Previa Comes Home

We have gotten our Previa back! We bought it new, a ’92 model, when I was a couple of months from finishing med school in ’93. We had three kids, and I had a Chevy Caprice that I liked but that had been Texanized: the catalytic converter had been torched off and replaced with a pipe, and all the air pump stuff was gone (all done prior to my purchase). I had orders to California, and I was well aware that the Chev, much as I loved it, wouldn’t pass smog without thousands in repairs. Plus, I was rich! I was finally graduating from med school, and had the O-3 salary to look forward to.

So, the Previa came into our lives. It has carried me and mine a lot of miles, and has come back to us now that the Eldest Daughter now has her own wheels. 180K miles, roughly, and rough is the word. I replaced the plugs at about 60K miles, and the hoses and belts at about 110K, but just before Christmas it was overcome with a buck & shake that sounded to me like terminal tranny problems. Towed to tranny house. Assurred nothing is wrong with trans, “Needs tuneup, for $450+”. Towed home.

Today, after the assembly of many special order parts, repairs were performed: rotor / distributor / wires and plugs. This took me about 3.5 hours, which seems a lot until you know how this happens on a Previa: the front passenger seat is removed, the carpet is pulled up, the access cover is unbolted, then you’re looking at the head.

The rotor and distributor were original, the rest I had replaced at 60K. The distributor came off fairly easily (back of the engine, low, hard to get to); the rotor came off easily, then the scare: there are 8 holes for the mounting screws in the gear. Fortunately, I had spent some time studying it prior to removal and remembered its orientation, and the replacement was a carbon copy, so I lucked out. The rest of the replacement was routine, and it starts fine. Putting it into gear dosen’t result in the buck and shimmy as before, so maybe it helped.

I don’t know whether spending a lot of time setting the timing is useful. I read the Chilton about setting the timing, and it’s somewhat less daunting than fission, but not much. So, I’m undecided.

Anyway, it’s nice to have the old girl home, and we’re hoping for several more happy years together. Next are a lot of fluids, then some interior and exterior detailing, for the TLC she deserves.


  1. And here I was worrying that somebody in your family might be having third trimester bleeding.