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Odds are that has the 175 hp SOHC V6, which has hydraulic lifters that commonly get gummed up and noisy. Running synthetic oil, especially diesel grade with it's increase detergents, can diminish this noise over time. Or you can get more aggressive and try some Sea Foam in the oil for a couple of minutes before changing the oil.

Another common cause of noise is a bad timing belt tensioner. It can sound like anything from a tick to a knock that sounds like a rod knock but isn't. If the sound goes away above 2000-2500 rpm, this is the likely cause. Pretty easy and inexpensive to fix, the part is about $65 or so.

Or, just tell everybody it is a diesel.
 
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