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I have a 2005 Toyota Rav4 with about 130k miles on it which, after the other day, will no longer start. I drove it to the store, and while stopped, idling at a stoplight on the way home, the engine just shut off, without making any weird noises. After that, it will no longer start. I can hear the starter motor whining, but the engine doesn't turn over at all.

I had it towed to a mechanic (not the one I regularly go to, but just the closest one), who says he checked the easy things (starter, battery, etc.), and is now saying that he thinks it must be a broken timing chain because other than that he's out of ideas.

I am very skeptical, however. According to the Toyota website, this car has a timing chain instead of a timing belt, and as such it should "never" need to be replaced. Not only that, but I'm assuming that, being made of metal, and being surrounded by other things made of metal, if the timing chain really had broken it would have made some very audible noise, which I didn't hear. I suspect that some sort of electrical problem is far more likely than the timing chain.

Update: It ended up being that one my engine valves is pretty bent/mangled - the compression test was the right idea. I suppose the last part of this question is, being that my mechanic doesn't have a good idea, what would cause a valve to be bent while idling? Should I be looking for some other problem which caused this to happen, or was it most likely just a fluke?

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Did the mechanic check for fuel pressure and spark? – Mark Johnson Oct 14 '13 at 18:59
I just talked to him, and he claims that he checked the fuel system (i mentioned the pressure regulator, the fuel pump, and the associated fuses/relays specifically), as well as the spark plugs and their associated fuses, and that those components were all in working order. – CmdrMoozy Oct 14 '13 at 20:08
So there is fuel and spark present, but it's still not starting? How about a compression test on a random cylinder? If it was me, I would check that before looking at the timing chain. – Mark Johnson Oct 14 '13 at 21:19
You were totally right on with the compression test. If you put that in an answer, and maybe give me an idea if I should be concerned that one of my valves was bent for no apparent reason, and I'll accept it. – CmdrMoozy Oct 15 '13 at 18:49
If the timing chain actually broke, valve damage would be possible if the engine is an interference design. I'd think it more likely that the compression test results would just indicate that the timing is screwed up unless valve damage was actually observed. – Mark Johnson Oct 15 '13 at 19:00

I have experienced the same problem like yours today but it happened to be timing belt which was broken, after replacing the car was back to normal.

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