks from Jim

Jason Stevens (not verified)    April 16, 2021 - 6:45PM

In reply to by James E Navan Sr (not verified)

We have a 2020 with no problem so far, but we have 8 other super duty’s and only one has had the death wobble issue. After replacing several front end components we tried the BD diesel caster adjuster and it did the trick. 2-3 years later it’s still going strong. It’s a good fix for a dangerous issue. I like my fords but I’m disappointed in them over this issue.

TED (not verified)    February 21, 2020 - 2:14PM

THE PROBLEM IN LOW MILAGE CENTERS ON TIRE PRESSURE, STEERING DAMPER AND TRACK BAR BUSHING. The negative caster is a step beyond this. I did tie rods, shocks and the above. But the solution was that plus new tires and it went away. It happened every other day til then. New truck same problem and all Ford wants to do is steering damper. Really?

But this time I have an extended warranty even though it started at 37K

Brian Howe (not verified)    March 12, 2020 - 1:20PM

Tristan and the guys at Rockwall Ford in Texas really screwed me good selling me a 88,000 used 2017 f350 dually claiming it was certified and that it came with a 36k warranty. The dealer claimed the heavy-duty truck passed a 200-point inspection and had no problems. This dealer will steal your money to make sales and tell you lies, I should have had the truck looked over better but after driving it a few days found so many issues; the main issue was the truck front end tie rods and steering system was bad and when hitting bumps at low or highway speeds you nearly lose control of the vehicle with the death wobble it’s so dangerous almost killed my family several times. I was told the warranty covered things like this and could go to any Ford for repairs however when I finally got an appointment, I was told there is no warranty and the truck was not certified. In fact, the truck has not been serviced in a long time with all filters covered in dirt and tons of repairs needed. It cost me 2 grands to fix just the basics and another 6 grands on tires and other parts. I emailed the mangers a half dozen times with no response until a bad Yelp review then all they said was sorry. They refuse to do anything about it and act like it’s a joke to rip people off ten or twenty thousand dollars. It’s no joke to me. The salesman Tristan there lied to my face the entire time as well as the loan guy. I will find more info on these guys to post to warn others all over the internet. Do not trust these guys.
Its only when I went to another ford dealer that I found out about all of this, Ford In Dallas said it’s not a certified vehicle and most the items the sales guys told me about the warranty are not even covered and they lied to sale me the vehicle for 88k after interest this place will rip you off DO NOT DO BUSINESS HERE. All the electronics freeze up to the point nothing responds and radio, ac, phone, cameras, do not work right it’s a big POS junk. I have to pay several hundred more dollars to fix all the sync and electronic issues that were supposed to be covered day one. I have contacted the NTSB, BBB, and other agencies to file complaints, next is a lawyer. Karma will get you dumb sales men one day. Shop elsewhere and not at Rockwall Ford unless you want to lose a lot of money!

Ford In Plano said no service was done to this vehicle, electronics, and front end parts need replaced, all filters, and oil, so many issues plus no 36k warranties as indicated at time of sale. Truck is worth 38k when you sold it to me for 68k plus 20k interest, 3k down, added new wheels and tires, steering suspension and still need more than 2k work to ride safe, total rip off and scam here by Ford Rockwall. Filters were never even changed. They stole my perfect 2015 GMC truck and I demand it back; this is unacceptable from a dealership and will seek a class action lawsuit at this time as I start talking with lawyers and federal and state agencies. This dealer has cost me a ton of money! BEWARE…..

Albert Pitts (not verified)    March 17, 2020 - 11:17PM

I have a 2000 ram 2500 and a 2003 ram 3500 single rear wheel truck. Both trucks have had death wobble and had to replace several stearin components to try and fix problem. I installed a long arm kit that replace factory control arms, which allowed me to give the trucks much more caster. This cured the problem with both truck and have not had any more death wobble for almost 5 years. I does make the stearing a little more stiff, but I am more than willing to put up with that as appose to another round of death wobble. So yes, Ford and Ram could fix the problem with more caster, bigger ball joints and a more powerful steering gearbox.

Rex Rathgeber (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 10:19PM

I bought new a 2006 F150 and noticed the wobble the first time I drove it in the mountains and braking down steep grades. I thought maybe warped rotors but had no issues on level highways at higher speeds when braking, occurs only braking on steep grades. Today west of Denver on I70 the issue was severe enough I have concern. It only occurs while braking unlike other reports it does not shake from bumps in the road.

Nathan R Orona (not verified)    August 11, 2020 - 10:37AM

In reply to by Rex Rathgeber (not verified)

I have an 07 F150 and recently started experiencing the wobble @60- 70mph. And the only way it stops is if i slow down or increase the speed above 75mph and it will smooth out

Thomas Hill (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 6:27PM

I Have a F150 2014 I Bought at CARMAX in St Pete FL. I've had it for about a month or two the DEATH WOBBLE started I Brought it Back to get to fixed.. It work for a while then it started again then I Brought to ford Dealership they sold me tires the first time then the second time Brakes and Rotors. Had my truck for weeks they didn't call me I called them and they said it was all good A week Later it cost me a few thousand The Death wobble it's still there now I Drive like an old men Does someone have to DIE to get this fixed? Thomas Hill-- St. Petersburg, Florida

Thomas Hill (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 6:54PM

I Have a F150 2014 I Bought at CARMAX in St Pete FL. I've had it for about a month or two the DEATH WOBBLE started I Brought it Back to get to fixed.. It work for a while then it started again then I Brought to ford Dealership they sold me tires the first time then the second time Brakes and Rotors. Had my truck for weeks they didn't call me I called them and they said it was all good A week Later it cost me a few thousand The Death wobble it's still there now I Drive like an old men Does someone have to DIE to get this fixed? Thomas Hill-- St. Petersburg, Florida

Gregory Guzman… (not verified)    September 9, 2022 - 4:41AM

I have a 2005 Ford F-150 and I have the problem with the wobble. Where do I take my truck to have it fixed? I live in Northern California.