I changed the title of the thread again. It would be far too long to keep adding onto it, so I just shortened it instead; this way maybe I won’t have to update it every time I get or lose a car…
I will also probably be making changes to many of my old posts. I’ve spent some time reading through here lately and feel like some things could be removed or reworded; especially after some things have been completed or new plans were put into place…
Anyway, one big update is that I am on a 6 month long work trip currently. I do not have access to any of my cars, which is frustrating and makes me really want to get home; but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Thanks to this trip my expenses are super low, so I am planning on buying a house pretty much as soon as I get back.
I do have a YouTube channel with a few videos on it, if anyone is interested. I do plan on cutting together some montage videos from video clips I have stored on my phone and uploading them at some point while I’m on this trip. I would love to upload some nicer videos of my cars, but what little gopro or other footage I have is all at home on my desktop! I definitely will be making a lot more videos in the future though, really just for easy archiving and sharing as I don’t intend or expect to make any money on the platform.
Now onto the meat and potatoes…
All the cars have been put into storage for the duration of my trip.
My dad is driving the Insight infrequently to keep the battery charged. I would have stored it like the other cars, but he wouldn’t let me do that even though it is completely unnecessary for it be able to move in my absence. It is over 10k miles last I looked. Coming up on the second oil change soon! I may also replace the air filters prematurely; I believe the interval is 30k per Honda, but every other car I’ve owned or worked on has been 15k for air filters.
I’ve got two storage units, for the RX-7 and the Camry. And the 3 other Toyotas are at my buddy’s farm.
Wait…3 other Toyotas? That would mean I have 4 Toyotas, making it 6 total cars???
Yes, you read right. Just a week before leaving on my work trip I picked up one more car; I had to. The deal was just too good.
I installed a nice 4 channel speaker amp since the tape deck I’ve been using has front and rear RCA outputs. I have yet to upgrade from walmart front speakers, but the nice JBLs in the back are being better utilized now. It sounds great, when it wants to properly work. For whatever reason the rear right speaker sometimes causes extreme electrical interference to where the fuel pump drowns out any music you play. I can’t figure it out. Simply unscrewing and remounting the speaker fixes it for a time, but I have not been able to permanently solve the issue. There’s also another odd issue; the front left speaker, specifically above 50mph, will crackle. It doesn’t matter if there’s sound playing or whatever, it just does it. Not sure what’s causing it, and it’s been doing it ever since I put the walmart speakers in.
Excuse my horrible mounting solution… I am heavily considering relocating it.
I installed an oil temperature gauge actually only a few days after getting the motor back in. However, I discovered shortly before my trip that the gauge is displaying temperature incorrectly.
Doing testing, the resistance values from the sending unit would indicate that the oil is like 300F; literally impossible even after multiple hard laps on a track, and even then the motor would have suffered heavy heat stress damage much over 250F anyway. When using an IR thermometer to measure the surface temperature of the oil filter, it is within expected values. I bought a new sending unit but never got a chance to install it, though I’m partially wondering if I simply used too much teflon tape when installing the original sensor; perhaps it’s not grounding properly.
Rotary Cooling Rant
For some background, rotary engines are inherently less reliant on the engine coolant for keeping the motor cool. This is obvious when you remember that all the moving components are buried deep within the assembly. In a piston engine, coolant jackets flow coolant all around the cylinder walls, which naturally also keeps the pistons and related components relatively cool.
So, for a rotary engine, the coolant jackets flow around the perimeter of the motor; this keeps the housing surface cool as the apex seals ride it, and as combustion occurs within chamber. To cool the rotors, eccentric/crank shaft, and the bearings, oil is used. As such, oil temperature is critical and should be kept at similar temperature levels to the coolant thermostat. Most RX-7s came factory with a front mounted oil cooler that is regulated by an oil thermostat, however many first generations and pre-RX-7 Mazda rotaries used what the community calls “the beehive.” The beehive oil cooler is effectively a glorified oil filter pedestal; it mounts where other rotary engines would traditionally have the oil filter, and the oil filter mounts to the top of it.
Additionally, coolant hoses run in and out of the beehive; so by design the oil is primarily “cooled” by the engine coolant itself. In theory this is great, it uses the coolant thermostat to regulate coolant and indirectly regulate oil temperature; it also has the advantage of, at least in theory, heating up the oil with the coolant during cold starts. The beehive however has a major flaw. It does not receive the cool high velocity air that a front mounted cooler does, it relies heavily on coolant temperature and quickly heat soaks when under continual heavy load (such as hot lapping or a long period of spirited driving). For the most part it doesn’t really matter, the beehive is adequate for a stock street car; the main limitation of the beehive is that it cannot cool the oil to a temperature below that of the engine coolant.
Long story short, when on the highway or revving out in lower gears I noticed that the oil temperature gauge would get up to around 220F. Technically this isn’t an issue as it’s below the danger threshold, but the closer to 180F the oil is, the better (180F being coolant thermostat temperature). So of course I did some research and asking around, and while its not bad, its also definitely not normal. At first, I assumed the beehive was not functioning correctly, but after using the IR thermometer it became apparent that the gauge was not reading correctly. I hope to correct this so the gauge gives an accurate indicator of oil temperature for when an actual problem occurs.
I converted to electric fan because my clutch fan is broken. The clutch fan fortunately became stuck engaged, so it just always sounded like a jet engine. They can get stuck disengaged, and that is bad since it cannot regulate coolant temperature at idle or low speeds.
Also discovered that my radiator is leaking, and probably internally clogged some. I will replace the radiator asap when I get back. I found that it would start overheating if I took off from a stop and revved it out after the efan swap.
I might switch back to a clutch fan if I can find a brand new one for a good price; after way too many hours spent researching its evident that, at least on these engines, the clutch fan is actually superior and does not draw hardly any horsepower.
If an eBay aluminum radiator completely solves my cooling issues without swapping back to the broken clutch fan, it will be a cost analysis game. The efan swap itself was about $150. The only clutch fans I’ve found are eBay used from junkyards (probably broken) or $250 for a brand new one. Hopefully there’s a cheaper one out there, but I may not need it. If I could find a cheap one, I might get it and put the efan setup into the Previa; I’m fairly certain the Previa’s clutch fan has also become stuck engaged. However the Previa needs a cooling system overhaul first and foremost, plus sticking to clutch fan (new ones for the van are pennies in comparison) is probably a better idea due to the 2TZ’s tendency to blow head gaskets when not properly maintained.
Worst case could probably sell the efan setup on eBay or keep it for any other future project.
I got the front brake calipers, hoses, and pads all replaced. As well as the rear shoes.
The brake pedal unfortunately is still sketchy, but significant progress was made. The brakes themselves work slightly better, and we’ve realized that after literal hours of bleeding the brakes it has improved somewhat. Not bench bleeding the new master cylinder back in 2020 was a huge mistake. It will take at least another hour or more of straight bleeding to get the pedal feeling the way it should.
I also got that aero panel!
Unfortunately I didn’t really get a good opportunity to really test the benefits. We had nothing but shitty weather before I left.
But not all hope was lost.
My friends and I went on a day trip to a national park nearby. Lots of fun curvy roads, it was an absolute blast.
If it wasn’t cold, wet, and snowy, and my brakes worked to their fullest it would’ve been way better (could barely keep up half the time), but it was so much fun regardless. We went on the trip the day after doing the brakes, dialing in the efan setup, and installing the aero panel! Fortunately the cold weather kept coolant temperatures under control and I was able to push the car as much as brakes and grip allowed. It wasn’t until a summer-like day later that I discovered the overheating problem, and didn’t discover the radiator leak until just a few days before putting the car into storage.
Here’s some pictures from the trip:
I did record a little footage on my GoPro from the inside of the car, but of course that’s back home and not with me. The footage wasn’t very good anyway to be honest. Next time we go, and even just driving my usual routes when I get back, I will definitely record some nice footage and audio!
Not much has happened with the Corolla.
The clutch is still worn, but it is not slipping yet.
And unfortunately I don’t have many pictures here, it’s just text wall today…
There seems to be a new fuel issue. Some kind of leak is my guess, but I haven’t tracked it down yet. When the tank is full you get a nice strong smell of gas as you walk by. But after you drive around a lot and use up fuel, it won’t smell of gas at all.
The exhaust is mostly fixed. I ended up having to get a whole new front pipe, the old one was rotted more than just the flex pipe portion. It still leaks some between the cat and the front pipe, but its unavoidable since the cat’s flanges are completely shot; shouldn’t be noticeable much at all anyway.
However, fixing that part of the exhaust has revealed a leak in/around the manifold. I’d have to get the manifold removed to see if it’s cracked, but it might also just be the gasket.
Pretty much the only picture I have since last time is this. When we were working on the exhaust, the rear O2 sensor broke in half. Made it easy to impact off. Replaced it with a new one so she’s back to not having any codes.
I found factory Toyota floor mats at the junkyard, they cleaned up well.
I also got my hands on a factory plastic undertray. Haven’t been able to test the benefits of it due to weather. Cold weather results in poor mpg no matter what…
I don’t think a ton has happened since last time…
I had my buddy charge the AC, and it worked; however I think it may have leaked out already. Due to not needing it for the weather I didn’t get many opportunities to use it…
The brakes seemed to have self bled or something. The pedal started feeling really really good, almost like the Previa, out of nowhere. And right before I had to put it into storage too
However, I did find the little trim piece that goes around the ignition cylinder. Finally.
One thing to note, it does really bad with cold starts for some reason.
It cranks over great and starts instantly, but it runs like garbage for around 30 seconds before running beautifully. Not sure why. If you check out my YouTube channel I will be uploading a clip from when I cold started it over the winter.
I used fogging oil on the intake and down the spark plug holes. Also disconnected the battery and put on an outdoor rated car cover. Hopefully the paint is still good when I return.
I FINALLY FIXED THE EGR.
I retackled the situation, this time removing the EGT sensor. Came unclogged easy. Problem solved.
Last time I worked on it, I caused a weird whistling noise. I discovered that was due to the EGR itself missing a gasket; the old one must of disintegrated and then I of course didn’t put a new one on. So that is fixed.
Additionally I unbolted the exhaust from the exit of the header, and realigned it. This completely eliminated all exhaust leaks. There was just a tiny one at the flange making a barely noticeable tick.
Unfortunately I have not yet solved the rattling of the exhaust heat shield. It is starting to drive me mad now that the exhaust is absolutely perfect. Just a little side note, I found an awesome pdf on the 2TZ that shows there are two catalytic converters from the factory. My RockAuto exhaust is just a single pod. It’s still quiet and I’m not subject to emissions testing, just an interesting fact; however I do believe it is somewhat louder than it would be with a Toyota exhaust. I recorded a clip with my GoPro and it actually sounds really good, but sadly I do not have access to upload it
I’ve started applying stickers to the rear windshield now, lol.
I plan to make a new headlight wiring harness in the future. Based on some research, the factory wiring is kind of dumb. My new harness will still use the factory wiring, but only for signal from the switch. Otherwise it will be using relays powered straight from the battery and fresh wires from the relays to the bulbs themselves.
The idea is that the new wiring will give full wattage to the bulbs and they will shine to their fullest. Not only properly doing their job, but also as a means to do whatever possible to negate the shitty plastic lenses used on USDM Previas.
I of course also need to remount the fog lights so they’re not crooked.
When I get back, I am finally going to get new tires and put the Lexus LS400 wheels on!
I chose to wait so I wouldn’t risk dry rotting and/or flat spotting brand new tires.
And now for the grand reveal!
Now introducing the newest member of the family, my 1994 Toyota Estima SC AWD!
Yea, you read that right. I have two Previas now.
Wait, two Previas? I thought you said Estima?
Glad you asked. “Estima” is the name used for the TCR10 chassis in Japan, while “Previa” was the name used for the US domestic market. So yes, I have two Previas; or two Estimas depending on how you prefer.
One of my good buddies found a typical shitty Facebook Marketplace listing. Single extremely shit picture, basically no description. It did say “modified for mail delivery,” however. What the hell does that mean???
Well, glad you asked. It means it’s a RHD van that had the seats removed and a big metal tray installed in place of the left side passenger seat; so you can put letters to grab from. Fortunately the guy kept the seats!
I never did take any pictures of the interior with the tray still installed, but I did think to take one before dropping off a bunch of stuff at the metal recycler.
Approx 30k miles, or about 50k kilometers, $5k USD, already imported. I would be a fool not to partake.
Naturally, when you go to buy a rare mid engine supercharged minivan, you drive your other rare mid engine supercharged minivan to go pick it up.
Grabbed my buddy, got some cash, and high tailed it down to Tennessee in none other than the Previa.
And though the fuel costs were probably not worth it, the hilarity and awesomeness outweighed it tenfold.
Needless to say, the Estima is in a lot better condition than the Previa. But at the same time, it also gives you a good benchmark to show that the Previa is actually way nicer than a lot of US Previas. Visually the Previa and Estima both look great, but the Previa does have some rust, it rattles, lots of zip ties, has interior blemishes, and of course has almost 230k miles.
Now, the Estima is not truly mint by any means.
Being used as a mail van took its toll. There’s some scratches and dents, and there is some paint fade/oxidizing just from age; but its an excellent starting point and definitely worth investing in bodywork and fixing the paint.
But apart from that, it is in perfect mechanical condition, mostly.
It needs a new wheel speed sensor to fix the ABS. And there’s a code in the airbag computer. It’s something about the center sensor or something, I’m confused by the diagnostic process in my Previa service manual and can’t find any parts under that name.
Additionally, it is missing the entire right side roof side trim; being a twin moonroof model it has a raised roof (the sliding rear moonroof goes straight back over the roof sheet metal, it doesn’t come down and slide into a hidden compartment) and the plastic trim runs along the length of the roof on either side to cover the sides of the moonroofs.
And below is the left side which has the trim
Additionally, the left front corner was banged on something at some point. There’s scuff marks on the bumper and it is missing the parking sensor (yes this van has parking sensors). And the van also has a USDM plastic headlight on the left side, likely due to the JDM glass headlight having shattered during that bump. The mismatched headlights are ugly, and the plastic headlights suck; plus the JDM headlights have integrated fog lights. (This is my first ever car with stock fog lights, lmao).
The above is what the parking sensor looks like on the other side.
I cannot seem to locate a parking sensor or the roof trim online. The roof trim should be universal between USDM and JDM as the moonroof option was available in the US and these are both the wider TCR10 chassis; but the parking sensor is going to be JDM specific.
On the subject of the headlight, the rear right tail light is also damaged. It was also dinged in the rear at some point. I noticed looking at both my vans, the JDM tail light is slightly different; you can tell the shapes inside are different and the reflector piece is different.
Fortunately I found both a JDM headlight and tail light online. I ordered them right away, but they did not arrive before I left. My family has sent me pictures and both arrived complete and in good shape; I was slightly worried the glass headlight could have cracked or broken in shipping, but its good!
I performed an oil change as quickly as I could find time. The oil was very dark, and I was actually pretty hesitant to drive it 5 hours home on that oil… With the giant tray in place of the passenger seat, checking and adding oil was very difficult; the JDM models are exactly like the USDM models for this, just the USDM models have the steering wheel on the left of course. I don’t think the oil was changed during the previous owner’s tenure…
We didn’t have tools and just wanted to get home more than anything so I had to change it later. But its not leaking and after the change it has looked great!
The supercharger is very audible in the Estima. Much better condition van with no rattles and worn out components; plus the factory super quiet exhaust.
This is also my first AWD vehicle, and the first full-time awd vehicle I have driven. Granted the Previa has worn out suspension and old tires, I can still tell a MASSIVE difference in traction between the vans. The Previa loves to one wheel peel in the rain if you aren’t gentle, but the Estima does not care if its pouring rain. (The Estima’s tires are only a few years newer I think, and they are also mismatched unfortunately).
I’ve also noticed an issue with the throttle. There was a spring on the throttle cable for some reason, probably some post office nonsense; which even though it is removed the pedal still feels weird and occasionally gets stuck… Definitely something that needs addressed right away.
Fun fact about Estimas: they have independent rear suspension.
Previas and AUSDM Taragos have solid rear axles, think pickup truck, old muscle car; or more relevant, like my RX-7.
Obviously the awd plays a big part, but I can still tell a difference in grip at the rear; but more noticeable is an increase in comfort over bumps.
So, if you ever see a right drive egg van but you don’t see Estima or Tarago badges, you can tell which it is by looking at the rear axle!
Here’s a screenshot of the Previa’s rear end for comparison. Awful pic I know, but I don’t have any actual pics and had to screenshot a video lol
Alright alright, enough rambling here’s some pictures
Power folding mirrors, because Japan. It also has a fully auto driver window, vs auto down only on the Previa. Another weird fun fact is that the passenger side does not have a power lock switch, and it seems intentional because there is a blank where it would go.
The previous owner did keep the seats, and just put them in the back before selling it. I did get all the seats properly mounted before I left.
Yes it has the swivel seats!
Digital climate control, original radio (including Japanese traffic information radio button), parking sensors, not broken cup holders, cool and hot box, and an air purifier.
Cool badging because Japan.
You’re not cool enough to have twin mid engine supercharged minivans.
I’ll see you soon!
I shall return in 6 months!