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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • tkccetkcce Posts: 5
    I have an Astro van that needed the rear axle rebulit at 46000 miles. Now at 86000 it is make the same high pitch whine noise and is going back to the dealer this week. I suspect the rear axle bearings are scored again. Anyone else out there with this problem. Also I have noticed the abrupt shifting from first to second gear a few times over the last one to two years. This is supposed to be an indication of a transmission problem. Anyone with any experience on these two problems.
  • RE: Message from coonhound!! 219
    Could you or some one else elaborate on the preventative measures? I have a 2001 Astro van and just hit 3000 miles. Will bring it in for first "checkup" (do I have to go to Chevy? I wouldn't but post re. brakes and other hidden maintenance problems worry me).

    Should I have Chevy change all fluids to synthetic???

    Happy with vehicle. Only problem so far was rear door misalignemnt which was corrected by dealer.
    Hope to keep this vehicle a long time.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Since 1996 I have logged a little over 300,000 miles on 3 AWD Astros. My current a 2001 LT just clicked over 22,000 miles since I bought it new in June. The 1998 AWD is sitting in the driveway with 95,000 and has not had a serious problem in it's life. My most serious maintenance problem was with the '96, and a transmission that went out. Yes, I've have water pumps and alternators and brakes, of course, go out but that's about it. I'm religious about changing oil every 5,000 miles and all the other fluids except radiator every 20,000. I've learned that the dealer knows the most about my vehicle and that's where it goes for the 20,000 mile check. I just don't have many problems with these vehicles. I owe it the the maintenance. Oh, and I rotate tires at every 5,000 too.
  • RE: Jcastine:
    No, I would not change the fluids to synthetic until after the original factory warranty period. And I doubt that the dealer would add any lubricants except Delco by GM.

    The GM specification is to change the differential lube at 15000 miles if used for towing. Transmission at 30,000 when used for towing. And there are other severe duty conditions where these intervals apply.

    Good luck, you should not have any serious problems. It is one tough truck, yes---like a rock.

    My 97 Astro was a program vehicle that I purchased with 26,500 miles in early 1998.

    Under warranty I had a Serpentine belt replaced, one fuel injector just after I bought it. The sliding door adjusted, and some ignition wiring routing recall. I just received the second notice about the seat belt buzzer recall. I guess I'll meet the government specification.

    I also pulled the DRL fuse to shut off the daytime running lamps. The 97 does not have auto on. I hate those lights being on all the time.

    The brakes are not a problem area with these vans. I drove the 94 company driver 85,000 and the only repair item was spark plugs and serpentine belt. The brake caliper slides on a small bushing that slides in rubber inserts, probably O-rings, and this is on of the areas that needs the silicone lubricant at each tire rotation, so I hear. They were binding when I removed them.

    I like the synthetic oil, Mobil 1 especially due the the higher withstand temperature before degradation starts.

    It's a good idea to go to the dealer for the first couple of oil changes at least. As long as you keep maintenance records there should not be a problem with warranty.
  • I need to replace the drivers side power window motor on my 97 Astro. I have a shop manual and it does not look too hard, anybody have any insight or things too look out for on this job?
  • Thank you all. Could not get to dealer for 3000 mi oil change. Had jiffy lube put in synthetic. Hope that's OK
  • RE: Jcastine:
    You done good. There is a site on Edmunds where a lubrication Engineer says that not all synthetics ar really synthetics. He is connected with some synthetic lubricant supplier or marketer that I've never heard of, but he reported that Mobil 1 is a Synthetic. He posted a lot of good information, but at the moment I don't remember how I got to that information. An I even use some Castrol, but he said that it is not a synthetic. I don't know! It is worth your time to go find the info. as it is rather in depth and informing.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,971
    I think you are referring to "bobistheoilguy". I've seen his posts in Engine Sludge?.

    There are several other discussions about engine oil, synthetics, and oil analyzing over in the Maintenance and Repair Board.

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  • it developed a coolant leak at 59,725 miles when it was over 7 years old. The problem was a leaky manifold gasket that cost $335 labor to replaced a $15.54 part. While driving it in to get that item repaired, the windshield wiper motor quit. I feel $306.60 for a small, cheap motor made in Mexico is exorbitant and so was the $67 labor to replace the wiper motor. When those 2 things happed at the same time, we got scared and traded it on a 1999 GC SE. GM paint is greatly superior to the paint of DaimlerChrysler. Our Astro never got any rust spots with NO waxing...just washing. Meanwhile, after 1 and 1/2 winters, our 99 GC SE has little rust spots all over each side that can be taken off/covered up with Turtle Wax and MUCH labor.
    We had the rotten, doofluss GM digital dash that had defective coolant temp and oil pressure that started working intermittently after a couple of years. However, both always worked when we took it in for service until about 7 years old when neither worked any more. Due to exorbitant cost of a new instrument module and labor, we did not get it replaced. Meanwhile, our daughter got a well used 91 Astro RS EXTD and the digital dash in it with 188,000 miles on odometer still works perfectly.
    My good friend drove Astro vans for a airport shuttle service and one had gone 700,000 miles and the other one 650,000 miles with original engine in both. He says the 4.3 L Vortec
    engines will last forever.
    Would I buy another Astro? YES. If GM would take the advice of Avro1 and extend the front to provide decent leg and foot room for driver and front passenger.
    Our 91 Astro got 23 to 24 MPG on trips and overall average for 61,600 miles was 20.7 MPG. I loved the great gas mileage with the large 27 gal fuel tank, the great visibility, and overall excellence of the Astro.
  • I have a 1999 Safari SLE. When it rains, I can hear water sloshing around. I find a lot of water in the cavity of the sliding door area at the bottom of the body. There is a small area under the step when the door is open. If you open the sliding door after it rains, water will come gushing out. I checked the sliding door seal and it looks okay. Any other suggestions on how to remedy this problem?
  • apmapm Posts: 11
    I have same '99 model Safari. Never had leaking problem as you describe. I noticed that in our '93 model Astro that when washing footwell area with a hose that water would drain from hole placed in front of cavity - '99 has no such drain and water needs to be sponged out.
    Can't imagine where your water comes from, please let me know when you cipher this.
  • I had a 94 Astro Co. driver and now have a 97 Astro personal vehicle. Neither of these have have ever had any water leak problems.

    If you have not tried it, I would treat the seals with a heavy silicone. I would use one in a trigger spray bottle.

    GM recommends silicone treatment of the seals on several of their vehicles.
  • tkccetkcce Posts: 5
    I had bearings in rear axle replaced at 46000 miles on a 97 Astro, with locking differential and AWD. This was done under the 3 year/36000 mile warranty. GM apparently felt it was a problem that should not have happened. Now at 86000 needed to replace pinion gear. GM Dealership who replace pinion gear told me the pinion gear was installed too tight either with the bearing replacements or from the factory. This was the reason for the problem. Initial bearing work done by GM dealer where I purchased the van. That was a small dealership that succumbed to GM's push to consolidate small dealerships. Pinion gear replaced by another GM dealership. They told me to call GM customer assistance. The service manager said that this is a problem that should not happen.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    This is so sad that the Astro/Safari are of such quality that we go for days with no one posting a complaint or a problem.

    Just like a Timex they just keep on ticking. Why can't it be like the Siena where the site is always near the top postings?
  • My first Safari Cargo now has 6000 miles. I have been satisfied so far. The fit and quality of some of the minor parts could be better considering the cost, but they are minor complaints.

    We just had our first snow since I got it and I am very pleased with the AWD and the anti-lock brakes. Mine has the 3.42 with locking rear axle.

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,971
    Do you really want an answer, coonhound? I have a buddy with an Astro that won't die, but most folks think they are "old technology", ride like the truck frames they are built on and aren't "eggplant" shaped enough. Not good reasons to cross them off one's list perhaps, but the sales numbers aren't very high, so I guess the message isn't getting through.

    I enjoyed the Timex analogy - I found my watch on a beach back in 1971 and wear it perhaps a week a year. Just wore it traveling last week and it cranked right up and kept good time. Yep, it's a Timex :-)

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  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    So does my good friend who drove Astros for an airport shuttle service. One had 700,000 miles on odometer and another had only 650,000 on original engines. Vortec 4.3L V6 is rugged, dependable, great torque at low RPM while delivering respectable gas mileage. Our 91 Astro CL 2WD had an overall average of 20.7 miles for the 7 and 1/2 years we had it. Loved the large fuel tank with good gas mileage.
  • I believe in preventative maintenance, especially when it comes to fluid changes. Took my '94 Astro into the Chevy dealer and requested they change the oil in the front differential. After examining it, the service manager told me it could not be done. No drain plug, no cover that can be removed. After 100,000 plus miles I figured it should be changed ( I purchased the van with 124,000 on it). I wound up doing the job myself by purchasing a simple oil hand pump that resembles a grease gun. It was difficult to remove the oil because it's hard to to get the suction hose past the gears, but you can flush it by overfilling at the fill plug and catching the excess with a drain pad. Did this several times, driving the van a few blocks between flushes. Kinda hard to believe that Chevy made no provision for this routine service item. My '98 Tracker has both fill and drain plugs on the front diff.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    We bought GM for many years as they were comfortable,reliable and easily maintained. The dismal accessibility of components in the Astro plus the new fad of GM to hide the battery in new vehicles were factors in us now owning another brand....having given the 3 of the last 4 reliable, dependable Chevrolet vehicles to our daughters.
    We traded in our 91 Astro CL as I felt it would be too expensive to do repairs. It cost $335 labor to replace a leaking manifold gasket. It cost $32 labor just to replace the air filter.
    When we mentioned the fact that the battery on most new GM vehicles is very inconvenient, the salesman said "You can have it towed in to get the battery replaced". My response was I will NOT have my vehicle towed to the dealer to replace the battery for a large fee and be charged twice as much for the battery as I can buy it elsewhere when intelligent design would place the battery where it is accessible.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Re: Carleton1:
    It is true that the engine access is frightening, and due to the intimidation, maintenance repair shops feed on that. They want extra payment to change the spark plugs. Actually, the engine access is not all that difficult. Just because it looks impossible to work on the consumer is charged the flat rate hours X2. It is not unlike disk brake jobs. Disk brakes are much easier to replace than drum brakes, but shops charge a premium for disk over drum brakes. I pull those front pads and lubricate the pins before breakfast, or replace the pads for that matter.
    Spark plugs do require about an hour to replace.

    Replacing the transmission and differential lubricants is messy due to the lack of a drain plug, but that saves $00.50 on production cost. I use a mortar mixing container from Home Depot to drain the oil into. I find the astro easy to work on, not that there is that much work or maintenance required.

    I really like my rock.
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