Ford F250 and F350 Super-Duty Pickups Make the “Death Wobble” List
Death Wobble Explained
As we’ve outlined in numerous prior blogposts—most recently with the Jeep Wrangler—the death wobble issue is a severe shaking and vibration of the steering wheel and steering column that typically begins after the vehicle hits a bump or some other road defect at a relatively high speed (more than 40 mph).
The shaking is so bad, the vehicle becomes hard to control and it seems as if the steering components may break apart. Slowing down or stopping completely is the only guaranteed way to make the shaking subside. A vehicle experiencing even one death wobble incident can suffer permanent and dangerous suspension or steering damage.
Vehicles with solid front axels like the Wrangler and pickup trucks like the Ford F-250 and F-350 have been the most common sufferers of death wobble, but even 4-wheel drive trucks and SUVs with independent front suspensions and complex steering systems can sometimes develop the same issue.
Possible Causes of Death Wobble
Death wobble can arise from a variety of vehicle components, mostly involving the steering and suspension systems. A good service department will check the following in an attempt locate the source of vibration and oscillation:
- Tire Pressure – Under-inflation, over-inflation, and mismatched pressures are all potential triggers.
- Tire Balance – Unbalanced tires can create vertical and lateral vibrations and steering wheel oscillation.
- Alignment – Misaligned steering—whether caused by off-roading or too many potholes—causes damage and wear to steering and suspension components that make death wobble more likely.
- Track Bar – The track bar is often the number-one culprit in causing death wobble. Because the track bar attaches at one end to the frame, and the opposite to the axle, it is subject to significant wear as the steering and suspension systems operate. As parts loosen and wear out, oscillation can start.
- Tie Rod – The tie rod connects the steering knuckles and transfers input from the drag link to the wheels. Worn rod ends and bent tie rods can cause steering wheel shake and chassis vibration.
- Drag Link – The drag link is the rod that transfers steering input from the steering box to the knuckle.
- Ball Joints – When ball joints wear out, they can cause unwanted movement from the wheels and tires, and transfer that vibration to the chassis.
- Steering Damper – The steering damper helps absorb unwanted vibrations and it can trigger death wobble as it wears out.
- Control Arm or Leaf Spring Bushings – They should all be inspected regularly for any wear or damage that would allow for excess movement in the control arm or leaf pack.
- Wheel Bearings – Wheel bearings support the vehicle’s load and allow the wheels to turn smoothly. A sign of worn-out bearings is side-to-side play, vibration, and even a grinding or squealing noise.
- Steering Box – Sometimes the issue is in the steering box itself–worn-out internal parts can cause play in the steering wheel.
Ford Death Wobble Class Action
In June 2019, a class action lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of California on behalf of current and prior owners and lessees of 2015 through 2019 Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups. The more than 350-page complaint in Lessin v. Ford Motor Company alleges that:
- Certain 2005-2019 Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty pickup trucks can experience a death wobble caused by defects in their suspension and/or steering systems.
- The defects can result in the trucks shaking violently, with the death wobble condition first starting “during and shortly after” the expiration of a truck’s limited warranty period.
- The death wobble can lead to the loss of control of a pickup truck and difficulty steering under regular driving conditions.
- The defect is linked to abnormal wear and/or loosening of the track bar bushing, damper bracket, ball joints, control arms, shocks and/or struts, which can produce a continuous shaking effect when encountering irregularities in the road surface at highway speeds.
- The shaking can only be controlled by a sudden and substantial reduction of speed, which adds to the danger faced by the driver, passengers and other motorists, particularly on the highway.
- Ford has actively concealed that certain components of the Ford F-250 and F-350 suspension systems are prone to failure, and has routinely refused to address the problem in the affected trucks.
- Despite complaints from consumers, auto dealers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford has not recalled the pickup trucks prone to the death wobble defect.
- 1,265 death wobble complaints about the Ford F-250 and F-350 have been submitted to the NHTSA between March 10, 2005, and February 6, 2019, including 12 reports involving crashes and injuries, and 82 alleging a loss of control of the trucks.
- Ford routinely tells pickup truck owners that the wobble is caused by improper maintenance, even when the truck is still within the warranty period.
Contact Timothy Abeel & Associates About Your Ford F-250 and F-350
If you own or lease a 2019 Ford F-250 or F-230 pickup truck (or other recent model year Ford F-250 or F-350) that is malfunctioning or has been repaired more than once for the same issue, The Law Offices of Timothy Abeel & Associates can help you. These pickup trucks are known to suffer from death wobble and other major steering and suspension system defects and failures. If you are experiencing these or other issues with your Ford F-250 or F-350, you may be entitled to a new truck, a full refund, or a cash settlement depending on your particular situation.