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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro

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  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    I bought a new set of Michelin LTX P215/75R15 for my '98 Safari AWD last month. The van is now floating excessively on highway. I have had the steering and tie- rods checked out and lubed but didn't help. I just noticed the driver side front wheel is rubbing against the wheel well in low speed full left turn. I suspect the torsion bar front spring might have sagged and needed adjustment. However, my mechanic told me that he haven't seen one that needed done even though it's adjustable.

    Is the floating a result of sagging spring? Or are these two problem related at all?
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    .

    Torsion bars and leaf springs on the AWD Safari van are "steel based". And being steel, they will loose their static support load and elastistic return ability over time. In other words, these steel parts do wear out and over time, one's AWD does sit lower each year. Not much each lower per year but over a 9+ year period, one's van may sag 1 - 1.5" (which some say isn't very much).

    For my "used" 2001 Safari AWD, I figure its front was sagged 1" and 1.5" in its rear. To check for sag, crawl under the front of your van and look at its front drive axles - going into each front hub. To reduce bearing / seals wear, these front axles should be straight across or better yet, on a slight downward slope to its outer hub. When hitting a normal bump, the front drive axles become level. For my used van, the front drive axle was on its opposite slope. And when its front hit a bump, its axles had even more downward to outer hub slope. Talk about improperly aligned front axles. Thus, the main reason why I raised the front of my van 1.5". And its rear was raised 2". Now, the "stance" and wheel clearance on my AWD van looks and feels great - even with its factory recommended "P215/75R15" tires.

    For pictures of my lifted 2001 Safari AWD van, surf:
    http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w251/Spike99-Pictures/Safari%20Van/VanStance-- afterSuspensionupgrade.jpg
    http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w251/Spike99-Pictures/Safari%20Van/FrontTorsi- on-Adjustmentarea.jpg

    Also.... Not all "rubber" on tires has the exact same diameter. Your brand new "LTX P215/75R15" tires may have 1/4" more tread thickness then a different brand of P215/75R15 tire. Add 1/4" higher with "natural sag" from steel based suspension parts and and yes, your new tires "can" rub. Sad to say but true...

    When the existing P215/75R15 tires on my 2001 Safari AWD need to be replaced, I plan to replace with LTX P215/70R15 tires. Yes. smaller 70 series instead of its recommended 75 (taller) tires. Smaller tires means less stress on its braking parts (due to less weight from its spinning wheel to stop), better MPG on the fast hiways (especially on hills at hiways speeds) and being less rubber from rim to outer edge, there's LESS roll on the corners. Some folks like to install LT tires (that are great for towing heavy loads) but for my 98% passenger van, the "P215/70R15" size replacement would be much better. If wondering, my one buddy put LTX P215/70R15 on his 2WD Safari van and today, he swears that he'd never go back to factory recommended "LTX P215/75R15" again.

    BTW: One can "turn up" their torsion bars to gain 1"-1.5" more height in the front. And, one can also install a +1 leaf to gain 1.75"-2.0" in the rear (like I did). Add some HD shocks (like Blinstiens or Rancho 9000 series) and your van can easily take your new "LTX P215/75R15" replacement tires. If you feel your van pulls like an "old dog" and struggles too much with its existing axle gearing, then going with LTX P215/70R15 (smaller 70 series sizing) would be much better.

    Hope this helps as well..

    .
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    .

    Forgot to mention....

    To determine Tire Size measurements and differences of going to different tire size, plug your tire numbers into:

    http://www.miata.net/garage/tirecalc.html

    Going from P215/75R15 to P215/70R15 is 3.1% off-set at 60 MPH. One's speedo will show 60 MPH but real ground speed is 58 MPH. That's ok because most folks drive 65 mph on a 60 zone anyway. More importantly, less weight tire and slightly more higher rpm on its engine. Thus, less "struggling" on the fast hiways - especially on the hills and/or with more then 2 people in the van. To me, AWDs have too tall of OD gear and in 3rd gear, it demands too much gas - due to its engine RPMs being too high.

    Hope this helps as well...

    .
  • I have the XC LT4'S on my Astro and have had no problems at all with the clearance and mine are the 235/70/15'S. I think your right something is has to be sagging in your suspension for those tires to not fit properly. I would think that's the smallest tire they require on that vehicle, any smaller would probally be dangerous I believe.
    DLM1
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    If one enters 235-70R-15 and 225-75R-15 numbers into http://www.miata.net/garage/tirecalc.html , one will notice their outer diamater size is almost exactly the same. Actually, the 235-70R-15 is .3 inch "smaller" - when compared to 225-75R-15 rubber. Smaller ratio of height but wider tread.

    The less middle number, the less ratio of rubber from rim to outer thread. 70 is shorter ration then 75. The 205, 225 and 235 is the width of the thread. If I remember correctly, my previous '95 van had 205-75r-15 (yes, 205s). Thus, skinny but tall rubber. Not too sure if I'd put 205-70R on a AWD but 225-70-15 works great for my buddy's Astro AWD. With its factory 3.43 gearing, the 70 series tires makes his van struggle less on the fast hiways. And especially when pulling his PUP trailer up hills. And with less ration of rubber, less "outward body rolling" on the sharp corners.

    If you want to keep the 225-75R-15 tires, I'd seriously look at maybe lifting the front 1" (via torsion bar adjustments) and installing Blistien shocks. Thus, removing "natural over time" front and rear sag. I hear Blistien shocks on the Astro/Safari van work great. And if you feel its rear suspension needs more "static load support", I'd install Timbrens on its rear. If wondering, I have Timbrens on the rear of my 2001 Safari AWD. They work great.

    Hope this helps as well...

    .
  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    Thank you all for your replies! Here's the update:

    The scraping of the left wheel was actually caused by a piece of loose rubber skirting. My mechanic re-attached it with some SS screws and problem solved.

    I will try a wheel alignment to tackle the floating.
  • Please do not tell people that switching from a 21/5/75/15 to a 215/70/15 tire will give them better gas mileage because the tire wieghs less.

    your gas mileage would go down slightly, because at the same speed you'd be at a higher RPM...
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    Sorry you feel that way.

    My buddy has a 2000 AWD Astro with 3.42 factory gears (whis is default for many AWD version of the Astor/Safari models). He dumped his factory 75 series tires and went with 70 series replacement. Lighter weight tire, slightly more RPMs but more importantly, his van "lugs less". Because his van lugs less, he doesn't have to press "as hard" on the gas peddle. Thus, he saves gas. Yes. Saves gas because is van "struggles under stress" much less. From a laws of physics perspective, there's a difference a difference in "energy consumption" when it comes to gears and body weight. My buddiy's AWD van "lugs less" with smaller diameter (more RPM rotating) tires. Yes, if he went on 12" rims, his tires would litterly spin off their hubs. And, gas consumption would be horrible. But as my buddy says, the 70 series tires "saves him more MPG" - due to less lugging on the hiways and up the wills. Especially when fighting a head wind at the same time. Almost list someone installed between his current 3.42 gearing and mixed 3,73 gearing. For more details, surf contents of: http://astrosafari.org/axleinfo.htm

    OK - sill don't believe me??? Take a 10 speed and put into 5th gear and try to peddle away from a stop possible. Is it hard "lugging"? Take the same bike and put into 3rd gear? Now, take off from a stop position? Is it easier? Does your legs burn less energy from "too much lugging"? Putting in 1st gear would be even easier on take off but above 5 mph, one's legs would be spinning too fast. Thus, burning too much energy.

    Many times, I wish the Astro/Safari had a gear between their "too tall" of OD and their 3rd gear. 3rd is too much spinning and OD is "too much" lugging. When NOT towing a trailer and smaller 70 series tires, it would be like using a 3 - 3/5 transmission gear (if that was possible). NOT logging like its OD bear but NOT over RPMing like its 3rd gear.

    Something to think about...

    -----------

    Forgot to mention....

    The 2wd at 3.42 gearing works ok with 75 series tires. Using 3.73 gearing is recommended for mild towing or folks in live in semi-hills conditions.

    The AWD version (which is by default already 500 lbs extra weight then its RWD version) is terrible with 3.42 and 75 series rubber. Add mild internal cargo or even a light utility trailer and it immediedtly crawls to its knees. To me, all AWDs should have been built with 3.73 gearing (for non-towing) and 4.11 gearing for towing. And, to me, their OD gear needs to be trimmed down 1/3. Their OD gear has always been "too tall" of transmission gear for hills, winds and flat front wind wall design of the Astro/Safari models.

    RWD Astro/Safaris are "ok" with 4.42 gears (yes, I drove two of them for years) whle under empty loads. Not the best but with 3.73 gears, their "general balance" gearing for best MPG is better. AWD version has too tall of transmission gear and too tall of 4.42 axle gears. How to lower their gearing without killing the wallet, go with a 70 series tires. As explained above. If you have a AWD version and don't like its "lugness or terrible MPGs", seriously look at 70 series tires. Much less expensive then expensive gearing changes...

    .
  • I just bought a used 2000 Astro with AWD. The Service AWD light comes on intermittently, and I haven't figured out whether its when the AWD engages or disengages, or if it's something else. I checked the transfer case fluid last night on a level floor after a light wash underneath - it may not be the original, it has a tag from New Process Gear in Syracuse, NY screwed to the casing - it's overfull (could this be a problem?) as the check plug began to leak when I got it halfway out. The fluid is blue, like its supposed to be. The light didn't come on for the 20 mile drive today. I'm wondering if I shouldn't let the fluid drain down to the level of the check plug?

    Anyone have an idea about adding a light that would show when the AWD is engaged?

    Harry Evan :D :D
  • I have a 99 Chev astro With 90k miles.On December 1st there was light snow and ice on the road and I was coming towards an intersection at very slow speeds when the va
    n slipped on the ice and went out of control . I nearly missed a car in the intersection, and skidded around until I crashed into a chain link fence on a lawn in front of a house. Thank heavens I am OK and no one was on the sidewalk, but I got the scare of my life.I noticed that when I braked the pedal was pulsating and spongy, and there was a humming noise with a tapping sound. I immediatley suspected the ABS so my mechanic couldnt find anything wrong. He disconnected the ABS Fuse.Since then the brakes work well, but I wanted the ABS to kick in in case of snow.I reconnected the ABS Fuse and the Humming and tapping and spongy brakes have returned intermittetly even on Dry surfaces. I am afraid to run it in Ice and rain now.Any help on this out there?This fourum has helped me.I had a hard shift on 1-2 gears.A tranny code came up , and I read here that the Valve Body had to be drilled out, I had that done and now shifts OK
  • These Astros have always had ABS problems, I pull a boat with mine and have had some scary situations trying to stop it. I started using carbon metalics on the front and it cured the problem. Their a little more expensive but worth it which you will find out if you switch over to them. GOOD LUCK DLM1954
  • Okay, I've got a 99 Astro All Wheel Drive and had a diagnostics ran on it by GM. The "Service All Wheel Drive" light would come on and off at times. During those times I wouldn't have any power on the front wheels. GM Indicated that I needed a Transfer case Motor and it would cost about $ 700.00. Needless to say, I paid for the Diagnostics and went home. Since the week before, the Fuel Pump went out and they told me it would cost about $ 700.00 for that, I ended up buying one on e-bay for a $ 100 bucks and had the local alley mechanic install it for another $ 80.00. Anyway, my question is how much trouble is it to install this "Motor"? Where is it? Do I have to pul the transfer case? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks :confuse:
  • I had the same problem (See my post) and had a diagnostics done by GM. Needless to say they wanted an arm and a leg to replace what they said was a faulty Transfer case motor. That would be $ 700.00 with labor. Since they tried to fleece me on a fuel pump, I went to e-bay and got a Transfer case Motor for a $ 100.00 and will install it myself. Before going that far though, make sure the wiring plug to the transfer case is not loose or corroded. I understand that 80% of the time, thats the problem.
    Good Luck!
  • looking at a van with the towing package.what all does this package consist of?does it have a trans. cooler?is it worth the extra cash?thanks
  • Hello - Wow, sounds like my van - accept I haven't visited a dealer and I've been fighting a horrid vibration as well. Regarding the awd actuator, my tech tells me that he's had horrible results with after market units. However, I found these guys http://monsterautoparts.com/GMC/GMC%20SAFARI/gmc_safari_awd_4x4_actuator_motor.h- tm - they have a full year warranty and I've been thinking of trying them myself. My mechanic would charge $60 labor to install it. May want to think of talking with your alley mechanic.

    PS. I would really appreciate it if you'd let me know what the transfer case oil looked like. Apparently mine looks and smells like gear lube and we're trying to find syptoms vs causes with mine.
    Good luck.
  • My sarafi won't start mwhen the wheather is cold when its hot above 70 its starts right up I was tood it could be the fuel pump and I thought so to this will be the 7th so I replaced it. Its been warm so it finnaly got into the high 30's so I tried to start it and it wouldn't many body got any Ideals? Thanks
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Sounds like maybe a fuel pump relay, some Hondas and accuras are notorious for this exact problem in reverse, they start when it's cold and when it gets hot they won't start because the main fuel pump relay on those are inside the vehicle unlike that Astro which is on the outside. Besides that some years of those Astros are notorious for fuel pumps. My nephew has a 1997 or 1999 and he has replaced the fuel pump so many times he has lost count; and the one for his is around $450.00 I believe he said, and thats just the pump. I believe he has a venting problem on his though because his won't run when it's hot unless he losens or removes the fuel cap. I keep telling him to go through his emission control system that vents the fuel tank because he seems to be creating so much vacuum from a vent valve not opening properly to vent the tank it's frying the fuel pumps. GOOD LUCK
  • Have you tried changing the catalictic convert?
    Not sure of the cost might get one from a savage yard first to see if it helps.
  • Hi--
    I've read all the questions and responses about the rear door handle breaking and figured out through those posts how to get at the handle mechanism and open the door from the inside by pulling a rod.

    I think before the handle mechanism came apart perhaps something else had been apart because there was another part laying the in the bottom --about 6" long part that looks like it somehow works with the door mechanism. With the door open, I can push on the locking hook to make it simulate latching on the other door when shut, and I can pull the metal rod to make it release, but I don't know how to reconnect the whole thing to the handle?

    I don't know what attaches to what? I could take a digital photo and post is somewhere if that would help. Or is there somewhere I can go to see a shematic of some sort to figure out what goes together or what I may need to jimmy --rig?

    Thanks! :confuse:
  • Thanks dlm1954 after taking it to a mechanic and is addvice is to start tearing it down to find the problem after paying $75 dollares for nothing I started checking things myself after pulling the engine cover it took less than 2 minutes tom find the real problem its the rotor breaking down I have put 300 miles on it since in the last 2 weeks and its been great has never run better I didnt think it could be that because I just replaced it about 30,000 miles ago Thanks
  • My overhead display went about 1 year ago and I am going to sell this van soon so I was going to try to repair this so everything works anybody have any cues. I have 12 volts going up there on one pin and my book shows nothing about this console.
    Thanks Will
  • To find the gear ratio in your van check the rpo sticker( on my van its inside the passenger door) some vans have it in the glove box....anyways the sticker will have a whole bunch of codes on it,Look for the G codes my van has the codes G80 and GU6....G80 tells me i have a posi trac rear end and the GU6 is 3.42 gears. if you have Gu5 they are 3.23 and GT4 is 3.73
  • If the Chevy Dealer is of no help to you, let him know that you will make sure everyone you talk with hear about the "great service". I would also contact GM direct at their customer care center. They love to hear about things like this.
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    My current 2001 AWD Safari van has lived its life. After having 2 + Safaris and been driving 3 of them at work, don't want another Safari/Astro van again. Time to move onto something different. A vehicle replacement for 2 adults +3 kids, something that gets better MPGs, something thats easier to park between the parking lines. Targeting for 2 WD with 2+1 "removable" rows of seats. 3rd row with 1 removable seat would be perfect. Hopefully, something that can tow more then 3,000 lbs. FWD is ok but if given a choice, I'd like to stay with RWD - for my towing needs. From your perspective, what's a good Safari/Astro "van like" replacement?

    thanks.
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    Many thanks for your in-depth and knowledable feedback. Currently, I have my eye's on the neighbours "Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave" vehicles. They give positive feedback on their utility trailer, ATV trailer towing ability.. Might take their brand and a few other vehicles you mentioned for a test drive. Hopefully, their long term mechanicial reliability is high. This is important to me as well.

    thanks again for taking the extra time to provide indepth feedback.

    .
  • When my 2003 Safari has that problem i steal a scrub pad from the wife and clean the two brass contacts that are spring mounted on the door jam. They turn green and do not let enough voltage threw to the lock.Also clean the ones on the door aswell....and check to see if the ones on the door jam have good springs to make contact.
  • I own a 2001 astro. want to get a 2006 or 2007 van. Can't seem to find one as good as the astro. Very disappointed in the vans out there now, looked at the Uplander, but was disappointed. any suggestions. My astro is in very good condition with 94000 miles. Probably should keep it, was offered $4000 for it.
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    Within the Astro/Safari section, I asked the same question. re: What vehicle can replace my existing Safari van? TheBigAl reponded with a few suggested vehicles. For details, surf BigAls reply (at bottom page) within: dlm1954, "GMC Safari/Chevy Astro" #1683, 26 Dec 2007 2:46 pm

    Used Astro/Safari vans in my area are selling between $3K - $6K (depending on shape and miles) as well. Expect low value if trading your van in.

    If you are happy with your Astro/Safari and it isn't costing you too much on repairs or weekly gas (dollar value) consumption, then perhaps keeping it is a wise choice. (for your needs). In the end, my wife & I decided to keep our current Safari van. Mainly because it sits in my driveway 6 days / week. We only use our van for weekend "2 hour drive long haul and odd utility trailer pulling". For us, replacing with new or slightly used vehicle is a waste of dollars.

    Definately worth surfing the Safari forum and reading TheBiglAls reply - to my same question.

    Hope this helps....

    .
  • I have a1998 astro van.
    The fan works fine at all speeds and temperatures.... however, I can only get airflow to the defrost on top of dash.... no flow to feet vents or dash vents, no matter what setting the know is at ????
    thanks in advance
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