The Previa’s natural demeanor over the road leans more toward wallowy relaxation than anything else. While it’s certainly quick enough in its responses, it prefers not to be rushed. It’s very much a docile cow. When I got it, mine exhibited pretty severe pulsation under braking which took away from the relaxation, though it did make the descent into the valley feel even more like landing a plane.
The obvious culprit was warped brake rotors, so I picked up new pads and rotors at Napa. I went for their nicer offerings, since I don’t feel like replacing the parts again too soon.
Since Chris knows all sorts of tricks for brakes and I’m totally out of my element with anything hydraulic, he came over to help me out.
We took off the old rotors and pads. They came out surprisingly easily, though the left front caliper was pretty sticky, and the parts that came out didn’t look particularly worn, though notably, the left front pads were pulling apart.
While we were down there, we also rigged together the ABS wire with speaker wire since it’s all I had. I’ll know if the connection fails, since it turns out that was the reason the ABS light was staying on.
I took the van a test drive around the block and the braking was smoother and vibration free. Job done. Or not.
I drove down the road in the van to the junkyard for some interior trim piece. I got out of the car to a cloud of acrid smoke. The sticky caliper? It was actually a seized caliper.
The story that we developed was that the previous owner went through the same motions but rather than replace the seized caliper, they just drove it until the smell went away. As a result, so much heat built up that the pad compound pulled away from its base and was acting as sort of a spring against the rotor.
In any case, I limped the van back home with the smallest of fires developing in my front wheel. I got home, put the van on jackstands, took off the wheel and let it cool down.
The next morning, Chris came over again, used his brake replacement tricks, and installed the new caliper. While there’s a still pulsation under heavy braking, this time from the damage cause by the seized caliper, it’s much more subtle than the one that was there before, so hey, that’s progress.