This is for my 2005 Toyota Camry with the 4 cylinder 2AZ-FE engine. It has 140+miles on it, well maintained, including ~3K mile oil changes and no sludge issues.
Since it has gotten a bit cold around here (we are talking a balmy 40-50F Southern CA in a garaged car), if the car sits for more than 8 hours, I hear a gear noise for 1 second on start-up. It is not the valves and the oil filter on this car is upside down. I initially thought it is one of the bearings, since I was due for a new serpentine belt (80K miles!), I proceeded to change the belt and checked all the pulleys and could not hear any noise, albeit, they were not under load.
Doing some online research, seems like this is the VVT gear pin getting stuck due to the oil draining overnight and it is a relatively common problem with Toyota and Lexus. It also seems like the fix almost involves a timing chain job, so the cost might be prohibitive for my car based on age/miles.
I do not have a check engine light and no codes stored.
My questions is, is there any way to verify my diagnosis. More importantly, what is the damage done due to this, is the chain going to eventually snap when this pin gets stuck for good.