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Old 04-01-2015, 10:48 AM   #1
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Severe intermittent shaking when towing 2014 Jeep Cherokee

I have a 2014 Latitude V6 with Active Drive II. While towing behind my motorhome on a 5000 mile trip last summer I experienced a severe side to side shaking in the front wheels of the Jeep about 7 times. Extremely intermittent, and difficult to diagnose at first (is it motorhome, towing setup, or the Jeep itself causing this?). Lots of moving parts here, but I am closing in on the answer.
The shaking is severe. I can feel it A LOT way up in the front of the motorhome. First time I thought the drive axle in the motorhome had come loose from the frame on one side! When it happens I stop immediately, of course, and inspect everything. Nothing appears wrong. This seems to occur when one of the front wheels on the Jeep goes over some raised area in the road (once when I took a tight right turn and the Jeep went over a curb, once after going over some white 1" high markers in the road) or perhaps a rutted place (once railroad tracks at an angle), but it is so intermittent it's hard to be sure of the cause, and I cannot reproduce it. After stopping everything works fine. It does seem to happen at lower speeds, seldom over 35MPH thank goodness.
At considerable expense I've had the motorhome thoroughly checked (first thought was it was the bushings in the track bar) and there is no problem there. I've replaced the tow bar and checked the geometry - no problem there. New tires and balance on the Jeep. Still no help.
Now I find I'm not alone. Another person wrote to a motorhoming magazine and he has had the same thing occurring. I suspect there are more to come. I'd really like to hear from any others who have new Cherokees and have experienced this.
Now, what's going on? Could this be related to the half shaft problems or other front steering things showing up on the new Cherokees? Mine drives perfectly - no shake shimmy or anything EXCEPT this potentially dangerous thing when towing.
Anybody have ideas? I'm now certain the problem lies with the Jeep. Jeep dealers say they have to be able to reproduce the problem - and I don't want to take them on a 1000 mile or so test ride....
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:41 AM   #2
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Not sure this is your problem but what you are describing is "Death Wobble" which is common to lifted Jeep Wranglers and many other vehicles with a live axle in the front. Not common with what you have but I suspect the causes are the same and that is misalignment and a loose part in the front steering or suspension somewhere. If allowed to continue it will destroy something.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:53 AM   #3
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This should be a rather different problem. The new Cherokees have IFS, so unfortunately there's nowhere to put a stabilizer.
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:57 AM   #4
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Like I said on the Good Sam website where you posted this also

I have towed 50+ times for over 9,500 miles and have no problems

I suspect your set up is doing it - I am using 6 year old blue ox towbar and Demco base plates.
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:04 PM   #5
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2 things come to mind.

Does the Jeep have a limited slip front differential? I doubt it but if it does could it be reacting to the road.

Could the 4 wheel drive be trying to engage? The front auto hubs lock and unlock causing the issue?
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:10 PM   #6
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I don't tow anything so I may not be of much help. But if the Jeep is the suspected cause, can you borrow a car trailer with the jeep loaded and see if the problem still exists? May help zero in on the true cause. Just a thought....
"In the game of life, I have no need for tickets on the 50-yard line, I brought my shoes, I came to play." Unknown
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Old 04-01-2015, 12:23 PM   #7
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If you can tell us the make of your tow bar, base plates etc. you may get more answers.

Best of luck.
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Old 04-01-2015, 01:15 PM   #8
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If you can see whats doing it, that may help;

Buy or barrow a GoPro (get at least the hero 3) camera and put it in the jeep so it can see the steering wheel. Next time you hit the road, set the GoPro to record.

If it acts up, stop and go back review the GoPro recording.

We use this a lot when we are trying to troubleshoot problems on our production line.

If you think its a wheel, you could even mount the camera on the rear bumper of the MH and look at the hitch and wheels.
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Old 04-01-2015, 01:18 PM   #9
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Doubt if it is the tow setup. Most likely in the steering on the jeep. Have the camber and caster checked again along with the tow in.
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Old 04-01-2015, 05:07 PM   #10
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you need to isolate the problem... try one of these to make sure that play is not the cause of oscillation... if the problem still exist, go to the install of the baseplate. Check to see if it is square to the towbar/hitch/MH... then I would look at the wear of the toads tires for more clues... are your caliper brakes hot to touch? steering lock?, does it happen on turns or straight lines?

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Old 04-01-2015, 05:44 PM   #11
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Thanks forhe suggestions.
This has a stowmaster tow bar and base plate setup and a Airforce braking system. No front limited slip and no auto hubs (full time 4wd disengaged before towing). The GoPro setup would work if I could make it occur - but it might take 1000 miles before it happens.....
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Old 04-01-2015, 06:09 PM   #12
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I previously owned a 07 Jeep 4dr JK, death wobble many time - never could quite get the solution to stop it....
traded it for a new 2014 Latitude 2wd 4cyl 9 speed - LOVED it, but when I purchased our Palazzo DP, I could not flat 'toad' it : (
traded it for a 14 Ford Fiesta SE 2wd 4cyl 6 speed - tow and go, no problems in 19k miles

I believe that your problem is part of the 'inherent' JEEP front axle setup in most of these Cherokee and Wrangler models - though I'm sure that JEEP might not admit it. These symptoms that you are experiencing are quite the same as the 'death wobble' and certainly more readily occur when one of your front tires hits something of a different elevation in the road. I can't imagine that it has ANYTHING to do with your MH or your TOW BAR system.
You might have to trade that new baby for a different ride : (
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Old 04-01-2015, 11:27 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Twoflyrodders View Post
Thanks forhe suggestions.
This has a stowmaster tow bar and base plate setup and a Airforce braking system. No front limited slip and no auto hubs (full time 4wd disengaged before towing). The GoPro setup would work if I could make it occur - but it might take 1000 miles before it happens.....
Get one of those inexpensive dash cams (under $30) that records continuously. It just overwrites the oldest file when the card fills up. Plug it into the power outlet in the toad and set it where you can record the steering wheel or whatever you want to record. Though not super sharp, they do a fairly good job of recording video. With one of those, you are not limited to a specific recording time like with a GoPro. Just search for Dash Cam on Amazon and you'll find dozens of them.
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:16 AM   #14
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As a previous owner of a '97 Dodge Ram 3500 4X4, the aforementioned "Death Wobble" would be an almost certainty. I would add the problem will almost definitely occur when towing or driving between 50 -65mph and when subjecting one front wheel to a bump slightly ahead of the other front wheel...as in a dip or when crossing a bridge or railroad that is diagonal to the direction of the highway being traveled. As also mentioned previously, the issue occurs with worn, weak and/org misadjusted suspendion/steering components. The problem can occur on any make/model vehicle with a solid front /live axle. In my case, the wobble once was sufficient enough to toss my 190lb body loose from the wheel and almost into the passenger seat and even after slamming on the brakes, the wobble continued for several seconds.
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