Re: is it the variator
It starts off as noise, you can delay the next stage by doing frequent engine flushes and oil changes but soon it will be inevitable:
your fuel economy will begin to suffer and the variable valve timing will come in late, then finally:
The engine may stall on startup untill a loud tappet rattle stops (unless you hold the throttle untill the noise stops). the variable valve timing will not be able to hold so you will lose power all the way up the rev band.
This is all from personal experience so don't listen to anyone that says "it does nothing but makes noise".
Your engine will not die but i wouldn't leave it too late.
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