Hello and welcome to JA, the cam phaser noise can be attributed to using low grade aftermarket oil filters...but before we go into that , I want you to read this TSB from Ford, and go through it to determine where the noise that you are hearing can be emanating from...
This article supersedes TSB 06-4-7 to update the Service Procedure.
Some vehicles equipped with a 4.6L 3-valve or 5.4L 3-valve engine may exhibit a ticking and / or knocking noise after reaching normal operating temperature, or a rattle upon starting. The noise may be described as ticks, taps, knocks, or thumps. In some cases the noise may be a normal characteristic of these engines. In other cases the noise may require further investigation. Sorting out and defining the noise as reported by the customer is important to successfully diagnose and / or repair the condition.
Before starting diagnosis, it is critical to determine the specific engine noise the customer is concerned with. The customer should be interviewed to get their detailed perception and description of the noise, and to determine if the noise occurs at idle or above idle speed, and if the engine is cold, hot, or both. Attempt to duplicate the noise, and determine the source of the symptom. Refer to the following Service Procedure to help determine the source of the noise and if a repair is needed.
Once the above pre-checks are complete, check for sound level from the following components, in the order listed. Compare the sound from these components to the noise the customer is concerned with, to determine the source of the noise.
Injector noise (ticking) is considered normal. Noise increases with RPM hot or cold and is recognized at the top of the engine.
Lash adjusters can make a ticking / tapping noise noticeable at any engine RPM / temperature and is audible through the wheel well or an open hood. However, with the hood down, lash adjuster noise can be heard as a light tapping noise through the wheel well and is considered normal.
Tracing this noise must be isolated to a cylinder bank. If one bank is louder than the other bank, focus the diagnostic to the loud bank. If both banks seem loud with the hood down, compare wheel well sound level to another comparable vehicle.
Use a stethoscope on the top of the cam cover bolt heads to confirm which bank is affected. Move the probe from front to rear if necessary.
If isolated, only replace the intake and exhaust lifters on the affected cylinder bank.
The 4.6L 3V and 5.4L 3V variable cam timing (VCT) feature may emit a light knock in normal operation and is audible only at idle speed, with a hot engine (gear selector in park / neutral). However, it may be masked by or mistaken for other noises generated from either injector firing or a malfunctioning valve train as described above. The noise does not affect performance or durability of the part.
VCT phasers may knock at hot idle. It may be heard inside the passenger compartment, or the wheel well area. Some light noise is normal. The engine may require a cold soak overnight for a full diagnosis to effectively be made at hot idle, particularly when a VCT phaser is suspected. The knock is not prevalent at cold temperature.
If the noise intensity is more than a lightly audible knock at hot idle under 1200 RPM at engine operating temperature, replace the cam phaser using the "In-Vehicle Repair" Camshaft Phaser and Sprocket procedure found in the Workshop Manual, Section 303-01
Some 2004 F-150 and 2005 F-150, Expedition, Navigator, F-Super Duty, and Mustang vehicles may have a rattle on startup that lasts 1 to 3 seconds. If initial pre-checks have been completed and the noise sounds like it is coming from the front of the engine, replace the VCT Phaser Kit. If the engine continues to make the rattle noise after the initial startup do not exchange VCT.
Eligible Under Provisions Of New Vehicle Limited Warranty Coverage