Steering Popping Noise
A month or so ago my 2000 SLE started making a popping noise during low speed parking lot maneuvers, like pulling into a parking space. I could feel it in the brake pedal and steering wheel.
I came to this site and saw several postings about the intermediate shaft issue. I wasn't convinced that it was my problem, even though I saw one or two posts describing a noise identical to mine, with replies confidently stating it was most likely the intermediate shaft. To me, it sounded more like the crossmember wasn't torqued down or the stabilizer shaft was binding up.
While changing the oil and rotating the tires and the front end up in the air, I rotated the steering wheel back and forth several times, without anything obvious from the steering gear. On a hunch, I applied some chain lube used for my motorcycle on the spring seat area of my front struts, as the sound seemed like a binding/releasing condition.
The noise was immediately gone, and it'* been two weeks noise free. Not to say that everyone with a popping noise while turning has this condition, but it is easy to try (you can do it with the vehicle parked) and a lot less hassle than going to a dealer or pulling out the intermediate shaft yourself.
Hope this helps someone .