You can bet your behind that in Canada there is a rule or policy to follow, or license required, to do just about anything. Ensuring that a vehicle is road safe is definitely not exempt. And rightly so! Although, the task to make an import deemed “compliant” can be a total pain in the…
So, I knew we would definitely need to do a few things to make the van compliant in North America: headlights, DOT tires and day time running lights, for sure. After completing those “simple tasks” I took it to two shops where they each quoted approximately $3000 to replace many different suspension and chassis parts to deem it safe for Canadian roads and guarantee a pass.
Well, that was a hard slap in the face.
Of course we realized the van would need a lot of work and attention before we left, but we hoped we could do it over the course of a few weeks AFTER it was deemed safe and insured. I took the van to Steve from Rising Sun Imports to get his input. He’s well known in the Lower Mainland for specializing in Mitsubishi Delica repairs and imports and he walked me through what needed to be replaced for compliance and otherwise, as all the vans wear out in the same way. I decided it would be best (and cheapest) to buy the parts and replace it all myself. After all, doing your own work is the best way to get to know your vehicle. After dropping $1200 in parts I had a list of jobs ahead of me that I’d never tackled before: ball joints, lower control arm bushings, sway bar linkages/bushings, tie rod ends and CV boot replacements. Living in the city, I’d long since given up the majority of my tools. Knowing I had a ton of hours ahead of me wrenching on this adventure mobile, I needed to get dialed in with the necessities I would need for the repairs and stock up on the tools I would need to take on the trip. It took 20-25 hours of solid wrenching (over the course of 2 or 3 weekends) with Penny passing me tools and squeezing into the really tight spots.
Finally, it was time for inspection again… I only made it a couple blocks down the road before the van lost power. Dead. Battery. I hoofed it over to Canadian Tire but still missed the inspection appointment. The next day Steve let us know the front brake pads and rotors would need to be replaced in order to pass. Rookie mistake! I should have checked the brakes… I gave him the green light to do the work, but asked for the old parts. This was for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t sure if I could trust him yet and 2) Spares are essential for any overland trip!
I picked the van up at an alignment shop quite a distance from Rising Sun, but it didn’t matter. Our van beast was on the road legally and driving so much better. At that point, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I was bombing down the road with the AM radio on since the FM frequency from Japan doesn’t work here. The oldies tunes were cranked with the windows down. The sun was beaming in and as I stopped at intersections I could see other motorists in their standard sedans looking up at this big, white, right-hand-driving, space-ship-looking van and I was in the driver’s seat just PUMPED that we were finally on the road. So what did we have to do to get the van road worthy?
Here’s what our to-do list looked like:
- Headlights replaced so they aren’t aimed at the oncoming lane (right hand drive issue since they couldn’t be adjusted)
- Daytime running light module
- Side reflectors, wired in (don’t even get me started!)
- DOT approved tires (we also opted for a full-size spare)
- Ball joints
- Lower control arm bushings
- Sway bar linkages/bushings
- Tie rod ends
- CV boot replacements
- Front brakes and rotors
- Flushed the system with methyl hydrate (this stopped it from stalling)
Of course, we were just getting started with improvements but at least the important stuff was taken care of! Once we passed the inspection we continued upgrading and replacing other parts, in hopes we would avoid doing it curbside on a narrow road in rural Guatemala. Because, you know, we’ve heard the stories.