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Re: loud noise when car first cranks coming from motor
Is this is a 2.7 or 3.2, 3.5 liter? It sounds to me like the valve timing is off enough to make the motor misfire. If this is the case, then the timing chain or belt needs replacement. The 2.7 has a chain that is very involved to change, but can be done. The 3.2 or 3.5 has a belt that is a bit easier to do. Neither one is a cake walk and I would get a manual on this car before working on it. Don't run this motor without checking this out as you may damage it.
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sounds to me like you could have damaged the oil pump, running low on oil can cause numerous things to fail.. possibly spun the rod bearings and they are beating on the crank. I wouldn't start it, but if the noise is in the bottom I would drop the oil pan.
Does it sound like the noise the turn signal makes? Does the noise change if you change the speed of the blower motor? Do all the function of the heater work (defrost, vent, floor, recirculate, fresh air, hot, cold)?
No I would not chase to the pistons, these vehicle were very comon in creating HLA noise hydraulic lash adjusting valves, meaning the valves pump up with oil as the oil gets thinner they dont pump up as fast and create a very loud ticking noise, I would not express a great concern over simplicity, dodge was famous for this, they really were.
This seems to be a classic case of "disentegrating exhaust system syndrome." There is either a hole(s) somewhere in your exhaust system or there is a leak somewhere. Probably the easiest way to tell where the noise is coming from is to start your car and just listen around in the engine bay, under the car, and at the muffler. Also do a visual inspection of the exhaust system to see if you can see any holes in the piping. I have also seen hairline cracks in the exhaust header itself that can cause the loud ticking noise that can be a little tricky to track down.
There is a very good chance that it is a noisy lifter. They can look and work fine but make noise. Alot of GM cars and trucks end up doing this and there is not anything mechanicaly wrong with them. I would NOT replace the motor because of this. I have never heard of a ticking sound being caused by something in the bottom end of the motor. If it was something in that area you would probably have wrecked the motor by now, or your oil pan would be full of metal shavings.