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First time buyer. Concerned about death wobble. Need advice.

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29 Dec 2018 12:22 #199621 by ILIV
Hi guys,

I have my eyes set on a 2009 limited edition Rock Am Ring Jimny model. I am a first time car buyer and don't know much about cars but I've been doing my research into Jimny and realized there is this nasty death wobble issue.

I checked out the comprehensive wiki page and read the Suzuki Service Bulletin that explains how to remedy this issue for select models.

I really would love to buy this car but the death wobble is a serious deal breaker.

So, I was wondering if this problem happens with just 2009 models or rather all Jimnies?

Since many people here actually modify their Jimnies I was also wondering what are the chances of experiencing a death wobble when using a stock Jimny?

I was really surprised to discover this issue by an accident. I saw many car owner's reviews on YouTube. Read dozens of Jimny owner's review in text online. Mostly people are happy and say the car is pretty reliable. All of its shortcomings and limitations are always mentioned and I was mentally prepared to deal with all of that but nobody mentioned the death wobble issues. My impression is that many people do not experience it yet when I read this forum many do.

I feel like buying this car is going to be a gamble. I would hate to spend the money on a car with a serious issue like this. I was hoping to get some more clarity on what I would be getting into buying a 2009 Jimny. My intention is to keep it pretty in much in stock condition. Maybe a little more off-road oriented tires but nothing crazy like larger size or extremely knobby tires, which I learned exacerbates the death wobble issue tremendously.

I really like the car and its off-road capabilities. It seems just perfect for our purposes of going to mountains on weekends. But the death wobble... it's just a deal breaker.

Am I misreading all the information? Or is the problem quite real and there's a high chance that it will affect my possible future 2009 Jimny as well?

PS: I attached a picture of the car that I'm considering. You can see the fitted wheels and tires. Do they look okay, in terms of avoiding/causing a death wobble, to you?
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29 Dec 2018 12:37 #199622 by mlines
I always see "death wobble" as a way to get a bargain price. But you have to be prepared to put the work in to cure it.

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2003 M13 early KAP build.
3" Trailmaster lift with 1.5 Spacers on front
Customised winch bumper and roll cage
235/85R16 Maxxis Bighorns on 16" Rims, 4:1 Rocklobster, Rear ARB locker and on-board air
Corrected arms all-round, rear disks, Recaro seats and harnesses

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29 Dec 2018 12:56 #199623 by sniper
Firstly and most importantly, "death wobble" is only an indication that there are problems with the hardware around the font of the car. It is not an inherent problem with the car, it can be resolved.

There are so many factors that can contribute to steering wobble, if you've read the wiki article, you'll see that all of them are relatively small and routine maintenance jobs. Rod ends, bearings, tyre balance and so on...... all bits that wear and deteriorate and should be replaced if worn.

If the car has a severe wobble between 40-50mph, don't buy it, move on and view the next one.

I would recommend a steering damper on all Jimnys, it tightens the steering up and stops it being so twitchy, even Suzuki have decided to fit them on the new model as standard equipment. They really do make that much difference. £75 and no time at all to fit, maybe 15mins....

The year of the car is not an issue, mileage and service history can hint towards a well kept car. Off roading is harder on all the failure points, so a pavement princess inner city car, might be a better choice.....

sniper

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29 Dec 2018 13:19 #199624 by Lambert
I'm a farmer and I use my Jimny off road every day and I look at a service life on the kingpin bearings of about 2 years. My other Jimny is essentially a road car and I expect to get around 4 years to a set of the bearings. This is based on me being particularly sensitive to steering wobble and changing components at the slightest hint of wear. What I'm trying to say is that death wobble isn't a massive problem and once fixed tends to stay fixed for a goodly amount of time. Also don't forget that forum's are a focal point of any little thing that can affect any car and they also attract people looking for solutions not necessarily the vast majority of owners who are having a fault free ownership.

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29 Dec 2018 17:10 #199662 by Busta
Death wobble is not as common as the internet would have you believe. The chassis design of the Jimny of and other similar 4x4s is more sensitive to imbalances than other designs, so a *slight* steering wobble is fairly common and is often confused with death wobble. Death wobble, where the wheel shakes so violently it makes it almost impossible to continue driving, is not actually that common, and normally easy to remedy as the cause of such sever wobble is normally obvious.
The proliferation of talk about 'death wobble' is mostly made up of people trying to iron out absolutely any movement in the steering, however minor, and I believe this is why it's made out to be such a big issue.

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29 Dec 2018 20:16 #199673 by ILIV

mlines wrote: I always see "death wobble" as a way to get a bargain price. But you have to be prepared to put the work in to cure it.


Well, you would have to prove that it exists at the time of buying a car in the first place. Which makes me wonder, how do you reliably verify if a Jimny suffers from the DW? From what I have read, in some cases it goes away and reappears. That is, it is not consistent.

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29 Dec 2018 20:27 #199674 by mlines
The ones I hear about are typically trade-ins that the dealer discovers are faulty when the new prospective customer test drives it. Dealer is trying to fix it or offload it.

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Martin

2003 M13 early KAP build.
3" Trailmaster lift with 1.5 Spacers on front
Customised winch bumper and roll cage
235/85R16 Maxxis Bighorns on 16" Rims, 4:1 Rocklobster, Rear ARB locker and on-board air
Corrected arms all-round, rear disks, Recaro seats and harnesses

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29 Dec 2018 20:28 #199675 by ILIV

sniper wrote: Firstly and most importantly, "death wobble" is only an indication that there are problems with the hardware around the font of the car. It is not an inherent problem with the car, it can be resolved.


The way I see it, it is actually an inherent problem. As I understand, certain modifications like even a tire type (e.g. fitting mud-oriented knobbies) can result in severe DW. Even worse, some people reported that fitting a set of brand new tires alone fixed the DW problem. So, that's inherent by definition in my opinion.

sniper wrote: There are so many factors that can contribute to steering wobble, if you've read the wiki article, you'll see that all of them are relatively small and routine maintenance jobs. Rod ends, bearings, tyre balance and so on...... all bits that wear and deteriorate and should be replaced if worn.

If the car has a severe wobble between 40-50mph, don't buy it, move on and view the next one.


Yeah, I guess it would be difficult to sell a car like that claiming that it's in a good state. Sure, if the seller doesn't try to hide this problem it's all fair and as mlines said is a good way to push down the price :)

sniper wrote: I would recommend a steering damper on all Jimnys, it tightens the steering up and stops it being so twitchy, even Suzuki have decided to fit them on the new model as standard equipment. They really do make that much difference. £75 and no time at all to fit, maybe 15mins....


Nice! Thank you for the pointer.

sniper wrote: The year of the car is not an issue, mileage and service history can hint towards a well kept car. Off roading is harder on all the failure points, so a pavement princess inner city car, might be a better choice.....

sniper


The one I'm looking at (a 2009 Jimny) has a ridiculous 27000 km mileage and judging by the pictures is in excellent state. It may not have seen much off-road trails at all. Chances are high it's in a pretty good condition. And my intention is to use it sparingly off-road. One of my neighbors has a stock Jimny and he told me stories of climbing 45 degree mud hills using stock tires. No problems at all. He rode in the stock Jimny all over the local mountains and forests and had no problem going anywhere he wanted, and apparently saw no need for more serious off-road mods. I think I'll be happy (at least for a long while) with the stock Jimny.

Anyway, thanks for the detailed reply.

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29 Dec 2018 20:36 #199676 by ILIV

Lambert wrote: I'm a farmer and I use my Jimny off road every day and I look at a service life on the kingpin bearings of about 2 years. My other Jimny is essentially a road car and I expect to get around 4 years to a set of the bearings. This is based on me being particularly sensitive to steering wobble and changing components at the slightest hint of wear. What I'm trying to say is that death wobble isn't a massive problem and once fixed tends to stay fixed for a goodly amount of time. Also don't forget that forum's are a focal point of any little thing that can affect any car and they also attract people looking for solutions not necessarily the vast majority of owners who are having a fault free ownership.


Hey Lambert! Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate the service life figures. Gave me a good idea of what to expect. I find this information highly valuable. BTW, is your Jimny that you use for off-road is modded at all? I mean, does the DW problem affect both cars no matter if they are in stock configuration or not?

I agree, people tend to complain more about problems and we often see a skewed picture as a result. I'm well aware of this phenomenon. That is why I said that I was confused somewhat because I actually had read numerous owner reviews and while people mentioned various problems that one might run into with Jimny I haven't seen a single report of a DW.

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29 Dec 2018 20:41 #199677 by ILIV

Busta wrote: Death wobble is not as common as the internet would have you believe. The chassis design of the Jimny of and other similar 4x4s is more sensitive to imbalances than other designs, so a *slight* steering wobble is fairly common and is often confused with death wobble. Death wobble, where the wheel shakes so violently it makes it almost impossible to continue driving, is not actually that common, and normally easy to remedy as the cause of such sever wobble is normally obvious.
The proliferation of talk about 'death wobble' is mostly made up of people trying to iron out absolutely any movement in the steering, however minor, and I believe this is why it's made out to be such a big issue.


Thanks for the reply, Busta. As I said, I don't really know all that much about cars. Let alone pecularities of 4x4's.

So, are you saying I should not expect an ideal, vibrationless steering from a Jimny, or a Jeep for that matter? Whereas in FWD/RWD road cars it should be quite ideal just because those cars are different by design?

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29 Dec 2018 23:21 - 29 Dec 2018 23:23 #199690 by Max Headroom
My impressions from what I have read about the dreaded DW phenomenon is that it is more likely to be found on significantly modified machines; You were talking about keeping most aspects of your proposed vehicle stock/standard in which case I think you would have little or nothing to worry about.

(I had a little bit of wobble on my Jimny when I first acquired it but this was only apparent under braking and was not indicative of the onset of DW per-se.
In my instance I believed the discs were warped but it wasn't the case, and I believe the cause may well have been the sliding pins in the calipers not sliding. Replaced the pins amd all wobble under braking is now gone.)


IF IT AINT BROKE, KEEP FIXING IT UNTIL IT IS
Last edit: 29 Dec 2018 23:23 by Max Headroom.

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30 Dec 2018 07:30 #199693 by ILIV

Max Headroom wrote: My impressions from what I have read about the dreaded DW phenomenon is that it is more likely to be found on significantly modified machines; You were talking about keeping most aspects of your proposed vehicle stock/standard in which case I think you would have little or nothing to worry about.


Yep, I doubt I'll be turning it into an off-road monster anytime soon. I believe its ability to conquer off-road trails even in stock should be enough for me.

Max Headroom wrote: (I had a little bit of wobble on my Jimny when I first acquired it but this was only apparent under braking and was not indicative of the onset of DW per-se.
In my instance I believed the discs were warped but it wasn't the case, and I believe the cause may well have been the sliding pins in the calipers not sliding. Replaced the pins amd all wobble under braking is now gone.)


I keep reading and I see that indeed many 4x4's like Jeep, RAM, Chevy, Toyota and probably many others may have a DW if they are not serviced adequately. It appears that in principle the problem is very similar across all these brands: loosened/weared parts of suspension and wheel imbalance in general.

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