Dodge Truck Death Wobble Fix
February 3, 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comments from the old post:
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.
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
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.
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 !!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.