when i start my truck first thing in the morning it makes a tapping/knocking sound after it runs for a few min the noise stops and you don't hear it again the rest of the day. What can cause this.

  • 3
    Knowing the make, model, year and engine goes along way in determining what the noise might be from.
    – mikes
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 18:55
  • 1
    its a 2001 chevy silverado 1500 5.3 litter engine
    – amanda
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:33
  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:43
  • most cases its your oil leaking down so
    – ssp
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 1:47
  • Not knowing how long you've owned your truck, has it done this the entire time you've owned it? How many miles are on the truck? When you say you "don't hear it again the rest of the day", does this mean if you start it up in the morning, it runs a while (noise gone), then don't drive it again until the evening (several hours), does the noise come back then, or is it still good? Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


Older vintage Silverados had a known issue with piston slap. It is worse in the winter but is always present even in warmer weather. The forums have been saying for well over a decade it has to do with the sizing of the aluminum pistons. Way back when things were built to tighter standards, cylinder bores were matched with piston sizes. While all the parts are to spec, some are on the low end of tolerance, some are in the middle and some are on the high end. They used to match large cylinder bores with large pistons and small bores with small pistons. Someone decided that in spec is in spec and it cost more to match the parts. The result is some engines did in fact have piston slap for the first 20 to 30 seconds of operation when cold. I actually complained to the dealer the first winter I owned my 2002 Silverado. It was explained to me this is considered a normal condition. To the point of having me listen to them cold start 3 new trucks all of which rattled. My engine rattled for 16 years and 180000 miles but it started every time.This is not to say that your problem is not lifter drain down issue but the above is another possible reason.

  • Is this article talking about the same engine? blog.jepistons.com/what-is-piston-slap-false-knock
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 9:43
  • What's actually hitting what when this happens? Meaning where is the illicit contact happening? And how does this unplanned friction not cause issues over time, especially with something that moves as many times as the pistons do? Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 10:56
  • The actual contact is the piston skirt (the part furthest from the top of the piston) hitting the cylinder wall. I can only assume the damage is minimized by the short duration of time and the relatively low RPM.
    – mikes
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 11:21

I'm new here, but there's a thing called piston slap. This is when the piston skirt gets worn and starts to hit the sides of the cylinder wall. It happens on older vehicles with high milage. If this is what it is there's not much you can do about it except to just ignore it. Other possibilities are low engine oil level, low oil pressure, worn valve train..post year, make model and milage and it will give more clues


More than likely the lifters are getting worn out. When this happens, they lose the oil in the body while sitting for a long time, then there's lots of excess valvetrain noise. Once the oil pressure is completely up and has completely filled the lifters, the noise will abate.

Replacing the lifters in the engine should completely cure the issue (if this is what the problem is). If you are going to these lengths, you should probably replace the oil pump at the same time. The stock ones start losing the ability to provide pressure. Replacing the lifters in the LSx engines is a pretty big deal, because you have to take the heads off to get to them. This requires a complete upper end gasket set. Since you're going that deep, change out the knock sensors while you're in there (unless they've already been done). Lots of little things which require maintenance and can help the longevity of your 5.3L engine.

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