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2014 Cherokee Trailhawk Death Wobble -Not towing- problem solved??

Hello group,

I have been checking here for some time hoping to find out how to repair my 2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk left front death wobble. The death wobble happens over 55mph. When you are on a fairly sharp left turn on the freeway and you hit a bump or a patch of rough road, the left front wheel and steering wheel goes into a crazy death wobble. You have to hit the brakes and try to straighten the wheel for it to stop. I have checked multiple shops as well as the dealer and everything is tight in the steering and suspension.
I have had this issue for over 50,000 miles. I currently have 150k miles on my Jeep. Yes, I drive a lot. Based on discussions with technicians and trial and error, I have concluded that there is a design issue with the Jeep. As my tires slowly wore down at 100k miles, the wobble happened more and more to the point where it was happening daily. I replaced my tires and the problem stopped. Before I changed the tires, I thought maybe there was a tire separation, so I rotated them and checked the alignment and the issue was still there. Fast forward to 140k miles, it came back again! My tires were about 4/32 and the frequency increased again. I just replaced my tires again and went over the same piece of road twice now and its gone. I did try an alignment before the tires and it made no difference. When the tires are worn, the steering feels loose and sloppy to me and it feels like there is something wrong. It seems like replacing the tires are the only solution. I cant speculate the design problem with the jeep, but maybe as the tires wear down, it's as if you were driving with a smaller size tire and a harmonic type of imbalance occurs causing the wheel to wobble. It's been a week since my new tires so I will post here if it happens again.

Hope this helps fellow Jeepers.

Ian
 

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There is a mechanical design issue with the 2014+ Jeep Cherokee steering. However, it is offset by the EPS shimmy mitigation system. We know this from the FCA flat tow kit used for towing the KL behind a motorhome. Given the mileage on your suspension and that 4/32 is basically end of life for a tire, the slop between the two could cause bad behavior the shimmy mitigation system can't handle.

Interesting post. Thanks for the info. And welcome back, old timer but seldom poster.
 

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It feels like something is loose. When stimulated by the right conditions (40-50 mph and rough road), the vibration occurs. The springs and struts help to dampen/dissipate the vibration.

I noticed yesterday that the vibration would occur equally on the left or right. Previously, it was mainly observed in the right but that is probably an artifact of the right front tire having more opportunity to travel over rough road, i.e. the shoulder. I'll see what the alignment guys can find today.
Wow!!! I just read this entire post hoping for an answer.

I have an intermittent flutter in the front end. I'm not sure if it is steering, suspension, or other. It needs a stimulus and a natural frequency. Like hitting a bump at 40 mph. Hitting the same bump at 20 or 60 mph does not do it. Normal driving on smooth roads does not do it.

I thought it might be a bad strut, but I just did a complete upgrade of springs, shocks and struts. It also existed with the OE parts before the Dobinsons install.

Everything I took apart had been reassembled and torqued to spec. Ball joints and outer tie rods looked good.

Any ideas? Engine mounts, Cross member, Inner tie rod

This is quickly becoming a major pet peeve. I've had dealer service techs and alignment specialists look at it. All say everything is tight and looks good. This being as recent as Wednesday during an alignment.

Changing out the struts, springs and shocks (Dobinsons KL kit) did not solve the problem. The following are torqued per spec.
(1) Linkage from anti-sway bars.
(2) LCA balljoint
(3) LCA connections
(4) steering knuckle
(5) outer tie rod end
(6) axle bearing in knuckle looked and felt good
(7) front axles are solid and seated properly in differential

I was beginning to think it might be an engine mount. So today I removed both front skid plates and poked around. I found my tow hooks were loose, so they got torqued. The front crossmember was tight but short of torque spec, so that got torqued. Engine mounts and LCA rubber flex bushings look good (as far as I know).

I did notice that the exhaust hangers, upstream from the catalytic converter, are broken. I'll be getting those replaced. Dang rocks!
5147278AC, $18.59
68185869AB, $22.76

So, what about that (not so) trusty, 15,000+ page FSM? Surely there ought to be something in the trouble shooting section.

Still haven't found what I'm looking for.

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NOISE DIAGNOSIS
(1) Unrelated Noises
Some driveline trouble symptoms are also common to the engine, transmission, wheel bearings, tires, and other parts of the vehicle. Ensure cause of trouble actually is in the drive axle before adjusting, repairing, or replacing any of its parts.

(2) Non-Drive Axle Noises
A few conditions can sound just like drive axle noise and have to be considered in pre-diagnosis. The 4 most common noises are exhaust, tires, CV/universal joints and wheel trim rings. In certain conditions, the pitch of the exhaust gases may be gear whine. At other times, it may be mistaken for a wheel bearing rumble. Tires, especially radial and snow, can have a high-pitched tread whine or roar, similar to gear noise. Also, some non-standard tires with an unusual tread construction may emit a roar or whine. Defective CV/universal joints may cause clicking noises or excessive driveline play that can be improperly diagnosed as drive axle problems. Trim and moldings also can cause a whistling or whining noise. Ensure none of these components are causing the noise before disassembling the drive axle.

(3) Gear Noise
A "howling" or "whining" noise from the ring and pinion gear can be caused by an improper gear pattern, gear damage, or improper bearing preload. It can occur at various speeds and driving conditions, or it can be continuous. Before disassembling axle to diagnose and correct gear ke sure that tires, exhaust, and vehicle trim have been checked as possible causes.

(4) Chuckle
This is a particular rattling noise that sounds like a stick against the spokes of a spinning bicycle wheel. It occurs while decelerating from 40 MPH and usually can be heard until vehicle comes to a complete stop. The frequency varies with the speed of the vehicle. A chuckle that occurs on the driving phase is usually caused ive clearance due to differential gear wear, or by a damaged tooth on the coast side of the pinion or ring gear. Even a very small tooth nick or a ridge on the edge of a gear tooth is enough the cause the noise. This condition can be corrected simply by cleaning the gear tooth nick or ridge with a small grinding wheel. If either gear is damaged or scored badly, the gear set must be replaced. If metal has broken loose, the carrier and housing must be cleaned to remove particles that could cause damage.

(5) Knock
This is very similar to a chuckle, though it may be louder, and occur on acceleration or deceleration. Knock can be caused by a gear tooth that is damaged on the drive side of the ring and pinion gears. Ring gear bolts that are hitting the carrier casting can cause knock. Knock can also be due to excessive end play in the axle shafts.

(6) Clunk
Clunk is a metallic noise heard when an automatic transmission is engaged in Reverse or Drive, or when throttle is applied or released. It is caused by backlash somewhere in the driveline, but not necessarily in the axle. To determine whether driveline clunk is caused by the axle, check the total axle backlash as follows: 1.Raise vehicle on a frame or twinpost hoist so that drive wheels are free. Clamp a bar between axle companion flange and a part of the frame or body so that flange cannot move. 2.On conventional drive axles, lock the left wheel to keep it from turning. On all models, turn the right wheel slowly until it is felt to be in Drive condition. Hold a chalk marker on side of tire about 12" from center of wheel. Turn wheel in the opposite direction until it is again felt to be in Drive condition.
3.Measure the length of the chalk mark, which is the total axle backlash. If backlash is one inch or less, drive axle is not the source of clunk noise.

(7) Bearing Whine
Bearing whine is a high-pitched sound similar to a whistle. It is usually caused by malfunctioning pinion bearings. Pinion bearings operate at drive shaft speed. Roller wheel bearings may whine in a similar manner if they run completely dry of lubricant. Bearing noise will occur at all driving speeds. This distinguishes it from gear whine, which usually comes and goes as speed changes.

(8) Bearing Rumble
Bearing rumble sounds like marbles being tumbled. It is usually caused by a malfunctioning wheel bearing. The lower pitch is because the wheel bearing turns at only about 1/3 of drive shaft speed.

(9) Chatter On Turns
This is a condition where the entire front or rear of vehicle vibrates when vehicle is moving. The vibration is plainly felt as well as heard. Extra differential thrust washers installed during axle repair can cause a condition of partial lock-up that creates this chatter.

(10) Axle Shaft Noise
Axle shaft noise is similar to gear noise and pinion bearing whine. Axle shaft bearing noise will normally distinguish itself from gear noise by occurring in all driving modes (Drive, cruise, coast and float), and will persist with transmission in Neutral while vehicle is moving at problem speed. If vehicle displays this noise condition, remove suspect parts, replace wheel seals and install a new set of bearings. Re-evaluate vehicle for noise before removing any internal components.

(11) Vibration
Vibration is a high-frequency trembling, shaking or grinding condition (felt or heard) that may be constant or variable in level and can occur during the total operating speed range of the vehicle. The types of vibrations that can be felt in the vehicle can be divided into 3 main groups:
1) Vibrations of various unbalanced rotating parts of the vehicle.
2) Resonance vibrations of the body and frame structures caused by rotating of unbalanced parts.
3) Tip-in moans of resonance vibrations from stressed engine or exhaust system mounts or driveline flexing modes.
 

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Last April when I first started feeling/hearing the death wobble, I searched the JCC forum and was dismayed by the high occurrence. For most, TSB KL_03_003_15 seemed to solve the problem. I have the stepped axles, so the TSB doesn't apply; however, I still have the death wobble. I'll ask about the force balancing on the tires when I go in on Wednesday for a post (Dobinsons and Aussie+) lift alignment.
 

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Also found that the vibration occurs at 25 mph. Talked to Jeep Cares. Andrea opened a file. Working with STAR engineers to troubleshoot the problem with the dealer service tech(s).
 

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FINALLY!!!
A service manager that understands what "death wobble" is and, more importantly, how to fix it.

While I was in for an alignment .... I was describing the front end vibration issue yet again (APR, MAY, JUN), four months in a row. I specifically did not refer to it as the death wobble.
Chuck at Heritage Auto said "it sounds like the death wobble. I had the death wobble on my Jeep." After several shop visits, the solution was the forward, horizontal LCA bushing. Since the LCA bushings are integral to the LCA, the whole LCA needs to be replaced. If that's the answer, I'm looking at another service visit.

4668993AB, LCA right
4668994AB, LCA left
 

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The Good News
* Alignment - Everything is within spec, except camber (slightly out). Camber adjustment is maxed out.
* Death Wobble - very little to no wobble noticed while driving over same stretch of road that produced death. I'm not convinced it is gone, just hibernating.

The Bad News
* Death Wobble - if it returns AND the LCA front bushing is the problem, then it is not covered for me because I'm over 36K miles.

Partial Good News
* DIY LCA replacement option only costs about $400, for both sides.
* I can still purchase ext. warranty. Would need CarePlus or MaxCare to cover LCA replacement. Least expensive option is 2.25X the DIY option. :/

Time will tell.
 

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Got the wobble today. Only noticing it on turns, left or right, with a bump activation. This agrees with the LCA lateral bushing theory.
 

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I did a little research on what it would take to replace the LCAs, assuming that the forward, horizontal bushing is the root cause of the death wobble. See attached file for a parts list and basic instructions.

SevenSummits estimated less than $500 and an hour of work. I think he's low balling the labor and underestimating the total cost. Probably closer to $600 and 3-4 hrs, depending on how much work it is to remove the lower load beam.

If you have the CarePlus or MaxCare extended warranty, then just pay your deductible and smile.
 

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@henry2513. Tell us about your death wobble and LCA repair.
I never felt a wobble really but there was a sharp snapping sound when turning and when accelerating from a dead stop. They replaced the entire passenger side front suspension until I told them to look at the A-arm. They finally replaced it and the sound went away.
 

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Ordered my death wobble repair kit today. Hope it solves the problem.

[Edit: updated LCA part numbers and cost]

Part Number
4668993AF
Lower Control Arm, left, 1
$200.10

68210238AF
Lower Control Arm, right, 1
$200.10

6510980AA
Lower Control Arm Bolt, 2
$7.24

6511220AA
Lower Control Arm Bolt, 2
$7.82

6502835
Nut, Hex Flange Lock, 2
$2.88

6510423AA
Suspension Cross-member Nut, LEFT, 1
$4.08

6510424AA
Suspension Cross-member Nut, RIGHT, 1
$4.08

6507676AA
Lower Control Arm Nut, 2
$9.78

Total: $456.47 w/ shipping

Plus alignment
 

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Found the most probable root cause of the death wobble. A torn or "cracked" rear, vertical LCA bushing. See attached photos. This is slightly different than the original thought in post #28. The front, horizontal LCA bushings appear solid. A 3-day test drive will confirm said theory after the vehicle is reassembled.

Since the vertical bushings are under constant torsional load due to the front end "lift", it stands to reason that the rubber flex arms of the bushing would show wear over time. The time to a needed repair depends on the torsional cycling rate and the rubber composition. These failed bushings have 43.5K miles on them.

@edge600 has recommended a heim joint as a replacement for future repairs. This will be a bit of effort. [1] locate a proper sized heim joint, [2] remove old rubber bushing, [3] install new heim joint, [4] install LCA.
 

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After a 3-day test drive and an alignment, I can confirm that the LCA replacement (although needed for the vertical bushing) did not eliminate the front end chatter, vibration, or death wobble. It's not the struts, the Dobinsons are brand new, besides I had the death wobble for 4 months prior to the Dobinsons. Ball joints and tie rod ends are tight. VERY ANNOYING!!

The guys at Firestone (lifetime alignment) think it might be the strut bearing mounts. That sounds good, but I installed a new mount on the driver side when I installed the Dobinsons and reused the passenger side. The death wobble is coming from both sides. So either the new mount is crap or the theory doesn't hold water. Since I've had the Jeep into 4 different shops after the Dobinsons install, someone could have put an air gun on my good one and ruined it, but that doesn't explain the wobble or chatter before anyone touched it. Even the Jeep STAR engineer I was working with had no clue so she closed the case file. I protested because the problem was not solved. I guess it's easier to ignore the problem than fix it.

My current strategy is to drive it until something breaks, then I'll know what it was. My only hope is that someone with the chatter finds a solution before I'm stuck in the back country with a 30-mile walk.

Guess what, something broke. Driver's side inner CV boot or inner tie rod boot; grease every where. Off to see the service dealer (again). Another delay to the Ouray/Moab trip. :-\
 

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After a 3-day test drive and an alignment, I can confirm that the LCA replacement (although needed for the vertical bushing) did not eliminate the front end chatter, vibration, or death wobble. It's not the struts, the Dobinsons are brand new, besides I had the death wobble for 4 months prior to the Dobinsons. Ball joints and tie rod ends are tight. VERY ANNOYING!!

The guys at Firestone (lifetime alignment) think it might be the strut bearing mounts. That sounds good, but I installed a new mount on the driver side when I installed the Dobinsons and reused the passenger side. The death wobble is coming from both sides. So either the new mount is crap or the theory doesn't hold water. Since I've had the Jeep into 4 different shops after the Dobinsons install, someone could have put an air gun on my good one and ruined it, but that doesn't explain the wobble or chatter before anyone touched it. Even the Jeep STAR engineer I was working with had no clue so she closed the case file. I protested because the problem was not solved. I guess it's easier to ignore the problem than fix it.

My current strategy is to drive it until something breaks, then I'll know what it was. My only hope is that someone with the chatter finds a solution before I'm stuck in the back country with a 30-mile walk.

Guess what, something broke. Driver's side inner CV boot or inner tie rod boot; grease every where. Off to see the service dealer (again). Another delay to the Ouray/Moab trip. :-\
Dang, sorry to hear all this is happening. Could it maybe be the wheel bearing. Now that it's troubleshooting via experimentation what if you disconnected the sway bars to see what happens, I know that sounds unrelated but who knows. For the CV boot do you think it's due to the lift? I am installing my dobinsons next Friday and now wonder if I should just install it on its own which would be a stinker but...
 

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Possible solution

hi all, I also had some wobbling at the front end for some time and it got pretty much resolved by a reprogramming of the electric power steering (EPS) yesterday.

here is my summary for my trailhawk 2014:
- front end started wobbling more than a year ago. at first only at higher speed on highway with original tires
- then as soon as I replaced them with KO2 265/65R17 (no lift or other modifications) the car started to wobble a lot particularly at low speed in acceleration or deceleration. A minor irregularity on the road would make the wobble start and it would continue for a while
- when it wobbles it feels as if there is something loose
- I immediately brought it to the dealer who said it was the tires, because the issue became so apparent after I changed them. We also tried swapping back to original wheels and the issue was definitely less and hard to reproduce
- So I did wheel balancing (also force balanced) but nothing major was found
- then checked all the rubber joints, articulation arms, suspensions, wheel bearings.. and all seems normal
- Last week I noticed a minor lateral movement on the inner CV joint of both front axles and I thought that was the problem so I brought it to the dealer again who compared it with other Cherokees they had in the shop and they said it was normal however they reprogrammed the EPS and that seems to have resolved the issue.

My theory is that the KO2 a heavier tires than the original (I haven't checked but it feels to me when swapping tires) and that something isn't strong enough to handle them, or it gets lose with time. I am curious to see if the issue will reappear in time.

One thing that helped though was doing a test drive with a mechanic to make sure the issue is confirmed, otherwise they don't know what to look for. The second time I got luckier and the mechanic confirmed there was something definitely not right
 
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