Death Wobble Galore

Tie rods, steering box, drag link, alignment.<br />
What tires fit, brands, sizes, beadlocks, etc.

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shutch4251
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Death Wobble Galore

Post by shutch4251 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:04 pm

I originally had a problem with an occasional death wobble on my 73. After inspection, I found the lift block had two loose bolts. I tightened them up and truck ran great with no issues.

About a month of daily driving, I have noticed my steering has gotten extremely sloppy and I can almost induce a Death Wobble at will and am at the point of almost being scared to drive the darn thing.

Looking at WH site, they have several posts on steering and what/where to look, but to me it might as well be greek and egyptian hieroglyphics.

Does anyone have a 101 video or pics that can show where to check on the drag link, upper, lower, bushings, etc. Im a stare and compare guy and I have no reference of what would be considered good or bad..

adding pictures of my front end to where I think I may have a problem.. :/

thanks in advance..
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Post by SHAWN » Sat Mar 26, 2011 5:29 pm

"Staring to compare" doesn't usually work on steering or suspension problems. For instance, you cant see 'inside' a tie rod to see if its worn out. I suggest having someone inside the vehicle and rock the steering wheel back and forth. While they are doing that, you can look and FEEL each connecting point of your steering. There should be no slop anywhere. And besides the steering linkage after the steering box, check the box itself. How far does the steering wheel freely move without resistance?

These would be a couple of places to start.
Shawn.
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Post by Muzzman » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:01 pm

Also check your track bar.
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Post by BroncoDave » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:05 pm

Look beyond just the steering linkage. Worn track bar bushings will allow the front end to move side to side, will cause the death wobble and sloppy steering. Like Shawn said, get somebody inside turning the wheel back and forth you should be able to see the worn bushing(s).
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Post by shutch4251 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:12 pm

So after tightening the steering box up a bit more, i decided to give it a test run. Steeing did seem a bit stiffer but still alot of slop in the wheel. First five miles were good, but I could feel the front end starting to wobble in a straight line without hitting any bumps on a perfectly smooth and straight road. On the turn around back to the house, I had the wobble so bad I had to pull over six times in less than 5 miles. At this point, it is completely undriveable.

I will have one of my kids wiggle the steering wheel a bit and see what i can find ..

appreciate!

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Post by Scodge » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:40 pm

If the problem is bad, you may need to replace several components. In my experience, steering parts wear out at pretty much the same rate, although steering boxes last longer then most of the other stuff. PO's tend to forget to lube steering parts when they do oil changes, which also shortens their life. It's expensive, but if there is any slop in your steering box, I'd replace it.
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Post by Viperwolf1 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:08 pm

That draglink joint where it attaches to your pitman arm doesn't look good. I know the dust cover is missing but there's some shiney metal in there that doesn't look right.
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Post by DirtDonk » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:57 pm

Yeah, all that linkage in your pics looks pretty old shutch. Do you know if it's original? And if so, how many miles on the truck?

You don't normally "tighten" a steering box by using the top preload screw, if that's what you did. If you were refering to tightening the mounting bolts, that's fine, but the preload adjuster does not compensate for wear, over a certain amount.

When you have your helper turn the wheel, do it with the tires fully on the ground so that the weight of the truck works against the steering torque. That way you'll really see things move. And with the way things look in the pics, I'd say you're going to really see things move!

You can also check things like wheel bearings and ball joints for excessive movement with that test. A cracked frame behind the steering box will show up during this test as well.
Basically, any movement of one component in relation to the next component is bad. When in good shape, your farthest link will move exactly as the steering box does. In other words, in the steering world, any play is bad news.

Check your tires too. Not only will air pressure and tread wear have an effect on basic wobbling, but a busted-up tire (internally that is) will create a Death Wobble state no matter how tight and new everything else is. So if you get the chance, rotate the front tires to the back to see if that eliminates the super-scary version of the DW's.

So, how many miles on the Bronco? How long since anything has been replaced up front? How old are the tires? What is the tread wear looking like? And have you recently hit any obstacles with one or more tires? Things like rocks, curbs and other tires can do any tire in if it's hit just right. You won't see any damage on the outside, but the belts may have separated internally and give you all sorts of fits when it's being driven.

Good luck.

Paul
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Post by shutch4251 » Mon May 30, 2011 6:43 pm

thanks for all the feedback and recommendations.. I got pulled out of state for work a few months back and have only one day a week to work on the truck. So I have decided to none-op it for the time being. I think I will actually get around to working on this around August maybe September sometime.

Plan of attack thus far:

1) for approx $300 replace the drag and tie rods - easy enough fix based on feedback of worn bushing etc. they just look old, not well maintained etc. safe call to me

2) replace steering stabilizer - sub $50 fix and not worth debating :)

3) 33 x 12.5 tsl thorbirds - old enough and driven enough to show wear and separation so looking at replacing those soon

4) about 70k on the odometer - dont know if it has turned or not but feeling is that it is up there

all bolts associated with linkage and tightening to frame work has been done and still no joy. I dont see the need to fix it right now to have it sit in airport parking lot.

Will update when i get fixed to see what fixes were applied and success rates!

Thanks all .. really appreciate!!

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Post by turbotim2 » Tue May 31, 2011 4:05 am

Another thing you may want to check is the steering box mounting bolts.

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Post by DirtDonk » Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:38 pm

In spite of all the other things that might be worn out, that number 3 is your most likely culprit.
Sure, the other things look, and probably are worn out. But worn out suspension and/or steering components don't actually "cause" the Death-Wobble. The worn pieces (especially trackbar bushings and mounts it seems) merely "allow" what is already a wobble-waiting-to-happen, to happen sooner and more often.
But it's the tires that actually start the ball rolling, so to speak.

In other words, no matter how loose your other stuff is, I bet changing the tires will eliminate the Death-Wobble. You might still get some shimmying, and you will certainly still have wandering and a loose steering feel (none of which is good) if you don't replace all the other components (except for the steering stabilizer, which doesn't "fix" anything, but is ok to change anyway), so they likely should all be changed out anyway.
But I bet it's the tires that are causing your woes.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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bushings bushings bushings!!!

Post by shutch4251 » Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:43 pm

after 5 months of not driving, working out of town and home one day a week, relocation back to Stockton, CA from AZ, I was finally able to drop it off someplace since I was unable to do the work myself.

Answer I got back from the shop was "bushings".. So thanks to all that have helped, it has forced me to buy a new pair of sneakers and get the front end worked on to get new CA tags..

What crapper that is! I went from $25 a year AZ tags to $132 to CA tags.. Welcome home to me!! Now i know why i left (grumble, grumble)

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Post by DirtDonk » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:51 pm

Good luck. Hope the bushings help.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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