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if the car is running well with plenty of low down power and good fuel consumption then its likley that the VANOS system is operating correctly
I'd suggest its possible that 1 or more of the solenoids may be stcking, so producing a slow response and so the error message so that'd be the next items I'd flush out
sounds like you might be gettting close
I'd replace that exhaust solenoid as the next step
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