Fox_Mccloud

New Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
10
Location
South Florida
Hey Guys,
I recently bought an '03 Wrangler SE. I've already tackled a handful of things that need attention (calipers, pads, rotors) but most important is Death Wobble (confirmed, definitely Death Wobble). I've dug around a bit here and already found a litany of information, much appreciated to the other members, but I haven't found an answer to a couple of questions.

1. How do I identify what lift kit (how tall) the previous owner put on and how do I know if it's any good? (example: Did they not loosen the bolts when putting on the lift kit??) Fixing other's mess is fun. Also, knowing which shocks to buy when I want to replace them would be nice.

2. Do I need to replace ~everything~ when doing the front end? I see a lot of users replacing everything from tie rods to CAs. Can I get away with just tie end/rod/drag link/track bar? Without doing the ball joints???

3. Where do people typically get hung up? There is always a point in a fix where the smooth sailing gets windy, any one know where that will happen with the front end build? Things I need to specifically look out for?

This is a big one for me. I've done a clutch rebuild, full brake replacement, master and slave cylinder replacement but parts of the front end bit seem a tad tricky. Specifically the ball joint replacement (if I need to do that). Any advice or anecdotes would be great...especially ones of success lol Thanks in advance fellas


If you're reading this and hoping to find more information on Death Wobble specifically, go here.
 

astjp2

TJ Expert
Joined
Aug 22, 2018
Messages
3,999
Location
Utah and Alaska
another death wobble problem area is control arm bushings. Just swap them out if you have a good press and some tools to make it happen. Nothing hard here...if you are mechanically inclined. Tim
 

TheBoogieman

Disturbed Jeepaholic
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
2,922
Location
CharlottesHELL, Va
12" front and 8" rear are stock spring heights while sitting. Add more for spacers.
STEP #1 for DW is align the front end yourself and check the track bar closely for any play or wear. Then, take it from there.
jeep-wrangler-lift-1.jpg
 
Last edited:

cm11zero11

Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Messages
36
Location
Florida
We were in the same exact boat when we bought our 2006 TJ. Not sure if it was true DW or bump steer but at 45 MPH the whole Jeep would shake and rattle to a point where it was unsafe to drive. Not knowing what lift, when things were replaced etc we decided to bite the bullet and replace the entire front suspension and we are so glad we did. Drives so much better now. Took about 2.5 days and cost us about a grand (thanks great grandkids for the stimulus check!) but the time was mainly spent on prepping, priming and painting.

For specifics on your questions, we were able to determine the size lift based off the coil height and some google/forum posts. It was also confirmed by a local Jeep enthusiast who took a look at our set up to point us in the right direction. Once we knew the lift height (4 inch in our case), shocks were easy to shop for, just be ready for opinion overload if you ask which shocks to buy. We went with Bilstein because it was the best rated at the best price point for us.

We replaced everything so we knew what and when. The ball joints were tricky, but nothing terrible especially seeing your maintenance accomplishments. The key is a good kit. I "rented" one from advanced auto that was $249.00 bucks and had everything we needed to get the job done. Impact, good sockets and breaker bar are also a must. Take your time and make sure they stay even as you press them in.

As for hang ups, I'd suggest taking it to a shop to see how your alignment is before you start. If you are going to do the ball joints knowing your caster/camber is important. I had everything apart and received some MOOG adjustable ball joints and since I didn't know where we started, no one could correctly tell me at what degree to set them at. I did some forum reading, rolled the dice and tried to set them at what I thought would be the proper camber degree. It wasn't... The shop was able to get the right toe and steering alignment, but the camber is off and so I either address it, or prematurely ruin a set of tires. The fix is to re-do the ball joints which although is a bit of a set back, I learned so much it really doest seem like that much of a chore this time around. All in all though Im glad i did evertything because the ball joints that came out were shot. Think joystick on an old pac-man game. Every bushing crumbled to dust, the shocks could be pushed and pulled with ease, everything was in desperate need of replacement.

IMG_8351-1.jpeg


IMG_8345.jpeg


IMG_8350.jpeg


IMG_8352-1.jpeg
 
OP
Fox_Mccloud

Fox_Mccloud

New Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2021
Messages
10
Location
South Florida
We were in the same exact boat when we bought our 2006 TJ. Not sure if it was true DW or bump steer but at 45 MPH the whole Jeep would shake and rattle to a point where it was unsafe to drive. Not knowing what lift, when things were replaced etc we decided to bite the bullet and replace the entire front suspension and we are so glad we did. Drives so much better now. Took about 2.5 days and cost us about a grand (thanks great grandkids for the stimulus check!) but the time was mainly spent on prepping, priming and painting.

For specifics on your questions, we were able to determine the size lift based off the coil height and some google/forum posts. It was also confirmed by a local Jeep enthusiast who took a look at our set up to point us in the right direction. Once we knew the lift height (4 inch in our case), shocks were easy to shop for, just be ready for opinion overload if you ask which shocks to buy. We went with Bilstein because it was the best rated at the best price point for us.

We replaced everything so we knew what and when. The ball joints were tricky, but nothing terrible especially seeing your maintenance accomplishments. The key is a good kit. I "rented" one from advanced auto that was $249.00 bucks and had everything we needed to get the job done. Impact, good sockets and breaker bar are also a must. Take your time and make sure they stay even as you press them in.

As for hang ups, I'd suggest taking it to a shop to see how your alignment is before you start. If you are going to do the ball joints knowing your caster/camber is important. I had everything apart and received some MOOG adjustable ball joints and since I didn't know where we started, no one could correctly tell me at what degree to set them at. I did some forum reading, rolled the dice and tried to set them at what I thought would be the proper camber degree. It wasn't... The shop was able to get the right toe and steering alignment, but the camber is off and so I either address it, or prematurely ruin a set of tires. The fix is to re-do the ball joints which although is a bit of a set back, I learned so much it really doest seem like that much of a chore this time around. All in all though Im glad i did evertything because the ball joints that came out were shot. Think joystick on an old pac-man game. Every bushing crumbled to dust, the shocks could be pushed and pulled with ease, everything was in desperate need of replacement.

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This is incredibly useful for me. Thank you so much for the guidance and pictures. Your set up came out so clean and I hope mine looks the same lol