Clicking noise at idle

I drive a 2003 Dodge Neon SXT with 153,000 miles on. When the engine is first started, there is a “click-click-click” about every 7-10 seconds. I’ve had the belts changed and adjusted, they freed up a stuck idler (didn’t replace the idler, the price was several hundred dollars). Once the engine is warm, the noise goes away. Any ideas?

Valve lash adjustment?

If it’s every 10 seconds, sounds like some emission control solenoid or other electrical device doing its thing.

Can you clarify what the “stuck idler” is that would cost several hundred dollars? I’ve got nothing coming to mind that fits the bill.

Can you give any approximation about where the noise is coming from?

Knowing who “they” are might also help. Was this freeing of a stuck idler done in response to this noise? More info about whatever work was done and why might help.

cigroller: The alternator went bad, and when the shop pulled the alternator, they changed both belts at that time. (maybe 6 months ago) The tensioner pulley was sticking at that time, and I was told that a new tensioner assembly was going to be several hundred bucks, so they cleaned the old one up, got it moving properly, and put it back on. What I’m wondering is whether it’s a belt issue, or something else…and what it might be. Also, perhaps more important, is this something to live with, or is this is symptom of something that is going to strand me some cold morning? I’ve been around long enough to remember that 50-60,000 miles was the outer limit for most cars in the ugly old days, so when I go past 150K I start wondering what the death point is.

Oblivion: why would it do it only when the engine is cold?

It’s hard to say, but if it was a solenoid or other engine control, the system may be programmed to only operate the device in that way when certain conditions are present, such as a cold engine and/or at certain RPMs. It’s quite common for engine management systems to have different strategies depending on engine load, temperature, etc. Some tests can only be performed at certain RPMs because of this.

Certainly an idler pulley could cause noise, but it’s hard to imagine something rotating at the same speed as the engine or belts only making a noise every 7-10 seconds. Can you look at your air conditioning compressor clutch and see if it is cycling every 10 seconds?