Monday, September 25, 2023


Beware the “death wobble.” It could happen to your truck

By Gail Marsh
The first time it happened we felt sure we were going to die. No kidding! Our Ford F-350 dually truck was humming down the road when, without warning, the front end began shaking. The front tires felt like they were jumping! The violent shaking of the front end matched the crazy, uncontrollable movement of the steering wheel. It jumped from right to left and back and forth so fast that I don’t know how my husband held on!

What. Just. Happened?!

Could it be a blown tire? Did we hit something in the road? My husband let up on the gas immediately and aimed the truck toward the shoulder. By the time the truck came to a complete stop, the shaking had subsided. (Well, the truck stopped shaking. We surely didn’t!) Taking stock of the situation, we saw no visible outside damage. Inside, a spilled water bottle was the only sign that something really happened. At the time the shaking began my husband was traveling 60 mph (the posted speed limit). Thankfully, we were not towing our RV at the time!

Death wobble?
We called and explained the situation to our mechanic. He patiently listened to our adrenaline-fueled story. Since we were close to his shop, we gingerly made our way there, taking side streets instead of the highway. Our mechanic checked the truck thoroughly, shook his head, and said two words: “Death wobble.”

As it turns out, some Ford trucks are notorious for this phenomenon appropriately named “death wobble.” (It should be noted that some Jeep Wrangler owners have also had this happen.) Ford’s F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks, manufactured in the years 2005 – 2019, all have the potential for the heart-stopping “death wobble.”

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Not alone

After checking online, we learned that the “death wobble” phenomenon has happened to a lot of people over the past 16 years. There is a class-action lawsuit against Ford Motor Company (filed June 2019). The lawsuit contends that Ford knowingly sold Super Duty trucks that had a defective suspension. Ford denies the accusation.

What’s the cause of the “death wobble”?

“Death wobble” usually happens when driving at speeds over 50 mph. The violent vibration occurs most often after the truck has hit a bump, groove, or unevenness in the road. The lawsuit claims that “the trucks’ defective suspension can experience abnormal wear and/or loosening of the track bar bushing, damper bracket, ball joints, control arms, shocks and struts.”

There are many components to check and potentially replace. That’s why many truck owners are frustrated. It’s often a process of elimination (and money) to identify and fix what’s causing the “death wobble.”

Our experience took us completely by surprise.

Have you ever experienced the “death wobble” or heard of it happening? We’d love to hear about it!


2022 Ford Super Duty truck series coming soon with more tech


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. Dodge has had this problem in their pickups. My 97 got heavy-duty upgrades. Now it’s completely adjustable and tracks much better. Sure would like Dodge to help pay for some of my parts.

  2. My 2019 F-350 had that issue. We took it to a dealership in Idaho and they were clueless about it so we left to Glacier NP. If you’ve been to Montana you know they don’t have hills there, they have huge, steep mountains. As we were driving down one of those huge mountains the truck starts shaking crazily, trying to brake made it worse and we thought that was the end of our lives. Shifting to manual helped a lot and we were able to slow down enough to stop.
    We finally Googled it and it’s an issue Ford has had since 2012. I was so mad, that dealership put our lives in danger by lying about a very old issue.
    Fast forward a couple months when we finally found a dealership that was not booked solid and they fixed it. Well, we thought they fixed it. It worked great for a year and then the shaking restarted so off to get fixed again it went. This second time only lasted 3 months. Now, a year and 3 fixes later it still doesn’t feel fully fixed, but only time will tell.

  3. Death wobble can be aggravated by installing a suspension lift or leveling kit. It’s much less likely with stock suspension with upgraded shock absorbers and steering stabilizers

  4. Bought a new Jeep in 2012. Was aware of Death Wobble. It’s a known “Thing” in the Jeep world. Changed factory bolts in the control arms immediately (They had started to wear at 1K miles). Never had a problem since.

  5. my 99 4Runner had this
    it was worse with the summer tires
    finally had my mechanic replace all the rear upper/lower control arms and panhard bushings
    all the bushings were worn and allowed the suspension parts to move back & forth in their mounts
    still a bit of the wobble with summer tires and the right ‘bump’, but only lasts a couple of seconds i.e not life threatening
    if it was any worse i would replace all the front suspension parts

  6. This has happened to me twice with my 2001 motorhome on a Ford E450 Super Duty chassis. The first time was in heavy freeway traffic in Dallas. I was driving about 70 mph. The mechanic couldn’t identify the cause. The second time was in less stressful conditions.

  7. After the local Ford dealer replace the steering damper the 2nd time in 50,000 miles I had a different shop install the Rough County kit. Because I have the F350 we also need to install a front lift kit. So now the front of the truck is 2″ higher and the total cost was around $300 but I haven’t had the death wobble or had to have the truck down for a day to replace the Ford steering damper or pay the $100 deductible on the warrantee extension.

  8. II had a 2018 F250 with the “death wobble”. My dealer tried many things to fix it, made it better but never cured it. It was dangerous to drive! I fixed it by trading it on a Chevrolet Duramax. Best move I ever made!
    I have since talked to a guy that solved the problem on his with an after market stablizer.

  9. Can happen on any vehicles with solid front axles and big wheels due to components wearing out. Just some models are worse than others.

  10. I tow a 2010 VW Jetta. Previous toad was a 2009 Jetta. Both have the death wobble. Going over a rr track or some diagonal break in the pavement will start the wobble.
    I use a bungie cord thru the steering wheel down to the seat mounting and no longer have any issues.
    I was heading north on I-77 in WV when the Jeep being towed by a motorhome started the wobble. Hard to believe what it does to the motorhome.

  11. 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with 10,455 miles being towed behind my 36′ diesel pusher. Made a sharp turn into traffic at slow speed the first time it had the “Death Wobble”. Had to come to a complete stop and then started again with no problems. Second time hit a bad chuck hole in a turn and again came to a complete stop and was able to continue our trip with no problem.
    Being a retired Automotive Technology teacher, I inspected the steering components and could find nothing wrong. I inspected my towing set up and could find nothing wrong. I had my son who is also an ASE certified technician take it to work with him. He inspected everything and could find nothing wrong. Have since put 500+ miles being towed without any problems. Still apprehensive towing it

  12. It just happened two weeks ago on my 2020 F250 with only 31000 miles. I specifically asked the salesman when I bought the truck new if Ford had finally figured out the death wobble and got it fixed on the 2020’s. He of course said “yes”. We were doing 70 (75 was speed limit) when we hit several pot holes that spanned the entire lane and I couldnt miss them. Luckily we weren’t towing anything. Truck went into death wobble and did not stop until I got it below 40mph. Took it to dealer and they tested tires, balance and alignment. Then replaced damper on steering under warranty. So far so good.

  13. I have a 2016 F250 Super Duty. I am interested in more info on the “Death Wobble”. I have not experienced the phenomenon and don’t want to. Anything I can do to prevent this from ever happening/

    • I have a 2016 F-350 diesel and have read a LOT about this ‘phenomenon’. Luckily I have not experienced this. I’ve got 45k on the truck, most of which are towed miles with our 8k Arctic Fox TT. We have spent a LOT of miles towing on Texas’s horrible roads, hitting unavoidable mini-Grand Canyons and miraculously no DW yet. Twice, we’ve bent the trailer axles requiring straightening. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our luck continues. I LOVE my truck!

  14. I have a 2019 F250 4WD , I experienced the death wobble on the hwy one day after hitting a bump going around 60 had to almost completely stop on the hwy to get it to stop the wobble. Took it to the Ford dealer they replaced the steering stabilizer under warranty, the truck only had 35,000 miles on it but they said the problem was the tires, they were the ones that came with the truck, something seemed off with their explanation. I previously had the same model of truck only an 2011 that I drove for 200,000 plus miles w/o any wobble problem but the 2019 truck never seamed to drive and ride as well as the 2011. After talking to a local auto shop they said they had good luck fixing all my complaints by adding a front end leveling kit to the vehicle bring the front up as high or slightly higher than the rear. Rising the front changed the geometry of the steering and by doing that solved all my complaints about the truck. 80,000 miles later never have had another death wobble event.

  15. There is a Ford specialist garage in GA that did extensive research on this and determined that Fords specs on front end alignment are off. I don’t recall the name of the company but it should show up on google, but they worked on several ford trucks and came to the same conclusion. Ford won’t admit their specs are wrong but the garage experimented and solved the customers problems. They are on YouTube you should be able to find them either on google or YouTube, All they work on is ford trucks but they’re not with ford, they specialize in bulletproofing ford trucks.

  16. I had a near-death wobble problem with my 2003 Dodge 2500. At 120K it started exhibiting “death wobble” symptoms on a minor scale. The tie rod ends were worn to the point where they needed to be replaced but we ended up replacing the entire front end. After that the steering was better but still not as tight as it should be. After some additional troubleshooting we determined the problem to be a worn steering gear. We replaced it with a rebuilt unit from RedHead Steering Gears and can highly recommend the quality of their work. After replacement the steering is now nice and tight :-).

    • Most steering gears have an adjustment for looseness. I adjusted many vehicles when I did front end work. You should feel this in the steering wheel with extra play while setting still.

  17. Experienced the Wobble some years back on our 07 Jeep GC. My advice and time and money permits eliminate the process and just replace the suspension parts,because if you replace 1 or 2 parts sure as God made green apples the rest will follow. Yours in camping and rving, Ray

  18. Death Wobble is nothing new for Ford trucks. I had this problem with my 78 Bronco. All you could do was rebuild the front end. Track bar bushings. Radius Arm bushings. It was an expensive you to play with.

  19. I have a 2015 F250 diesel with 125K miles. I have not had the death wobble yet but it is a concern. Looking thru the comments below it seems a lot of makes and models have this concern. Thanks for the headsup.

  20. I have 2017 Ram Tradesmen 2500, at certain times at speeds 60-65 mph my front end begins that wobble or jumping. Slowing down it disappears. Checking tires and everything underneath seems fine. Then it starts doing it again. Not all the time though. It is either the left side or the right side that starts. It has had a safety recall fix ???, yet it continues to do this. What gives?

    • When the vibration comes & goes with speed, it is usually wheel balance. Depending of course on tire size, it will happen about 30-35 but may not be noticed. Then again about 60-70. But this also could be a result of the road surface. You really need to work with it to clarify the details and go back to where you bought the tires and tell them what’s happening. If they have a problem addressing it, find a new tire shop!

      • A u-joint going bad can also give a speed related vibration. The worse the wear the worse the vibration. But this is never as bad as the death wobble but can mimic a tire issue.

  21. My 03 Wrangler toad is in the shop right now for that exact issue. Estimate is around $700 for tie rod end, steering dampener and the alignment that must accompany such repairs.

  22. My 2014 Jeep Trailhawk has “death wobbled” a number of times, towing. My daughter’s 2018 Wrangler ALSO experienced the “death wobble”. Is there, or has there been, any law suits against Jeep? I had an older Wrangler that had the same problem. No one seemed to know how to fix it.

    • New, heavy duty steering damper. If you have a lift kit, make sure it’s also heavy duty and the geometry is correct. If the vehicle is stock, with all factory equipment, including tire size it’s due to worn out front end components. You need to find a better shop. Start with replacing the steering stabilizer with a heavy duty one.

  23. my tow vehicle is a 2013 Chev Equinox It has happened twice while in tow. others have experienced it as well. Have to stop completely for it to quit. Never happened when driving it. Don’t think it has a steering damper will consider adding one.

    • Our Equinox did this after exiting a truck dealership where we had to drive up a steep incline causing the tow bar to be greatly un level. As soon as we were on level ground it stopped. If the tow bar gets out of level by a good angle this will cause the problem. This is the main reason towing manufacturers caution us to have the tow bar as level as possible when towing.

  24. I’ve had it happen in a F350 ambulance, with a patient in the back. Replaced sterling damper shock and all was well. Cheap and easy fix. We put it on a yearly schedule to be replaced.

  25. I owned several F250’s back in the mid 2000’s. One day my salesman brought up the “death wobble” after it had occurred with him a couple of times. I ended up replacing his vehicle because he was on the highway a great deal of the time. After a complete checkup by the Ford Mechanic, where nothing could be found, I moved it into a backup spot in our fleet. One day we needed a piece of construction equipment delivered to a customer about 2 hours away. I took this backup truck, and started down
    I-40 at about 65 mph. As I crested an incline and started over an overpass, the death wobble hit. Had anyone been on either side of me, it would have ended bad. It was all I could do to try to control the death wobble and the now fish tailing loaded trailer. Upon my return home, I took this truck to two different Ford dealers and an independent service center that did a lot of work for me. Again, nothing could be found. I traded it for a 2500 Chevy.

  26. Death Wobble is common in Jeeps that have been raised for better clearance and larger tires but can be fixed—although it may take several trips to a good off-road shop. It’s been 10 years since I’ve experienced it in my TJ.

    • I’m actually glad to hear about this. Have a jacked up Wrangler and it happened to me first time just a week ago right after I left the driveway. Pulled over & checked everything out, found nothing and continued on as normal. I’ve had this vehicle for 5 yrs., but now that I know a bit about it, the old mechanic in me isn’t too worried.

  27. Not sure why they’re saying the years ’05 – ’19. The company I worked for in the early ’90s had 2 new 1989 F350s, and they both got the ‘death wobbles’ too.

    • It has to do with the solid front axle of 4×4 trucks and tow in dimensions. There is a company in GA that has figured this out and they know how to fix it but Ford says no. It has to do with increasing the toein numbers. I can’t remember the name of the company but you should be able to google it.

  28. No problem so far with our ’08 F350, but appreciate the heads up. The experience can be even more exciting on a motorcycle! DAMHIK….

    • My brother in law experienced this on his Harley full dresser back in the early 80s, got so bad the front wheel was bouncing in the air resulting in an accident that hospitalized him for a couple of weeks and plastic surgery to rebuild his chin that got ground off by the asphalt. He never got on a Harley again, had been riding them for 23 years.

  29. This is a common issue in the 03 to 08 Ram 2500 and 3500.
    Caused by a poor designed tie rod steering system. The fact that they used the same weight of rods and gearbox used in a 1500.
    All rectified with the Mopar 09 “upgrade” , that they are happy to sell you, involving much heavier rods that are designed to attach differently as well as a much heavier steering gear box.
    Just google Ram steering 09 “upgrade”.

    The original “wish bone” design allowed for the “toe in” to fluctuate with any up and down action of the front suspension. This should have been a factory free recall by Dodge.

    • We had an ‘05 3500 that it happened with numerous times. We never had an accident and it always went away after a short time25-50 yards but it was unnerving never knowing when it may happen. It’s extremely aggravating that Dodge knows about it and does nothing about rectifying it. I guess that it will take a wrongful death suit to wake them up.

  30. Gail Marsh, there a many factors which can contribute to a severe steering oscillation, one of which is the steering damper. Ford has an updated steering damper as well as your VIN could be covered under a Customer Satisfaction Program that extends the warranty. Please take your truck to your local Ford dealer and ask them to check.

  31. My wife and I flew out to Idaho from Tennessee to purchase a 2006 F350 with only 47,000 miles in 2015, and drove it home. Thirty miles from the house I hit a pothole on I-40 and the death wobble was so severe I pulled over immediately. After replacing the factory shocks and steering stabilizer with Bilstein products I have had no more issues.

  32. This exact thing happened to me a year ago. Ford tried to tell me it was due to extreme cold temperatures. The article describes it exactly as it happened to me but no one took me seriously. It was our 2011 F150

  33. A very common affliction that anybody with an old Willys jeep from the ’40’s can attest to. All steering components need to be in good shape and adjusted (tie rods, drag links, bell crank and fittings, etc.). I added a steering stabilizer (shock) to the tie rod and keep things adjusted and have not had an issue since.

    • 2011 Jeep Wrangler – installed 2″ lift kit and all you list above. No wobble for years. Wore out the tires. Had new tires mounted and balanced. Wife went up the road, hit lane divider markers and wobbled. Ckd lugs. All tightened to proper lbs., ckd tire pressure, way off. Reduced pressure and back to normal. No wobble since.

  34. Jeep death wobble while being towed normally occurs after a sharp turn then hitting a rough spot. It happened to me at apx 25 mph. Full stop is required to make it quit. In 1993 I experienced death wobble in a 1967 F-100 at about 50mph that I then blamed on low front tires. I am still driving that F100 and it has never happened again!

  35. I got rid of 2 different Jeeps because of death wobble Even after they supposedly fixed the problem we still had it happen.

  36. We are full time and it started happening on our 2020 F350 pulling our 35ft fifth wheel. It is very scary. It didn’t show up until about 22,000 miles. We move around weekly so it was complicated trying to schedule a dealer to fix it. One dealership said they couldn’t recreate so they didn’t know what to replace (Bull$&*@). We knew this was an issue with older models. After a few heated conversations with a Ford customer Service representative we scheduled the repair two weeks out and also were given a loaner car. We only have about 5,000 since the steering damper replacement but so far so good. Fingers crossed.

    • Please add 2016 Ford Explorers to the list.
      and why can’t there be a class action in Michigan against Ford ? I would sign up

  37. The first time I experienced the death wobble was in a 1978 F-150 4wd high boy. It’s been around for a long time. I spent a lot of time and money replacing front end parts that were nearly impossible to find for a 9 month model vehicle that was 18 years old. Jeeps have also had it for years, before there was a Wrangler. Ask any CJ owner with even a mild lift kit about the death wobble. 60s models on up.

  38. We own a 2017 Ford F-350 4×4 SRW. Have experienced death wobble on numerous occasions. The fix has been to replace the steering damper; it has been replaced once every year we’ve owned it. The steering damper is a poor design, so much so, that Ford has extended the warranty on it for a total of 100,000 miles; after that, we’re on our own. There is a class action lawsuit against Ford moving through the system. Each time it’s replaced costs about $150; at some point we will have to bear this cost. It’s a scary event when it happens. It’s happened only once while towing our 2018 Jayco Pinnacle and for that we are thankful.


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