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Interesting post, and great photos and information. I used to have the "death rattle" at start up on my 07 V6. I now have 164000 miles and it barely ever happens anymore. I have used Mobil 1 synthetic oil since the beginning. Not sure if that has anything to do with it. I also live in Florida, so never any super cold starts. I just don't worry about it anymore. Maybe the parts "wore in?" At any rate, I am keeping this vehicle until it dies. Not much out there I like right now.
 

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Interesting post, and great photos and information. I used to have the "death rattle" at start up on my 07 V6. I now have 164000 miles and it barely ever happens anymore. I have used Mobil 1 synthetic oil since the beginning. Not sure if that has anything to do with it. I also live in Florida, so never any super cold starts. I just don't worry about it anymore. Maybe the parts "wore in?" At any rate, I am keeping this vehicle until it dies. Not much out there I like right now.
Equally interesting, do you remember what the mileage was when the rattle improved?
 

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Just joined here to thank OP for his writeup. I just finished the job on a 2011 Venza with 2.7l 4-cylinder, which is the same basic process. My vehicle has slowly been getting louder, and has about 160,000 km. I ordered the parts needed (ref. TSB in first post for part numbers) from toyotapartsdirect.ca, with a total price including shipping of just under $300. The offending 'Camshaft Timing Gear Assembly' was $144 Cdn.

Here's a couple thoughts:
1.) That tensioner is a pain to deal with. A short piece of 1/8" diameter wire, or equivalent, will work nicely as a lock pin. I ended up using a roofing nail for the job. It was a snug fit, and held the tensioner nicely.
2.) Watch that tensioner gasket! Mine came off on removal of the tensioner, and ended up part way down in the sump. I was able to snag it with a magnet and extract it (gasket has steel core). Without that option, I could have been really in trouble.
3.) A bungee cord around the latch loop on the hood down to the timing chain worked well to keep the chain tight while swapping gear assemblies.

Total time was about 4 hrs including tool cleanup. After hand-cranking the engine through a couple revs', I put the key in, and it started up great, with no noise. Hopefully future cold-starts remain silent as well.
 

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2007 sport v6 203k miles
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Interesting post, and great photos and information. I used to have the "death rattle" at start up on my 07 V6. I now have 164000 miles and it barely ever happens anymore. I have used Mobil 1 synthetic oil since the beginning. Not sure if that has anything to do with it. I also live in Florida, so never any super cold starts. I just don't worry about it anymore. Maybe the parts "wore in?" At any rate, I am keeping this vehicle until it dies. Not much out there I like right now.
I also used to have the rattle on my 2007 v6 with 203k miles. But after a couple times using seafoam to flush the engine oil before oil changes it is now completely gone. Now more than 6 months have gone by with the rattle.
 

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I have a 2011 Rav4, 2.5L 4Cyl with the "Death Rattle" during startup. My question?
Is there a long term consequence. Or will it happily rattle on to the end of the normal engine life.
Does anyone have a drawing of what this gear internal mechanism looks like?
 
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