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View Full Version : Dodge truck death wobble?



Stacie
Jan. 8, 2011, 07:25 PM
I've been looking at trucks for towing a horse trailer and found a very nicely priced 2004 Dodge 2500. Doing research on the truck uncovered a design flaw which causes the front of the truck to suddenly wobble uncontrollably after it hits a bump. Apparently can happen out of the blue. No one seems to know exactly what the problem is.
Not sure if this is something I'd want to take a chance on while towing!

Grataan
Jan. 8, 2011, 10:31 PM
I have three of them (well, one is owned by the practice) and have never heard of such a thing, nor have I ever experienced a problem like you described while hauling that was not attributable to mechanical problems like tire wear, poor front end alignment, a bent rim (Dr Mr G hit a curb) or parts wearing out (the hay truck is old and one of the upper ball joints was close to failure) basic normal wear and tear type stuff.

GoForAGallop
Jan. 8, 2011, 11:32 PM
"Death Wobbles" are very common in lifted vehicles thanks to messing with the balance of the vehicle and not accounting for it in other areas (struts, etc), but I have never heard of it in untampered-with vehicles. And I know LOTS of people with Dodges.

saddleup
Jan. 9, 2011, 12:26 AM
I have a 2007 Dodge 3/4 ton Ram truck. Never had that happen. And I have gone over lots of bumps!

FWIW, I love my truck.

mvp
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:44 AM
Not sure this applies.

Ford trucks' axels are made from a solid hunk o' steel. That means that if they ever get bent in the heat of battle, alignment afterwards will be a problem. Consider it a scar. But no, I don't see why a wound that didn't kill or significantly cripple the truck would make it unsafe to drive afterward. I suppose a big enough bump plus speed, plus a driver who wasn't used to working around a sub-clinical lameness in front, plus the bent axle that magnified all of these problems could be the end of the world on a bad day.

SFrost
Jan. 9, 2011, 12:06 PM
My Dad recently just got rid of his Dodge for this reason. In addition to the shaking you are talking about the wheel bearings also would wear out VERY quickly. (I'm not sure how often they are supposed to be replaced but he was forever complaining about having to put new ones in.) Of course he took it to the dealer multiple times but they were never able to correct the issue.

He often towed things with it but I know that he was never totally comfortable doing so.

He also found out that there were a lot of other people having the same issue.

blaster
Jan. 9, 2011, 12:40 PM
Have one the same year, no issues to report.

stillknotreel
Jan. 9, 2011, 05:15 PM
What kind of rims do you have? The type of rims you have can effect the "death wobble" seen in Dodges. I've seen the most issues with aftermarket rims and alloy wheels.

My best suggestion to you would be a solid steel steering stabilizer bar. Most run under or around $200. The theory behind "death wobble" is that the sector shaft in the steering box flexes, and in return it causes the frame to flex. The flexion of the frame is what we call "death wobble".

Any truck or car can get it, most common in 3rd generation Dodges and Fords. It can be caused by numerous things, and there are various ways to go about solving it. Some people feel "death wobble" from side to side, others can feel it from front to back (feels like the trucks is almost hopping, rather than shaking as it would if it's from side to side).

Some people say it's lifted vehicles that develop "death wobble" over stock vehicles. But I've seen more stock vehicles with "death wobble" than lifted ones. 97.8% of my trucks have been lifted at one point in their life and I have never had an issue with death wobble. Right now, my 2006 F-250 (another truck known for gettin' the shakes) is lifted 8" on 37" tires and I've never had an issue. The aftermarket suspension and lift, aftermarket steering stabilizers etc. etc. that I put in are of higher quality than the stock ones that came on the truck, and have definitely helped out.

Death wobble can be curable in some cases, and others it can be a lot harder to diagnose. Depends on how in depth you want to get with it.

ngilland
Jan. 9, 2011, 08:41 PM
We had this happen on our 05 Dodge. I just asked the hubby what it could be and he said it could be any of the following: tie rod ends, ball joints, wheel bearings, bushings in the front sway bar and steering stabilizer bar (if it has one). He said that all of these are fairly easy to fix but the wheel bearings are the most expensive part to fix. He also said that this is something that will happen in almost all dodge 4x4 at some point. He had 2 that this happened in and he was able to get rid of it. We are on truck #3 and it hasn't happened yet.

ReSomething
Jan. 9, 2011, 10:15 PM
Happens to every year make and model once the suspension gets worn out enough. We had a '72 Ford F250 back when we were poor that slung parts more than once and finally completely busted a tie rod, thankfully at a slow speed. Came to a stop with both wheels fully toed in, looked like it was doing a truck "snowplow".

We're a bit tough on vehicles, we've had others that needed suspension work. If you are used to it often you just ignore it, that is until you lend out the car to a friend and they bring it back after going around the block, white knuckled and shaking :eek:.

Frequent and thorough maintenance helps this stuff happen less often.

clint
Jan. 10, 2011, 10:00 AM
We have a 2004 Dodge and haven't experienced anything like that. We have been driving it for two years.

chism
Jan. 10, 2011, 10:01 PM
I had a similar issue with my 1990 GMC. We just replaced the stabilizer bar and were good to go.

atr
Jan. 11, 2011, 12:46 AM
Much as I think my 3/4 ton Dodge is a piece of complete crap (but crap that I own outright,) a death wobble isn't something I've experienced. Many other things, but not that...

Heart's Journey
Jan. 11, 2011, 03:09 PM
very happy with my '04 Dodge 3/4 ton diesel - been hauling with it the whole time. 78,000 miles to date

Daisey-Bogie
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:42 PM
i had the wobbels the other day. turned out the 4 wheel drive was still engaged. it was half in and out. scared the hell out of me. but stopped, pushed it back in 2 wheel, put it in reverse and we were set to role.

marta
Jan. 12, 2011, 03:37 PM
it was a crew cab with a full size bed. 4x4. fell in love with it on ebay. flew down to TX to buy it. boy did it teach me a lesson.

the mechanic i had back then never figured out what the 'death wobble' was. it was the scariest thing i ever experienced. the wheels would hit one of those junctions that you see on a bridge and the force of the wobble would yank the steering wheel out of my hands. someone mentioned a stabilizer bar and i wonder if that was the problem. it's been years now, so i don't recall what we replaced in an effort to address this.

so as others have mentioned, i don't think it's a ford, dodge or gmc thing, i think it's a worn out or bent suspension component.

we've had several ford trucks over the years and currently have 3 in the family, all different years and models (1970, 1989 and 1997), and we never experienced that problem with any of them besides that single one.

SandCreek
Jan. 12, 2011, 10:07 PM
We have one. '04 Dodge Ram diesel did the "death wobble". After many trips to dealer service the steering stabilizer was fixed and have not had an issue since. 175,000 miles now and best running truck we have had. Averages over 25mpg hwy right now.

Stacie
Jan. 12, 2011, 11:39 PM
Thanks for the stories!

MaresNest
Jan. 20, 2011, 09:37 PM
I got rid of my last truck because of the death wobble. It was a Ram dually. It would wobble so badly that people around me on the highway would get out of the way. And I would have to slow down to about 15 mph (often on the interstate) to get it to stop.

After - gosh, I don't know - five or six mechanics, one said he thought a stabilizer bar was missing. But by that point I had already found another truck, and it seemed odd that the 4+ mechanics before hadn't noticed a critical part missing. So I just made sure that the dealer I was trading with understood that my truck was a death wobbler and that one mechanic thought it was missing a stabilizer bar. And I washed my hands of the whole situation. Blech.

Almost Heaven
Jan. 20, 2011, 09:51 PM
#1 cause - wheel bearings

#2 cause - ball joints.

In extreme cases, both.

Once fixed, you also need to determine WHY it got this bad.

Front end is gone on this vehicle, walk, no, RUN, away from it.

Bank of Dad
Jan. 20, 2011, 11:04 PM
Saw a lot of posts about this on my RV board. Seems was commen to Dodge, but seems to have been redesigned after 2010. Google dodge death wobble.

DakotaTA
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:44 PM
http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/crackenzag1/2009-09-16_030417_TSB.pdf

TSB from Dodge, applicable to 2003-2007...although I've had to replace the entire front end on my 1999 Dodge Durango 4WD with only 110,000 miles on it.

KitKat987
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:06 AM
I have an 03 2500 Ram. Never had that happen thankfully!

walkers
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:56 PM
I have a 2002 dodge ram ,bought it new. I'm on the 3rd transmission with only 85K miles! It is only used for pulling 2horse BP on local trips. When loaded with 2 horses the truck works well for about 70 miles but then struggles to get up a freeway hill or gradual long up grade . The truck lurches like you are pumping the gas .. Its been to the dealer several times and they of course can find nothing wrong. I think its some crappy part they used to rebuild the transmissions it drove ok before the trans was replaced. First one was under warranty.
I have had constant problem with Dodge truck and as soon as I can will be looking for a replacement.
Currently I pray on the way hoping it won't quit on me one cold and rainy day with a full load.
Interestingly it pulls one horse just fine.
So what truck next?
And yes it wobbles.

AdAblurr02
Jan. 25, 2011, 11:02 PM
Most commonly found cause is the track bar being worn out - as a few other posters have noted, also ball joints, etc. FWIW, this does not affect the 2wd trucks, only the live-axle 4x4 Dodges.

We just went through the WHOLE front end on our big '96 Dodge 3500 flatbed work truck this year - upper and lower ball joints, all tie rod ends (did the Luke's Links for them and the track bar rebuild), steering stabilizer, PS pump and lines, brand new RedHead steering gearbox (LOVE it) and last but not least, shocks all around. Brand new tires too! Old Dodgery now drives better than new, and will still pull ANYTHING you hitch her to. I love this truck, and she's PAID FOR :)

mvp
Jan. 26, 2011, 08:03 AM
I have a 2002 dodge ram ,bought it new. I'm on the 3rd transmission with only 85K miles! It is only used for pulling 2horse BP on local trips. When loaded with 2 horses the truck works well for about 70 miles but then struggles to get up a freeway hill or gradual long up grade . The truck lurches like you are pumping the gas .. Its been to the dealer several times and they of course can find nothing wrong. I think its some crappy part they used to rebuild the transmissions it drove ok before the trans was replaced. First one was under warranty.
I have had constant problem with Dodge truck and as soon as I can will be looking for a replacement.

I believe Dodge trunks of the early 2000s are known for their heinous transmissions. Your dealer is probably well aware. My non-denominational Diesel Dude was. Maybe you need to do some independent research and figure out whether the dealer is replacing "bad with same" or whether there is a solution to this that savvy Dodge owners like.

chism
Jan. 29, 2011, 08:39 AM
I believe Dodge trunks of the early 2000s are known for their heinous transmissions. Your dealer is probably well aware. My non-denominational Diesel Dude was. Maybe you need to do some independent research and figure out whether the dealer is replacing "bad with same" or whether there is a solution to this that savvy Dodge owners like.

Our farm truck (boss's not mine) is a 2000 Dodge. The transmission has been replaced twice and it still feels like it's dying when hauling pretty much anything. Thankfully, it's been demoted to plow truck since boss just bought a 2010 Ford Super Duty, which is amazing

kellidahorsegirl
Jan. 30, 2011, 12:40 PM
We have a 2005 Dodge Big Horn 1 ton 6 speed.... it did the wobble thing. It is not an 'uncontrolable' wobble....basically the front end just shakes like a motha! I had it happen to me about 4 times with the trailer on. you just let off the gas and it'll quit after a few seconds. The first time I did it was extremely scary. Felt like I'd blown a tire, but yet it stays centered down the road.

After talking to a friend who has the same rig, there was a recall on I believe the steering elements in the 2005s. So we took it in and got that replaced. It still had the same problem. After many trips to the dummies at our Dodge dealer an hour away, we took it somewhere else.

2 minutes later the diesel mechanic said it was a bad shock on the steering elements (I am bad with proper terminology). Never had the problem again!

So in our case, even though there really was a recall on a part, that wasn't our problem...just a simple shock replacement.

But let me tell you how terrifying it is to have those wobbles happen! HAHA It was only happening to me too, so my husband thought I was crazy and making stuff up....until it happened to him ;) HAHA

Oh PS: we LOVE the pickup otherwise....has a ton of power. But we haul huge loads of cattle with it on gravel roads, up hills, snow, etc. Bought it new in 2005 and it's still going strong with over 200k miles on it already haha.