Start up Chatter

The wonderful wife has a 2001 Buick Century with 67,000 miles on the clock. The car is a gem and runs great. The one problem is that upon a cold start she get a clatter from the engine that sounds like the old days of tappets. As soon as the engine starts to warm up in a couple of minutes the sounds fades out. Couple of questions:

1. Is this few minutes of chatter causing any hard to the engine.

2. How is this problem fixed if necessary and any ideas about cost.

Thanks to all

Nancy’s Favorite Husband


What size engine?
Can you take a dowell or screwdriver or if you have one of those things a doctor has around his neck and listen to see where noise is coming from.

Well, tappet or valve noise isn’t left to the old days. Things haven’t changed that much - so you might have valve noise.

Or it might be “piston slap” - very common on these GM engines. Does it sound at all like an idling diesel on first start up? It is said to be harmless, though I’m not so sure. There is not real fix short of a full engine rebuild - but its not something that will kill the engine. You just live with it.

How often is the oil changed and what type oil is used? There are several possible causes for start up noises but my attention was drawn to the relatively low mileage for a 10 year old car. Plus, I am guessing that the car spends more time in urban traffic than on the highway. Piston slap, noisy lifters, etc are more common when cars are not driven regularly at sustained highway speeds. If my conjecture is correct and your last oil change has more than 3000 miles on it get it changed with one of the premium brand 5-30 oils and take an hour long drive on a nice day and then see what happens the next morning.