Since the Previa weighs a bit over 4000lbs, some were underwhelmed by the performance available from the 2.4 liter inline-4 they all came equipped with. The American market in particular demanded more powerful engines but a physically larger engine was out of the question given the Previa’s layout, so they opted instead for forced air induction.
Taking the SC14 supercharger from the Supra, Toyota managed to go from 135hp to 160hp and add a whole bunch of torque.
The addition was after the initial design phase, and Toyota had to find a place to put the supercharger. The engine bay (nook? cubby?) didn’t have room to spare, so they added it in the front, driven by the Supplemental Accessory Drive System (colloquially “SADS”).
Don’t take this to mean it’s “under the hood.” While technically accurate, it’s so far down under the hood that it’s nearly invisible. This is a problem when it needs mechanical attention.
Superchargers do need periodic maintenance, which is rational given that they’re basically spinning like mad in a sealed chamber when called upon. The process of changing the oil in the supercharger presents a number of challenges.
The first issue was the oil itself. I’ve made an effort to stick with the original equipment wherever possible, but it turns out the genuine Toyota Supercharger fluid (08885-80108) is made of unicorn tears and stardust, since each 50ml (1.6oz) bottle costs a bit over $50. Even worse, I’d need 2.5 bottles to refill the whole thing.
On Nick CZ’s recommendation, I picked up some GM supercharger fluid from my local Buick dealer. For $8 I got 4oz (118ml).
The other challenge revolved around the location of the part, roughly illustrated here on a different Previa:
With the front skid plate/shroud removed and the van lifted ever so slightly on jackstands, I got underneath and found the elusive supercharger dipstick!
Since it was still in a very awkward spot, I made a filling apparatus out of a syringe and a length of lawnmower fuel line.
The paltry amount of oil that came out, despite likely being just as old as the van, still looked pretty healthy. It might actually be magic. I slowly refilled the housing with the GM oil, which was a bit more difficult to measure, as it’s clear, rather than yellow like Toyota’s.
I got it all back together, and I’m looking forward to finally dipping into the top of the Previa’s power band without worrying about a dry blower.