Regard this as supplementry to the other guides on the Lucida.
It is based on my own experience of owning a 1995 Auto 4WD fitted with ABS one for about 27 months during which I covered about 30k kilometres. A lot of that took place in the EU where I found the MPV driving position quite good when overtaking, specially if without the benefit of a passenger looking out for you. I fitted TOYO Snow and Mud tyres, given that I used the car in ski resorts, but never found tyre noise or mpg to be a problem with them. The best I got on motorways was 30 to the gallon, the worst 26.
You will find the speedo way out due to the conversion dials fitted, but the odometer is spot on. I had a conversion loom fitted for a European radio-cd player and found that the built in drop down TV could be driven from a portable DVD player with a NTSC output switch. As the car was imported with nearly 100k on it, the dealer changed the cam belt and the auxilary drive couplings for a modest charge. He also threw in a RAC inspection and warrantee scheme.
The thing about the warrantee scheme was that it excluded cracked cylinder heads, you can guess the rest. I would strongly recommend that you insist on a coolant check for combustion gases, it is a simple and cheap test. Why the dealers don't get it done before they go to the expense of importing cars is a mystery. The symptoms at a later stage become obvious, looking like a steam kettle when starting and occasionally hydraulicing when starting. This is when so much water is present in one or more cylinders, that the engine cannot be physically turned over without damage. There are two techniques to deal with this.
The first is to depressurise the cooling system within a couple of minutes of stopping, make sure you use a glove. The second is to put in some radiator sealant, I found mine in a French Supermarket. Amazingly it will (mainly) seal the cracks in the head, usually between the valve seats. It worked for me and I did over 4k kilometres mainly on motorways before I could find someone to exchange the head. Contrary to advice elsewhere, I found that the autobox Lucida would cruise without strain at 3500 rpm even in Spain and 25 plus degrees temp.
However to sound an note of caution on exchange heads, they might be remanufactured and not new. So they then can fail for a different reason than recracking between valve seats. If you get symptoms of venting coolant, even after changinging the pressure cap, and or changing the radiator, then very likely the head is cracked in one of the inlet passages before the valve. You won't get the steaming or hydraulic locking, nor water in the lube oil. This one you can't alleviate without another head being fitted. Mine gradually got worse to the point that the water level light would come on in about 60km. I believe that some companies are trying to weld the cracks and then remachining the heads. Mine didn't look like a new head built up with parts like it was claimed to be. The reason that no water enters the engine, is that the turbo is continually pressurising the inlet passage crack at a higher pressure than the cooling system gets to, Hence all the water venting. If you take the head off yourself, it needs to be pressure tested when immersed in an 80 degree bath to simulate the expansion in the alloy when the engine is at normal temperature to find the fault. If you just get water in the sump oil, probally just a head gasket failure which may in turn be due to a warped head.
My buying advice. Insist on the combustion gas test, also as well as the things I had done, change the radiator (they are cheap & mine ran more even on indicated temp afterwards) and the expansion cap. Get them to change the idler pulleys and use a Toyota, not a pattern cam belt. If much later on it starts steaming, dose it with sealant and sell it cheap. You will save a lot of money in the long run. On the plus side, even though the roadholding is not the best, it still can be chucked around, just get used to the roll. What other vehicle can you get 4 adults and their bicycles and luggage in and if you take the third row of seats out, it becomes a van. And for that time that I came barrelling out of a long Spanish Motorway tunnel to find 1.5 inches of hail covering the tarmac, wasn't I glad of diesel engine braking & 4WD that day.
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8 November 2008
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