Thanks so much for sharing your experience and you are so right! These engines do in fact have vin numbers attached to them and after looking through some pictures I took while I was at the shop did the swap, I realized original engine has a metal plate attached to it for the code while engine that was sold to me had the plate broken off. This explains why I was unable to verify vin number (therefore mileage) on the swapped engine 😕I too had an engine failure, it was likely the camshaft gear which is a weak point. I swapped in a used engine a few months ago and can verify that the VIN is on the block. When I shopped around, I correlated the block VIN to the car and got the service history that way. I did that for me now but will also be a + at resale.
The cold start sounds fine. I do hear something at idle, warm... a slight knocking sound. I would run it w/o the Serp belt installed and see if it changes. The answer to that will narrow things down quite a bit.
A great way to check the overall engine sludge condition is to remove the VVTi screens (either clean or replace). Very easy to do from up top, there's one on each bank behind the oil line banjo bolts.
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