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Nuts & Bolts: 2WD Death Wobble

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on June 16, 2017
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Photographers: Trenton McGee

2WD Death Wobble
I know this is a four-wheel-drive magazine, but I am hoping you can help me. My fiancé has a 2008 2WD JK (she bought it before we met), and the thing has developed death wobble. The Jeep is stone stock. How on earth can this happen? I know it’s common with lifted 4x4 JKs, but this is two-wheel drive and stock. The Jeep has over 100,000 miles on it, but it has been well maintained. What can I do to fix it?
Tom B.
Via nuts@4wor.com

Though her Jeep might not have a front drive axle, the suspension is basically identical to a four-wheel drive JK, and therefore death wobble can be caused by the exact same things. Start with the track bar, which locates the front beam axle side-to-side. Though Chrysler improved the track bar design on the JK, the track bar sees a lot of stress and is often the culprit. Check the control arm bushings, ball joints, and wheel hubs for play, and make sure the tires are balanced. Check all of the steering linkage for wear, including the linkage between the steering box and steering wheel. Check the steering box itself for excessive play at the sector shaft (where the pitman arm attaches) as the bushings in those early JK boxes are a known wear point.

The truth is that we’ve had a stone-stock and fairly new JK death-wobble on us when the conditions were just right, so some of it is inherent to the suspension design. Though death wobble can be caused by a number of things, inevitably the culprit is some combination of worn components regardless of whether the vehicle is two- or four-wheel drive.

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