First, I apologize for how long it's taken me to post this. Been way busy this summer with work and other stuff. However, it's finally finished so here is way more info about Death Wobble (DW) than you probably ever wanted to know.
If you have questions, post them here or send me a PM and I'll attempt to answer them.
VERY LONG POST WARNING!
Here's an engineering description of DW. I get tired of seeing people guessing at what's causing their DW, so here goes. Hope it helps someone.
First, you've got to realize that the front suspensions on our vehicles were marginally stable, at best, from the factory. DW is a fundamental dynamic response mode of the entire front end...as a system. Lift and larger tires change (increase) the 'gain' associated with what becomes (or even starts out as) a marginally stable dynamic system. The damping factor (lambda) is also affected by larger tires...it decreases as a function of sidewall height/thickness ratio. Hysteresis in any control path (loose tie rod, steering box, track bar bushing) reduces the ultimate stability margin further. The fundamental frequency of DW is determined by the superposition principle where all springs involved are resolved (frame, tire resilience, hub bending, bushing deflection, etc, etc.) into one global spring constant, and all damping factors associated with friction, elastic elements, viscous damping (steering damper and shocks) are resolved into one damping factor. The natural frequency, damped natural frequency, and damping coefficient are then known. Now, if the system is overdamped and the gain is low...no problems...no oscillation. Increase the gain without increasing the damping and you go toward the critically damped, and beyond, specturm of responses. Critically damped means that DW would only 'hint' at being there, but would die out on its own without going totally unstable. This is also known as a decaying response.
Once the system goes beyond critically damped, any excitation, be it an unbalanced tire, a bent wheel, bumps in the road, etc. can set it off and the response will not decay...it will grow in amplitude, quite quickly in some cases, and may be limited only be physical non-linearities like hard stops...or breakage. That's classic Death Wobble.
A truck suspension is designed to stay in the overdamped to critically damped range. That is generally why a truck rides "rough". A Cadillac, on the other hand, is designed to stay in the undersprung range. It just "floats" down the road. Any change in the basic design parameters that affect the gain (e.g., lift, tire size, wheel backspacing, etc.), damping (tire size, steering damper, steering box condition), and hysteresis (any wear point that creates any slop) can push it over the edge and create DW. ANY ONE OR TWO of the factors discussed can do that...which is why everybody then thinks that whatever problem THEY found and fixed is the cause of all DW; it is not. It is plain and simply a marginally stable system in its original form that is easily made unstable by any of the myriad causes discussed already.
If your front end is loose (bushings, bearings, etc.) then you have a situation where your stiffness is removed and any jarring sensation (potholes, unbalanced tires, misaligned wheels, etc.) will cause the suspension to go crazy. It is no longer functioning where it is designed. On the other hand, your suspension could be very tight but an imbalanced tire would be spinning at just the right speed to throw the suspension into a unstable situation.
So unfortunately there isn't only one root cause to the problem of DW. The underlying problem is instability in the front suspension, the root causes can be a multitude of things ranging from bad/loose bushings, to loose bearings, to caster angles, to imbalanced tires, etc.
OKAY, HERE'S THE REALLY USEFUL INFO:
A steering damper only hides (maybe) the effect; it does nothing to fix the root cause.
There are two types of DW. The first typically is speed related. Whenever you reach a certain speed, bam, you get DW, no matter what. This is a vibration/oscillation issue. Look into tire balance, alignment, steering joints, missing bushings (totally shot), loose steering box (either loose bolts or worn internals), etc.
The second is an impact initiated DW. For example, hitting a pothole above a certain speed will start DW. This is more likely a bushings, loosening mounts, flexing components, etc. issue. Basically, something is tight enough that in general straight driving, it is ok, but give it an impact force, whatever is getting loose starts sliding, rebounds and starts going nuts.
Here is how you can tell if the issue is steering related or trackbar related. You are gonna need some balls for this, but stick with me. Once you have played around with the DW awhile you find you can control it a bit by feathering the brakes. So go find a straight, deserted, bumpy road. Get the truck up to speed and get the DW going. You had it happen a few times, you have already been frantically avoiding potholes, so now go find one, quit whining.
At this point, the truck is somewhat violently shaking, and you can keep enough control using the brakes to keep it on the road. Roll down the window and stick your head out and look at the front tire. What is it doing?
1. The front of the tire and the back of the tire are moving approximately the same amount side to side. In this case, the axle is stationary, and the wheel is pivoting on the ball joint during the oscillation. Therefore the problem is likely in the steering. Something in the steering has enough give to allow the movement.
2. The back of the tire is moving MORE than the front of the tire in the side-to-side movement. In this case, the knuckle is pivoting on the steering links, and allowing the axle to move back and forth under the vehicle. The problem here is most likely in the trackbar system.
This doesn't really answer a question about what's causing YOUR
DW, but it should give you something to think about in your search for the root cause(s). I'd check the trac bar bushings, make sure your wheel bearings are in spec, make sure your tires are balanced, make sure your alignment is in spec - especially caster, make sure your ball joints & TREs are tight, see if you have play in your steering box, etc.
Everybody got all that?