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This is an update to this post I made a couple of weeks ago. https://www.rav4world.com/threads/timing-chain-rattle-or-is-it.299633/ It's had a ton of reads, but no responses. I think that is probably due to the way I asked the question. I am re-posting here with an update as to what I have found.

I have a 2010 RAV4 Sport, with the 4 cylinder 2ar-fe engine. 220K miles.

Quick recap (see the above link if you want more detail) : I have the classic 2ar-fe rattle upon cold-start. I had two mechanics tell me it was timing chain rattle. I had my mechanic replace the timing chain, tensioner, guides, etc. The chain was stretched and tensioner was not functioning properly and the guides worn. However, the noise did not go away and last 3 to 4 seconds now, as opposed to to 1 to 2 seconds before.

My mechanic says it's probably the vvti cam shaft gear, and that while it's annoying, it will not cause harm. He would basically have to take the timing cover off, just like he did for the timing chain replacement, for pretty much the same cost.

I've checked gas mileage, and it's right around 19-20 mpg (city), pretty much where it's always been.

I had to save up for several months to do this, and had other family vehicle repairs this month as well. I'm pretty much out of money at this point, and it would take me several months again to save up to do this. I'm consoling myself with knowing the timing chain, etc had to be replaced anyway. I do kind of wish I had known about the vvti cam gears. But oh well...

I've found two threads in which it was suggested that this rattle is harmless. And one which says it could be catastrophic.

Is there anyone knowledgeable here who can tell me how serious this is?

Thanks for any help you can give.
 

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From what I've heard the rattle at start-up occurs when the engine is cold and all the oil has drained down to the pan. Starting the engine at this point means the overhead cam and all its surrounding parts are relatively dry until the oil pump gets some oil up top. That's the way my V6 with VVT-i behaves. I don't think this momentary rattle is going to cause any significant damage, but I'm no mechanic.
 

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Any time you have a rattle/noise that goes away once oil pressure builds, things are wearing. I can't say how fast, but they are definitely wearing/hammering on each other. I hear so many rattles, clunks, squeaks, clatters, and grinding as I drive past other cars that it makes me wonder how they can think the noise is ok. Any noise that shouldn't be there is bad and they all tell you something is wearing/worn out/broken. Cams are not something to take lightly, and if your cam is making noise, you should get it fixed asap. It may be beyond repair to the point where you need a new cam/gear/vane.
 

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I have this in my 2010 v6 2gr-fe,173k mi. I just switched to Mobil 1 0w30 w/oem oil filter, and the sound disappears for a few weeks. Then starts to happen again. It runs so smooth otherwise I drive 180mi a day so I change the oil frequently. I ran some Marvel Mystery oil just before my last change. The sound gone for now. Planning seafoam flush before one future change, maybe in the fall or sooner if it comes back. Has anyone solved this without the overhaul of parts? And what really needs changing? Just the cam gear? Or timing chain and tensioners etc?
 

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Are you sure it's vvt noise? I had a slight rattle/knock at startup in my 2az, and it was gone after removing the balance shafts. Just throwing it out there.
 

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This is a more than slight noise. And what do you mean "removed" your balancing shafts? You took them out completely or replaced? Something else?
 

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This is a more than slight noise. And what do you mean "removed" your balancing shafts? You took them out completely or replaced? Something else?
I took them out completely.

I did some youtube searching on vvt noise and I see what you are talking about. That's a pretty loud knocking.
 

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Something interesting I've noticed. When parking with the front pointed up a slight grade, very little to no rattle. Definitely happens when pointing down a slight grade.

I considered a pre-lube system, but I figured this has happened enough times that the parts may have excessive wear. I'm going to get an official estimate for repairs in 2 days, and if that's out of my range, will reconsider that option. I think if this is resolved I can easily get another 100K out of this ride. I put 40k a year, 98% interstate highway cruising. And everything else is in really good shape. Will post update when I have it.
 

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I took them out completely.

I did some youtube searching on vvt noise and I see what you are talking about. That's a pretty loud knocking.
Wow! Didn't know you could do that without getting some potentially serious rocking forces in the engine. Hey if everything was smooth after that, cool deal. I'm not ready to start the pull-things-off-the-engine experiment just yet.
 

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Wow! Didn't know you could do that without getting some potentially serious rocking forces in the engine. Hey if everything was smooth after that, cool deal. I'm not ready to start the pull-things-off-the-engine experiment just yet.
It's a happy motor. Mileage took a big jump too. ~21 before and 26 after. More power down low and I don't have to wind it out like I used to.
 

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Quick recap (see the above link if you want more detail) : I have the classic 2ar-fe rattle upon cold-start. I had two mechanics tell me it was timing chain rattle. I had my mechanic replace the timing chain, tensioner, guides, etc. The chain was stretched and tensioner was not functioning properly and the guides worn. However, the noise did not go away and last 3 to 4 seconds now, as opposed to to 1 to 2 seconds before.

My mechanic says it's probably the vvti cam shaft gear, and that while it's annoying, it will not cause harm. He would basically have to take the timing cover off, just like he did for the timing chain replacement, for pretty much the same cost.
Your mechanic sounds like a meme. He replaced everything timing related that was not the problem when clearly there is a manufacturing defect with the VVT-I gear. If he looked it up on google it is not hard to find the TSB Toyota posted back in 2013 addressing this exact issue. Not only that but with the VVTi gear you do not need to take the timing chain cover off. This is so common now with most indy mechanics. They know how to replace parts but not actually fix the problem. I just DIYed my VVT-i gear and the engine sounds brand new. This is so common now with most indy mechanics.

 

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Mechanic says around 3500 for timing gear, better off getting a new/used motor. Didn't specify if it was all new timing chain set, tensioners, etc. Just gave it back to me without charging diagnostic and basically said they're not touching this. So pre-lube system or ride it out as is, if I keep it. Trade in for another used rav, or a new rav?$?$?$? Decisions decisions.
 

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Ordered prelub kit. Will post video when I install since no one has posted that they did it, or what the results were, or hiccups along the way. ?
 
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