JL Jeep Wrangler experiencing death wobble, NHTSA checking into it - AUSJEEPOFFROAD.COM Jeep News Australia and New Zealand


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Default JL Jeep Wrangler experiencing death wobble, NHTSA checking into it

JL Jeep Wrangler experiencing death wobble, NHTSA checking into itThe redesigned 2018 JL Jeep Wrangler is selling remarkably well, but it looks like it's still susceptible to age-old Jeep solid front axle vehicle issues. Recently, the NHTSA has received 11 JL Wrangler-specific complaints for a problem referred to as "death wobble" in the Jeep community. It's currently looking into the complaints to see if further action is necessary.

Death wobble is a term used predominantly by Jeep and specifically Wrangler owners to describe a violent steering wheel oscillation, typically caused by hitting some form of bump or pothole at higher speeds. For it to occur, there has to be something loose or damaged within the front steering or suspension system. The death wobble gets its name, because the vibrations through the steering wheel are far more frightening than any kind of a wheel imbalance problem. However, using the word "death" would be a misnomer as well, because there are no reported deaths due to the issue over decades of Jeeps experiencing the issue.

A little over a month ago, FCA decided it needed to recall 18,000 JL Wranglers because of a faulty weld around where the track bar is welded to the frame. As of now, there's no evidence linking this faulty weld with death wobble (an FCA spokesperson told us as much), but one of the most common causes of death wobble is a track bar issue. If a bad track bar weld is your problem, you're in far worse shape than any death wobble, because you'll end up with a complete loss of steering.

We asked Jeep about death wobble and a company spokesperson said that it "is not a widespread condition, nor is it a safety issue." FCA also said most of the incidents are linked to poorly installed suspension modifications, such as a lift-kit. However, the most current complaints for JL Wranglers describe unmodified and recently purchased vehicles. This means some vehicles still experience the issue despite being stock Wranglers.

For now, if you experience the death wobble in your new Jeep, it's best to slow down immediately in a safe place. Most are taken by surprise by the sudden oscillations from the wheel, but you should still be able to control the car. FCA says that even if you do experience the issue, it is routinely corrected on its own. We'll keep tabs on this, and update if there are any developments.

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Having often experienced DW in my stock JKU Rubi, it was only barely possible to "still be able to control the car" and to "slow down immediately in a safe place".

Mine happened on all sorts of surfaces and in incredibly benign situations turned incredibly dangerous, like overtaking in clearly safe situations and then finding the car shaking like shite and having to run off the road and work like hell to avoid smashing into trees. It would also spontaneously occur at 100km on smooth as freeways, starting into violence when entering a bend, or in a suburban street at less than 60kph.... the list goes on.

I had the same (but significantly lesser frequency) problem after a small <2" suspension lift.

I have not experienced DW again (fingers crossed) since replacing the front ball joints. The OEM ones are very poor and clearly degrade very quickly with even normal road use. The consensus wisdom is that these are usually the culprit.

Also, I think that the stock Goodyear Wrangler tyres play a significant part. I always had DW with these fitted. They frequently threw weights and lost "balance" in no time at all even when newly balanced with the weights on. I have not had DW since fitting different (and cheap) tyres, even before fitting new ball joints.

Jeep has known about this problem for a long time and chosen to keep it quiet. And irresponsibly so. There is no end of reports on the Internet, Youtube etc. The problem is a design problem and there are alternatives that would ensure it did not exist, while keeping "floating axles" and all their benefits.

I understand that in Australia, a Jeep dealer/Jeep Australia quietly fully reimbursed a purchaser who experienced this problem in a very short space of time and mileage, under threat of serious legal action. Of course, secrecy was part of the deal so we never got to hear about it.

How reassuring for Jeep that "there are no reported deaths due to the issue over decades of Jeeps experiencing the issue". It is more luck than anything else that no one has been killed. Does it require a death/many deaths before Jeep recognise this as a problem? I thought the idea of "potential for death" would be motivation enough. Case in point... migrating floor mats in Hondas (from memory) that led to high speed deaths and required about a $1.00 fix. DW DOES occur in brand new unmodified Jeeps, so it is a JEEP problem...

My own experience... well, I wonder how I have managed NOT to be killed. Good evasive driving on my part rather than any benign underpinnings of death wobble. It is only a matter of time before some one does die from it... then again, who will be around to tell the tale? I still make a point of not driving with members of my family in the JKU.

Jeep need to fix this problem. Or stop selling the vehicle.

While I would like to buy the new JL pickup, I very much doubt that I will, now that I know that this model, too, has the DW issue. I will vote with my wallet.

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I suspect that “death wobble” is a term originally from motorcycles and where being tossed off the bike was likely.

I don’t personally know of any death wobble from unmodified JKs - had just above from humdinger.

The problem is that Jeep enthusiasts in Aus would very much like FCA to introduce the JL on 35’s that is available in US car yards to here in Aus. Hyping up death wobble is t going to help that.

FWIW I’ve had death wobble on a 4” lifted JK but only when the track bar bracket was partially sheared. Nothing to do with FCA and all about my mods.
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Technically "death wobble" isn't from bikes, bikes similiar thing was referred to as a "tank slapper".

And there has been so much publicised about stock JK's having the issue, try Youtube.

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