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So my mechanic had changed the gear once (secondhand part that I got online) but the rattle was even worse (my bad). Instead of buying and installing a new one (as I'd requested), he did what is a common fix here: opened up the gear and somehow blocked its variation, so now it has effectively one "timing", which he characterised as "zero timing", neither high nor low.

From my limited understanding of VVTi, I'm guessing that this will affect at least fuel efficiency and performance. But does anyone have any idea of how much? Or if it will affect more than that? Just how horrible or ingenious is this fix?

Needless to say the check engine light is constantly on now, so if anything else were to go wrong I wouldn't know unless we scan it periodically, which is a bit of a pain, too.

Thanks!
 

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That was definitely wrong for your mechanic to do what he did. Modern computer controlled cars sense when something is out of spec and a engine code will almost always be set. Your engine power and economy has probably been de-rated to how a similar 2.5 engine from the early 90's would be (i.e. before VVT).
 

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That was definitely wrong for your mechanic to do what he did. Modern computer controlled cars sense when something is out of spec and a engine code will almost always be set. Your engine power and economy has probably been de-rated to how a similar 2.5 engine from the early 90's would be (i.e. before VVT).
Agree, it seems at best a false economy, in a few months I'll have spent more on gas than I saved by this fix. Fingers crossed it won't (literally) blow up in my face.
 
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