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Bought Son 2000 XJ, Need Help with RC Lift

I just researched it. All D30s. But mine is low pinion is what you’re saying.

Yes, the 2000-01 changed from a HP to a LP which is not desirable on in lifted jeep!
I just researched it. All D30s. But mine is low pinion is what you’re saying.

D30s aren't bad, d35 is trash but thats in the rear. The low Pinon isn't desirable for offroad/lifted vehicles because of the placement of the yoke being low.

Personally, I'd remove most all the lift components, go back to mostly stock and slowly build it right based on your budget/needs. Youre going to be polishing a turd, especially if ihe PO did a hack job.
Do you even know what gears you have? What size tires and wheels (diameter/width/backspace) are they?
The lift is bolt on components. I’m not sure how he could mess that up that bad. Other than misadjusting. I paid someone to adjust and align. Hoping they did okay.

What I’m trying to figure out is what is popping upfront. Then I’ll address the vibrations. I don’t need a rock crawler and not interested in stock. Just something safe and fairly capable off-road.

If a component breaks, I’ll replace better. But, I don’t see the need to toss the lift. I also don’t need a 4 link. I have a feeling my problems are in the adjustment of the lift. Or that I’m missing a component if needs to help from binding up.

It was mentioned about LCA replacement. But, the LCAs I have look like part of the kit and are adjustable.
When does it pop? When does it get vibrations? You've got a lot of homework to do!
Start with a torque wrench, re-check everything!!!!
"Just something safe and fairly capable off-road."

This equals a mainly stock XJ. You can get away with a little lift, but don't need a lot to get to places in a XJ. I get wanting a cool rig, but what's on their just isn't a good starting point. Just my 2 cents.

Popping up front could be loose bolt, cracked unibody, worn components etc. As said get a torque wrench and get underneath of it and make sure everything's tight. After that have someone sit inside it and turn the wheels side to side to see if you can notice any play.
I do have an XJ at 4.5 lift with a D30 LP. No real issues with vibes on the road. Well at least when I added a Hack-n-Tap SYE. I seems I had many of the issues you are having. The first was mine 'switched' lanes. Not fun when you have a Pagan MC guy with a pack of noobs next to you. I found that to be a worn bushing in the trackbar. I had a Rusty's track at the time. I switched to cross over steering and an OTK trackbar a bit after that.
I don't know what trackbar or Upper and lower control arms you have. I do run JKS and CORE on my XJ. I did have RCs at one point. Problem with RC control arms is the uppers have 1/16 sheet metal at the axle. A bit thin. I do or did not run drop brackets.
As mentioned before check ball joints, tie rod ends etc. Also, is the steering box spacer an after market steel one? What's the slop on the steering box? Might want to get a steering box brace. Also, check torque on the steering box bolts.
What size tires? Tires can make a difference. I went from Mastercraft 31's to Falken Wild Peaks 32's. So much better ride.
I'd also check Kevins Offroad. Has some upgrades for Death Wobble and front suspension. I don't like the looks of the stock 'Y' link vs the size of the tires. Might look at Ruffstuff 'The Cure'. Its a Delrin washer that goes in the 'Y' link. I've never used one, but might help you.
Your swaybar looks a touch high. Don't know if that will affect anything. In a recent thread about not attaching swaybars, an issue with a Jeep , DW and tipping over. I have run with one side detached and no issues. But I did have an issue with not having the bushings at the sway bar not installed. The front end would 'float' at times. Not sure if it was this float or black ice, but I hit a curb while turning. I replaced the GC links with some stock NAPAs and poly bushings. Have'nt had that floating feeling since.
From what I can gather, as a baseline I would assume no one competent has worked on this Jeep. You need to go over everything with a critical eye. You could go back to the shop you initially took it to and complain, but I doubt you will get your money back, and I would not be inclined to attempt to trust them a second time.

Figure you need to align it, but before you do that you need to assure yourself you have good joints everywhere there is motion. Pay special attention to the track bar--those are notorious for causing problems. Kevin's Offroad is worth your consideration for the axle side. Make sure you have a quality, good condition joint on the body side. Remove each end to be sure of its condition.

As was mentioned, look at the mounting of the steering box. The factory spacer is a die cast aluminum piece which is prone to cracking. You want a steel spacer in there. A steering box brace is a nice addition, but I would be inclined to get everything you currently have under control before adding the brace.

Regarding the popping noise, I would be inclined to pull the front driveshaft right away just to make sure you are not losing the centering ball. If the centering ball goes it will probably take the transfer case with it. Very sub-optimal. Take the front driveshaft out and check all the joints. While it is out, take the Jeep for a drive and see if that makes any difference, even if the joints feel good. It is an easy test and costs nothing but the time.

After the driveshaft test I would confirm you have a good spacer behind the steering box.

Then I would check all the steering joints (need two people--one to move the steering wheel, other to feel each joint as the steering goes back and forth).

Then I would pull each end of the track bar and check those joints (If it were me I would plan to replace the axle end with an oversized Kevin's Offroad bushing/bolt).

Then I would check the joints at the end of each control arm.

Then ball joints.

If the popping source had not yet been found I would pull the axles and check those U-joints.

After doing all that I would put on good tires and align it.

That done it should no longer be darting while driving, but you probably will not have changed the ride quality. But I would do those things first, just to make sure that you can get it to behave in the steering department, before modifying things any farther. Get it to behave, then decide if you want to go with drop brackets or long arms. And then pick a shock absorber. Or even consider going for a high pinion D30.

Thinking of the axle, have you opened the diff and changed the oil? I would not regard it as a likely suspect for the popping noise, but if that maintenance has not been done I would confirm that the gears are fine in there. I would expect plenty of other noise if not, but if the tires and stereo are loud enough who knows what all might be going on.
I'd add hub bearings to the list of things to check. Also, as mentioned before 'cracked frame'. Mine cracked just in back of the steering box. It didn't cause DW, but it put more stress on the trackbar axle bracket. It finally tore it off. Not fun while at speed.
Also, I had a popping sound earlier this year. I was getting a shimmy from time to time. The pooping was from the TC case. It had been rebuilt. I did finally get full DW. It ended up being the passenger lower ball joint nut was not tightened.
I do have RC rear springs, older ones. They are OK. The new ones have anti-friction pads. Mine gave over 6 inches of lift initially. After 3 years, they did settle to 4.5 lift.
A few thoughts:

One approach to improving ride quality could be to reduce the amount of lift (front and rear). This would minimize several typical issues with big lifts. If there is sufficient wheel clearance, could aim for a 3-3.5" lift. Would need new coils at the front and could likely take care of the rear by removing a leaf. Removing a leaf at the rear would also make the rear spring rate more tolerable. But the choice of what to do at the rear would depend on how the rear was lifted. Seems like there is a good chance that the rear was lifted by using an add-a-leaf in conjunction with extended shackles.

Shocks do make a big difference, and as RCP Phx said, RC shocks aren't known for riding well. My XJ came with RC N2 which didn't handle sharp bumps well. I'm currently running RC N3 which are a bit better, but still not great. That's all I've run, so I can't say anything more about shocks than that.

A D30LP is not an automatic problem for a big lift. My XJ initially had a D30LP with 4.5" lift, and I could go 85 mph with zero vibrations. However, I did install a Tom Woods front driveshaft.

Definitely go through the entire suspension with a torque wrench, especially the front suspension.
It is also possible things were tightened while in the air! I would suggest that while carrying full weight on the ground, you loosen all the suspension bolts before re-tightening them.
Thanks for all the input. I do plan to loosen ad re-tighten everything in the front suspension while it’s in the ground. I also am in the process of changing every fluid. Including diffs and transfer case this weekend.

I do need to be clear, I don’t care about the rough ride. That’s fine. The popping, darting, and vibrations are not okay. Better shocks will do a lot for the ride, but, only after the underlying issues are resolved.

I’ll do some poking around over the next two weekends. First up is fixing the ABS light and fluid changes. Then boat trailer brakes (getting ready for offshore trip next weekend). Might be two weeks before I can dig into suspension.

Really appreciate all the input.