Q: I purchased a 2012 Honda Accord with 39,890 miles. It now has 41,458 miles. The first few hundred miles I heard a slight and infrequent noise upon start-up. Now on start-up each day the noise is present. The sound has been diagnosed as the variable valve timing actuator. The dealership where I purchased the auto was unable to hear the noise during its inspection. I believe the Honda carries a five-year/50,000-mile warranty. I received a free lifetime warranty from the dealership where I purchased the auto. A Honda customer service rep told me the timing actuator was not covered by the warranty. Upon contacting the dealership where I purchased the Accord, I was told that they would have to inspect the auto and determine who is responsible for the repair. Can or will the noisy variable valve timing actuator cause damage to the engine, valves or timing chain?

A: Honda’s 2012 new car powertrain warranty covers, among other components, “cylinder block and head and all internal parts, timing gears and gaskets, timing chain/belt and cover” for five years/60,000 miles. I would think that the variable valve timing actuator on the camshaft would be included in the “all internal parts.”

My ALLDATA automotive database pulled up Honda service bulletin 09-010 dated September 2014 covering “engine rattles on cold start.” It describes a loud rattle on a cold start as indicating a faulty variable valve timing control actuator in need of replacement.

I doubt that noise from this actuator would cause any damage or concern for long-term reliability. With that said, it seems clear that replacement should be covered by the original Honda powertrain warranty.


Q: I have a 2005 Land Rover LR3 with 94,000 miles on it. About two years ago I periodically started getting “Transmission fault” warnings which prompted it to go into limp mode: All the dashboard warning lights came on, the gauges would stop working, the suspension would sink down to the lowest setting, and it only had limited gears available. This would happen about once a month or so, but usually a restart or letting it sit for a short time would reset it. This has gotten more frequent and restarting or letting it sit would no longer clear it up. The car has been in the dealership nine times for a total of 103 days in the shop. At each service they would try a new solution including clearing the faulty communication codes, fixing some broken wire splices and replacing the compressor. The last time it happened they were unable to reset it and it remains in limp mode. The dealership suggested replacing the ABS module, which is a $4,000 repair. I’d be tempted to do the repair if I knew it would fix the problem. However, I am reluctant to keep throwing good money after bad to fix something that is appearing to be unsolvable.


A: I found Land Rover service bulletin LA-308-001 dated March 2006 that may apply to your vehicle. It closely describes this scenario and points to a software or mechanical problem with either the transfer case clutch motor or electronic torque managed (ETM) rear differential motor. If DTC fault code P186D is recorded, either of these motors may have become stuck.

When the ignition is switched on, the transfer case clutch motor is initialized by running through its full range of travel. If voltage is low or interrupted the motor will stop somewhere mid-travel. When voltage returns it will try to initialize again but restarts from its stalled position. It will then experience an unexpected early stop, stall and trigger the P186D code.

If the ETM motor is actuated while the brake is partially applied, it can cause the motor to stick and generate the fault code.

If the problem is not software-related, the warning light will be on permanently and the fault code will be recorded at every startup.

This might be corrected by reprogramming the transfer case control module and/or the ETM rear differential control module.