My Jeep has recently developed a minor but noticeable case of Death Wobble. It occurs when traveling around 34-36 MPH and usually requires an adequately undulating road surface to initiate it. Researching the issue I found this article at which covers the issue very thoroughly. The issues seems to be a mysterious subject with a myriad of possible cause, as if all Jeeps are on the verge of Death Wobble and the slightest wear on any component will send your steering oscillating. Reviewing the usual suspects I'm guessing I'm going to find a loose component since I don't think old age or wear and tear are going to be a factor with a Jeep as new and well cared for as mine. I have a history with loose bolts, long time readers might remember that I failed to properly tighten my trackbar bolt and had to do some minor surgery to repair the resulting damage (there was a blog post about it but I lost it when my site got hacked last year). I doubt any bushings are worn out and I really doubt the Dana 60's ball joints or wheel bearings will show any wear yet.

A secondary suspect might be my tire balance. My Jeep has about 28,000 miles on it, slightly less on the tires, however I will say the tires are showing significant wear since they were new and probably only have another 10,000 miles in them. 


It was a loose tie rod end, but it has a weird cause...

Old tie rod end

I tried to tighten it but that wasn't possible, so I removed the nut to inspect the rod end. The nut was tightened all the way to the point where the threads in the nut where mangled from being run down onto the none-threaded portion of the tie-rod end. This means that when I installed it 20,0000 miles ago it was as tight as it was ever going to get. It seems that either the hole in the left-side knuckle is unusually large or the threaded portion on the tie rod end didn't extended down the shaft far enough. With the nut tight but the tie-rod end not fully seated in the tapper the rod end must have stretch from constant wiggling all this time. Now the play has become so large that it's causing the death wobble. I inspected the hole in the knuckle and it looks round and in good condition dispite the abuse. In the photo you can see the tappered part of the tie rod end sticking up above the steering knuckle.


new tie rod endI replaced the tie rod end and the new one seats fine without the nut bottoming out. You can see there is about a 1/16" before the tapper of the new TRE would protrude above the steering arm.

On a side-note, as always seems to happen when a castle nut is involved, the damn thing reaches torque specs in a position that blocks the cotter pin hole. In order to turn the nut another 10ยบ I went from 63 ft lbs. to about 120 ft lbs. What the hell are you supposed to do about that? You just have to crank it tight, right?