WOW! I am so glad I found this post!
This is the EXACT problem I have been having with my '02 3.0 Taurus. I was told at AutoZone that it was the Camshaft Sequencer (maybe it was Synchronizer). I cannot find the part in their online database, although they showed it to me as a part in their store computer, for about $60.
My noise is variable and it comes and goes alot. Mostly seem to notice it in the mornings.
Someone help me here, I don't know what to do, I'm afraid this could cause me major problems down the road, and I want to be able to go to a mechanic with some kind of knowledge on the subject, so I don't get hosed. I'm new in town and haven't had an opportunity to get a relationship established with a local garage.
Please someone respond to this and give us some more information!
Also, I should say, this is definitely not
a tensioner, the noise is not coming from the belt area at all. I have checked the belt and it is in good shape, the noise is coming from inside the engine on the driver's side... nowhere near the belts.