• Basic Knowledge for Van Owners

    Checking and adding fluids • Battery • Oil filter • Fuses • Wiper fluid

    Tools needed: Nada!


    To check the brake fluid, open the driver’s door (yes, really):


    Looking closer, here’s a view of the "window” to check the brake fluid level:

    Add brake fluid by removing the black rubber cap. Use DOT 3 brake fluid. Use a funnel and go slowly. Wipe any spilled fluid up immediately.


    First, lift the engine “hood” (under your driver’s seat). Yes, really.

    Here’s where it’s all found:


    Here’s what it is:

    1 = Oil fill cap. Add oil here! Toyota calls for SAE 10W30 oil in the 3Y and 4Y van engines. Some vans may require a different oil; most do not. Fill to the “full” line on the dipstick. If you are changing the oil, Toyota says you will need 3.7 quarts or 3.5 liters to refill.

    2 = Location of the oil dipstick

    3 = Radiator cap, which is on the “filler neck”, NOT on the radiator (vans be different)!

    4 = Coolant overflow tank. On the passenger (fan shroud) side of the tank, there are molded lines saying “ADD” and “FULL”. It helps to place a flashlight on top of the coolant bottle before looking at the lines; that way the coolant level shows up great. You will still have to lean waaay over.

    If you are checking coolant, DO include a check at the radiator cap (but NOT if the van is hot; wait until it cools down). If there is a leak anywhere in the system, the coolant overflow bottle (4) can be full, but the system itself can become dangerously low on fluid. You should see coolant up to the top of the filler neck.

    If the coolant regularly disappears (that is, the van needs coolant added to the overflow more than around once a year) or there is little or no coolant visible at the filler neck, the van has a serious problem. Don’t put off investigating that!!!


    Open the slider door. Yes, really!

    On 2nd generation (’86-’89) vans, slide the passenger seat forward first.
    On 1st generation (’84-’85) vans, the passenger seat doesn’t slide, so don’t try!

    The left cover (that should have a plastic-headed wing nut, but might not) is the access for your oil filter, power steering fluid, and (on automatic vans), the tranny fluid dipstick.

    Also notice that behind the driver’s seat on the floor is another carpet flap hiding the cover for the battery!
    If your van is not too beat up and hasn’t been modified by previous owner(s), the battery location sticker is probably still present on the interior trim panel:

    Get the largest battery that fits in the compartment — don’t mess around with puny batteries for the vans.

    This is a 5-speed van, so no tranny dipstick.

    Toyota calls for Dexron® or Dexron II® automatic transmission fluid (ATF) in the vans' power steering fluid system (and, in fact, for every other Toyota I’ve owned). These have been superceded by Dexron III®. DO NOT use “power steering fluid”! DO NOT overfill!

    Here’s the transmission fluid dipstick on an automatic transmission van:

    Toyota calls for Dexron II® automatic transmission fluid (ATF); this has been superceded by Dexron III®
    Add fluid, if necessary, with a loooong skinny funnel right into the dipstick tube.


    Here’s your van’s fuse box, found in the area under the glove box:


    Here it is with the main cover off. Notice the small covered portion on the right side …


    And here’s what’s lurking under that small covered portion.

    These two fuses are necessary to the van’s operation — THEY ARE NOT EXTRA FUSES!
    Notice that the correct amperage and purpose of each is noted on the small cover.

    And here’s the back (inside) of the main fuse box cover, telling you what should be where and why.

    The upper arrow points to the REAL spare fuses.
    The lower arrow points to the very cool and effective fuse puller (thanks, Toyota!).


    Open the (rear) lift gate. Yes, REALLY!

    Here it is!


    On the 1984 vans ONLY, there is a separate reservoir in the front. Access by lifting the passenger side carpet:


    Now, aren’t you glad you have one of these kewl and ingenious Toyota Vans?

    Comments or questions on these basics? Want to read about others' experiences and tips?
    Go HERE to the companion forum thread !!!