Why Does My Jeep Shake When I Hit A Bump (And Can I Fix It?)

If your Jeep and its steering wheel begin to shake right after you hit a bump, your vehicle likely has a problem known as the “death wobble.” Despite the very dramatic name, this problem is actually very fixable. But what causes it in the first place?

The most common thing that causes a Jeep to shake is an unsecured or overused track bar. To fix this issue, secure the bolts around your track bar, the suspension, and the steering equipment. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you may need to replace the entire track bar.

Despite the death wobble being a fairly simple issue to fix, there are actually a lot of misconceptions surrounding the phenomenon. Let’s take a closer look at the issue and clear up some of these misconceptions. We’ll also look at what you can do to get your Jeep running like normal again.

What Causes the “Death Wobble”?

Experiencing the death wobble can be an extremely stressful situation. Your Jeep suddenly starting to wobble after hitting a bump is rather alarming, after all, but don’t worry.

Even though it has a very threatening name, the death wobble has never actually been linked as the cause of a fatal accident.

As for what causes this issue, this depends on the current state of your Jeep. According to various reports, Jeeps that have been raised a few inches actually experience the death wobble less than Jeeps at stock height.

If your Jeep is at stock height, the cause of the death wobble is likely the front track bar. The bolts that hold this track bar in place as well as the supporting brushings can cause your Jeep to shake and vibrate.

If your Jeep has been raised a few inches, the most common thing that can cause the death wobble is a misaligned drive shaft. This causes an increased angle between the front axel and the transfer case, which itself causes excess strain on the universal joints.

This can result in the universal joints no longer running parallel to each other, which leads to a vibrating sensation.

What Should You Do If Your Jeep Is Shaking?

Jeep Tackling the Trails

As with any road emergency, the first step is to try not to panic. Despite its morbid name, the death wobble will not cause your Jeep to crash — provided that you stay calm. You should think of your Jeep shaking as a minor inconvenience rather than a life-threatening event.

Once you’ve calmed down, the next step is to turn on your hazard lights to let the drivers around you know something is wrong with your vehicle and begin to slow down.

Try to gradually decrease speed by carefully tapping your brakes rather than slamming on them.

The biggest mistake that people in this situation make is to slam on their breaks. This is extremely dangerous because it can cause you to lose control of your Jeep, and if the car behind you isn’t paying close attention, they may slam into you.

Once you’ve reduced your speed, pull over and come to a complete stop. The only thing that can bring the shaking to an end is parking your Jeep. After this, rejoin traffic and continue to drive while attempting to avoid the speed that originally caused your vehicle to shake.

Common Myths Surrounding the Death Wobble Explained

When it comes to the topic of the death wobble, there are two very common misconceptions that many Jeep owners believe. Let’s go through these in an attempt to help clear them up once and for all.

Steering Stabilizer Misconception

This misconception is that you can solve the death wobble problem by swapping out the Jeep’s steering stabilizer for a stronger version.

This misconception has become popular due to the fact that doing this really does dampen the death wobble.

However, it doesn’t actually solve the problems that cause the death wobble. Instead, it just prevents the vehicle from shaking. Driving around like this will make fixing your Jeep even more difficult, and it can even cause more severe damage to the vehicle.

Front Wheel Realignment Misconception

Black Jeep

This misconception is the idea that the death wobble is caused by the fact that the Jeep’s front wheels face too far outwards. Many people find that realigning their front wheels to face more inwards fixes the death wobble.

However, once again, doing this doesn’t really solve the problem. Realigning your front wheels may cause your Jeep to stop shaking, but it doesn’t really fix the underlying issue. Driving around with your front wheels misaligned can also cause more damage to your Jeep.

Is It Possible to Fix the Shaking?

Thankfully, yes, it’s entirely possible to fix the shaking problem. As we mentioned earlier, one of the most common issues that can cause your Jeep to shake is the track bar and the bolts around it.

The first thing to do when attempting to fix this issue is to make sure that all of the bolts in and around your suspension and steering parts are tightened. Insecure bolts are a potential cause of your Jeep’s death wobble.

Next, you want to make sure that your track bar isn’t deformed from use. To do this, get someone to put your Jeep in neutral with the motor off and turn the steering wheel back and forth.

A proper track bar should stay firmly in place during these turns. However, a moving track bar is a sign that your bushing is worn out.

In this case, you’ll need to replace your track bar. You can expect this to cost you around $150. For example, here’s one (on Amazon) by Rough Country for a 2007-2018 Wrangler JK that falls exactly around that price.

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