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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

This DIY will replace the intake VVT-i gear on 2AR-FE equipped Rav-4s and other Toyota models. There is a design defect in the factory part not allowing enough oil to get into the gear during start up, causing the death rattle sound. See the linked TSB PDF for the parts list. This cost me about $300 to do using all OEM parts. The TSB calls for a special tool that I did not end up using.

I am at the DIY level to replace shocks, fluids and brakes. When I started this job this was at the max of my skill level. Now I could probably do the job again in a full Saturday. The Toyota provided instructions were really lacking.

This guide is provided to you for entertainment purposes only.

Let's begin:


Disconnect the battery and remove the plastic cover. The negative battery terminal is a 10mm bolt.





Go along the valve cover and disconnect all of the sensors, coil packs and push away the wiring harness. All of the nuts are once again 10mm. I disconnected the harness ends that went to the alternator as well. Once everything is unbolted you can pry up the valve cover.



Jack the car up and remove the passenger side wheel. There is a little splash shield held on by a few plastic clips that will probably break. You will then see the 22mm crankshaft bolt that you will use to turn the engine to top dead center.



Use the TSB diagram to find TDC. Then, paint it yellow with a paint pen. Turn the crank 10° counterclockwise to give some slack to the timing chain. You can then remove the top timing chain guide with the 12mm bolt.



Above the crankshaft bolt you will find the timing chain cover held on by four 10mm bolts. Pop the cover off and you will see the timing chain tensioner. Stick a pin into that chain link looking thing and remove the two 10mm bolts. You can now pry away the tensioner from the front of the car to pop it off.



Take a 14mm hex socket and remove the service plug from the timing cover. Then using a 17mm socket wrench and a large adjustable wrench over the camshaft remove the vvt-i gear bolt. You can then pry off the gear from the camshaft. Once the timing chain is removed hold it up with a rubber bungee cord. The gear will need to be rotated so the key way is facing 5 o'clock position to be able to be removed from the engine.





Grab your new gear and make sure it is unlocked. If it is locked or if you lock it up early during the install then good luck to you. I accidentally locked my gear up and the process to unlock it didn't work. I ended up buying a whole new gear. Look at the PDF to see if your gear is unlocked or not. Once the gear is on and the chain is lined up over it tighten the bolt down to 63ft lb. Once the gear is bolted down you can then turn the gear and / or the camshaft a bit until the vvt gear locks itself. Make sure to hold the chain down so it does not skip. If it does skip you can try to move the chain along the gear to get it back in time.



Reinstall the top timing chain guide by bolting the 12mm bolt down to 15 ft lb. You can now reinstall the 14mm hex service port bolt with a new gasket to 22 ft lb. I also replaced the three little oil passage gaskets at this time as well.



Next you will need to turn the camshaft a little bit counter clockwise to be able to install the tensioner. I used another rubber bungee cord attached to the sub frame to keep it pushed down.




I got stuck on this part for a few hours since the PDF didn't show how to reset the tensioner. Hold the little link down and push the plunger almost all the way in. Then use a pin the hold it in. Replace the gasket on the back side of the tensioner. It was tricky getting the tensioner back into the engine. Take your time and do not drop a bolt. Once the two 10mm bolts are torqued down to 7ft lb you can release the pin. I then turned over the engine a few times by hand to make sure everything was OK. Reinstall the timing chain tensioner cover with a new gasket by tightening the four 10mm bolts down to 7ft lb.



Place down some Three bond or equivalent down on the gap between the timing cover and the cylinder head. The PDF calls for a 5mm strip. Reinstall the valve cover by torquing down the 16, 10mm bolts to 9ft lb.

Reinstall everything else except the coil packs. I cranked over the engine without the coil packs in to make sure nothing sounded bad. Once the engine sounded ok you can try a full start up.


All of the lights went out except the maintenance required light; I cleared it with Tech-stream. This job should take a real mechanic a few hours but I spent three days. If you take your time and be careful you can save yourself $1500 by not going to the dealer.

Google Drive Folder for Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/12_54eVNJVDkwSVmjEe4smUdVxsuAwT5v?usp=sharing
 

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Supreme write up. Thanks! I wonder how different (more difficult) it is to change that vvt gear on 2gr-fe (v6). I'm getting an estimate tomorrow and will choose which way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Supreme write up. Thanks! I wonder how different (more difficult) it is to change that vvt gear on 2gr-fe (v6). I'm getting an estimate tomorrow and will choose which way to go.
I don't see a TSB or any DIY Info on the 2GR-FE startup rattle.
 

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Well it's happening (sigh, sad face). There's quite a lot of reading and vids on the web about it. Even in the earlier lexus models with similar v6. It's really a matter of will the dealership mechanics do the fix or will I get the parts and tackle this myself. It would certainly be the heaviest job to date. Farthest I've gone is valve cover gasket on a 04 highlander 3.3. That was a helluva day. Some have suggested pre-lube system, which I would seriously consider if I'm confident there is no excessive wear that would lead to failure.
 

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Well it's happening (sigh, sad face). There's quite a lot of reading and vids on the web about it. Even in the earlier lexus models with similar v6. It's really a matter of will the dealership mechanics do the fix or will I get the parts and tackle this myself. It would certainly be the heaviest job to date. Farthest I've gone is valve cover gasket on a 04 highlander 3.3. That was a helluva day. Some have suggested pre-lube system, which I would seriously consider if I'm confident there is no excessive wear that would lead to failure.
This was definitely the hardest mechanical job I have done. The pre-lube system seemed to me like a band aid fix for this. I should take about my factory gear if I can still find it in my trash bin.
 

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There are 3 timing chains to deal with in the 2GR-FE, and 2 VVT-i gears that I know of.
 

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Excellent write-up and pictures. Thank you for posting your experience and all your data. I'm thinking of doing this some day. I'm about due for replacement of my spark plugs, so that will be the time. The complexity of this repair is what has held me back so far (although I have re-built older engines and changed timing chains/guides on newer). So far I have not heard of anybody's engine being damaged by this brief noise. It still can't be good for it. I wonder if there is a complete kit sold yet for this job?
 

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Excellent write-up and pictures. Thank you for posting your experience and all your data. I'm thinking of doing this some day. I'm about due for replacement of my spark plugs, so that will be the time. The complexity of this repair is what has held me back so far (although I have re-built older engines and changed timing chains/guides on newer). So far I have not heard of anybody's engine being damaged by this brief noise. It still can't be good for it. I wonder if there is a complete kit sold yet for this job?
Toyota has a nice website were you can compare a bunch of dealers for the price of parts and have them shipped to your door. I got all OEM parts using the part numbers provided on the PDF. They do make aftermarket parts but I did not see a kit.

 

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Dealer told me I was better off getting a new or used motor than to have them replace the timing gear. How bout that? Says it's safe to drive as is. So now my options are Pre-lube setup or go elbow deep in parts? Maybe just a trade in for a new pile of issues. Ah the joys of car ownership. o_O
 

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Ordered prelube kit. Will post video of install. Cost was biggest factor, followed by logic of ensuring full lube of engine before I crank it up. I always believed racing was on the cutting edge and this is standard practice. Will post video of install, good, bad, and ugly.
 

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Supreme write up. Thanks! I wonder how different (more difficult) it is to change that vvt gear on 2gr-fe (v6). I'm getting an estimate tomorrow and will choose which way to go.
I looked at the procedure for the V6 since that's what happened with my 2007. It's a ton of work as the engine needs to be removed to access the rear banks. I ended up trading it for 2012 as at that time (2016), it was an entire kit. A few calls to a few dealerships confirmed the cost. Approximately $3100 CDN to fix. Like many members on the board, I can do most maintenance but this was beyond my skill level and also even if I did attempt this at home (which there was no way), the time factor would have killed me.

Let us know how this works out for you.
 

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Excellent write-up and pictures. Thank you for posting your experience and all your data. I'm thinking of doing this some day. I'm about due for replacement of my spark plugs, so that will be the time. The complexity of this repair is what has held me back so far (although I have re-built older engines and changed timing chains/guides on newer). So far I have not heard of anybody's engine being damaged by this brief noise. It still can't be good for it. I wonder if there is a complete kit sold yet for this job?
 

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I looked at the procedure for the V6 since that's what happened with my 2007. It's a ton of work as the engine needs to be removed to access the rear banks. I ended up trading it for 2012 as at that time (2016), it was an entire kit. A few calls to a few dealerships confirmed the cost. Approximately $3100 CDN to fix. Like many members on the board, I can do most maintenance but this was beyond my skill level and also even if I did attempt this at home (which there was no way), the time factor would have killed me.

Let us know how this works out for you.
I do not believe that the V6 engine would need to be removed to access the rear banks. At least, the job can be done without doing so on a Camry with the same engine


,and on a Lexus IS 250 with a highly similar 4GR-FSE engine (TSB EG017-07).

I do not see how the RAV4 would be any different. It is quite a job to do anyhow. I am waiting to see if there is someone on the forum who will give it a try (and hopefully post the pictures here ;)
 

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I cannot thank you enough, it was because of your write up, and the garage estimates that I decided to tackle this myself... and whew doggy was it a job. but 2 days later.. job done, and I did the water pump same time. so $400 in parts and the rattle is gone. To those who said it won't have any effect, the understanding I got was the it's the internals of the gear that are wearing out causing the noise. When they go too far.. the gear goes, and the debris has the potential of killing the engine with it. The only edit I'd make to your notes is in the removal of the timing chain tensioner.. "pry" wasn't descriptive enough.. I ended up having to use a pry bar and thought I was going to destroy it to get it off. I also found a trick of using a long flat blade to push the chain guides in, and then wedged it against the axle with a block of wood to hold it out of the way in order to re-install the tensioner. In the end, the job is done, I've learned and gotten more intimate with my toyota then I ever expected to, and we did the job for 25% of the low end garage quote, after buying a good chunk of tools to add to my garage for the job.

2011 Rav4 4wd 2.4L 152k miles.
prior to this I'd only done brakes, plugs, fluids, alternators, and a cover gasket on a subaru.
 

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Ordered prelube kit. Will post video of install. Cost was biggest factor, followed by logic of ensuring full lube of engine before I crank it up. I always believed racing was on the cutting edge and this is standard practice. Will post video of install, good, bad, and ugly.
Hi, how's it going?
 
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