The following information on Toyota's Variable Valve Timing and Lift (with intelligence) system is derived in large from the October issues of Sport Compact Car and Car and Driver. As always, I encourage you to obtain a copy for yourself.
The VVT-i portion of the system continuously varies intake valve timing throughout the rev range by hydraulically rotating the camshaft relative to its drive gear. Note that VVT (without the "i") did not do this continuously. The VVL portion of the system is similar to Honda's VTEC system, incorporating two distinct cam profiles. However, the actual mechanism is quite different. Both cam lobes operate a single wide rocker arm that acts on both intake or both exhaust valves. A needle-bearing roller on the arm follows the low-rpm, short-duration, low-lift lobe, forcing both valves to open and close on that profile. The roller design and roller bearings on the rocker arm pivot help to minimize valvetrain friction. The high-rpm, higher-duration, longer-lift lobe rubs on a hardened steel slipper follower mounted to the rocker arm with a spring. Even though the high-rpm lobe is pushing down further than the low-rpm lobe, the spring absorbs the extra movement. At 6000rpm, the ECU sends a signal to an oil control valve at the end of the camshaft that puts oil pressure behind a lock pin in the rocker arm, sliding the pin under the spring-loaded slipper follower, locking it to the rocker arm and forcing the arm to follow the high-rpm cam profile.
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