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Responding To Pressure, Chrysler Posts Advice On 'Jeep Death Wobble'

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2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

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Last month, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged Chrysler to issue guidance on a phenomenon known as the "Jeep Death Wobble". According to Detroit News, Chrysler has now done just that.

The "Death Wobble" has been linked to Jeep Wranglers from 2005-2010 (especially the 2007 model year). It tends to happen when the vehicle hits a pothole, bump, or other obstruction while traveling at 45 miles per hour or faster. This can cause the Wrangler to "shimmy" in a way that has alarmed many drivers.

However, despite the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received over 400 complaints about the problem -- and despite Chrysler admitting that at least one death has been linked to it -- NHTSA has never conducted a formal investigation. Agency spokesperson David Strickland says that the "Death Wobble" doesn't cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles (even though two owners claim they've crashed because of it).

Chrysler -- like several commenters on our previous article -- has said that the problem doesn't lie with the Wrangler per se, but with improperly installed tires and aftermarket equipment. On vehicles with solid axles, those can cause exactly the kind of wobbling about which many drivers have complained.

In July, Democratic Representatives Anna Eshoo and Henry Waxman -- both from California -- said that Chrysler had never given consistent guidance to owners who complain about the problem, and they sent a letter to CEO Sergio Marchionne asking that he do so.

Now, it appears that Chrysler has issued Technical Service Bulletin 19-002-12 to address the problem. The bulletin has been distributed to dealers and to a range of Jeep-related websites, and it has also been forwarded to NHTSA. Representatives Eshoo and Waxman both posted statements thanking Chrysler for its actions.

The bulletin doesn't offer specific fixes, because the source of the "Death Wobble" can vary. However, it does provide a list of things that owners should look for, including lift kits, inadequate tire pressure, and wear on the steering damper, tie rods, and ball joints.

So, while this won't solve the problem, it should provide more consistent guidance for dealers and owners looking for the cause of the problem.

Wrangler owners: have you experienced the "Death Wobble"? Have you been able to fix it? And if not, does the bulletin's checklist offer some clues? Share your experiences with us via email or in the comments below.

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Comments (16)
  1. Personally I believe this issue is without merit. Jeeps are modified by many "off road" owners not all done correctly or safely. Should Jeep take responsibility for these modified vehicles? I remember when in the muscle car era many GM racers would modify their rear suspensions to compensate for the inadequate factory setup. Many of these systems were poorly designed and the net result were fast cars with dangerious driving characteristics. Should have GM been held lible for these modified vehicles?
    I think it is magnanamous for Jeep to go to these lengths to address an issue not of their doing. Jeep owners modify their vehicles at their own risk.

  2. By issuing that memo, I don't think Jeep is taking responsibility for the wobble or for consumer modifications. IMHO, it's a PR move: the memo is a smart, savvy, no-cost way for Jeep to publicly affirm its concern for its customers' safety.

  3. I believe just the opposite, the memo reduces the chances of legal action against Jeep as it acts as a disclaimer. No entity is completely immune from legal action, but Jeep's liability is minimal. A good team of lawyers would quickly get any trivial claims dismissed without real damage. I do agree Richard that it is a good PR move, but really is done with legal liability in mind. In your last response to me on this subject you sited numbers of complaints, but this condition can exist in any solid axle vehicle and to be labled "Jeep Death Wobble" hints at a hidden agenda and that drew my objections as a self appointed defender of all things Chrysler.

  4. Meant to like sorry bud I agree

  5. We have a 2007 4 door Jeep Sahara. It is exactly how we purchased it from the dealer in 2006. Tonight, October 13, 2012, as we were driving down the interstate in Knoxville, TN, we hit a rough are in the pavement. The jeep started wobbling and vibrating like crazy. We thought we had a flat and pulled over and stopped on the shoulder. We could tell we didn't have a flat. Having read this article a couple of months ago, I told my husband we had just experienced the 'death wobble' and he said this very thing happened to him before and had no idea what it was. We sat on the shoulder until traffic thinned somewhat and pulled back on and it drove like normal. This Jeep has not been modified in any way, so personally, I disagree with you.

  6. My Son has a 2007 Jeep Wrangler X and it is completely stock with no modifications or alterations to suspension,front end parts or tires.
    If the vehicle is traveling over 40 mph and hits a bumps or rough road it begins to shake and shutter horrible Hence the name "Death Wobble"
    This will soon become a bigger issue for Chrysler as their is a group looking at this very close.

    Hope everyone with these vehicles and problem stays safe and gets the satisfaction they deserve

  7. I disagree with you on this...I have a 2007 Jeep Wrangler, no modifications, no lift kit. The Jeep is completely stock. The death wobble in this is terrible, scary and dangerous! I first experienced the "death wobble" after hitting a very small depression in the road, it took off so that I thought I had a flat...I pulled over and when I saw it there was no flat, continued on my way to have it take off again a mile down the road. The problem does exist, and it does exist in stock Jeeps.If the problem was happening solely on Jeeps that have been modified, you'd have an argument, but research shows that it's a "Jeep" problem. Chrysler needs to acknowledge this and stop putting blame on the consumer.

  8. I cant agree with you more....i too have experienced this on the highway travelling to and from work.......horrible fornjeep not to acknowledge this!

  9. There are more comments in this thread
  10. Evidently, the 'flaw' has been fixed since there has been no complaints on any model past the 2010. I know this 'death wobble' is true as is happened to us tonight and our 2007 Jeep 4-door Sahara has not been modified in any way, shape or form. Scared the crap out of us, especially my 80 year old mother.

  11. I agree with Melay55 as I have just experienced my first death wobble in my 2008 Jeep Wrangler. It is also as purchased with no "lift" added nor has it been modified in any way. I had not heard of the wobble and was terrified while doing 70mph on the highway and went over a bridge with some bumps and the Jeep started shaking violently. I pulled off onto the shoulder and checked for a flat. My husband also experienced the wobble while doing 55mph without hitting any bumps.

  12. We own a 07 Jeep Wrangler. The wobble started around 60K miles. I have spent over 3,500 trying to fix it. Done everything that is recommended by Jeep and the internet resource sites. My last attempt had the jeep in a 4x4 specialty shop. Former Jeep Mechanics worked on it for a week. Nothing was wrong according to specs. This is a stock vehicle with no aftermarket parts. Jeep widened the wheel base in 2007 from 66 inches to 73.7. They did not reengineer the front end, they just made it wider. You can't fix one problem without causing another somewhere else. The dealer, just didn't give a crap. I said a Chrysler would never sit in my driveway again. I'm stuck with a vehicle that can't be fixed. Never again!

  13. Does anyone know who to contact regarding this wobble....and is there any current accountability from jeep on this issue? My jeep is stock......and has the serious wobble on less than perfect roads.......shame.....

  14. The blame does not lie with chrysler/jeep the death wobble is more common with wranglers and the older Cherokee/grand Cherokee because of the type of steering/suspension set up used on them if this happened under vehicle warranty it would be on chrysler to come up with a fix but it isn't caused by a manufacturing or design problem it is caused by worn steering and suspension components that should be regularly checked and replaced over the life of the vehicle if proper maintenance is done and done correctly you will not experience the death wobble also older Ford nd dodge trucks were prone to this as they aged due o a similar steering/suspension design bottom line is people that have this issue should take there vehicle in for service

  15. Also I would be more than willing to bet that more than half the people out there experiencing this problem with un modified jeeps are people that bring there vehicle to the dealer for service and when told about parts that are in need of replacement say no just do the oil change I don't want to replace ball joints or anything right now

  16. My jeep is a 1997, not modified in any way and it has the death wobble everytime I go over fifty. This is also a one owner jeep, nothing has ever been done to it except maintenance.

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