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    Jeep front end vibration

    Asked Jun 28, 2010, 01:06 PM 21 Answers
    First, here are the particulars on the vehicle:
    1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    6 cyl. - automatic
    Home is KY USA
    Tires good
    Problem occurs intermittently

    I'm hoping someone has a crystal ball and can diagnose this problem:
    Occasionally, at about 45-50 mph the jeep starts shaking violently and it feels like the steering wheel is going to come off in my hands. If I speed up it smooths out. If I slow down it smooths out. It can happen on acceleration or slowing down, when I step on the brake or whenever it wants to. It might do it 3-4 times then not do it again for a month.

    I took it to a Jeep dealer, and for $85 they said they could fix it for $1965.00. They took it for a test drive and determined it had a front suspension wobble. (Gee, you think?) Said the front end was wore out and needed track bar, inner drag link, outer drag link, upper ball joint, lower ball joint and something called a damper. (Seemed a bit excessive to me.) Said it probably starts shaking because I hit a bump or pothole and put something out of line. (Not exact wording but the meaning is there.) Jeep dealer said it was possibly overdrive/transmission related but finally ruled that out.

    My husband jacked up the front end to check if anything was loose and said everything seemed tight to him, but the service man at Jeep said there were things loose that shouldn't be.

    So, any idea if all that stuff is really needed or is it overkill? Or could it be something a lot simpler?

    All I know is, it's really scary when it happens and I need to get it fixed but I don't want to be taken to the cleaners either. Please help if you can!

    Update: After researching, I have discovered I have the dreaded "Death Wobble" which can have multiple causes and is very dangerous. Now I really don't know what to do.

    Last edited by caroln242; Jun 28, 2010 at 03:34 PM. Reason: new info
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    21 Answers
    twinkiedooter's Avatar
    twinkiedooter Posts: 12,172, Reputation: 1054
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    #2

    Jun 28, 2010, 01:13 PM

    Being a fellow Jeep owner of a 1994 Jeep GC 4WD I can attest that I too had just about the same problem as you are experiencing. My problem was the engine mounts were shot and needed replaced. As soon as I got them replaced I have never had this problem EVER again. Charging $1,900 for a front end problem I think is excessive to put it mildly. I had all the engine mounts changed even though only 2 were shot. The previous owner (my car was a one owner car when I bought it used) obviously went off roading and broke the engine mounts in my Jeep and lied like a rug saying he never took it offroad ever. I only had the vibration get worse and worse each time I would go into a pothole on the highway. At one point the entire car vibrated so much it scared the bejeezus out of me until I could pull over.

    I'll betcha it's the engine mounts and I will be right. It's one item that is hard to diagnose since the problem comes and goes. I would also have problems if I would do a quick as a rabbit take off from say a stop sign the car would have to "catch" up to the tires (or something like that). There is also a broken strut that was obviously broken when they went offroading. I haven't bothered having this fixed but just go easy around corners so as not to roll over. This strut just didn't get broken on it's own but obviously when it rammed into something hard enough to knock the engine mounts on the left side front and back.

    Come back and let me know if indeed that is your problem. Mine cost less than $500 to fix parts included. I was not taken to the dry cleaners by my mechanic who was honest.
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #3

    Jun 28, 2010, 01:37 PM



    Go for a second or third opinion and the truth should come out. I can see how it could easily be caused by the parts you listed. Basically, most suspension parts need to be replaced about every 100,000 miles. Most of those items on Jeeps have zerc fittings. Support the local KY economy and grease them every 15,000 miles with Valvoline SynPower grease with moly, which is manufactured in Ashland. $1,965, regardless, seems excessive. Access is usually not a big problem with Jeeps, either, so it shouldn't be too hard to work on. If you decide to replace the parts, shop for lifetime warranty as well as price. You might even buy the parts online and look for a hungry local mechanic to replace them for you.
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    Jun 28, 2010, 03:40 PM

    Since it has been determined that my Jeep has "Death Wobble", should I tackle each possibility one at a time, or just replace everything in the front end and get it over with.
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #5

    Jun 28, 2010, 05:21 PM



    Since you paid $85 for the diagnosis, consider buying all of those parts online (e.g. RockAuto.com) and get them replaced locally? It's cheaper to get most front end work done at the same time. If you need to remove the steering knuckle, for example, why not replace upper ball joints, lower ball joints, outer tie-rod ends, and wheel bearings at the same time? Try to find someone who will use a torque wrench. Most mechanics use air, which results in most fasteners being too tight or too loose--it makes a difference with suspension work. Loose suspension parts really make a lot of noise. Be sure to have them test drive the vehicle, prior to turning it over to you.
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Jun 30, 2010, 11:44 AM

    Here's an update on what's happening with my jeep.

    I have an appointment on Friday to get the upper and lower ball joints replaced. I took the Jeep to a local mechanic and he couldn't find anything wrong except the lower ball joints were worn out, which would cause a vibration. So, I opted to get both lower and uppers replaced.

    I asked about the torque wrench vs. air thing and he said he uses a torque wrench on front end work.

    I will ask him to check the engine mounts while he's working on it.

    I would imagine he will let me know if he finds anything else wrong.

    I'll let you know how it turns out!
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #7

    Jun 30, 2010, 11:49 AM



    Sounds like a good program. I just finished installing Moog lower ball joints (lifetime warranty) on my 2000 Taurus yesterday. It took me 6 hours per wheel, having to drop the sub-frame. Steering is tighter, now. I'm sure you will notice a difference, too, when you get your Jeep back.

    Find out what brand of ball joints he will install. Get him to grease them with full-synthetic NLGI #2 grease; e.g. Valvoline SynPower. It makes a difference and now is the time to get it done right.
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
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    #8

    Jun 30, 2010, 12:34 PM

    I was told Moog is top of the line so that's what I got. I'm running scared with this problem... don't want to take any chances with sub-standard parts.

    My mechanic told me about 2-3 hours for the job. Under-estimated?
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #9

    Jun 30, 2010, 12:39 PM

    Not necessarily. Access is better on Jeeps than many FWD cars. Once he removes the steering knuckle, he can remove and install the ball joints quickly. I think you'll be pleased.
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    twinkiedooter's Avatar
    twinkiedooter Posts: 12,172, Reputation: 1054
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    #10

    Jun 30, 2010, 06:50 PM

    My 1994 Jeep GC has 190K miles on it. Since I've owned it (90K of the 190K miles) I've not even had a front end alignment done (ever since buying it in 12/2002) and my tires wear quite evenly. It was my engine mounts that were my culprit not a front end problem. If it was the front end problem why would your Jeep only act up once in a while and not every day every time you ran it? Makes no sense whatsoever to me. Sorry TxGreaseGuy. I vote for the engine mounts being the cause.
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #11

    Jun 30, 2010, 08:03 PM

    Twinkledooter, I didn't know I have a horse running in the Kentucky Derby. It could be Engine Mounts, but it's a long shot since neither of the mechanics who examined the Jeep suggested that. Both mechanics, however, have Lower Ball Joints the odds on favorite. Isolating noises and suspension problems can sometimes be humbling. After the work is performed on Friday, we shall find out which horse won.
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #12

    Jul 1, 2010, 06:27 AM

    Your Jeep likely has adjustable ball joints. Verify that the mechanic will use the template and properly set the camber and/or caster.
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
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    #13

    Jul 2, 2010, 02:04 PM
    Here's the verdict... ball joints were bad. One lower one was totally frozen, couldn't move it at all. The other lower one was so loose it just flopped around. If I recall what the mechanic said correctly, only 1 of the ball joints had a grease fitting. The new Moog's we put on all have grease fittings.

    After he fixed it he took the Jeep for a ride and couldn't make it vibrate no matter what speed he went. When I drove it home I put it through different speed tests and I couldn't get it to vibrate either. Hopefully this did the trick!

    I had him check the engine mounts and he didn't see any problem with them (sorry twinkiedooter) nor did he see any problem with the bearings or anything else when he had it apart.

    Total cost: $419.00

    That sure beats the estimate I got from the Jeep dealer for $1965.00!

    Thank you TxGreaseMonkey and twinkledooter for holding my hand through all this. I really appreciate your input.

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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #14

    Jul 2, 2010, 06:37 PM

    Very nice job--done at a fair price. Lower Ball Joints won! Thanks for the update.
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    twinkiedooter's Avatar
    twinkiedooter Posts: 12,172, Reputation: 1054
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    #15

    Jul 2, 2010, 06:44 PM

    Hmmmm bad ball joints and not the engine mounts. Oh well. At least someone got it right. But then my Jeep was abused when it was taken off road and ran into who knows what to make two engine mounts bad.

    Glad for the update. Appreciate that. Now if my Jeep starts making weird vibrations I'll have at least a leg up on just what it is as mine are the original ball joints.

    And yes, the Kentucky Derby winner is...

    And yes the $1,900 price was a bit steep. Glad you shopped around and got someone who was honest. Honest mechanics are like gold and need to be treated as such. I had to get a new fuel pump for mine a few years ago and the dealer wanted a small fortune. I ended up doing it myself for just the cost of a new one. And FYI the fuel pump is inside the tank and you have to drop the tank to get at it. That's what all the pricey price the dealer wanted - not the actual fuel pump.
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
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    #16

    Jul 2, 2010, 07:07 PM

    On a front wheel drive car, a flopping lower ball joint would have caused the wheel and half-axle to be ripped off, possibly leading to a catastrophic accident. It's good you were driving a Jeep. Ball joints should be inspected every 30,000 miles.
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
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    #17

    Aug 6, 2010, 11:07 AM
    UPDATE: 8/6/10
    Death wobble is BACK!!

    My husband looked under the Jeep again, and found the passenger side control arm bushing is shot. Could that be it?? Does anyone know how much that would cost to be replaced? This time the wobble started when I was on the interstate going 70 mph... talk about scary!
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    caroln242's Avatar
    caroln242 Posts: 16, Reputation: 1
    New Member
     
    #18

    Aug 6, 2010, 11:23 AM
    Death Wobble is BACK
    1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee
    6 cyl. - automatic
    Home is KY USA
    Tires good
    Problem occurs intermittently

    Hi,
    About a month ago I posted about my Jeep having the dreaded death wobble. It was fixed by replacing worn out ball joints and a front end alignment. Well, it's not fixed anymore. I was on the interstate going about 70 mph and it started again. I had to pull off on the shoulder until it finally smoothed out. My husband got under the Jeep again and found worn out control arm bushings on the passenger side. Could that be causing the death wobble? Does anyone know how much it might cost to have the bushings replaced? I think the bushings are probably not too much... I'm concerned about the labor. I just want a ball park figure so I know if a mechanic is giving me a reasonable estimate. Thanks to all for any replies!
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    TxGreaseMonkey's Avatar
    TxGreaseMonkey Posts: 16,642, Reputation: 5592
    Senior Cars & Trucks Expert
     
    #19

    Aug 6, 2010, 12:33 PM

    Previous TGM quotes:

    Basically, most suspension parts need to be replaced about every 100,000 miles.
    It's cheaper to get most front end work done at the same time. If you need to remove the steering knuckle, for example, why not replace upper ball joints, lower ball joints, outer tie-rod ends, and wheel bearings at the same time?
    Your experience is common. Again, most suspension parts need to be replaced about every 100,000 miles--some even less, depending upon the vehicle. So you don't have any more close calls, get the job done right. Replace the outer tie-rod ends (Moog) and have a qualified technician go over the complete front end. Ensure the new components are properly greased, after installation.

    Here's how to replace outer tie-rod ends:

    https://www.askmehelpdesk.com/cars-t...ml#post1882349

    Read Item 6, Method 3. Attention to detail makes a big difference in front-end work.
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    lobstertrap's Avatar
    lobstertrap Posts: 20, Reputation: 0
    New Member
     
    #20

    Aug 6, 2010, 01:53 PM

    Methinks it's a loose Vibration Damper.
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