Every once in a while, one hears or reads of a potentially life-threatening situation or condition created by a faulty or poorly designed car, truck or motorcycle component; and, it’s not a stretch to say that some single-vehicle car or truck accidents are caused, at least in part, by a mechanical failure in on of the vehicle’s critical control systems.
One glance at some owner and enthusiast sports car, biker and off-roading websites and it’s easy to see that potential trouble lurks when people attempt to modify their vehicles beyond what the manufacturer intended. But problems can also crop up even without radical modification to a motor vehicle. In this respect, preventative maintenance is also important to follow, especially with older vehicles that may have many tens of thousands of miles on their odometers.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, my firm has the skills to represent victims of automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents. One thing we know is that even seemingly minor mechanical or structural problems on a motor vehicle can easily lead to serious injury or even death. As injury lawyers, our job is to help victims and their families recover the costs and expenses from medical treatment and rehabilitation as a result of a passenger car or commercial vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Defects in design or workmanship of a critical vehicle part or component can be a serious issue that may call for a product liability suit against the manufacturer or other party. The public expects that steering components, suspension parts, tires and other critical safety-related items on the cars and trucks they drive are well-made and tested to give trouble-free service.
If a safety-related part fails prematurely — such as a relatively new tire coming apart at highway speeds — the resulting loss of control can easily cause a serious or fatal highway wreck. Other vehicles and their passengers may also be affected, leaving even more innocent lives hanging in the balance. According to a news article a while back, certain Jeep Wrangler suspension and steering components can wear out or be improperly installed, resulting in dangerous conditions while driving the vehicles highway speeds.
In this particular instance, Jeep owners have a name for a condition caused by some kind of problem in the steering or front suspension systems. Drivers refer to it as a “death wobble,” and it’s apparently not something anyone would want to experience on the expressway at any time. Based on the article, an Annapolis resident and owner of a ‘06 Wrangler said her vehicle began to exhibit the condition a year and a half ago after she bought her used Jeep; for this woman, the disconcerting problem made itself known almost immediately.
According to some owners, the wobble in the steering system is most pronounced in the range of 50-to-60mph. Apparently many drivers must actively avoid that speed range so as not to potentially lose control of their vehicle. Obviously, this is not what people expect from a passenger car, sport utility vehicle or light truck, even one that is only six years old.
While there is much technical knowledge required on this subject to understand the true problem, it may be instructive to understand what some of the public comments state regarding this issue. Some say that it is due to a worn-out or improperly installed track bar, while others talk about replacing or installing a new hydraulic steering stabilizer strut. We cannot know exactly what the core problem is, nor the necessary corrective action; however, appears that this is a mechanical problem that could lead to a bad accident for one or more owners of some Jeep models.
Whether this problem is caused by product defect or improper maintenance, anyone who experiences this condition or something similar should have a competent service technician give their vehicle a thorough going over. As that old saying goes, Better safe than sorry.
The Watchdog: Jeep driver scared of uncontrollable shaking, HometownAnnapolis.com, November 14, 2011
Fixing Jeep Death Wobbles – Doin’ The Zombie Dance, JPMagazine.com, June 2009
Wrangler death wobble – What causes it and how to fix it, Jeepz.com, April 27, 2010