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Q:

Popping or ratcheting in front end? on 1994 Ford Explorer

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Sounds like to me that the front end is popping or ratcheting when turning a corner. This is a used car I am looking at. It is a clean truck and I am buying it from a friend and feel like $1000.00 for a four wheel drive is not a bad deal.
(2) Answers
What is the condition of the front axle and axle u-joints? If an axle u-joint is seizing up, it could make some noise, and probably vibration.

You're sure it's not a rear locker making noise?
If you can, have a shop look at it before you buy it. This could be something easy or it may be something more costly. wish i had more for you, hope this helps