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1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
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So I have very violent steering wheel wobble at speeds of 50+. it happens usually when I hit a bump at that speed, or sometimes banking.
I have been reading a lot about death wobble and think I may have found its source.

so far I have inspected the steering shaft for loose bolts, (none)
looked for bent rods (none)
inspected some bushings (most seem okay)

IMG_1156.JPG IMG_1156.JPG I found this on the steering dampener. The rubber has degraded far past 50% leaving a lot of play. Also the dampener itself rotates about 20 - 30% when I try and spin it.

Could this be the cause of the Death Wobble?

I also know the truck has been sitting for a a couple years. I read that unbalanced tires or tires that have a death spot could cause death wobble. I don't believe this is the cause as the shaking only occurs after I hit a pot hole or minor bump.

any help would be appreciated.
 

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This oscillation is a result of an imbalance and play everywhere.

Start with decent tires (typically tires should be replaced every 5 or so years), properly fitted and balanced. Then go through every rubber part in your suspension and replace (not terribly expensive or difficult). Finally (or maybe firstly) check your steering box for play. You can adjust but it is likely to start leaking. In case of excessive play budget for a replacement.

If are a college kid running a range rover on a budget you will end up with disappointment. These are not cheap cars if you want them to be decent and they are fragile in their own way. Better to buy a cheap Beep, better parts availability.
 

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1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
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If are a college kid running a range rover on a budget you will end up with disappointment.
Not if you know what you're doing and do your own wor and who said he was a broke college kid? "Decent" means different things for different people.

Most of the time it's worn swivel pins that kill the steering damper and thus cause the death wobble.
 

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Start with the steering damper
And work your way out
See how it goes
 

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A question first, does the steering wheel oscillate left to right rotation during the shakes? Or can you just feel the shaking through it? Sounds an odd question but there is an important distinction.

As the others have indicated, you don't want any obvious faults present with worn bushes etc so worth replacing the rubber on damper you've posted. It'll certainly not hurt it if you do and it's generally good to maintain it.

I don't believe it's what causes the problem though. The bump initiation is what sets them going, if it where wheel balance it would happen with more frequency and at greater variety of speeds.

I bought mine with this problem existing and a warning from previous owner about it, took a while to figure out and it is quite obscure. See what you come up with regarding the steering test first.
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover Classic
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Start with the steering damper
And work your way out
See how it goes
steering damper will not correct mechanical deficiencies on the front end leading to wobble.

first of all OP is this truck lifted? if so how much?. secondly is your steering box leaking? if so repair other wise you're back to square one and while at it check and or replace your panhard rod bushings.
at the current age of your vehicle it is highly advisable to renew all suspension bushings.
 

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1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
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More than a good bet that it is the tie rod ends. I had the exact same thing happen, under those exact conditions. VERY violent shake that would not stop until I got it whoa-ed back down to 45mph or so. The good news is that they're inexpensive, and it's a pretty easy DIY job. (Unless you've got the measurement tools, might need to plan on an alignment job after you replace them.)
 

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If it's been sitting for a long time, you should check all the steering components & renew what's needed.

I agree with 95classic that the damper is not the problem but I would replace anyways.

Two main culprits for the Death Wobble are swivel ball preload & incorrect toe setting. If it happens only after hitting a bump I would suspect preload and if happening at a high speed only then toe.
 

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1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
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Hello Ian - I had the same issue and after lifting the truck up and reviewing the steering/suspension components, I found that the panhard bushes were crap - totally worn past functioning. Replacing them and making sure every bolt and nut was torqued did the job - no more death wobble.
 

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Hello Ian - I had the same issue and after lifting the truck up and reviewing the steering/suspension components, I found that the panhard bushes were crap - totally worn past functioning. Replacing them and making sure every bolt and nut was torqued did the job - no more death wobble.
A lift changes the geometry of the suspension, as the radius arms move the steering center follows and goes from factory + where the axis is perfect to X, this causes opposing forces to fight the harmony, loose or defective components are the final component which cause the wobble.
I'm not opposed to lifting, just mentioning the possible end result of excess. 3 inches or more.
 

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Not if you know what you're doing and do your own wor and who said he was a broke college kid? "Decent" means different things for different people.

Most of the time it's worn swivel pins that kill the steering damper and thus cause the death wobble.
I agree and apologize to the OP. Indeed I do not know and should not have assumed he might be running his Range Rover on a budget. My assumption was based on a recent (personal) experience of much misery caused by a misconception that old Land Rovers are invincible and can be run successfully on a tight budget and a few quick fixes. You can run a good car at a fairly decent budget, use it carefully and stay on top of it. A poor car will typically need some serious money spending to make it good, as can attested my many contributors here.

The "death wobble" is mostly like a result of several worn parts in the suspension. The OP also implies that the tires are old and possibly out of balance from sitting for several years. I say this will not end cheap.

Your statement "Not if you know what you're doing and do your own" makes the same mistake I did. So I have owned about 4 land rovers in Britain and 4 more in the US. I restored 3 from ground up. I do all my own work and am proud to say I ONLY visit a garage for the annual safety test and have done so for 30 years. But how could you know.
 

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I've got a similar nasty death-wobble on my 1990 Classic. Happens when hitting a bump or road imperfection above around 50mph. Pretty scary, the whole front end vibrates and sends the steering wheel into a violent shake. Only stops once slowed back down under 50mph.

I initially also suspected my steering damper, as the bushings were shot and it was the original unit from the factory. I replaced it with a new OEM damper and bushings- the death wobble is still present. I believe it to be an issue with the swivel ball housing as well. Have had other people take a look at the truck and give me the same opinion.

Does anyone have any idea how to resolve the swivel ball pre-load issue? What kind of work is necessary to remedy this?
 

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It's relatively easy to check the critical steering links as a first step.

Get someone to help in the car by rocking the steering back and forth by about 15dgegrees and while doing that get underneath and put your hand onto any steering joint that goes across the car. It'll very quickly show you any components that need further attention.
As said with above poster's, any problems with ANY transverse linkages will not help with safety, accuracy or diagnosis of this problem.

I did read so many forum posts in trying to diagnose mine, it took me about a year going through all sort of reasoning without fundamentally altering the fact that it shook badly at similar road speed to the above. Furthermore it was definitely induced by road bumps when in that range, but also could rise from very slight shaking into full blown death wobble if you didn't change speed.

My one I eventually pinpointed to the front dampers/shocks that where not controlling an initial vertical input to the left front wheel. It just couldn't control the load as the wheel started to bounce.
This was NOT tire balance induced as I'd changed them all for New Michelin Latitude Cross as part of the diagnosis.
I changed the front shocks for Bilstein gas and this immediately removed all trace of the problem. It's not necessarily that they are or that make, I favour them but others don't. It's more the rate internal to the shock setting is controlling the mass when the old damper wasn't. It could be a mismatch of rates or just plain wear as they were a decent manufactures component that I removed.

There may be doubts offered about this, so I can also tell you that I put the old shocks back on to verify and it switched the problem straight back on.

It's ultimately caused by the shock's inability to control the spring resonance that a tire produces. It is after all a huge, virtually undamped, spring.
 

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1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
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get somebody to do fast receptive movements with your steering wheel.

Check drop arm, ball joints, panhard bushes And their bolts.
Nothing?
Proceed to swivel pins.
the little bearings are part nº 606666, invest in Timken or NTN. The other ones are useless

Steering damper is a symptom, not the cause
 

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I have saved these posts by others that could help you.

[HR][/HR]​
Postedby JB on 03/05/2003 18:24:23:
In Reply to: loose preloadposted by Tim Slape on 03/05/2003 10:15:17:

Swivel Pin Preload Adjustment
Before we begin reassembly, use a wire brush or a thread chasing file to removeall traces of old loctite from the upper swivel pin attaching bolts. Havingthese bolts clean will be critical to achieving an accurate torque reading, andthus an accurate preloading of the swivel pin bearings. The swivel pin preloadspec is given my the shop manual as approximately 13 lbs as measured by pullingon the rear steering arm with only the SPH in place. No swivel ball seal, orany other components attached to the SPH. Once all the parts are thoroughlycleaned, the upper swivel pin bushing and thrust bearing are coated with heavymolybdenum grease (you can use the LR "one shot" grease), the lowertapered roller bearing coated with a little 90 wt., and the SPH placed on theswivel ball. The upper swivel pin is inserted with all of the shims in place (greenarrow) that were originally removed at disassembly, the upper pin securingbolts are tightened to 65 Nm and the prelaod measured by pullling on a springscale attached to the rear steering arm. I set mine to 5 lbs of preload. Thereading is taken AFTER the housing starts to move, not the peak reading tostart motion. I had to remove 0.009" of shims to achieve a preload of 5lbs. in the passenger side swivel. 0.005" of shims had o be removed fromthe driver's side to achieve the same reading. Shims are available in fourthicknesses, 0.003", 0.005", 0.010", and 0.030". It's agood idea to obtain an assortment of shims, especially the smaller thicknesses,before starting the job since the shim pack may not contain exactly the rightshim thickness you need to remove, and some adding and subtracting may benecessary. For example, to remove 0.002" from a pack containing0.043" of shims you would have to remove a 0.010" shim and add back a0.003" and a 0.005" shim. A little practice will make you an expertat removing just the right amount of shim to hit your preload target.

Once the preload is set,it's a matter of replacing all the components you removed. Once you'veidentified the correct shims to achieve your desired preload, remove the upperswivel pin bolts, coat them with red Loctite (271) and reinsert them with thebrake rotor shield support in place under the bolts. I squeezed a half a tubeof "one shot" grease into the bottom of the SPH before inserting theaxle and bolting on the stub axle (with a new gasket, lightly coated withHylomar HPF). This way the grease would be in the bottom of the housing and notinterfere with my attempts to get an accurate reading of the level of 90 wt I'duse to top up the SPH. After the halfshaft and stub axle are in place, the ABSsensor is inserted into the SPH until it touches the CV joint, and then priedback to just clear. If the stub axle shows wear from the bearing races, it canbe assembled with the worn areas uppermost to get a little more life out of it.Oh yes, and don't forget to use new cotter pins when assembling the steeringlinkage.

DIY: alignmentswivel pin bearing preload? posted by Victor Vassiliev on 04/11/200419:43:50:
I use a tape measure withthe vehicle pointing straight ahead to do the alignment. I set it at 1/8"or so of tow in. (Distance between the front tires is 1/8 shorter than rears).be sure to pick the same lug on the tire and this is only to get you close. Iwould pay someone to do it if I were you.
Anyway, preload has been discussed quite a bit on the board but I assuming youalready tried a search and had no luck.
This is just the basics so be sure to refer to the manual for clarity.
Preorder an assortment of preload shims and swivel grease (or gear oil)from RN.
Jack up front.Remove tires, Remove tie rod ends from swivel housing.The swivelwill probably be loose now. Using a scale (fishing scale), put the hook in thehole where the tie rod was. Pull the swivel to measure the resistance. You arelooking for about 12-16 pounds after the initial inertia. Its probably lower ifyour vibbing. Using a oil pan to catch the oil, remove the two bolts that areholding the swivel pin on top of the housing. Remove a shim or two and tightenit back up snug. Remeasure. Add/Remove shims until you get in the ballpark. Ifyou cant get 12lbs and you have removed all the shims, then you probably needto replace the swivel bearings and rebuild the swivels too. (I could only getone to 5lbs after removing all the shims. Im running it but I know it is onborrowed time) At any rate, get them as close as you can on both sides. If itis too tight it will not center correctly. Also I would toss a OME stablizer onit to help matters in the future. Well worth the money in my opinion. Make sureto fill the swivels too! Anyway, it is not that bad. Gordo.





 

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A lift changes the geometry of the suspension, as the radius arms move the steering center follows and goes from factory + where the axis is perfect to X, this causes opposing forces to fight the harmony, loose or defective components are the final component which cause the wobble.
I'm not opposed to lifting, just mentioning the possible end result of excess. 3 inches or more.
Sorry for misleading you... when I wrote that I lifted the truck up, I meant that I put the truck on a lift and had a look underneath, not that I installed taller coils/shocks. ;)
 

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Sorry for misleading you... when I wrote that I lifted the truck up, I meant that I put the truck on a lift and had a look underneath, not that I installed taller coils/shocks. ;)

well, setting vehicle on a twin post lift and raising it just a few inches, should show you how suspension geometries would change if the springs were replaced. the beauty of said test, you can decide before committing if a lift is the way to go and at the same time properly correct changes.
 

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Most people are correct that it could be any of these factors that could cause this issue. I have a 1989 Classic which when I purchased it almost 10 years ago had the exact same issue.
#1 culprit of 'Death Wobble"---- Panhard rod bushings.
If your stearing box is leaking(if it isn't already it will) it will drip power steering fluid onto the rubber panhard rod bushing and degrade them. Not easy to see when the rod is attached to the vehicle but if you remove it---really easy 2 bolts--- then it will be apparent the horrible condition they are probably in. Start here. They are cheep and any auto shop can press new ones in for you.
Don't drive yourself crazy- check one thing at a time and try and make it the easiest and most accessible things to check first!
 

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The death wobble is known as a Niggle. Radius arm bushings, panhard rod bushings, tire pressures, Steering dampner, all need to be checked.
If these are all satisfactory, you will need to check the swivel bearing pre-loads. These specs and the procedure are in the Range Rover Classic repair manual. There is also a land rover tech bulletin for this procedure dating back to 1991.
 

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I had the same "Death Wobble" a couple of years ago. Yes all the components in the front end will contribute to an unstable ride of sorts from vibration wonder and wear but each component has its responsibility. The panhard barkeeps the axle straight and aligned under the car. If the bushings are worn on that bar then all the other worn components are going to contribute to the wobble but the panhard bar is the component that will do the best to keep that wobble at bay. It is easy to remove and the two bushings are cheap, about $25 a piece.
panhard bar.gif
Item #4 is the panhard bar.

Good luck
Rich
 

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