Death wobble!!!

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by cmcolfax, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. cmcolfax

    cmcolfax Rockstar

    OK brothers and sisters...

    Death Wobble.

    96 K1500 Burb. 179k

    Second owner.

    Impeccably maintained.

    Records from PO do not show TRE's, BJ's, Upper A-Arms, Pitman Arm or Drag Link / Idler Arm ever being replaced.

    Felt it a little when running 275/70/17's.

    Swapped back to OE 16's with 275/70/16 (OE size) Michelin LTX MS's

    Feel it slightly at low speed.

    On acceleration from +/-30 - +/-50 mph it wants to rip the steering wheel out of your hands.

    So bad the whole truck shudders.

    Feels like it may be primarily coming from the left/driver's side.

    But that may just be perception because I am in the driver's seat.

    Above +/-50 it settles down in to a small steady "shimmy".

    Have taken it all the way up to +/-80 with no change.

    I believe in working "simple to complex" and don't like throwing parts at problems.

    Ain't nobody got time (or money) fo dat!

    Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

  2. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    there are tons of things that can cause this. I would start by jacking up the front end and wiggling each tire left and right, up and down, looking for any excessive movement in steering components. Check the front wheel hubs while you have it up. On my 95 i had the same issue, but after a lift kit install, I had to retorque all the components and the culprit ended up being the idler arm bracket. Check your front and rear u-joints also.
  3. cmcolfax

    cmcolfax Rockstar

    Copied from an old thread:

    And some more info...

    These are not MY original 16" wheels or tires... I took them in partial trade for the 17's I was running... Until I can pick up my 18's...

    Three of the tires appear very good... 9/32" and evenly worn.

    One looks like crap. Rounded off shoulders, 3/32", dry rotted, etc...

    I just bolted them on. And really don't want to spend $$ getting them re-balanced since they only need to be on there another week or so.

    Avoiding paying for an alignment too... Though I do have a good shop close by who warrantees their work.


    2.5" Torsion Bar Keys and Full Length AAL w/ new shocks going in later in spring.
    Will do new shocks, TRE's, sway bar links, and possibly upper A-arms w/ new joints then.

    Hopefully won't have to do Pitman / Idler arms. Meh.

    May replace that one shiznitty tire and see what happens...



    - - - Updated - - -

    How do you check the hubs on these?

    (I have fought DW before... have been a Jeep-guy for years... It suxors.)

    Not thinking driveline. Very specifically coming from front end. Was minor before tire swap. Got really bad after.

  4. zuki82

    zuki82 Member 1 Year 100 Posts

    With that being said, then you know that it isn't just the tires, but something loose in the front end that the "new" tires are echoing! SOOOO,, hold out till spring tear down or start your build early! You've stated you didn't want to fix anything due to the pending build so there isn't much we can do to help!
    Please post pics of the build!
  5. squatchy

    squatchy Rockstar 3 Years 1000 Posts

    I'd be throwing money at making it safe to drive before I threw money at a build...
  6. cmcolfax

    cmcolfax Rockstar

    Are you always a smartass Squatchy?

    Finally got to jack the front end up and yuck on the tires this morning...

    24-hours shifts + kids with stomach bug + Chuck with stomach bug put a damper on things...

    Getting that one shiznitty tire replaced this morning.

    Remind me folks...

    Wobble top + bottom = bad ball joints?

    Wobble left + right = bad TRE's, etc?

    Or the other way around.

    BJ's appear good and snug, A-arm bushings the same.

    Sway bar end links good. Sway bar bushings pretty dry rotted.

    Got +/- 1/2" play Left + Right in wheel with corresponding amount of motion in Pitman arm / drag link.


  7. Pikey

    Pikey Moderator Staff Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 5000 Posts

    correct, up and down ball joints, left right tie rod end. OR idler arm, idler arm bracket, pitman arm. Also a bad wheel hub will move up and down or left and right. When you say it is corresponding to the amount of motion in the center link, is the link moving up and down when you are moving the tire left/right? Mine center link moved up and down when I moved the tire left,right. I ended up replacing the idler arm and idler arm bracket and it fixed it. I probably could have gotten away with just replacing the bracket and not the arm. But, it was convenient to just attach the new arm to the new bracket and install it.
  8. cmcolfax

    cmcolfax Rockstar

    Knowing the maintenance history on this truck, I did not expect BJ's, TRE's, or other major front end components to suddenly start to fail in the +/-4000 miles I have put on it.
    It's a one owner, the PO was meticulous, and did nothing himself. Everythi
    ng done since 60k miles in 2000 was done either by a reputable dealership or a well respected local shop and has invoices to support it.

    That being said, it appears 95% of the problem WAS that one fawked up tire.

    Had a guy I know at a local used tire shop match the other three for tread pattern and depth as best as he could today.

    $40 and one 6/32 General AmeriTrac SUV with 37psi later, 95% of the wobble is gone.

    Pry bar trick showed less than 1/4" of vertical movement in BJ's.

    Lateral movement all seemed to coincide with normal wear of bushings and joints. Nothing excessive.

    Got a slight shimmy at various speeds during shakedown run, but I attribute that to the fact that I **KNOW** the other three tire pressures are not equal.

    Always work simple to complex and cheap to expensive...

    Noticed when I got home that the offending tires was 5 years older than the other three too...

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