Skip to main content

Jeep Death Wobble or How a Steering Damper Doesn't Fix a Thing

In this story you will find 8 steps of fixing death wobble in a Jeep. It's important to know that the steering damper does not cause, and consequently, fix death wobble in a Jeep.

Assuming you actually have death wobble means something is loose, broke, worn or bent in your Jeep. Jeep death wobble is the harmonic imbalance of the front tires causing the front end to shake so bad that the only way to stop it is to almost come to a complete stop (usually requiring a change of shorts the first time you experience it).

Reasons and Causes of Death Wobble in a Jeep

Why death wobbles are problematic in Jeeps, is because according to JeepProblems many Jeeps are coil-sprung with a track bar setup and secondly, a lot of Jeep owners get their Jeeps lifted or modified or have after-market track bars installed. Jeep models affected by this design are: the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler.

I don't mean loose so that you climb under there and can move things. Something is not at torque specs, that's your first check as noted, most of the time it's the lower track bar bolt - either it came loose (it's had to tighten that retained nut, which we have a fix for), it's wallowed out the hole either because someone drove it loose, used a too small bolt for it or someone re-drilled that hole as a bad track bar relocation.

Jeep Death Wobble Experiment - Extreme Shaking!

Having someone turn the wheel, slowly back and forth while you are under there with a flashlight checking every bolt, ball joint and knuckle for play, is the best thing to do. Use that checklist picture at the top as a guide. Look for bent tie rod ends and drag link ends. Make sure you haven't crunched a control arm mount. If that doesn't do it, get your tires re-balanced. If the tires of our Jeep have been out of toe for some time, rotate them to the rear (and fix your toe as well).

Mechanical Reason

It could also be that something mechanical is not right with your Jeep. No one can tell you what it is. You are going to have to find your issue.

Here are 8 Steps of Fixing Death Wobble in a Jeep

1. Check trackbar bolts.
2. Check drag link ends.
3. Check tie rod ends.
4. Check ball joints.
5. Check steering box.
6. Check unit bearing.
7. Check tire weight balance.
8. Steering stabilizers do not fix death wobble.

If your Jeep has Death Wobble and you fix it here are 4 cool mods that are great for first time Jeep Wrangler owners.

Steering damper

Let's get back to my main point, the damper is there solely to dampen the effects of the road from transferring into the wheel while you drive. You don't get the wheel jerked around whenever you hit a bump or striations in the pavement. An added side effect (and the reason people think it's a "fix") is that in turn dampen effects from steering components.

Let's say for example that your lower track bar bolt is loose. It's wobbling away in there, but the nice new damper you have is dampening the effect of it. But it's taking a beating and eventually it starts weeping and wears out. Now it's no longer dampening that loose track bar bolt and you drive over a small bump on the interstate while on a curve and your steering jumps into full blown death wobble. You grab a substantial amount of padding from the seat, your wife screams about dying and you slam on the brakes and dive to the shoulder of the road.

You take it to the Dealer where the mechanic that has to know 40 different vehicles to work on and doesn't know specific things about Jeeps, finds a weeping steering damper and since there's a nice little mark-up on those, that's what they recommend you replace to get it back on the road. Guess what, no more death wobble! All of the sudden you are one of the misinformed that think a steering damper "fixed" your death wobble. Meanwhile that loose bolt is getting worse and worse, wallowing out the hole more and ruining your new steering damper. So you replace it with a fancy Fox or Rancho or a dual shock set-up.

That's waste of money. For the most part, a stock damper is fine. Get one from a parts store for 1/3 what the dealer wants. But find your loose/broken/unbalanced part first.

In conclusion, the steering damper does not cause, and consequently, fix death wobble in a Jeep. Also see my other tip published at Torque News, about adjusting your Jeep Wrangler headlights.

If you have had a Jeep Wrangler death wobble experience, please share with us below how you fixed it. You can use the comments section below. If you liked this article and think it may help your friends, consider sharing or tweeting it to your followers.


Dale (not verified)    December 10, 2017 - 8:07AM

Track bar (panhard bar) If there's any movement on a rod end (heim joint) or bushing side to side on track bar you will get death wobble

Joe Quinones (not verified)    September 24, 2019 - 12:35PM

In reply to by Jay (not verified)

My Grand Cherokee has death wobble and replace everything and still wobble.have a 2 1/2 lift on u replaced steering stabilizer with after market?do u still have wobble?

Steve Banta (not verified)    December 10, 2017 - 10:32AM

We have a JK 2008 with GQ axils, spider fenders , and love King of the Hammer and rock tripsips for camping. Just found your site and love the info, thanks Steve.

Gregory clemmerson (not verified)    December 10, 2017 - 10:33AM

Ok so I developed death wobble in my stock 98 Cherokee and after eliminating all other problems and a few hundred dollars in repairs later I replaced the steering damper which fixed my issue and the correct term is caster wobble folks

Bill Baxter (not verified)    October 20, 2019 - 8:06PM

Question..? Did Chrysler ever make ANY improvements in The JEEP Cherokee front end suspension to eliminate “death Wobble” ..? Do the 2000 Cherokees still have camber problems as my ‘92 Cherokee does? Thanks! Bill

Dynette Streich (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 7:08PM

I just leased a brand new 2020 wrangler and I was like why is the steering wheel seem loose swerves from side to side, does not feel safe. Taking it in. My dealer told me he had not heard about in newer wranglers I said Google it !!!

Ryan Hilgeman (not verified)    August 1, 2020 - 9:32PM

My jeep was driving fine except it became a little loose if i hit a bump, drifting left or right but nothing horrible. So i thought upgrading my stabilizer to a beefer one would help, i changed steering stabilizer and relocated it jumped in my jeep hit the road and at 45-55mph i get death wobble. Horrible shaking that shakes me if im holding steering wheel. So my question is how can putting on new stabilizer bring death wobble out. Please help.

Ryan Hilgeman (not verified)    August 7, 2020 - 11:42AM

Thanks for reply. Im aware it doesnt fix it. It ended up being a out of balance tire just seemed odd because i didnt notice it until after changing out and relocating stabilizer, but then again i dont think i hit 55mph often so i think a tire weight popped off. I definitely dodged an expensive bullet and lucked out.

Dynette Streich (not verified)    August 7, 2020 - 1:10PM

Have you all filed complaints with jeep and gotten a case worker ? I just did. I also fiiled a complain with national hwy and safety.luke I said I am leasing a 2020 wrangler took in once said tires out of balance but it still wanders all over the road taking it in again. I cannot believe the number of complaints on this . has anyone turned in their new jeep due to lemon lsw? If anyone wants these numbers let me know we all need to be calling hwy safety. The more the better. Jeeps are too expensive for this Crap !!!

Robyn (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 12:48AM

In reply to by Dynette Streich (not verified)

I’d like the contact info. I have a 2018 wrangler that I’ve taken in 3 times for the death wobble. Dealer tells me they can’t find anything wrong. Has less than 14,000 miles and it’s unbelievably scary to go through the shaking. Severe shaking over 50.

Scott Stinson (not verified)    November 2, 2022 - 6:15PM

In reply to by Dynette Streich (not verified)

Took 2021 wrangler in for death wobble, and Dealer said that my tires with only 16,000 miles or all at all or worn so bad they were out of balance. Never had them off road cannot believe this could be a problem

Robert Reynolds (not verified)    January 14, 2021 - 8:46PM

My 2012 has been nothing but an eletrical nightmare one thing after another shorted out. In 6 months alone 3 tipms, 2 throttle bodies, 3 starters, 2 alternators, 2 ignition modules, 3 computers. Still cant drive it been down a month. Today reset the computer tried to drive it again hit 45 just about took out 2 ditches finally got it under control then bam back into limp mode. Im gonna put a carbed chevy v8 into it and jerk the suspension and put leaf springs on it. My 80 chevy truck has never had death wobble and it runs and rides as good as this jeep. At least then ill be able to depend on it

Billy (not verified)    September 27, 2022 - 3:58PM

In reply to by Robert Reynolds (not verified)

3 throttle bodies and 2 starters? Hopefully you got your money refunded. Now a new engine? You're doing the work yourself? I doubt that, folks that do their own repairs are money conscious and time foolish. Bringing it to a mechanic the opposite. Hope you find the issue. As for me I put a 45deg kink in the damper while off roading. I wonder how a rock made it up there as Jeep there's a good job tucking the damper away where it's safe.

Shelly Brocato (not verified)    February 22, 2021 - 10:24PM

I am currently dealing with DEATH WOBBLE in my 07 Wrangler. After months of research and aggravation I hopefully have found the source of my DEATH WOBBLE! About 12-18 months ago I had my front end redone, tie rods, bearings, etc... and then i hot a huge hog or pig. I didn't immediately notice a problem so I drove off. That's when my front end started shaking violently and other than coming to a complete stop I had no control over steering. I thought I had a blowout or something. Couldn't find anything wrong. This went on for a while and ai finally realized the lower control arm mount was bent. I am in the process of replacing the axle and a few other parts which should hopefully fix this problem! See link attached... very helpful

Diagnosing and Fixing Death Wobble | Jeep Wrangler TJ Forum
Diagnosing and Fixing Death Wobble

Stanley Helinski (not verified)    April 19, 2021 - 11:58AM

I have 12K miles on a 2018 Sahara and got this. Brought to the dealer, and they replaced the damper under warranty. I'm likely going to be under warranty for a while. Is there a reason, if they know the real problem, they are pushing this down the road for an inevitabe later problem? After I bought it the Jeep, there was almost an immediate damper recall. So this is my third damper.

Robyn Cass (not verified)    April 19, 2021 - 2:19PM

I’m on my 5th along with a bunch of other replaced parts and still no resolution. At 3 you are eligible for the Lemon Law which is what I’m pursuing.

Leslie bray (not verified)    April 18, 2023 - 8:58PM

I have experience the death wobble
Went to a mechanic and he showed me my track bar bushings need replaced

Jim Margison (not verified)    February 7, 2024 - 11:40AM

We had a death wobble on our 2021 Jeep Wrangler after having it for three years. We were going 70 mph on hwy after hitting a small bump. Slowed down, it stopped and we made it home. Took to dealer had drag link, tie rod end and steering damper replaced. They did a multi point inspection. All were under warranty. We are hoping that this fixes problem. Not sure if we should keep or trade it in on something else. Thoughts anyone?