Thanks for all the input. Turns out it was the water pump. I took it to my local Dodge dealership and paid them $35 to diagnose it. The mechanic put it on the rack, removed the belt and cranked it up. No ticking noise. He isolated it to the water pump and then quoted me $380 to replace it.
I bought a brand new pump from the local parts store for $38 and had it installed in just a little more than two hours.
On removal of the old pump, I found the plastic impeller was broken into two pieces almost right down the middle. There was just enough of the center left to hold one half of the impeller on the shaft. The other half had lodged in a recess in the wall of the pump housing. The noise was coming from the connected half hitting the disconnected piece.
Apparently, it had enough of the impeller left to keep pumping and would stop making the clicking noise when the broken off half would move just enough to not get hit as the other half rotated.
Funy thing was, I had to use a large crow bar to pry the engine away from a main body support about 1/4 inch to gain enough clearance for the new pump to slide into place. Evidently, there is a bit of flexibility in the mounts. Thought others might like to know that in case they run into the same dilemma.
Thanks again for all the help.
Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 AT 2:35 PM