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Now I'm at a loss on truck's steering issues

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by drivewaydoctor, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. So some of you may remember I had some issues with the steering on my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad. The steering wheel whobbled while driving.

    Took it into mechanic and I had a busted ball joint and tie rod end on passenger side.

    Everything else was tight.

    Replaced them and did an alignment and it seemed much better. Put the plow on and there is the whobble again.

    The front tires are miss-matched but reasonably new.

    What else could it be? Shocks?
  2. Dubl0Vert

    Dubl0Vert Senior Member
    Messages: 178

    Check your wheel bearings for runout...You may have one starting to go and the added weight of the plow is aggravating it.
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,665

    And quit hopping curbs!

  4. hahaha no more curb jumping!

    I'm heading into a frontend specialty shop now. We'll see what they have to say.
  5. Sealer People

    Sealer People Senior Member
    Messages: 210

    hi guys, theres a post in the dodge discussion about the same issue.

    theyre calling it the "death wobble" by dodge.

    Theres some pretty sound advice there.
  6. adksnowo

    adksnowo Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    I don't know if the Ram is the same but I have a daily driver tool truck that is a 2003 Dakota with 130k on it and the steering shaft is shot. Actually the U-joints on the shaft are shot, but the whole shaft gets replaced. Basically the part is an OEM part but I found one on e-bay a little cheaper than my local stealership. Maybe Borgenson makes a replacement?
  7. USMCMP5811

    USMCMP5811 Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    Check your steering shaft and also the bolts that hold your steering box to the frame.
  8. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    An alignment with two different sized tires is an awrongment.
  9. plowguy43

    plowguy43 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,281

    I'd look into this, obvious signs of wheel bearings going is a humming/grinding noise while aggressive turns.

    That applies to the Solid Axle trucks, his is IFS.

    Possible as well but I'd doubt it.

    No steering box, its a rack and pinion and are known to go fairly quickly in those model years. Check for leaks, the steering rack's were known to go more often on the 20" Wheel's.
  10. bh115577

    bh115577 Senior Member
    Messages: 106

    Not sure how to deal with the extra weight of the plow, other than having it aligned with the plow on, but here is a good explanation from another forum.

    Death Wobble Causes and Fixes

    I have not had the experience of the dreaded death wobble with my truck primarily due to the fact it is a 2wd. However, I have read where a lot of others with the 4wd have had the experience. The common problem seems to be a worn trac bar. I have also heard of worn ball joints contributing to the problem. Essentially any worn component in the front end is a contributing factor. From what I have been able to gather the real problem is a caster problem. Caster is what makes the wheels want to return to the straight ahead position. Without enough caster a wheel doesn’t want to return to the straight ahead position and then you get a ‘fight’ between both tires. I have read that the best caster settings are at the high side of factory specs (+5.5 to -6) The big problem here is the alignment techs don’t understand what causes things to happen so they don’t know what to change to correct a given problem. Just because a unit is in specks doesn’t always fix things. There are TWO things that will cause a DW. #1 Harmonic balance of ft. wheels. #2 Caster setting.. Lets start with Harmonic balance. There are TWO balance conditions of wheels . STATIC and HARMONIC. Static is up and down bounce of the wheel. Harmonic is side to side wobble. IF the harmonic balance of a wheel is OK but the static is off by 5 oz and the wheel balance man fixes the static by hanging 5 oz wt. on one side of wheel ,then he fixed the static but has caused a harmonic imbalance. The wt. must be split and 2 1/2 oz be put on each side of wheel to maintain the harmonic that was correct to start with. Now most wheels will be off on both static and harmonic. That’s why you see wt. opposite each other and spread around wheel. Now #2. Caster . Caster is the imaginary line drawn up and down through the center of the ball joints. If that line is exactly straight up and down you have 0 degree caster and 0 degree camber.
    If that line leans to the outside on top 1 degree you have positive camber 1 degree.
    If it leans in toward center of truck 1 degree you got negative camber 1 degree etc.
    If line leans to the front on top 1 degree you got 1 degree negative CASTER
    If it leans to the rear on top 1 degree you got 1 degree positive CASTER etc.
    Positive caster will make the wheel want to turn towards center of truck, negative caster will make the wheel want to turn out away from truck. These caster settings should be within 1/2 degree of each other to counter balance the pull of the other wheel. Think of a grocery cart and the way the front wheels sometimes wobble. That is essentially what is happening when the death wobble strikes. The front tires are wobbling back and forth so violently that there have been reports of the tires actually leaving the ground. As was mentioned earlier have them set the caster to the top end of specks. Well you gotta know where its set at now. If its at o degrees setting at top of specks will sure change things. But what if its already set at top??
    Another thing, just what speed does this wobble take place at.??
    TOO much positive caster can cause a LOW speed wobble 10-15 mph. If you got a wobble at 10-15 mph, and your wheels ARE balanced, Then find out what the caster settings are and go 3-4 degrees negative, keeping them within 1/2 degree of each other. with the right wheel being the more positive . This gives you a hair left pull to compensate for road crown.
    If you got a high speed wobble 35-40 up, then more positive caster will stabilize more.
    Worn parts don’t cause the DW. Good stiff parts cover it up and resist it. The front end really takes a beating when the wobble happens so you will need to inspect ALL parts. If there is any wear found, it must be fixed. Then try to find a good alignment shop.