1988 Dodge Dakota Shimmy

Tiny
SKORPER
  • MEMBER
  • 1988 DODGE DAKOTA
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 120,000 MILES
I have a 1988 Dodge Dakota, V6, Automatic, 2 wheel drive. This is not a clunker, but a nice well maintained rust free vehicle with just over 120000 miles. It has developed a shimmy which shows up when I apply the brakes, and also at speeds between 54-59 mph when going down the freeway. It is not a warped rotor, as I have had vehicles with warped rotors before and you can feel it in the brake pedal. This is not coming from the brake pedal. It is coming from the front end. I can feel it in the wheel, sort of a side to side vibration and the front end shakes when braking.

I have replaced the rack & pinion assembly but that didn't fix the problem. I checked the outer tie rod ends when I did this. They were in good shape. I have also changed the tranny fluid and filter. I put two jacks under the front end and jacked up the vehicle so that the tires were up off the ground and there is no play or looseness in the wheels. I ran my hands across the front of the tires and can't feel any twisted belts.

What can be causing this?
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Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 AT 3:01 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Have you checked ball joints? Also, have you checked for a bent rim? Finally, are you certain the vibration isn't from a warped drum?
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Thursday, October 15th, 2009 AT 8:47 PM
Tiny
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  • MEMBER
I had the wheels in the air with the two jacks under the front and tried to wobble them to check for play, but there wasn't any.

I don't think that the drums or rotors are the problem as I don't feel the vibration in the brake pedal at all. It's in the steering wheel and the whole front end shimmies.

I haven't really examined the wheels closely to see if they are bent or anything. Not yet.

The problem is only at certain highway speeds and then again when I'm braking.
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Friday, October 16th, 2009 AT 4:20 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If you are confident that it isn't ball joints, steering components, drums or rotors, then I would say move on to the Rack and Pinion. Make sure it isn't loose.
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Friday, October 16th, 2009 AT 11:46 PM
Tiny
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Thanks for the information. That's why I put the new rack & pinion in. Didn't solve the problem.

Is there a better way to check the ball joints than just wiggling the wheels? Could they still be bad even though I didn't get any real play or looseness when they were up in the air? I'm going to get an alignment on it next. Are there any other front-end or steering components that I chould check? This is starting to drive me crazy.

I've got a friend who's a better amateur mechanic than me and he thought that it might be the ball joints. But he's the one who helped me put the rack & pinion in and then we checked the outer tie rods when we screwed them back on. It was also his idea to jack up the front end and wiggle the wheels. He claims that since there's no play then the ball joints are good. Maybe he's mistaken.
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Saturday, October 17th, 2009 AT 3:03 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I always jack the car up on the frame, lift the front about 5 or 6 inches from the ground, and place a pry bar under the tire to see if there is up and down play. Just wiggeling the wheel won't identify the problem.
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Saturday, October 17th, 2009 AT 3:50 PM

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