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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro Transmission Problem



  • timyaktimyak Posts: 2
    We currently have 32,000 miles on our 2000 Astro and it has had to have the 3rd and 4th gears replaced twice already. We put a lot of highway miles on this vehicle and occasionally tow an 1800 lb pop-up camper. I always use the tow-haul mode and 3rd gear when under 50 miles per hour. Has anyone else out there had problems with the transmissions? Other than alot of little nit noid quality issues (the driver side mirror whistles terribly, needed underside painted due to peeling paint after only 2 months) my wife actually likes the vehicle. We're thinking about trading it in already because of the transmission problems. Would like to hear back. thanks Timyak
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    I'm sorry to hear that GM has transmission problems again. I have a 97 Astro before the Tow haul mode, but have not towed my 4500# Award very much but have not had a problem either. My owners manual says to tow in overdrive to prevent torque converter heating, paraphrased.

    If GM builds the best automatic then there must be some real junk out there.

    You probably have covered this site where this one guy post about a fleet of these things with minimal problems. Two or three transmission problems on 97 models.
  • I have a '98 astro 2WD that with 48,200 miles on it started shifting abruptly from 1st to 2nd gear after 30 minutes of driving. It was preceeded by the check engine light coming on. We drove it only on short trips for about 3 weeks and the check engine light had gone off after 2 days. Then, yesterday, we took it on a 85 mile trip and the check engine light came on after we exited the interstate. then it started the abrupt shifting again. Does anybody know if the check engine light is related to the transmission problem? How serious is this transmission problem? I would also like to know how to diagnose the code set by the check engine light. Where is the terminal box located and which terminals do I short together?
    I also have another issue with the Astro. There is a clunking noise coming from the front pass. side suspension. During hard braking and turning left I get the noise. The harder the turn, the more different clunking sounds it makes. I took it to the dealer with 35000 miles on it and they said my front shocks were bad with leaks and replaced them but nothing else wrong. Now the noise is much more frequent and louder with 48000 miles on it. Is my ball joint going to come apart, and shouldn't the warranty cover this if it is a problem, since I reported it while still under warranty?
  • danjk3danjk3 Posts: 2
    Your problem is not an uncommon one ... and not a good one. You'll see serveral posts earlier on this message board -- as well as other boards -- from people who've had the same problem with hard 1st-to-2nd shifts. In most every one that I recall, people had to replace their transmissions. It seems to be a defect that's mostly on 1997 models -- a few '98s, too. Mine happend at 78K.

    For me, it was the most costly in a long line of out-of-warranty repairs on my 1997 AWD Astro. All totaled, I've had more than $5,000 in post-warranty repair bills. Needless to say, I'm not much of an Astro advocate. Good luck.
  • Hi! I have a 2000 model 2WD Astro which (until now) has run like a top. Just had the transmission fluid changed out, and now the "Service Engine Soon" light stays on all the time (have tried unhooking battery overnight to reset) and I seem to have little or no torque in both forward and reverse from a full stop. No other noticable problems. I've read every message here and in other forums, and have seen peripheral reference to such conditions, but nothing which seems likely to help. I see reference to two TSB's here at Edmond's (01070036 and 010730038, NHSTA #'s 627912 and 628934) which seem to apply, but have no way to find out what they actually say. I tried to get help at the nearest dealer (~75 miles away) but they can't even look at it for over two weeks and want $137 just to hook up the computer and pull the code. Would GREATLY appreciate any insight or direction regarding what seems to be a relatively common ailment. Thanks in advance, Scott
  • #1 If you have an Auto Zone in your area they will check the codes for free.

    #2 Are your sure the tranny is filled to the proper level?

    #3 Did they fill unit with the proper Dexron III?

    Disconnecting the battery for 10 minutes or so will reset the code memory. So I am sure that it takes a little while after startup for the code to return.

    I always worry about whether or not the replacement filter is completely plugged in and seated.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    I finally broke down and ordered a Hayden 404 transmission oil cooler for my 97
    Astro. GM does not offer an aux. cooler for this van and says that it has a heavy duty cooler.????
    Most of the duty for the van is to tow a 30' Award travel trailer, and if I am out on a 110 degree day with the air on I probably need some additional cooling. Even with the semi-synthetic transmission fluid.

    Windshield wiper recall. Took the dealer about 10 minutes or less to replace the circuit board.

    I have Mobil 1 gear lube in the differential.

    I agree with info. in post like #356, 357, & 359.
  • This is an informational post.

    I have a 2000 Astro van with 48800 miles on it. I would not have expected to have a transmission problem at this year and mileage.

    Last week I had a “check engine light’ activate. The computer was scanned for codes and it showed P1870. This code indicates the transmission is slipping. After researching the code and problem I found that this is a common code for General Motors 4L60E transmissions. This transmission is used in most if not all Astros and Safari vans. It is also used in many of GMs pickup trucks. I found that most, if not all of the 4L60E transmissions have a problem with a spring-loaded valve located in the valve body, which is inside the transmission housing. This is most likely a defect in the transmission, but GM will not admit it because of an expensive recall that GM would have to pay for.

    The spring-loaded valve in the valve body wears in its round hole causing it to stick and causes the transmission to slip and the P1870 code to appear in a computer scan. The valve can be replaced by reaming out the hole and placing a superior after market valve and spring in the new hole. This generally corrects the problem. The cost for this valve replacement is about $400.00. If you take the vehicle to GM they will replace the entire valve body, which contains the same old valve and spring. The cost for this is about $800.00 and you can look forward to the P1870 code in the future.

    Well, my transmission was destroyed by this slippage. The transmission shop pulled the pan and the oil was like molasses. It needs a bunch more than a new valve. At this time my van is still in the shop. They will need to pull the entire transmission and rebuild, or possibly replace it. The cost for this can be about $2000.00. Fortunately I purchased an extended warrantee when I purchased the van. Hopefully, all I will need to pay is the $200.00 deductible.

    The spring-loaded valve only activates at speeds above 45-50 MPH. If you are climbing a hill above this speed and the valve fails to function, a check engine light is likely.

    I hope this will alert others to the problem.
  • boxdinboxdin Posts: 2
    Old Van Nut wants to shift..looking for Astro w 4.3 and manual trans... whats out there ??
  • I don't think the Astro ever came with a manual transmission, but the 4.3 has always been the sole engine available.
  • mhsheamhshea Posts: 1
    In theory they offered the little Borg Warner T5 back in 1986. One of those things with an asterisk by it saying it would be available in January so who know for sure if they ever really sold one. But it's in the brochure.
  • mmcnamarammcnamara Posts: 27
    I've seen several Astros with 5-speeds over the years, almost always base models with the (2.5 liter?) 4 cylinder engine. I don't think I've ever seen one that was newer than an '89 or so model year, and I don't think they were offered with the 4.3 V6, although I'm no expert. A 1990 van and truck buyer's guide shows that the auto was the only choice available, but that the 2.5 was the base engine. Hope this helps.
  • dadoftaydadoftay Posts: 136
    I have never seen an Astro with a 5spd or a 4cyl. As much as these things weigh, could the 4 even get the van going? Where did they put the shifter for the tranny in the manual? I bet one of those would be fun with a 5spd and a V8 crate motor. Of course, there would be the little matter of making it stay together... oh well, it's just money. Do you have some I could borrow?;)
  • mmcnamarammcnamara Posts: 27
    As you mentioned, I'm sure the 4 cylinder was no stoplight terror, manual tranny or not. As for the shifter, it was floor-mounted between the buckets. My buddy even had a chance to buy a 5 speed conversion van on one occassion, which I thought was really unusual, given the typical buyer of such vehicles. With regards to the money lending, I'll need to find out where the wife's keeping it hidden.:)
  • The Astro/Safari did have an available manual tranny in its early years, and also a 4 cylinder option. There's at least one manual 4 banger still out there that I know of.
  • gl0650gl0650 Posts: 1
    I happen to own an 1988 astro w/ a 4.3 V6 and a 5 speed. I bought it w/ 100,000 miles on it back in 1991, it has plenty of power, plus it has given me 24.8 miles per gallon on several trips hauling my family of 6. I still own it, it now has over 260,000 miles on it and still gets me about 20 miles per gallon.
  • n977lln977ll Posts: 4
    I own a 1999 Chevy Astro AWD with 77,000 Miles. In hot weather after long drive, trans will shift hard from 1st to 2nd gear. After cooling down the problem dissapears.I have been reading some posts on this. Some say that it is normal. Some say that this headed for trans repair.Is there any fix for this?I would like to go on a long trip but I dont want to take a chance.Any body out there have some advice? Otherwise I am very happy with the Astros. I had a 1994 2WD and I was very pleased.
  • Seen this same question on here and I have the identical problem havent seen any replies.
    On a hot day and long drive tranny shifts hard from 1st to 2nd (real hard) once van has cooled problem goes away.Recently had a tranner service down on it (new gasket and fluid) problem didnt go awayAnything I can do to prevent a major tranny repair.
  • '97 Safari Rough Shift (83K miles)

    Identical problem here. It has been hot outside and tranny rough shifts in low gears. Wife took it to Mechanic today and got estimate of $1050 to $1850 depending on parts (plus fluid). Says it may crap out soon, or last another 15K before failure. (Sorry that flush and fluid replacement didn't help. I was going to do the same thing.)
  • dwayne2dwayne2 Posts: 1
    Have you had the catalytic converter checked? If not try a muffler shop to pressure check it. My 1998 gave me fits about the same way and after $300 for a tune up and then a $600 estimate for some "transmission work" I was finally diagnosed successfully as a converter being clogged. It is cheap and easy to have checked. Good Luck, Dwayne
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