Question: I have a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 with the 5.9-liter Cummins. I seem to have a reoccurring problem called the Death Wobble. You may be familiar with it. Could you please give me your most educated guess as to what would cause this problem?
Answer: Death wobble, wobble, shimmy, tank-slapper, and speed wobble all describe a continuous oscillation at the front wheels initiated by contacting an irregular road surface at high speeds. The condition can cause the vehicle and steering wheel to shake violently until speed is reduced. It can affect pretty much any vehicle, including cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
In my experience, this type of continuous oscillation on a car or truck has been caused by a number of factors. Typically it's a combination of bad tires, worn (loose) steering linkage, and/or poor damping at the front shocks or steering damper. You need a qualified technician to give the suspension a detailed inspection. Not just a quick glance, but a thorough check of all steering and suspension components for excessive wear, including ball joints, bushings, shocks, tie rods, steering gear, etc. Have you applied Dodge TSB #22-005-06? Get a copy and read it through. It recommends checking out the basics, including correct alignment, but focuses on a worn steering damper and loose outer tie rod ends. If you apply everything in the TSB and still have a problem, somebody's probably missing something. Also, remember that tires may look good and balance out, but still have excessive road (radial) force variation. That can be checked with an extra step on most up-to-date wheel balance equipment.
If you have a technical question regarding your pickup, SUV, or van, feel free to contact Alex, a master technician with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Send a letter to him in care of Truck Trend Garage, 831 S. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA 90245, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the VIN with your question. Due to the volume of questions received every month, we cannot guarantee that everyone's question will be personally answered or will appear in the magazine.
Can't wait for help with a problem you're having with your Truck or SUV? Ask the expert we trust here at Truck Trend Garage -- visit Alex Steele at www.RealWorldAutomotive.com.