Maybe this has been discussed before, but I have a 2002 Ranger 3.0 purchased 2 years ago on eBay. It was advertised as having lifter noise.
When I got it, it had a lot of noise at idle and at speed. I poured a lot of products through it (Seafoam, Lucas Oil, crankcase cleaner). Eventually, the noise disappeared. A couple of months later, it came back but different. Now, it's nearly silent at idle but gets much louder as it speeds up, particularly under a load.
I have had a couple of good mechanics listen (one cut his teeth at a Ford dealership) and he's sure it's lifters. Another is thinking timing chain.
Anyone with a similar experience? At 144,000 miles, it runs fine, burns no oil, has adequate power, but the sound is really annoying.