I have an 89 YJ with a problem I've never read about. When I turn the steering wheel back and forth, there is a loud clunk or popping noise that comes from the front end. When I press on the brakes and turn the steering wheel, it gets worse. Doesn't matter if the jeep is moving or not.
I've replaced the brakes, u-joints and ball joints, and checked the tie rods and outer axle bearing.
When lying in front of the jeep, you'd swear the noise is coming from the ball joints, but they have now been replaced. Lying just behind the front tire, you'd swear the noise is coming from the pumpkin. I can't find anything wrong, but boy is it loud!
I check for cracks in the frame around the steering box, and everything looks good.
Following the hint, I disconnected the track bar on one end. I then tried moving the steering wheel back and forth with the brakes on, and it still made the loud clunk/popping noise.
In frustration, and not being able to think of anything else to try, I started loosening things (note I'm not driving the jeep!).
I finally got around to loosing the 4 nuts that hold the spring to the axle, and the noise went away. So I guess the spring shackles are somehow causing the noise. Now I just have to figure out what to do about it.
I wish I had tried that before I started replacing parts! Oh well
Steel shims or aluminum. The aluminum ones are junk and can deteriorate when sandwiched in between dissimilar metals like our springs and plates. I ran some as a quick fix for about a year. When I took them out, I really don't think they would have lasted another year. Good place to look for your issue if you think you have shims.