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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
With good weather and Stay-at-home order, I took the opportunity to work on my 2009 RAV with 115,000 miles on it. The main thing I wanted to address was replacing the intake cam sprocket to stop the raspy cold start noise (death rattle). Then I wanted to replace the spark plugs, serp belt, tensioner, water pump, thermostat, and replace the anti-freeze. I also did the front main oil seal. Of course the valve cover gasket was replaced and I would have done the spark plug seals, but my kit had the wrong type. My seals were not leaking so I just left the old ones alone.
I made one nearly catastrophic mistake that cost me at least a days work. When putting the chain tensioner back on, I dropped a bolt down into the front case. As much as I tried with a set of super high power magnets, I could not retrieve the bolt. That meant removing the front pulley and taking off the timing case. Removing the case means supporting the engine, removing the motor mount, coolant reservoir, all front case bolts, and prying the cover off. It is held on by sealant (no gasket). Fortunately I have a compressor and an air gun that I used on the pulley. I had to remove a cross member brace to wiggle the case out and that meant pulling back the plastic splash shield on the bottom of the engine compartment. To get to the thermostat, you have to remove the alternator after disconnecting the battery. Also, I found that I made another serious error putting on the intake cam. The camshaft pin was not exactly inline with the hole in the sprocket. This was discovered when I took the timing chain off and set up the chain per the manual. I felt that with the work of getting the pulley off with the air gun that the chain may have jumped with no chain tensioner installed. So I lined everything per the manual, but the intake mark was 1/2 link off. I took the sprocket off and found the mistake. I had to unlock the sprocket using my air compressor with the blast nozzle. Anyhow, I got that sorted out and got the timing set up perfectly, retrieved the dropped bolt and got the chain tensioner on correctly.
After cleaning up the front case and engine mount surfaces, I decided to do a dry fit of the front cover before putting on the sealant. It was a good thing to do because the case would not squeeze through the tight space without a lot of twisting and turning, moving up and down. I could see getting sealant all over the place and rubbing it off the edges. Also I found it is tough to get the oil pump flats lined up and fitted on the front crankshaft when installing the cover. Then I saw that if I removed the water pump (with that pulley sticking out) that I could get more space to maneuver. I put the cover on temporarily to keep anti-freeze splash out of the engine, drained the radiator via the drain-cock. and after a long wait, got the water pump off. I had planned to change it anyhow. Then after wiping off the spillage, getting the cover back off, cleaning it again, and applying sealant, I installed it with just a little trouble. I torqued it according to the manual. I replaced the front crank seal in the timing case. Then I changed the thermostat (very tight clearance), put a new water pump on, put a new serp tensioner on, re-installed the alternator, put the chain tensioner cover on and the front case cam bolt cover on, replaced the spark plugs (reconnected the coils), and installed the valve cover with a new gasket. I decided to put the serp belt on (new) before putting the engine mount on (right after torquing the front pulley to the crankshaft), and I rigged a way to keep the belt tensioner fully pulled and held for maximum belt slack while I installed the belt. New belts are always tough to get on. Then I put the motor mount back on and finally the coolant reservoir. I closed the radiator drain-cock and filled with fresh Toyota anti-freeze. Squeezing the radiator hose in and out helps get the anti-freeze in. I reconnected the battery and said a prayer. She started right up thank God! I put the splash shields back on and put the wheel on, took it off the jack and took it for a test drive. It drove perfectly! Today I took it on a 160 mile trip to the forest hiking trails (great stress relief and good social distancing. I got 27.2 MPG and the engine is as smooth as when it was new. I see no fluid leaks so I think I am good. I am so glad this job is over with.
I'd be glad to answer any questions. The job difficulty is on the high end with good mechanical experience necessary (I fell short in a couple of areas for this job).
 

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Wow, I got frustrated just changing my serpentine belt. Last timing chain I touched was on a '84 Chevy 305. A little easier..
 

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I did that amount of work on my 2001 Hyundai Sonata (V6 timing belt kit), and 2011 Kia Soul (timing belt kit).
Those things done, if there is no rust under the car, can keep a car running a long, long time. Take of bushings and shocks/struts and you have a quiet ride too.

Hard work, but beats getting a bank loan for a new car IMO.
 
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