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Tapping sound at start up

This morning after I started my van i heard what sounded like a small tapping sound coming from the engine. It lasted a few minutes till the engine was warmed up and then nothing from there on out. This was the first time I have heard this sound. The van started without any issue and ran just fine, just never heard a tapping sound come from the engine before at start up. It wasn’t exceptional cold, or damp outside either.

Van is a 2002 Kia Sedona with a 6 cylinder and 137,000 miles on it. Oil was changed in it about 1500 miles ago.

I think it’s the noise from the hydraulic lifter not having any oil. When the oil pressure builds the lifter gets the needed oil and it quiets down. At 137,000 miles I would say this is normal but it’s been a long time since I worked on valves.

Rich here is on the right track. Worn lifters allow the oil to leak down, meaning no pressure on startup.

Is this just something that happens to older cars like mine and nothing that can be done or am i looking at total engine failure soon?

It shouldn’t lead to any problems. In the worst case, it might get to where it is tapping all the time. If it does, then you would want to do something about it. However, I haven’t had one get to that point.

Sometimes lifters “stick” and take a while to “pump up”…A powerful solvent additive like Rislone or Marvel Oil can free up a stuck lifter…