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If your truck's rear is wobbling when you drive, it can be an alarming experience. After all, the last thing you want is for the rear end to lose traction and swing around, causing an accident. To help you diagnose the problem, this article will describe all of the likely causes of this problem. We have scoured all of the best sources of information on this problem in order to bring you this list of the most likely causes:
- The bed of the truck is too light for its current setup.
- Wheels may be misaligned.
- Rear-axle issues.
- Bad Tires
- Driving too fast.
- Poor road conditions.
So, which one of these is your problem? Keep reading as we discuss each of these problems in detail.
Causes of Rear-End Wobbles
First, Why Does This Happen More Often to Pickup Trucks?
First, it is important to understand the unique qualities of pickup trucks that make them more likely to experience rear-end wobbling. Even though they are big, heavy vehicles built for carrying lots of weight, they actually have very little weight on the rear tires.
Pickups are designed this way for a reason - they are meant for loading up with big heavy loads in the bed or hooked up to the hitch, so starting off with very little weight back there allows for more carrying capacity.
Now, the problem begins when you drive your pickup without much weight back there. That means that, while the front tires are loaded down with the weight of the engine and most of the weight of the cab and occupants, the rear tires have very little weighing them down. All this means is that it takes less force to de-stabilize those tires. So, any small issue will essentially be magnified because of that lack of weight, and this is why these problems are most often felt in the rear of the truck first.
Even small bumps can set the rear end off - causing what some people refer to as "death wobble," as described on this diesel truck forum. And it's as dangerous as the name implies.
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With that in mind, let's get right into some of those causes:
The Bed of the Truck Is Too Light for Its Current Setup
The first cause gets right to the heart of the problem we just discussed - too little weight on the rear tires. A lack of ballast in the bed destabilizes the rear of the truck. Even if you don't have any other mechanical issues affecting your vehicle, not having that weight in the bed can cause some shakes.
This problem is most prominent in low-traction situations, like slippery winter conditions or on bumpy roads. The rear will be susceptible to a loss of traction anytime there is not enough weight over them.
Luckily, this problem is easily remedied. Many pickup owners choose to add weight to their beds in the winter in order to increase traction. And there are lots of different ways to do this:
- Salt bags
- Weight bag (filled with water)
If your wheels are not in alignment, it can easily result in some wobbles. All this means is that your wheels are not all pointing in the exact same direction. As you can imagine, this leads to all sorts of problems, some of which are quite dangerous.
And, indeed, one of the symptoms of misalignment is shaking or wobbling. This can often be felt in the steering wheel and can result in a loose rear end. Having your wheels out of alignment can also result in uneven wear on your tires, meaning you will have to replace them sooner than necessary. So, you can see why it is so important to have your alignment checked and fixed by qualified technicians regularly.
Rear Axle Issues
Another problem area is the rear axle itself. Most trucks use a solid or live, rear axle. One of the most common issues is with the axle bearing - your truck may feel loose or rattle when these bearing go bad.
And the truck will feel loose or wobbly because it is - bad bearings will make the wheels wobble excessively while driving, which can lead to the shakes you feel in the cab. So, listen carefully for the tell-tale rattle that accompanies bumps or acceleration. This could indicate a bad bearing and means your axle should be inspected immediately.
Anytime your tires are in bad shape, it can also lead to wobbling. This is particularly true if your tires have worn unevenly or if you have different types of tires or different tires sizes on your truck at the same time.
To diagnose this problem, you will need to visually inspect all of your tires. Are any of them worn excessively - bald or cupping in the middle? And if you aren't sure, check that all tires match in size, brand, and condition.
Driving Too Fast
Sometimes, even if everything is right with your truck, you can still experience some play in the rear end. And the problem could be you - driving faster than your truck was designed to go will cause the vehicle to experience lift. This means that the air going under your truck is pushing up on it. Driving too fast will cause those back tires to get light enough that they cannot stay planted on the road.
It is important to not drive faster than your truck can handle. Stay within the speed limits, especially if you don't have any weight on the rear end. After all, a wreck will make you even later than driving slow!
Poor Road Conditions
Finally, we come to one more issue that is not related to the condition of your vehicle. If you have already checked all of the previous issues and nothing adds up, you should consider the surfaces you are driving on.
So, ask yourself: Does the problem get worse whenever you are on a certain road? The problem could be with the road itself - uneven, bumpy, or washboard roads can unsettle the rear of your truck.
If this is the case with your pickup, you should take care to drive slower on any rough sections of the road. You can also try adding more weight to your bed to keep the rear end planted. Just make sure to secure it all down or it will go flying on the bumps right along with your rear wheels. And inform your local government of the problem - there is a slight chance they just might do something about it!
Stay Safe and Wobble-Free!
If none of these issues explains your truck's woes, it is a good idea to check the forums specific to your make and model. There are many examples of people sussing out the problem in these forums and they can be an invaluable resource when diagnosing problems.
A wobbly truck is a dangerous truck, so no matter the cause, it is important to fix the issue causing your instability as quickly as possible. Fixing the problem sooner than later can prevent some huge repair bills down the road. Plus, it will keep you and everyone else on the road safe and happy!
Here's an article about the types of pickup trucks! You'll find this interesting!