Clicking sound when engine is cold.. goes away when warm.

Hi guys. I was driving my motherís 2000 Dodge Ram (V8) yesterday and noticed a clicking sound when I started it up. She said she hasnít changed her oil in quite a while so maybe that has something to do
with it. Anyway, hereís the deal...
The truck starts fine, idles fine, everything works great. However, while itís idling, thereís a noticeable clicking sound that seems to click in unison with the sound of the engine. As I accelerated, the sound would get louder and faster. Once the engine was warmed up, the sound went away and the truck sounded healthy again. This is the first time the sound has been noticed. It has been pretty cold outside too.. hovering around freezing for the past week or so. Maybe that has something to do with it along with the old oil?
As for what it sounds like, imagine repeatedly smacking a dipstick against the frame of a car.. a metal against metal clicking sound sound, slightly muffled, and pretty quiet.
Any idea what this could possibly be?
Thanks
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What oil, changed how long ago, with how many miles. What's the oil change history previously? I'd be very suspicious of contaminated oil that's been there too long, and is too thick and gooey when cold. I'd warm it up and change the oil. If it was my call I'd put some MMO or rislone in for 20 minutes or so before dropping the oil, but there are others who will definitely disagree with that.
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How many miles on the engine? Aside from first checking the oil level, it may be sticking valve lifters (gummed up from old age, not to mention lack of clean oil -- when the engine gets hot enough they loosen up a bit). One thing you can try is dumping a quart of ATF into the oil just before your next oil change (like just before you drive to the garage or otherwise heat up the oil for the change). ATF has a variety of cleaners in it that will help get much of the crud out. (I actually put it in a week before changing the oil on my old Dodge truck, and it was amazing how much dirt came out. ATF has a scary low viscosity, but that's not too awful in the dead of winter, especially since it also has some esoteric high pressure lubricants & metal treatments.) If a good internal cleaning doesn't do the trick, check to see if the lifter clearances on this engine are adjustable (some engines not, and some yes -- you can look under the valve covers or check with a manual or good mechanic). If they're adjustable, adjusting them is easy. With the engine fully warmed up and idling, you loosen the retaining nut (at the top of the post holding the rocker arm) with a socket wrench until you clearly hear a definite rapping noise. Then you tighten it down, one gradual quarter turn at a time (too much too fast & the engine will stall) until the rapping noise has gone, then tighten down another half to a full turn. Because valve adjustment is labor intensive and doesn't involve ripping you off for any parts other than new valve cover gaskets, most mechanics never do them, and if they're adjustable they *will* get too loose over time.

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arcooke wrote:

Could be an exhaust leak between the manifold and head. As the engine warms up the parts expand and seal the leak. Retorque the manifold bolts, using a torque wrench, when the engine is cold. Definitely change the oil every 3000 miles, 2000 for frequent short trips.
Gyz
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