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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys. My 2008 Matrix (140K miles) has the infamous VVT-i rattle at cold start. It happens every time the car sits for a couple of hours and lasts a second or two before it stops rattling. It has been like this for the past two years that I have owned the car and it has not gotten any worse or better. I switched to synthetic when I purchased the car and change the oil at 5K intervals. Reading some discussions, I was convinced that it won't do much harm to the engine itself until I saw THIS video from car care nut yesterday. He says the rattle might eventually result in the engine destroying itself.

My first question: Is it really going to harm the engine components if I don't change the cam gear? And can I replace the cam gear without removing the cams or the timing cover? I see some videos that people change the gear while keeping the tension on the chain using a bungee cord with only removing the valve cover but none of them are in 1ZZ. Thanks.
 

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Bungee cord? Ha Ha Ha!!

What oil filters are you using? Do they have any (or a good) anti-drainback valve? What viscosity of oil are you using?
 

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I changed the Cam Gear on our 06 Rav, dealer quote was $4200, parts were $450.
It was a PITA, no room to work and I had to remove the chain tensioner to get the chain off the cam gear.
If you can do it like you say then it sounds like it would be a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Bungee cord? Ha Ha Ha!!

What oil filters are you using? Do they have any (or a good) anti-drainback valve? What viscosity of oil are you using?
Thanks for your reply. Yep, bungee cord. Look at THIS video for example. He changes the cam gear without removing the timing cover or the cam in a 2014 camry.
I use vix 51348 which is supposedly a good filter. I don't know about anti-drainback valve. For oil I use mobil 1 5w30 synthetic oil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I changed the Cam Gear on our 06 Rav, dealer quote was $4200, parts were $450.
It was a PITA, no room to work and I had to remove the chain tensioner to get the chain off the cam gear.
If you can do it like you say then it sounds like it would be a lot easier.
Yep, that's why I asked whether it is possible or not. I know that removing the timing cover is a PITA. There is no way I pay $4200 for this. This is close to the value of the car.
 

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I don’t think that is a common issue on the 1ZZ. Post a video of the noise. I’m curious to hear it…

I would bet on valves being out of adjustment before a cam Gear issue on a 1ZZ. These are insanely bulletproof engines unless you just trash/neglect it.
 

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Thanks for your reply. Yep, bungee cord. Look at THIS video for example. He changes the cam gear without removing the timing cover or the cam in a 2014 camry.
I use vix 51348 which is supposedly a good filter. I don't know about anti-drainback valve. For oil I use mobil 1 5w30 synthetic oil.
Yesh I see!! Wix is OK and oil is the right viscosity. I used Denso filters and subsequently Wix and mine still did it very occasionally. I tried the Toyota filters and it seems to do it less so now that is what I use. Doesn't the VVTI control valve have a screen in it that possibly can get plugged up or something like that?
 

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Those were not common issues on the 1zz. But it’s said it’s due to extended oil change that causes build up. Mine doesn’t make a rattle. Doesn’t hesitate to advance timing.

I would clean out the vvti actuator vanes and the filter. Try Royal Purple oil. Use good filters. Seafoam in the crankcase and ran for 15minutes before a fresh oil change.


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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I don’t think that is a common issue on the 1ZZ. Post a video of the noise. I’m curious to hear it…

I would bet on valves being out of adjustment before a cam Gear issue on a 1ZZ. These are insanely bulletproof engines unless you just trash/neglect it.
Here is a link to THE VIDEO I took showing the rattling noise (sorry for the wind noise).
Based on the symptoms, I don't think it is anything other than the cam gear. It only rattles for a second at cold start and doesn't do it afterwards unless the car sits for a couple of hours. The engine is otherwise in good shape, plenty of power for what it is, doesn't burn oil, doesn't hesitate and hits redline easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yesh I see!! Wix is OK and oil is the right viscosity. I used Denso filters and subsequently Wix and mine still did it very occasionally. I tried the Toyota filters and it seems to do it less so now that is what I use. Doesn't the VVTI control valve have a screen in it that possibly can get plugged up or something like that?
Yes, they do have a screen. I removed both the control solenoid and the screen when I purchased the car two years ago and they were both clean. The screen had nothing in it, no sludge or anything, it was clean. I cleaned them anyways with brake cleaner and put them back.

Regarding the Toyota oil filter, there was a debate recently in this forum whether they are good or not. I can give it a try though at my next oil change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Those were not common issues on the 1zz. But it’s said it’s due to extended oil change that causes build up. Mine doesn’t make a rattle. Doesn’t hesitate to advance timing.

I would clean out the vvti actuator vanes and the filter. Try Royal Purple oil. Use good filters. Seafoam in the crankcase and ran for 15minutes before a fresh oil change.


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When I purchased the car two years ago, I removed the valve cover to replace the gasket. The valve train was in average condition, no sludge build up or something. It was a bit varnishy (attached images) as the previous owner used dino oil. I switched to synthetic as soon as I bought it and added some marvel mystery oil to clear things up.

I have cleaned the valve solenoid and strainer which were clean anyways. I can try Seafoam before my next oil change and see if it does anything. I have no performance issues other than the annoying rattle at start up.


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I would think you have to base your decision on the cost of the repair compared to the value of the car. If its running fine and only rattles upon startup then just drive it and dont worry about it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would think you have to base your decision on the cost of the repair compared to the value of the car. If its running fine and only rattles upon startup then just drive it and dont worry about it.
I probably won't consider the repair unless I can do it myself. I researched a little bit more and I don't think I will be able to remove the gear without removing the timing cover and/or the cams. I will try seafoam in my next oil change and see if it does anything. Hopefully the gear is not damaged and comes back around with seafoam.
 

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My 2010 Camry with 300K miles has the same issue. I went to Toyota dealer end of last month and confirm I tis cam gear issue as you described. the dealer quote me $2,000 before 15% coupon discount. Due to supply chain issue, I am still waiting part to be shipped from Toyota. I am in North California.
If I need to pay over $4,000 to fix cam gear, I probable be the same as you- let it alone.
 
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