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?

  • 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, 2013 at 20:08
  • 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, 2013 at 18:49
  • The timing chain was still fine, but there was significant damage to one valve (see the updated OP). Is this probably due to the timing being off, or ...?
    – CmdrMoozy
    Oct 15, 2013 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


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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