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Patrol Death/Steering Wobble – Trouble Shooting & Fix

Hi All,

I have started this thread to document my experience in solving the annoying steering wobble that afflicts many Patrols in the 80km/h – 110km/h speed range (Sometimes referred to as the Death Wobble on the Aussie forums). The thread is the result of my personal experience, and also draws from information gleaned from other forums. I`m hoping this will consolidate the information into one location that will be a valuable resource to others trying to solve this problem on their own vehicle. If you have any further information to add, please contribute to this topic.

My Trol has had the infamous wobble since I bought it in June 2008, but as every other Trol I test drove (about 8 in total) had the same issue, I was not overly concerned. It has however taken me until quite recently to get to the bottom of the problem, so I hope this post will short-cut the process for the rest of you!

Summary of the main possible causes of the Steering (Death) Wobble:

1. Wheels not balanced correctly;
2. Play in the front wheel bearings;
3. Play in the drag link and/or tie rod end ball joints;
4. Wear in the Panhard Rod bushes;
5. Play in the King Pin Bearings;
6. Warped front brake disks (if the wobble occurs only when braking)

1. Wheel Balancing : This is one of the easiest and cheapest causes to eliminate, and just involves a trip to your local wheel alignment shop.

2. Wheel Bearings : The next step is to jack up the front of the vehicle so that both wheels are off the ground and feel for play in the front bearings. This is best done by trying to rock the wheel in the vertical plain, and feel for play. If there is any play, you need to remove the auto hubs and adjust the pre-load on the bearings. Don`t over-do it, or you may damage the bearing. On a bearing that’s already bedded in, the pre-load ring can just be turned lightly (usually just a fraction of a turn) until you feel that the play is gone. I found some play on the drivers side front wheel on my Trol, but sorted this out some time ago, and unfortunately didn`t photograph the process. It’s a fairly strait-forward procedure however, and a cursory glance at the workshop manual (diagram below) will soon set you on the right track.

3. Drag Link and/or Tie Rod end ball joints : Having checked wheel balancing and Wheel Bearing pre-load, the next thing to do is crawl underneath and check the steering component ball joints for play. The Drag Link runs roughly parallel to the front axle (in front of the axle) and connects the pitman arm (which is the arm on the bottom of the steering box) (drivers side) to the front passenger side wheel. The “Tie Rod” runs parallel to the front axle (to the rear of the axle), and connects to the hub of left and right front wheels. There are ball joints at each end of both the “Tie Rod” and “Drag Link” and any play in these will be amplified through the steering.

The best way to check for play is to try and move the rod in a vertical (i.e up & down) direction. If any play is evident the ball joints are worn out, and require replacement. The other way to check for play is to get SWAMBO to swing the steeling wheel from left to right while you watch the joints for free play (ie movement in the joint without moving the wheels).

Unfortunately, if the Drag link is worn, (as far as I could ascertain) there is no direct after-market part available in SA, and Nissan will relieve you of in excess of R3500.00 for a replacement :steamingears: . Since the standard part is not adjustable I have undertaken the modification outlined on the link below, which creates a heavy duty adjustable draglink, using after-market GQ Patrol tie rod ends. The PartQuip part number for the tie rod ends in the link below is TR5757. They are somewhat scarce, so you will have to do some phoning around to get hold of them. Expect to pay about R500 for a set (from memory!)

GU “tie rod ends” are mercifully available from the Aftermarket retailers. The PartQuip part number for GU Patrol tie rod ends is TR05677 (I paid roughly R400 for a set from Midas, which is less than a fifth of the price that your local Nissan Stealer will rush you for!). Just make sure you get a set which contains both a left & right hand thread, as the first set I was given contained two rights! Replacement of the tie rod ends is fairly strait forward. A ball joint extractor is preferable, but a 10 pound hammer, a good deal of determination and as a last resort some heat will also do the job. To keep the alignment approximately right, count the number of exposed threads on each side before replacing the rod ends, and then screw the new ends to approximately the same point. Remember that this just keeps the wheels pointing in “approximately” the right direction, so make sure you get the wheel alignment professionally adjusted as soon as possible. :oldtimer:

Replacement of the Draglink and Tie Rod ball joints led to a slight improvement in my wobble, but the problem still persisted.

4. Panhard Rod Bushes : Over time the wobble was becomming worse, and after reading on the Aussie forums, it became clear that worn Panhard Rod bushes is another common cause of the death wobble. To check for play, get someone to turn the steering wheel left and right while you watch the bushes for movement. There should be no movement in the bushes whatsoever, but on my lower (passenger side bush) I had significant movement….the “smoking gun”?

After my initial trip to a local Nissan dealer, I was informed that they do not sell panhard rod bushes separately, and that an entire new Panhard Rod would have to be purchased at a cost of around R3 600.00. :surprised: Eish! I have a copy of the Nissan “FAST” parts system, and a check of this also revealed no listed part number for the Panhard Rod bushes. I then came across a thread on our sister forum in Aus where a number of people had had a similar experience with the dealer, but then had subsequently tracked down the part numbers (believe they are the same as for a GQ) and armed with these, were able to purchase the bushes from Nissan. I was sceptical as to whether this would work here in SA, but armed with the part numbers below, I headed back to Nissan. BINGO…three days, and R600 later I had the parts! :thumbup:

The part numbers are as follows:

55135-01J01 top (small hole)
55135-01J10 bottom (large hole)

According to my information these parts work for GQ patrols, and GU Patrols up until some point in 2000. After that the more recent trolls have a slightly different top bush (more like a ball joint), however the lower bush remains the same.

Replacement of the bushes is fairly strait forward. To get the Panhard Rod off the vehicle, first unbolt the steering damper, and then remove the passenger side of the Drag Link (the panhard cannot clear its mounting bolt on the passenger side if you do not do this).

To remove the old bushes I used the vehicles bottle jack with a No22 socket. If you climb under your vehicle, you`ll find that the nice guys at Nissan conveniently manufactured two holes in the gearbox cross member that are the perfect size for the panhard to be held against while you jack out the old bushes (goes to show…not only a boer can “maak n plan”). I pressed in the new bushes using the same procedure, and a small amount of sunlight soap to lubricate them so that they pushed in easier. The whole process took less than two hours to complete.

Once the refit was complete I headed strait for a wheel balance, just to make sure that was still okay. Then onto the highway for a test drive……YEEEEEHAAAA!!!! No more death wobble… :woo: :woo: driving experience is transformed, and the Trol feels brand new again!

I solved my issue without getting to numbers 5 & 6 on my list (Play in King Pin Bearings & Warped front brake disks)…so I`ll leave it to others who have experienced those issues to elaborate.

Hope this shared experience will be useful to some of you!


by Ross
25 Nov 2009 11:03
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Re: SANDWANI 14 May 2016

Mark White Nissan het dit geborg!
by Jorrie
19 May 2016 11:10
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If it ever happens you are welcome to borrow mine.

Marnus (Marakasmalan) did this last year. Tends to be a struggle as the bolt rusts, then the nut rips loose inside the bumpstop. If this happens just grind right through the rubber.
by Peter Connan
10 Jun 2016 10:44
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Re: Patrol GU front wheel studs..


For your front studs , you can knock them out with a hammer . You do need to remove the wheel though . Turn your hub to a point where the stud will clear the caliper and bracket when you knock it out . Before knocking OR pulling in the new stud , wiggle the stud in and try to feel if the "splines" have engauged before pulling or hammering . (if you don't , the stud cuts new "splines" making it harder to pull in or hammer). Don't forget to apply some oil on the "splines" and thread if you are going to pull them in with the rim on the hub . With your model , you may be able to punch out the old studs without taking the wheel off the hub . A 4lb hammer will save you lots of hammering time ! ! NEVER drive without missing wheel nuts , it causes mag rims to crack around the centre hub of the rim when driven for extended periods ! Hey , look somebody's wheel is passing us ! OOPS , that's our wheel -----CRASH ! ! !

Stay safe .

by Brett Bignoux
15 Jun 2016 20:13
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Re: Eliminating barn door squeaks..

I guess the squeaks and rattles is all about the play of different components which have developed over the years
Let me start of by saying that I will not be able to give a perfect formula as to how to fix a certain issue; I will only be able to give you some pointers based on my own experiences.

We need to realize that the whole “barn-door-assembly” is not the best design.
We are dealing with numerous locking mechanism hinges, guides strikers etc. + weak design of the barn door and welding. All this is exposed to forces and it becomes week and loose as years go by.
The first thing was actually done by G-Tech when I had my first service done. He inserted ~ 1mm self-adhesive foam seal around the area where the normal rubber seal is fitted but on the door opening / car side not on the actual door. This improved the situation a little bit because it increased the tension between car and barn-door.

Furthermore I have done the following:
RH side barn door part which also carries the spare wheel: Checked if this part of the door has sagged over time. At the bottom of the door (inside) there is a round bolt like striker which moves into a u-shaped “catch” (mounted to the vehicle at opposite position) of the “round striker” . In my case this round striker was sitting slightly lower compared to the u-shaped catch. In order to improve this situation a loosened the door hinges and lifted the door with the assistance of a hydraulic lifter and re-tightened the hinges. That resolved the sagged door-issue.
The striker on top / middle of the doorframe can be adjusted by loosening the two screws and pushing the striker inwards by 1-2 mm. This will also increase the tension on that part of the door and reduce rattles. The striker is covered with a plastic coating. If this coating is damaged than consider replacing the striker. I have tried to improve this with some insulation tape. This works at first but was only a temporary fix as the tapes starts coming of over time.
I have also opened up the inside door panel and filled it with insulation material + I taped up some of the connecting rod to the doorlock mechanism to reduce play and potential rattles.

It might sound all like a “boer mak a plan” but these measures improved the rattling in my car by about 50%

Good luck

by Picasso
28 Sep 2016 16:43
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I really like the way it is not over complicated.

One suggestion is to cut a trapdoor under the bottom drawer so that you do not need to remove the system if you need to get to the fuel pump.
by David M
23 Sep 2016 11:06
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Re: Kungwini 4x4

More pics from Kungwini
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by Jorrie
25 Sep 2016 19:55
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Re: Kungwini 4x4

Some pics from Kungwini
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by Jorrie
25 Sep 2016 19:42
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Re: Front passenger window switch faulty

I have had similar issues. In each case a good cleaning of the switch has solved the problem.

Carefully take it apart and give it some beans with the switch cleaner spray can.
by Peter Connan
26 Sep 2016 13:46
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Re: Front passenger window switch faulty

Switch or the wiring. But, to be honest, I'd say that it is probably the switch.

I've not had issues with my Patrol, but I had similar issues with the Hardbody.

After a long time of use, the contacts on the switch start building up with carbon.

You can temporarily get the switch to work by opening it up and cleaning the contacts with a pencil eraser. I've got photos lying around somewhere documenting this process (there is a bit of a trick with this, as there are two little metal balls in there somewhere which shoot out and can get lost if one is not careful), but I'll have to find them. I'll post them when I do.

The big issue is that resolving it in this manner is only temporary. Once the switch starts acting up, cleaning the contacts is only a temporary option. It's generally better to replace the thing.

Looking at the switches, I imagine a Hardbody switch will also work (at least, my Patrol and my Hardbody switches seem to be identical), but I cannot confirm this 100%. I'll need to test the pin-outs.

Hope this helps.
by iandvl
26 Sep 2016 13:50
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Re: Front passenger window switch faulty

I had similar issues when I just got Chuck...

The right rear passenger window worked from its own switch, but not from the driver's combo switch. I went scrapyard hunting and found that the Navara used the same combo switch. The top may look different, but the actual switch underneath - including its connectors - is the same. After replacing the switch things are fine again :thumbup:
by ChristoSlang
26 Sep 2016 20:20
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Re: Luderitz to Walvis Bay - September 2016

Rhett wrote:Did those figures include sand roads too?

Evening Rhett

Day 1 from Harties to Grunau - all tarmac. No fuel in the Jerry's or water in the tank on top - heavy loaded inside the car...
by georgeb
27 Sep 2016 20:03
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My Back Bumper Build

I'll document my back bumper build here as it progresses.

I've had the bits and pieces to start building my bumper lying around in the garage for a month or two now. Simply not had time to get started yet.

On Saturday, I thought I'd remove the towbar so that I could start on Saturday afternoon / Sunday. What a mistake...

To put it this way, the towbar has been on the vehicle for about 15 years, I guess. Started by spraying all the bolts and nuts with Q20 and leaving it to absorb for a while. First and second bolts (left and right hand side right at the back of the vehicle) came off relatively easily.

The third bolt was a mission, and then the spanner broke whilst trying to get it loose.


Yes - I know this is a crappy "chinese"-type spanner, but my set of Gedores only go up to 17. I'll rectify that at some point. In any case, I called the wife to get me a new 19 spanner, and modified the ring side of the spanner so that I could continue working on the bolt whilst waiting for my wife to get back from town.


I eventually managed to get the third bolt (right hand side in the middle) out.

The fourth bolt (right hand side at the front end of the towbar) was stuck fast and, since there was enough room as well as enough room to extract the cut end of the bolt through the chassis at the top, I took to it with the angle-grinder. Success. Used a bottle jack to prop up the towbar on the right hand side so that I could finish the left hand side.

The fifth bolt (left hand side, closest to the front) ended up stripping the 19 socket... So I cut about 5mm off the socket to get a clearer "nut-shape" in the socket again, and continued to remove it with the power bar. Eventually it came out.

At this point, the towbar was supported with a bottle jack on the right hand side, and a single remaining bolt on the left hand side. I used another bottle jack to support the left hand side (I really don't want that bit of steel falling onto me - it's bloody heavy) and started with the final bolt. This resulted in another broken spanner, and the newly cut socket stripped again. At this point, there was no other option but to fetch the grinder and grind off the bolt.

Eventually have the cursed thing off, which means I should be able to start tacking the stuff together at some point soonish.


Oh - on a side note, highlift jack points on the bumper have been tacked into place, as well as the two corner pieces on the bumper (these can be fitted without the bumper in place). I'll probably take them to be properly welded (I don't trust myself that much with my welding) tomorrow. Forgot to take photographs, but will do so and post shortishly.

Next step is to remove my existing bumper, attach the recovery points / bumper mounts and cut the mounting slots onto the main bumper component. I'd also like to cut the various holes (trailer plug mount, holes for attaching the recovery hook to the factory mount and back lights) before starting on the corner pieces.

The toll in materials so far is rather high. Probably about two cans of Q20. Two 19 spanners (chinese crap). One 19 socket and a ratchet. My first attempt was not well planned and I busted my ratchet trying to get the bolt loose. Later bolts, I used a power bar.

PS: The towbar has been on since I got the Patrol. It's the first time I've seen the departure angle without the towbar sticking out the back... What a difference...
by iandvl
03 Oct 2016 09:16
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Re: Patrol porn......

Forum is quiet today, so here's some more pics.
by Dustin
06 Oct 2016 12:57
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Re: Eliminating barn door squeaks..

On mine, the secret was to adjust the top latch to such a tightness that i need to slam the big door with my hand half-way op the pillar for it to engage.

Het die boonste een gestel.
Vir die wat nie weet nie (ek het nie), as die boudies los gemaak word kan die swart plaatjie vorentoe of agtertoe skyf.
Het ook opgemerk dat die rubber bietjie gedaan is al...
hinge 1.JPG

Het die onderste een ook afgehaal en weer tertug gesit. Was nie seker of dit ook verstelbaar is nie.
Dis nie regtig nie. Maar het hom so veel as moontlik gelig. miskien 1mm hoer as wat dit was.
hinge 2.JPG

Maar ja, die squeeks is weg - dit het gewerk. :thumbup:
by SJC
08 Oct 2016 13:43
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If you remove the rear seats, just make a quick base and you have a smooth level surface to use.......... use the holes of the removed seats to tighten the wooden base.
by offroadbiker
12 Oct 2016 07:08
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Re: 4.8 fuel consumption

Rhett, speak to me if you need a GPS for cheap.

You can also download some cool apps on the Play Store that you can use to check :thumbup: this
by Michael
12 Oct 2016 13:13
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Re: Newby

1. Name: Bernard Meyer (BernardM)

2. Birthday and Age: 20 May /45

3. Town and Country of residence: Pretoria

4. Home Language: Afrikaans/German

5. Occupation/Business: Automation Commissioning Engineer / Self Employed

6. Family status: Married/ 1 daughter

7. Membership - Other 4X4 Clubs and Forums: 4x4 Community, Wegry Kampvuur, Wegsleep forum, Syncro SA, Aircooled VW SA

8. Current 4x4: VW Syncro Kombi, VW Syncro DC

9. Current Mods: Off-road shock & springs, long range tanks, dual spare wheels, roof rack, rack system for fridge & camp kitchen

10. Mods on wish list: Rear discs

11. Vehicle on wish list: Patrol

12. Previous 4x4's: None

13. Last 3 offroad or overland destinations: Botswana, Zimbabwe

14. Your favourite destination: Botswana

15. Other hobbies: Camping

16. GPSr and Map Data used: Garmin 760 with T4A, Tablet with Sygic Mapping

17. Rate your 4X4 and overlanding experience: 5/10

18. Online Photo Site:

19. Photos of you and your Vehicle:

Hello to everyone. Obviously I am new to the forum. :biggrin:

I have basically driven only VWs for most of my life, but I have always had a thing for Patrols and I think that it might be time to get one. :rockon:
So now I need to decide which model to go for. My brother-in-law, who has had probably all the Nissans ever made, suggested a 4.8 liter.

What do you guys suggest SGL, 4.5, 4.8, diesel? Unfortunately I'm not Rockerfeller, so I'm looking at something that I can buy cash.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Bernard joint the forum about two years ago and was on the search for a Patrol for the long journey......

I have just learned from another forum that Bernard has passed away today from cerebral Malaria.

Very sad news.....

My heartfelt condolences to his wife Sonja and family.

Henning & Megan
by Picasso
15 Oct 2016 19:51
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