Get Ready Get Fifty

Dodge Truck Death Wobble Fix

 

So one day you’re driving along minding your own business and all of the sudden your truck starts doing the hula at about 45 MPH when you hit a slight bump in the road. AKA “the death wobble” as some refer to it. Sometimes it’s so bad you have to almost come to a complete stop to get the truck to stop shaking.

 

Update Jan 2012-In a nut shell, the death wobble on pre 2003 trucks is usually from the trackbar.  On 2003 and up, the wobble is usually caused by loose steering linkage.  I’ve updated this article to reflect that there are 2 main causes of the wobble depending on the year of the truck .

 

To be clear, 9 out of 10 times in my experience on pre 2003 trucks the track bar is the cause of the death wobble on trucks with the tierod at the end of the track bar.  I base this on my day to day experience running a front end shop.   Most other times if it wasn’t the track bar it was the steering damper.  These are the 2 places I start with when a Dodge truck is on the rack. If it’s a later model truck like an 03 and later with a track bar that only has bushings at each end, we install the Dodge steering linkage upgrade kit. See below for more info about that.

Starting in 1994 Dodge trucks come with what’s called a track bar that keeps the front axle from moving side to side. This was necessary due to switching from leaf springs to coil springs on the front axle for a better ride.

Poor Design

In their infinite wisdom, (Dodge) they decided to put a tierod style joint at one end of the trackbar and a rubber bushing at the other end. Calling it a crappy design would be an insult to turds.

The Problem

Usually the reason this happens on pre 2003 trucks is the end of the trackbar that has the tierod on it has become loose and is now allowing the front axle to move side to side just enough that it sets up an oscillation in the steering linkage and that is what causes the wobble.

On post 2003 trucks I usually hang new steering linkage using the factory linkage upgrade. See video below.

I know the first time I experienced the death wobble  while test driving a customers truck back in the 90′s I just about had to change my underwear. It can be pretty scary.

The Problem Part 2

Going back to what I said earlier, the design is crap. And, the trackbar is expensive to replace. If you have big tires it’s not unusual to have to hang a new bar every 15000 miles. Ridiculous.  There are a couple different styles of track bar you can install, there’s the BD Performance fully adjustable which is a permanent solution and there’s the aftermarket replacement bar which is basically identical to the bar currently on your truck. I talk about both below.

The Solution

Dodge Truck Trackbar

Dodge Truck Death Wobble Fix – BD Diesel Performance Trackbar Kit

On pre 2003 trucks is to replace that crappy OE trackbar with one that has been redesigned to eliminate the tierod end.

This is assuming all your steering linkage is tight and your damper is OK.

BD Diesel Performance makes an adjustable track bar kit which is the fix on pre 2003 trucks.

You install it and you’re done. It should last the life of your truck. And like I said, it’s adjustable which is a cool feature if you have a lift kit on your truck because they tend to really put the woop on the OE track bar because when you lift the truck the bar actually needs to be longer to keep the axle in the right place.

With the adjustable bar you can dial it into the exact length it needs to be so it bolts right on. And since it’s not in a bind and it has bushings on both ends, it will last 10 times longer than the OE part that came off the truck. Not to mention it will take the wander out of your truck, as long as the rest of your suspension is in good shape.

My Truck’s Not The Space Shuttle

OK, for whatever reason you just need to fix your truck the cheapest way possible right now. My recommendation is to buy a Moog track bar. Nobody builds better suspension parts when it comes to OE applications. A Moog trackbar will hold up better than any other brand on the market when you’re comparing apples to apples.  A Moog trackbar is about a third of the price of BD Diesel Adustable trackbar.

Last but not least, if the steering damper has more than 30K on it, replace it.  And if you have any play in any of the tierods, get rid of them too. That is the order I would proceed in if trying to fix on a budget. Plus make sure your steering gear adjustment is good.

MOOG Trackbar starting at about $100 With Free Shipping From Amazon

Later models that don’t have the tierod style trackbar  but still shake

Recently I had a 2004 Dodge 2500 4×4 come in the shop that had the death wobble and it has the redesigned track bar with bushings on both ends instead of the tierod on one end and bushing on the other. Dodge went to this design in 2003.

Hmmm. Now what? The fix was installing a complete new steering linkage from Dodge that has been upgraded in diameter. It’s basically all of the linkage in one box ready to assembly. Sorta of…

You have to buy a new steering dampner to go with it, your old one won’t work with the new design. Don’t buy the factory one with the bend over price, just get one from your local parts house and you’ll save a lot of money.

Or Amazon…

03-08 Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Steering Linkage Upgrade Fixes-Death Wobble Oem Mopar

Last but not least, you might have to tighten the steering gear a turn or so as icing on the cake. That’s what I had to do on the last one. But it was fixed.

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About Joe Trent

Joe started out as a tire buster in 1979. He is ASE Certified in suspension & brakes with over 30 years experience. Connect with Joe on Google +

Comments

  1. Joe Trent says:

    Somehow I deleted the comments on this page a while back. I’ve since located most of them and have reposted below:

    Lloyd Worthing says:
    May 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm
    The death wobble also snaps the tie rod ends off We have had this happen to 3 of our company trucks,
    yesterday a new dodge truck pulling a rv trailer went to back into his drive way at Burns Lake B.C. and the tie rod end snapped off while backing up . He had just drove 150 miles .Luky it didnt happen then,. I called a friend at Granisle B.C to tell him about this problem as he has 2 dodge trucks and he said that he had the wobble happen to him and he had to stop to get it to stop wobbling. I traded my Dodge off on a GMC no more of that shit for me . Everytime i meet a Dodge on the hyway i shutter Lloyd

    Joe Trent says:
    May 19, 2011 at 7:18 pm
    “no more of that shit for me” LOL, thanks for your feedback. I haven’t seen tie rods snap, but I don’t doubt it one minute.

    Joe Trent says:
    June 23, 2011 at 2:37 am
    You don’t mention changing the steering damper. A worn damper will cause the wobble too. Also give the sector adjustment a turn or so on the steering gear. Sometimes that’s the icing on the cake that fixes it. If you get the gear box too tight the truck will wander, back off the adjustment a 1/4 turn if that’s the case. If you still have the wobble after this, I’d replace the linkage with the updated linkage in a box from Dodge as in the video on this page. I’ve never had one that the above mentioned parts and procedures didn’t fix.

    Peltzer says:
    July 9, 2011 at 3:26 am
    I replaced my steering damper, immediately began experiencing the death wooble. I jacked up the truck and checked the new damper . The damper had about .5′ play before signifcant shock absorption. I’m thinking that the damper needs to orientated so that the valves or ports are on the bottom, as the damper was fine vertically. Does anybody know?

    Joe Trent says:
    July 9, 2011 at 5:11 am
    Steering dampers have equal pressure on both sides. You should take your truck to the nearest front end shop in your area and have them check your work and make recommendations for further repairs.

    MARK SMITH says:
    July 20, 2011 at 11:50 pm
    I HAVE 2010 4X4 2500 DODGE. 2.5″ LIFT WITH 35″ TIRES, IT’S BEEN A GOOD TRUCK UNTILL SEE TURNED 18,000 MILES ON HER. NOW IT’S GOT THE DEATH WOBBLE. ANY IDEA’S , THOUGHT THE NEW ONES WERE FIXED.

    Joe Trent says:
    July 21, 2011 at 2:56 am
    Hi Mark,
    I would put a steering damper on it first. Then I’d rebalance the front tires. If you still have the shake, I’d replace all of the steering linkage. That process we use on the newer trucks now. Assuming you’re truck is a Ram 2500 or 3500.

    Dave says:
    July 31, 2011 at 11:23 pm
    I’ve replaced all the front end components on my 2005 2500 dodge ram and I’m still having the death
    wobble. The only thing I have not done is replace the trac bar. Is that the fix. I’m ready to get rid of
    this truck if I can not fix it.

    Joe Trent says:
    July 31, 2011 at 11:34 pm
    1st I’d verify the bar is loose by having someone rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look at the track bar joint and see if it’s popping up and down. If it is, replace the bar. Also look at all the other ends at that time to make sure nothing else is loose. If the only thing that’s moving is the track bar, replace it and that should fix the wobble.

    jim s says:
    August 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm
    I have a 2007 2500 heavy duty diesel with 76,000 miles which just started this death wooble. Dodge dealer says they have no idea or knowlege of the problem. Where should I start to fix it ? It’s newer so I imagine the track bar is different than what’s mentioned. Help !!

    Randall says:
    August 11, 2011 at 12:35 am
    I have a 2006 dodge diesel 2500 4×4 with a 6″ lift and 37″ toyo mud terrain tires. I have replaced the tierod ends, drag link, sway bar, a busted shock, track bar bushings (not the bar, just bushings), steering stabilizer shock, and I have had it re-aligned. I experienced these problems immediately after I changed the steering stabilizer when I found it was busted. It only wobbles when you hit a bump in the road. Since then I have replaced all of these parts with no fix to this dreadful “death wobble”. I am all out of ideas and need some advive before I decide to trade my truck in.

    Joe Trent says:
    August 11, 2011 at 6:56 am
    I experienced these problems immediately after I changed the steering stabilizer when I found it was busted. Seems like a coincidence. The new damper isn’t going to cause this. If anything, I’d add another damper as in dual damper set-up. In your case with 37 inch tires, they have to be in excellent condition and they have to be perfectly balanced. If they’re not, get new tires. Next thing I’d do is make sure the steering gear adjustment is tight.

    Jill says:
    August 12, 2011 at 2:47 am
    My husband’s tie rods broke off while driving (scary) the dealer said their is about to be a recall on them…. His is an ’07 Dodge…. I had to use my dad’s ’08 The other day to haul some things and it started wobbling so bad I had to pull off the road. It happened multiple times and scared the crap out of me…. I am glad I found this because it explains everything.

    Johnny says:
    August 19, 2011 at 11:08 pm
    I have a 2004 dodge diesel with a 2 inch puck leveling kit in front. Its a dooley 4×4. Have had the pucks on for over a year. Just started doing the death wobble mildly . Usually had to be going about 60 mph or faster and hit a good bump for it to happen but it wasnt real bad would just have too slow down a little. replaced track bar bushings to no cure. Replaced the steering dampner with oe part and it got worse. Any advice would help.

    Joe Trent says:
    August 19, 2011 at 11:17 pm
    I would probably replace steering linkage with factory linkage upgrade kit as in the video on this page. I’d also check for other loose parts in in front end and replace them too. Make sure to get the front wheels balanced too if they haven’t been in the last 18K.

    Joe Trent says:
    September 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm
    Jim s,
    Sorry for the late reply, my shop was slammed last month. I’m surprised the dealer doesn’t have a clue. I just fixed an 07 last week. The solution was the factory steering linkage kit as mentioned in the video above and a new damper. Plus we balanced the front tires. Fixed.

    Brandon says:
    September 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm
    I have a 2007 dodge 3500 4×4 not cab an chassis an a 2008 dodge 3500 4×4 cab an chassis i put a level kit on both an put the dodge up grade steering linkages on both an new shocks an stabilizer i have the bd steering stabilizer braket on an tightened the steering box a 1/4 turn tires balanced an rotated air pressure is 70psi i still have the death wobble. I want to put 35″ tires on both but would like to get this problem fixed first i also had alighnments done on both not play on any of the steering or any moving parts on the front end.

    John S. says:
    September 27, 2011 at 9:32 pm
    Joe, Last fall I bought a used 05′ Ram 4*4 2500 and returned it to the dealership due to the Deathwobble. In January I bought an 04′ 4*4 Ram 2500 as a replacement for my plow truck in midseason. I tried to get it to wobble but it refused, so I bought it. I just had the drivers side tierod snap off at the joint. My mechanic called to tell me that the new part wouldn’t fit my set up and that it looked like the front end from a 98′ He changed it all out. I had wobble, big time wobble that day. He changed the damper to a moog which was a little better but no cigar. Turns out he took out the factory upgraded linkage and restored me back to 04′ oem. It took a little to figure it out and some more wobble. Turns out dealerships only sell the upgrade now, whereas parts stores sell the oem. Is it possible that everyone is not on the same page. Why wouldn’t the aftermarket segment be selling the upgraded spec or at least offering it? We checked a few suppliers and only dodge had the upgrade. This leads to my next question, In the video you suggest not buying the factory damper with your kit from dodge. That bolt on damper is offered as aftermarket ? That doesn’t make sense to me. JS

    Joe Trent says:
    September 28, 2011 at 4:09 am
    Hi John,

    I have no idea why the aftermarket doesn’t sell the upgraded linkage. I can tell you it’s cheaper to buy the factory upgrade linkage kit than it is to buy the OEM pieces individually. If I’m looking at a truck that only needs a tierod at the pitman arm, I buy just that. If it has more than one piece worn, I get the upgrade kit from the dealer.

    As to your second question, I buy Napa dampeners and they bolt right on the upgraded linkage from the dealer. I never buy the dealer dampener. The reason you have to buy a dampener is because the original one won’t work with the upgraded linkage kit. The after market dampener comes with hardware to make it compatible with both styles of linkage. I hope that clears it up for you.

    Joe Trent says:
    September 28, 2011 at 4:17 am
    Brandon,

    Somethings moving. Get someone to rock the steering wheel back and forth with the engine running and look underneath at every single nut, bolt, bushing and tierod in the front end. There should not be any popping up and down or sideways play in any tierods or bushings. If you don’t see anything loose I’d recommend finding the closest front-end shop to you and having them take a look. They just might see something you’re missing. One last thing, check the tire pressure recommendation on the door sill and set the tires to that and see what happens.

  2. Heavy De says:

    Joe:
    Don’t forget to have them check to make sure the steering box is bolted tight to the frame.
    I have found a couple now where the steering box bolts we so loose it wore the frame shiny.

  3. Joe Trent says:

    Great tip thanks!

  4. MR JOE I HAVE A 2012 DODGE 3500 WITH 26000 MILES ON IT IT HAS A 3 AND A HALF ” LIFT ON IT I PUT THE LIFT ON IT WHEN IT HAD 600 MILES ON IT AND IT JUST NOW STARTED THE DEATH WOBBLE ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO FIX MY PROBLEM?

  5. Joe Trent says:

    You could start with rotate and balance the tires, adjust the steering gear. If still not fixed, replace steering linkage and make sure steering gear mounting bolts are tight.

  6. I have a 99 Dodge Ram Sport 4×4 5.2 with 108k. I keep having issues with my track bar. I had it replaced 4 months ago and that one started “popping” everytime I turned the wheel so I had it replaced 2 weeks ago and after a week and a half that one started doing the same thing. I then had that one replaced yesterday with a Moog track bar and already im hearing a mild popping. Basically the entire front end suspension has been replaced in the past couple of months…we’re talking hub assemblys, tie rods, u joints, pittman arm, track bar. What could be the issue?

  7. Joe Trent says:

    Hi Josh,

    Have a helper rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look at the trackbar. Is the bar popping up and down at the joint? I would be stunned to see that on a new Moog part. I’m guessing you have something else moving.

  8. Jasson yule says:

    Hello all, I am in mechanics, I have a dodge 3500 lifted 8 inches with 13 inch offset rims that are 24 inches wide, 24 inches tall with lower profile tires, its ridiculous.

    Multiple mechanics have tried to figure the death wobble on this thing, and shit their pants and kick it out the door..

    I found a loose sector shaft extension nut, that goes through a bearing on an add-on bracket, that bolts on the sway bar mounts.

    This in turn, allowing the pitman to rock side to side on the shaft causing extra play..

    I removed the add-on bracket, and replaced the extension nut with a 7/8 x 14 440 locknut and tourqued it to spec. took this monster for a test drive, 50 mph, death wobble.

    Removed steering shocks, and they were both worn out long ago.

    Replaced steering shocks after properly cycling them. Fixed the death wobble.

    I have found that warped brake rotors and unbalanced/ worn tires contributed ro the resonation of the death wobble

  9. Jasson yule says:

    To josh, Are you sure the axle joints in the front are not seized, or rust pouring out of the caps?

  10. Mine is a 96 dodge with lift, just purchased the dealer left right tie rods and found your articles on death wobble here. Im thinking while im at it i should replace the trac bar. for my lift do would you recommend the Bd or the Moog. I should mention that the truck has over 350,000 miles in it and about 6 months ago had a shop fix my leaking steer fluid replaces both lines, pump and seer box I dont recall having the death wobble before that. The truck is 4×4 .ive owned it for about ayear and half.
    -Kurt

  11. Joe Trent says:

    At 350K, I’d probably go with the Moog track bar.

  12. i just wasn’t sure if because of the lift the Moog would be adequate, thanks Joe.

  13. Pete Terranova says:

    Hi Joe, I too have death wobble troubles on my 2006 mega cab 2500. I have replaced everything in the front end and now it actually will wobble just making a right or left turn going slow and then stop when straight. Any ides for me? Also the new upgraded steering linkage has play out of the box on the tie rods from the steering box to the linkage. I bought a new oem tie rod and the same thing it has a bit of play in it. I’m lost…..

  14. Joe Trent says:

    Hi Pete,

    Hmmmm. Have a helper rock the steering wheel back and forth and look at everything in the front end for movement. Track bar, steering gear mount etc. Someone mentioned the frame cracking at the steering gear, be sure to check for that too.

  15. Hey Joe,
    Thanks for your website. It has helped alleviate some of my concerns. I just bought an 07 Ram 3500 with the 5.9 in it. I experienced the death wobble twice on my way home. Should I go ahead and replace everything with the upgrade kit, or take it to someone to have it checked out first? Also, I saw your video on the tire causing the wobble as well. The tires on this particular truck are almost worn out. I would like to replace them, but I don’t want to dump a bunch of money in a pickup that is going to keep costing me money. So, should the replacement kit fix the death wobble, or should I have the tires checked out first? Thanks.

  16. Joe Trent says:

    Hi Travis,

    Get tires first. It just might fix it.

  17. dustin says:

    I have a 09 dodge mega cab dually with a 6in lift and i toooo have the death wobble it only started after i took the 22.5s off before i took them off no death wobble now with my stock tires i have a death wobble what do i do?

  18. Joe Trent says:

    Try balancing the front tires.

  19. Hi Joe,
    I have a 03 ram 2500 4×4 quad cab cummins, it has 39000 miles on it and we recently experienced death wobble at 75mph that was initiated on uneven pavement and only stopped upon slowing. I replaced the steering linkage with the Mopar upgrade including pitman arm and steering damper. I also had the steering gearbox overhauled. The last thing was ditching the 8 year old BFG 315/70/17s. I bought Nitto 285/75/17 Dura Grapplers and it seems to have solved my wobble.. I have a 2″ leveler on the coils and stock track bar. My question is do you recommend a adjustable track bar to get the front axle back where it was intended originally? Is BD a good choice? I set castor off the top of the upper ball joint and set it to 4.5 degrees with a dial type degree finder, was this a good reference point?
    I am waiting to see what you have say on the track bar and take it in for alignment.

  20. Joe Trent says:

    Hi Robert,

    I like your caster setting. I think you’ll be OK with the stock track bar on your truck. If you had a pre-2003 with any kind of lift, I’d say get the BD track bar. But I’ve seen lots of 03 and later trucks with a 2 inch lift that were just fine with the stock bar.

    If you had any more than 2 inches, yes, install the BD track bar to get the axle back in the right place.

  21. Hi from Canada Joe!
    Thanks for your site and all the important info that we can find in it! I just want to ask you what you think about the Dodge Ram Steering Gear Box Stabilizer. I am currently having the death wooble on my ram and i would like to know if this thing with a dual damper kit plus a moog trackbar will be a permanent fix… The first time my truck did the wooble I almost shit my pants and sometimes my father, sisters and girlfriend use my truck… I know how to drive the truck so it don’t wobble but i’m scared when someone else than me is behind the steering wheel.
    http://www.dodgeramsteeringstabilizer.com/ do you think that is good? the explanation on the site seems good…
    For the dual damper kit i’ve found on ebay the brand is Rancho… Is that a good brand?

    Thanks alot!

  22. Joe Trent says:

    Hi Nick,

    If your truck is pre-2003, a Moog track bar and any loose steering linkage replaced, should fix it. If your truck is 03 and up, it’s not a trackbar issue. You didn’t say what year the truck…

    I like the brace you linked to, I’ve seen them before in my shop, they’re pretty beefy and not that much money. I’d do it. So yes, I like your game plan.

  23. My ram is a 2006. I went to a good mecanic to do an inspection on the truck and he said that the ball joints and tie rod end are like new.. no loose, nothing. :o/

  24. Joe Trent says:

    Then the 1st thing I would do is replace the steering damper.

  25. Hi joe,
    I finally installed the brace called the steering stabilizer and a brand new Rough Country Damper… Installation of the brace is really simple and easy. While driving I noticed a BIG improvement but it still wooble lightly… 100 km/h + a serie of pot holes it will wooble… i just need so slow down 5 km/h and it goes back to normal… but now when it wooble, its not uncontrolable like before. What else should I look at?

  26. Joe Trent says:

    Tire balance, steering gear adjustment.

  27. Derek DeMos says:

    I have a 2009 Ram 3500. I bought it used with a 6″ lift and 37″ tires on it, and had a severe death wobble the first time I drove over 110 km/h. I have since gone back to the stock tire size, removed the lift and installed a leveling kit, installed bilstein shocks on all 4 corners, replaced the steering linkage, installed a bilstien damper, replaced the front u-joints on both sides, replaced the left upper ball joint with a Moog brand one, tightened the steering box, replaced the track bar with a Carli adjustable one, got an alignment with the caster as positive as it goes,and checked for any other play. Death wobble is still present. Any ideas?

  28. I would have someone rock the steering wheel back and forth while looking at the steering linkage. Somethings got to be moving. And pay close attention to the steering gear mount for cracks. If the frame is cracked right there and the gear is wobbly back in forth, that will also cause the wobble.

  29. Roy Christopher says:

    I have 2005 4wd 2500. I went to dealer to check out price of linkage upgrade kit. They advised this kit would not work on stock pitman arm and I would have to buy 09-up pitman arm. Will this upgrade linkage work on stock/stock height pitman arm?

  30. I’ve done it before on a 2005 without changing the pitman arm. I have heard there is different arm available, I’d buy it, you’re truck can use all the help it can get.

  31. Roy Christopher says:

    I am hearing a knocking sound when turning steering wheel and it is coming from where the steering shaft goes into the steering gear box. thoughts?

  32. Hello Joe,

    I have a 2005, 2500 4×4 Diesel.

    This weekend I installed the MOPAR steering upgrade kit with Skyjacker single Stablizer and pitman arm. As well as a new steering box. The truck had a alignment yesterday. The shop confirmed my install and said all things were correct and tight. The truck has 350 000 KM I did the upgrade because the parts were worn out not because I felt a bad wobble. Just a little wander on a bump. I did a test drive last night in town and on the highway, all seemed fine. Anyways this morning on my first commute since the work was complete I hit a bump and the truck shook violently, like the front end was falling off. I had to pull over and had a look everything seemed fine. I continued on and when I hit a bump it did not feel the same. This weekend I also replaced the cardan Joint and u joints in my front drive shaft.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you

  33. Joe Trent says:

    Hey Matt,
    Have someone rock the steering wheel back and forth while you watch the track bar for any lateral movement. If it’s moving, put new bushings in it.

  34. Joe Trent says:

    If it does this with the engine off, that’s normal. If not, I don’t know.

  35. bill stoehr says:

    o5′ 2500. 222,000 miles.death wobble. drivers tie rod snapped at 65 mph just missing a state trooper. crashed it in the ditch. new Everything under it, wheel bearings too. The death wobble is back only after 3,ooo miles. Dealership says ‘it got the new recall parts on it, good luck.’ … now what? 5-1-14′

  36. Joe Trent says:

    New truck. Different brand.

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