That would drive me nuts, until I found the source. Well worth the time to inspect all the pulleys, tensioner, etc, etc. Depending on what it turns out to be, you will have your answer on how much longer you can ignore it.
Curious...does it only do this when cold? If so, it could be just a bearing that has excessive play until it warms up. Wouldn't be too unusual in Canadian winter temperatures. If it does it at idle, even after warmed up, I'd dive into it just to make a diagnosis.
I wouldn't ignore it at all. Are you lacking a warm garage to work on it, and wanting to wait for warmer weather? You can always do the old trick for identifying where a noise is originating from. Will only take 2 minutes to narrow it down. Carefully use a long stick, or piece of metal like a really long screwdriver, hold one end against your ear with your fist gripping the end...and carefully place it at various points near the various pulleys, power steering pump, tensioner bracket, etc. Makes a good stethoscope. You'll know when you find it, it'll be a lot louder. You should be able to hear the normal sounds from the bearing operating. A bad one will sound louder and rougher. If nothing sounds obvious, better take a look at your fan assembly. It's about the only thing you can't get the wood stick close to.
I agree. It drives me absolutely crazy. It honestly embarrasses me when I have to stop and idle somewhere lol.
To be honest, I'm FAR from a mechanic. I plan on taking it into a diesel shop in Edmonton tomorrow around noon and hopefully they can at least diagnose the problem.
The noise is the loudest and most frequent when the engine is coldest. I can hear it through my front door. As it warms up to the point where the EOT and ECT are 165 degrees or warmer, the noise is less frequent and a little quieter...but still very noticeable at idle. So in summary, yes it still makes the noise even when fully warmed up.
As far as my garage goes, no it's not heated. The truck doesn't even fit in it anyways. And that's just the roof, not even taking the CB antenna into consideration lol
I haven't used the screwdriver method yet. I've tried looking under the hood to even just eco-locate the origin of the noise...but it doesn't sound like it's anywhere close to the top of the engine. It really sounds like the front of the engine, maybe a foot inside the grille. Makes me believe it's something to do with the belt or the fan. But past that...I'd be clueless.