How Do You Survive the Death Wobble?

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A jeep on the road before pulling over due to death wobble

Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never experienced the death wobble. It’s enough to scare the daylights out of the most experienced drivers on the road.

Getting caught off guard by it can be a dangerous and panic-inducing experience you want to avoid.

So what is the death wobble, and how do you survive it? Let’s take a look!

What Is the Death Wobble?

The infamous death wobble occurs in various vehicles, resulting in a violently shaking steering wheel. Your vehicle will eventually shake to the point where you’ll think it’s about to fall apart on the spot.

How a driver handles the situation can determine whether the incident results in a serious situation or not.

No matter the vehicle you drive, you need to know the possibilities and how to handle the death wobble just in case you were ever to experience it.

What Causes the Death Wobble?

The death wobble is typically the result of faulty suspension and steering components.

Any of these components slightly out of alignment can cause a vehicle to experience a death wobble.

Some common causes include the steering dampener, tire pressure, tire balance, and a vehicle that’s out of alignment. If you notice any issues with your vehicle, have it looked at immediately.

Most drivers that experience the death wobble will hit a bump in the road that will cause some sort of jarring to the suspension or steering systems. In most cases, it doesn’t have to be a large bump or hole in the road to cause it.

High rates of speed will exacerbate the problem, so you’ll want to take action immediately. Driving at slower speeds (less than 40 miles per hour), you’re typically less likely to experience the death wobble.

Can the Death Wobble Be Fixed?

Luckily, the death wobble is fixable. Unfortunately, it’s likely not going to be something you can or should attempt to repair yourself.

Some manufacturers have identified the reasons behind these issues and have issued recalls to address them. 

Take your death-wobbled vehicle to a trusted mechanic or dealership and have them check it out. It may cost you a pretty penny, but not having to worry about every bump or pothole in the road. Your safety is worth it!

What Vehicles Have the Death Wobble?

Almost every Jeep or 4×4 truck seems to have some history with the death wobble. Some vehicle manufacturers are better than others.

But some vehicle years, types, or modifications made to the vehicles leave them prone to death wobbles. A damaged suspension or steering components could experience a death wobble.

How to Survive the Death Wobble

As we said earlier, you’re lucky if you’ve never experienced a death wobble.

However, you’re not doing yourself any favors by not knowing how to respond should you experience one. Let’s see what you need to do if you want to survive an experience with the dreaded death wobble.

Grip the Wheel

The most important thing you need to do is to grip the wheel firmly. Your arms will shake like crazy, but you must maintain control.

Don’t let go and do your best to keep your vehicle centered in the lane as much as possible. Be mindful of any traffic that’s around you on the highway.

A person gripping the wheel of their vehicle to avoid death wobble

Slow Down

You should immediately take your foot off the accelerator. Resist the urge to slam on your brakes, especially if vehicles are around you. Let your vehicle naturally slow itself down as you maintain control.

There’s a chance the wobble will fix itself as your speeds reduce, but that’s not often the case.

If possible, use your turn signal to change lanes. You don’t want to slow down traffic or cause any hazards for other drivers by taking up a faster-moving lane. Stay as far right as possible.

Pull Over

Once you’re as far right as possible, look for a safe place to stop. If there’s room on the shoulder of the highway, use it. Your vehicle will likely continue to shake until you come to a complete stop.

If you can’t find a safe place to stop, look for an exit ramp or other area where it might be safer to slow down or find a spot to park for a few minutes.

A Jeep pulled over that is dealing with death wobble

Take a Breath

Once you’ve come to a complete stop, take a breath. Depending on your speed, everyone in your vehicle will have just experienced a rather tense and stressful situation.

Take as much time as you need to collect yourself before getting back on the road.

If you’ve stopped at a rest stop, truck stop, or gas station, take the time to go for a short walk or grab a bite to eat. Treat yourself with a reward for surviving the death wobble. You deserve it.

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Make a Service Appointment ASAP

Now that you’ve experienced your first death wobble, use the fear and adrenaline rush to call your dealership or mechanic. You’re not the first person and won’t be the last to experience this issue.

Explain the situation and ask them how soon they can get you in for an appointment to address the issue.

Call another mechanic or dealership if they can’t get you in soon. This is a serious situation that deserves immediate attention.

You risk experiencing another encounter with the death wobble if you continue to drive the vehicle without fixing the problem.

A car with death wobble being fixed

How to Prevent the Death Wobble

You can’t always prevent the death wobble, but there are a few things you can do to help prevent it.

If you’re not familiar with or comfortable with vehicles, have a trusted mechanic examine your vehicle regularly.

Check Tire Pressure

You want consistent tire pressure in all four tires and you should check them regularly.

Tires with low tire pressure can cause several issues, including increasing the chances of the death wobble. Check the tiny print on the sidewall of your tires for the recommended specific PSI for your tires.

If you don’t have an air compressor, it might be a good time to invest in a portable air compressor for your vehicle.

You can visit a local gas station, pay a few coins and fill up your tires. You can also visit a local tire service center, and they’ll likely fill up your tires with air for free.

Avoid dealing with death wobble by checking your tire pressure

Inspect Suspension System

You increase the chances of experiencing the death wobble by driving around with damaged or faulty suspension components. You should regularly inspect your vehicle for any potentially defective components that could pose an issue.

However, most people don’t know what they’re looking for and won’t notice any potentially dangerous situations unless something is obvious.

Find a mechanic that you can trust to inspect your suspension. 

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Have Alignment Checked

Having a mechanic check your vehicle’s alignment regularly is a good idea. A vehicle out of alignment can be prone to experiencing death wobbles.

If you’re driving a Jeep or a 4×4 truck, you want to limit any potential issues that could cause a death wobble. Keeping your vehicle aligned will help provide a smoother and safer driving experience.

You Can Survive the Death Wobble

Is the death wobble scary? Absolutely.

There’s no other way to say it – it was a pretty intense experience each time. We want to do whatever we can to help you or anyone else avoid experiencing the chaos that occurs when you experience it.

Follow our tips, and there’s a good chance you’ll live to tell about your death wobble experience.

Have you ever experienced a death wobble in a vehicle?

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