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Death Wobble Help, PLEASE!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by 4x4Suburban, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    I hope someone here can give me some advice as to what's going on with my Suburban...

    A few months ago I started experiencing some intermittent wobble in the front end when I would hit the brakes..Since then, I've replaced the worn Steering box, had the front wheels repacked and tightened, complete tire rebalance and rotate and new shocks. Over the past few days, the wobble has gotten 1000% worse, now occuring at speeds over 35 MPH when I tap the brakes. There is no apparent shake or wobble while I'm driving, I can get the truck up to 75 without any problems and the steering is straight as an arrow! However, if I even hint at tapping the brake pedal, the truck shakes wildly (It feels like the wheels are coming off!)!

    One part I know it needs is an upper ball joint (but it has barely a bit of play in it) and every shop I've had it to cannot figure out what's causing the problem! Can anyone shed some light on this? This things is now a dead horse in my driveway because of this!

    I've had the front end checked, and with exception to the ball joint, everything is tight. I was told that it's possible the king pins are shot, but I have no mechanical experience with a 4x4, so I don't even know where to look and how to check...

    It's an 86 GMC Suburban K2500 4x4...


    Thanks in advance for the help!:D
     
  2. AZ79K5Project

    AZ79K5Project 1/2 ton status

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    The ball joint has something to do with it. No other loose or worn parts? When was the last time the steering stabilizer was replaced? I had an old Blazer (college days) stabilizer went - wobble arrived.

    You'll will see or read that the stabilizer masks the problem. Masked or not - there's a reason they are on the axle.
     
  3. noahrob

    noahrob 1/2 ton status Author

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    The only experience I have had to date (keeping my fingers crossed) was caused by kingpin springs that were simply worn out. We kept adding washers and it got progressively better, but finally we just replaced the upper springs (like $20 or something from ORD) and that did the trick. Also, I have "heard" that a worn steering stabilzer can be a contributing factor to the wobble of death.
     
  4. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Steering Stabilizer is about a year old. Seems to work fine (planning on replacing it with a new Rancho - it's a Gabriel OEM part now).

    Nothing else is loose. I know the Ball Joint will intensify the problem, and they're cheap, so I already know what my weekend is going to be like...I don't think that's the cause though. I've had the truck for 3 years and the past year or so, there's been a little play in the ball joint, but no wobble...This popped up when I had the seal in my gearbox replaced...It started as a little tug when I slowed down, now it's an uncontrollable wobble over 35! I've checked the pitman arm (which I was also told could cause this...) and it seems fine. The splines are sharp and clean and the arm doesn't look like it's stretched. There's zero play in it when I turn the wheel...

    Any other possibilities? I've never had a vehicle with this kind of problem before!

    Thanks!
     
  5. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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    What front axle do you have?
     
  6. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Where do I find the KingPins in this truck and how do I check them? I have no experience with this kind of suspension...:confused:
     
  7. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    No clue on the axle...It's all stock, if that helps...
     
  8. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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    You either have ball joints or kingpins, not both. That's why we need to know what axle you are running, brother.
     
  9. BKinzey

    BKinzey 1/2 ton status

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    Look through MuddinManny's build thread. He rebuilt his front end, took plenty of pics, and discussed death wobble. Even if you decide not to do the job yourself you'll know what's going on.;)
     
  10. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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  11. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    10-Bolt Axle...
     
  12. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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    You most definitely have ball joints then.

    Get them fixed, and make sure that every single bolt and nut is tight on your steering box.
     
  13. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Anything else that might cause this that I should look at?

    I've got new ball joints ordered, should be here tomorrow (there goes my weekend!)...I just want to make sure this problem dies (at the rate I've been going, my wallet's going to die with it!!!).
     
  14. AZ79K5Project

    AZ79K5Project 1/2 ton status

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    Check the TRE's for play and the alignment. Make sure everything and tight and proper. If it has gotten gradually worse, then something has been wearing or coming loose.

    Has anyone rapidly turned the steering wheel back and forth, (around 1/4 turn from center each direction) just enough to barely turn the tires, while you are looking at each connection and pivot point? You may be able to see some play in the components.

    DO NOT REACH IN AND GRAB A-HOLD OF ANYTHING WHILE THE TRUCK IS RUNNING AND THE STEERING IS BEING MOVED!!!!
    This is strictly a spectator's sport. Put your hands in your pockets until the truck is turned back off and safe.

    This is how we check some large trucks steering and front axle for movement and play.
     
  15. 85-m1028

    85-m1028 1/2 ton status

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    Sounds like you need to check your rotors too, little grabby spot or a warped one will set the DW in motion every time you step on the brakes!
     
  16. Can Can

    Can Can Pusher Man Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Yup. I should have mentioned that as well, especially seeing that applying the brakes brings on the DW.......:doah:
     
  17. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Local shop checked that out Saturday...Out of 4 mechanics, each one had a different idea as to what's causing it...It's either "Ball joint on the D/S", "Stabilizer", "Pitman Arm" or my "Rotor's are warped"...Rotor's are new, Pitman arm has no play, Stabilizer seems fine (But I'm ordering a Rancho tomorrow, just because of what I've read so far...I'd rather not monkey with this thing over and over just to be cheap!)...The UBJ is loose a bit, so new one's are coming (U/L for the D/S). The Steering box I just put in (last one I got leaked worse than my old one and had more play in it - About a half turn!)...New one feels tight and right!
     
  18. 85-m1028

    85-m1028 1/2 ton status

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    what wheel tire combo are you running??

    also need to check the calipers
    may have air bubbles in one>>>
     
  19. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Right now, Stock 285/16's... Wife wants 33x12.5/18's... I'm sure that's not going to help my problem any....
     
  20. 4x4Suburban

    4x4Suburban Registered Member

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    Thanks for the help!

    I appreciate all the help everyone's given! I should've checked here before I took my truck to the shop - This is definately one of the most helpful website's I've been on!

    I'll let you know how it comes out after the weekend! Hopefully it'll be a gone issue!

    Again, thanks to everyone for the quick replies!:D
     

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