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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I just purchased a 2003 Ram 2500 4x4 with 100,000 miles. Hemi and auto transmission. Nice truck for the age. However, when I hit a bump on the hightway, the front end starts shaking quite a bit. If I quickly pull the steering wheel in one direction or the other, often the shaking will stop. When driving the truck, you can tell it's a bit slopppy in the front end. I was planning on new tires and alignment. Now thinking I've got one or more steering components are worn out.

I'll start by jacking up the front end and checking endplay on the front wheels, tie rod end slop, and other steering component wear.

All that said, has anyone suffered a similar problem, and if so, what was the cause of it?

Thanks!
Mike
 

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Known as the death wobble. Multiple things can cause it and you described them in you inquiry. Loose parts in the suspension including loose wheel hub bearings, knuckle pivots, any pivot points in the linkage, and steering box. Any or all can cause the wobble. Each one can change caster, camber, toe-in and when they are off, the suspension does not have built in characteristics that stabilize the steering geometry and that is then exagerated by something that is loose giving it more degrees of wobble. The hub pivot bearings provide a pivot point near the center of the tire and combined with camber give the wheels a normal desire to pivot out. That is countered by the tie rods (toe-in setting) to hold then straight. Caster is to bring the steering wheel back to a centered position. loose bearings may move that point out and then the wheels have no stable direction to them and when a bump is hit, they just do their own thing and you had better hang on.
 

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Agree. Track bar and ball joint wear was common. The steering damper cylinder must not be leaking. Do an alignment only after the real cause is found and fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks folks. I'll check from top to bottom on this front end. It sounds like it could be several "marginal" components that may require replacing. I did drive this truck on the highway during my test drive, but not that far and it did not exibit this behavior. I'm a bit annoyed at myself for not discovering before I wrote the check, but I own it now!

Be well,
Mike
 

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I found out something very interesting about about the ca. 2003-08 8 lug/straight axle 4WD Rams and their well known death wobble issue. Apparently Chrysler has some sort of 'secret' recall in which a different tie rod/drag link assembly is installed with different geometry along with being a larger diameter. I believe the upgrade tie rod [I should have my mouth washed out with soap for using such terms]'y goes from steering arm to arm with the drag link picking up near the R/H (passenger side) and going straight to the Pitman arm. The original linkage went from the R/H steering arm to the Pitman with the L/H tied rod connected to the above drag link and L/H arm.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
http://www.amazon.com/Steering-Linkage-Upgrade-Fixes-Death-Mopar/dp/B0046NUOLM/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1366735123&sr=8-9&keywords=dodge+2500+front+end+parts

Hello all,

At a minimum, I need to replace the track arm bushings, stabilizer bushings and links, and passanger side upper ball joint.

Looking at my Haynes manual, I'm comfortable with the track arm and stabilizer bar issues. The book states the ball joints are pressed out/in, and should consider getting this work done by a front end shop. Thoughts on the ball joints? I've replaced them in the past on other vehicles, but I don't have a press in my garage.

Bearhawke, any more info on the recall? I've not discovered that on line, but I have found the OEM upgrade package on various sites. Amazon has it for example.

Thanks,
Mike
 

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mikejeep said:
http://www.amazon.com/Steering-Linkage-Upgrade-Fixes-Death-Mopar/dp/B0046NUOLM/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1366735123&sr=8-9&keywords=dodge+2500+front+end+parts

Hello all,

At a minimum, I need to replace the track arm bushings, stabilizer bushings and links, and passanger side upper ball joint.

Looking at my Haynes manual, I'm comfortable with the track arm and stabilizer bar issues. The book states the ball joints are pressed out/in, and should consider getting this work done by a front end shop. Thoughts on the ball joints? I've replaced them in the past on other vehicles, but I don't have a press in my garage.

Bearhawke, any more info on the recall? I've not discovered that on line, but I have found the OEM upgrade package on various sites. Amazon has it for example.

Thanks,
Mike
Try your Dodge/Ram dealer; explain that you have a death wobble situation and let them see what they'll offer (if anything) to fix it.
 

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The ball joint press looks like a large C-clamp type tool with different size cups and arbors for pressing joints out and in.
Some auto parts stores may have a tool loan program if you leave a deposit with them.

http://www.etoolcart.com/balljointservicetoolkit-otc7249.aspx

There was a tie rod recall for some Dodge trucks for possible left-side breakage on sharp turns, but not for a death-wobble.

http://www.trucktrend.com/features/news/2011/163_news110713_2003_2011_dodge_ram_tie_rod_assemblies/viewall.html
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Went to my local Dodge dealer and discovered there is a TSB out on the problem and they have developed an entire new tie rod/track bar assembly to address this problem. However, no recall and they'd be glad to install the new assembly, along with new ball joints and align for between $1500 and $1700.

That said, I'm in the process of ordering 4 new ball joints, the track bar bushings, and stabilizer links/bushings and will install them myself.

Any recommendations on the ball joints? Brand? I like Moog, but only because I've used them in the past and had good service from them. Question on ball joints, should I get the adjustable or fixed ones? The stock ones are fixed, but it appears the adjustable ones were developed to help line up this front end.

Right now I'm not considering the new tie-rod assembly I noted above as the existing tie rod ends are in good shape and I'm on a budget. If I'm being foolish, please let me know.

Thanks
Mike
 

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Saving hard to come by money isn't really that foolish, especially with sound reasoning such as yours.
Good luck with your truck. I think you'll be happy with your purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update - I replaced the track bar bushings with a set of Moog bushings and for less than $15.00, my death wobble is gone! I still need to replace the stabilizer bar links/bushings, and I have a bad ball joint, but it is safe to drive. Have the other parts on hand and will install them soon. It was amazing how bad the OEM bushings were...completely worn out.
 

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A bad ball joint may be "safe to drive" in that it won't come apart on you for now, but it will wear out your expensive new tires more rapidly and could cause a poor handling situation on a slippery surface or in an emergency maneuver that you might later regret.
Do the alignment once after everything is good.
 
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