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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • rbritlandrbritland Posts: 11
    I have a 1993 AstroEXT w/AWD and "dutch door" tailgate with 99K miles that I bought new 9 years ago this month. The "dutch door" setup became available in '92. This is opened electrically with either a key outside rear or a push button on the dash. In '99 they added a mechanical push button on the outside rear to override the electrical circuit. This indicates to me that there must have been problems with the electrical circuit. I do not have this "button" and sometimes the tailgate refuses to open. The problem is getting more frequent as the van ages. It is tremendously inconvenient when I go to a home center and fill the van with sheetrock or plywood and then I can't get the tailgate to open when I get home with the goods. Sometimes I have to drive the loaded van for weeks until the hatch release decides to work again, delaying my project and making the van not usable for carrying people. I assume it is a poor electrical connection somewhere and has been a problem with this model van in the past, hence the addition of the mechanical override button added in '99. Can anyone shed some light on where to look for this poor connection? I checked the continuity on the switch in the dash and that seems to be OK. I took the inside window frame off and applied 12v DC to the release solenoid and the solenoid releases the window but I still can't get the short double doors to open. Please HELP!!!
  • rbritlandrbritland Posts: 11
    Purcahased new in May '93 my AstroEXT AWD, now has 99,500 miles on it. Only problems I've had: engine smokes at start up (started at 55,000 miles, valve guide seals?); transmission shift lever gets stuck in park (I disabled the brake pedal locking solenoid to fix this, you can now start it without holding down the brake pedal, but at least you can put it in gear); wipers swipe windshield while turned off every time I hit a little bump in the road; tailgate intermittantly won't open (haven't found a fix yet); replaced the idler arms at 85,000; I don't think the ABS works anymore since about 85,000; plastic trim pieces on bottom of seats always breaks, finally left off. Things I like: largest, roomiest van in it's class (4x8 sheets lay flat on floor); better gas milage than most competition (19mpg highway); excellent towing capacity; 8 passenger (not 7 like most competition); more power than most competition; excellent traction (One snowy day a Ford Ranger slid on an icy road, went down an 8' embankment and stopped with the wheels straddling a 9" dia. tree trunk in a foot of snow. I pulled that truck over the tree trunk, through the snow and up the embankment and onto the road with a tow chain while I had all four wheels on ice with the original Uniroyal Tiger Paw tires) And I don't even have the limited slip differential! Things I don't like: not enough leg room in front seats; hasn't changed much from '85 to '02 (just grill and dashboard); too difficult to work on engine and can't get transmission pan off to change the filter. I can change the rotor, distributer cap, wires, and sparkplugs in my Geo Metro in 15 minutes. It takes me 4 hours to do that on my Astro! Never had any engine, transmission, or drivetrain problems with almost 100,000 miles on it, and I occasionally pull a 3000 lb. trailer (usually overloaded). Would I buy another? The only other vehicle that can compare for room and power with 4WD is the Suburban (which I would rather have) but you have to shell out an additional $10-15 thousand. Also I don't like spending close to $30,000 on a vehicle that looks like a 1985. I wish they would totally redesign this thing (long overdue) because I don't like the FWD vans and the Express/Safari doesn't offer AWD. I'm trying to hold out for a Suburban, but if I can't afford it, I'm sorry to say I might buy another Astro. Since a new one looks the same anyway, I'll drive this one till it dies.
  • jclettkojclettko Posts: 2
    I too have just recently been experiencing the intermittent failure of the Dutch Door Window push button switch failure. Now that I know it is not uncommon I won't feel so bad. With all of my problems with this van, I can still tow my 20' boat, 8 people with the AC on (front & Rear) and all the stuff for a long day on the water and not even have to think about it. It tows the boat almost like it's not there (until I look in the rear view mirror). I have an appointment for the ABS on Tues. I'll let you know what I find out.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    If you happen to see an old 97 Astro towing a 30' travel trailer heading West on I70 looking like someone's looking for the promised land, it's not Gerald McRaney. But just and old Geezer and an old gal checking out the 5 US National Parks in Utah. If it has smoke coming out from underneath and moving slowly, please throw out a line for a little tug.

    And if it makes it through the scenic country we will drop down into lost wages and maybe see a show.

    But this is the Acid tow test over the hill and through the dale.
  • jgmilbergjgmilberg Posts: 872
    Actually the button they added is just another electrical switch so you can open the back glass with the key, not having to use the remote or the lower door lock. It is not connected in any way mechanically with any of the lock rods or the latches. On both models if you lose battery power you lose the rear doors.

    It sounds like you have a bad wire in the door conduit from the body to the door. This happens from repeated opening and closing of the door. You have to get into the conduit and pull on the wires looking for a broken wire, it happens internally so the insulation will look like normal. If you have those contacts like on the sliding side door, make sure they are clean, use a pencil eraser to get them cleaned up, if the spring loaded contacts in the door are weak you need to replace them to keep a good contact.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    A journalist is looking for someone who bought one "twin" over another where the manufacturer offers two or more vehicles based on the same basic platform. (a Maxima vs. an I35 (or I30) or the TL vs. Accord)
    Did you know it was basically the same vehicle as the other?
    Why did you choose it over the other?
    Please submit your response to no later than Wednesday, May 15.


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  • ad8ad8 Posts: 6
    I currently have a 1999 Astro. When I first bought the van I noticed a problem with the license plate frame. I asked dealer to please change it because I thought water would get into the door. Well the was the worst thing I could have done. The fools changed it and at the point I could not open my doors upper and lower. I mentioned it to the dealer they told me to bring it back. We made an appointment. Well 2 days before this appointment the van was involved in an accident. I called the dealer to tell them I could not bring it in to have the doors fixed because it was being fixed from an accident. Anyway we had the van fixed from the accident and
    we brought it back to dealer and they gave me the hardest time about this problem and tried to blame it on the accident. They refused to fix it.

    Anyway I brought it to another dealer and they found the problem in 1 hour. It was a cut in the wire that runs along side of one of the dutch doors which the other dearler most likely did when they tried to replace the license plate frame. I have not had a problem since.
  • I've purchased my first Astro -- a 2002 model. It's a Pewter LS with trailer package (including the 3.73 rear end), front and rear air/heat, dutch doors, keyless entry, cassette/radio/cd, etc. List -- $28,100, purchase price $20,400. It was used slightly by the administration for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics (2200 miles on vehicle). It's in excellent/new shape.

    I've been evaluating vans now for over a year, and currently own a 1989 Dodge Grand Caravan (and a 1998 Chev Cavalier). My wife and I, who are in our late 40's but still have 2 younger children (ages 14 and 8) still wanted a van, but were torn between the Kia Sedona and the Astro. I knew that if we purchased the Sedona, the day would come when we would want to pull a trailer over the 3500 GVR capacity of the Sedona or want to have more internal room for hauling items. Living here in the rocky mountain states, the all wheel drive is something that would be useful. As my 14 year old son said -- "Dad, this is great! We now can go where we can do some really good snowboarding."

    When I saw the ad for the Astro at Murdock Chevrolet in Woods Cross, Utah, and that the price was a minimum of $3000 less than the Sedona, I went for it. Dealers weren't discounting much on the Sedona, and the Astro had a few extra features the Sedona didn't have such as AWD, dutch doors, etc.

    I also contacted a close friend of mine who has now owned two Astros during the past several years. He has a business, Parson's Lock and Key, and uses the van extensively. He has been using the 2 wheel drive, but has now purchased his third, an AWD. An employee will be using this van. He is extremely pleased with the Astro, and they have been and continue to be very dependable vehicles.

    I appreciate the information that has been shared in the Astro Town Hall. A number of you who have contributed have given a great deal of attention and focus to you comments. By the way, if any of you live close to the Wasatch front range of Utah -- go see the Jason Brough at Murdock Chevrolet in Woods Cross, UT. He's been selling Chevy's for over 11 years now and he treated myself and my wife very well.
  • bonneluvrbonneluvr Posts: 6
    I too own a 93 Astro CL EXT (RWD only). It has been an exceptional vehicle. I have 93k on mine now.

    I get a puff of smoke when it's cold but I was told by the dealer not to worry about it. It's done it since it had 36k on it (of course right after the warranty expired)!

    I replaced the idler arms at 90k. I was lucky to get that out of them from what I hear. Alternator went out at 85k (typical GM thing I think).

    Has anyone had problems with the door handles breaking? I'm very fussy with my vehicles and I was shocked one cold morning when I pulled on the door handle and it snapped. I've already replaced the sliding door handle once.

    Also, I went to get in it one morning to find the battery dead and the driver seat all the way back. I charged the battery and moved the seat forward. As soon as I let go of the power seat control, it moved back all by itself! Could I have a bad switch? I finally just got the seat where I normally have it and disconnected the wiring underneath. I'm the only driver so I can't figure out why this would suddenly go bad.

    Other than what I've mentioned, it's been a very reliable "grocery getter"! (my mother had an 89 Astro and my younger siblings refused to drive it because "its what old people drive to get groceries". Lucky for me, Mom had a red 72 Olds 442 when I first started driving!). I was 27 when I bought this van. I guess they think I'm really old now!
  • triumphertriumpher Posts: 58
    I have a 98 Safari (50,000 miles on the clock) that is starting to develop funny windshield wiper problems. If the wipers are turned on, they may or may not operate. If they do not operate, I am able to hear a buzzing type sound (which means that the switch is working);I am not able to stop them manually if they operate (which I think would exclude any slippage in the system). Has anybody out there any advise on how to tackle this mystery problem?
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Good afternoon everyone, I have a '98 Astro with the dreaded wiper motor pulse module circuit board problem. I have followed this forum for a couple of years now, but I never would have thought it would happen to me. The van is at the dealer right now with an unfixed circuit board that they want ~$200 to fix, I have totally burned my bridge with the extended warranty CSR that I told off about the wiper motor that was covered vs. the pulse module that wasn't -"exactly what part of "bumper to bumper" did I miss when I bought the warranty?", but the crux of the biscuit is this-exactly where is the pulse module located? My Haynes manual doesn't cover this part, just refers to it in the wiring diagrams. Is it in the column? the wiper stalk itself? in the dash? I hope to have this in hand by the time I get the truck back so I can be done with this all together. Please, please, *please*, can someone help me? Thanks, I'll settle down down now.

    #344 of 370 Re: De'Lemon by coonhound Apr 18, 2002 (08:16 pm)
    Check post #343 by jlflemmons on soldering the circuit board connections.

    I suspect that Jim will respond to your post with the info. According to Jim it's a piece of cake.

    #345 of 370 73notch by jlflemmons Apr 19, 2002 (09:01 pm)
    Happy Friday. The pulse module is mounted within the wiper motor assembly. First, remove the locking pin on the wiring connector, then disconnect the harness. Remove the three torx head screws that hold the cover to the wiper motor housing. Remove the cover and you will be looking at the pulse module circuit board. This board plugs in, so wiggle it as you pull it from the housing. It will come out. If you look at the side of the board with no components (solder side) you will see where the connector for the wiring harness solders in. There are about five or six large solder joints for this connector. These joints need to be fluxed and re-soldered. If you don't understand the last statement, find a friend who does and has a good soldering iron. Check the joints for good solder flow, no solder bridges, and then reassemble the unit making sure the pulse module board is fully seated. If you have followed these instructions and used good solder techniques, your wiper problem will be solved for about 2-4 years. Then, you can do the same thing aqain. Good luck,

  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    I have a 97 Astro RWD and completed a a trip towing a 30' Award travel trailer. Trip was through Denver, Southern Utah national parks, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and on to Lost wages, and back to OKC on route 40. The Astro performed flawlessly on the 3300 mile trip. Fuel consumption was 237.012 Gal. at a cost of $313.11 or $0.094 per mile. The Avg. mpg was 14.0035. The best tank run was 15.91 mpg, the worst was 11.79 mpg.

    The vehicle mileage is only 44,000 miles, but I now notice that the throttle sometimes sticks in the closed position and pops free causing a lurch. Is this the condition of carbon build up as mentioned on some of the post.

    In some western states and at Flying J they sell 85 or 86 octane instead of the standard 87 specified fuel. I used the stuff and did not notice any difference in performance, or any detonation knock. With the sensitive injector system being sensitive to high grade fuel, I thought cheaper may be better.

    The KYB Monomax front shocks, Monroe load leveler rear shocks, and Toyo 800 Ultra tires made the unit handle well in cross winds and big rig passing. Still reserved about the K&N air filter as to any benefit.

    There was no noticeable oil consumption of the Mobile 1 10/30 tri synthetic.

    Could have used a little more HP in the mountains and may be looking at a new full sized 2003 GM van, if they make the short version. The short van is not all that much bigger than an Astro and with the new rack and pinion steering, heavier differential, etc, etc they sound interesting.
  • ahelmahelm Posts: 14
    How did that ACAR receiver hitch hold up?

    I believe altitude reduces the need for octane, hence the 85/86 octane in mountain states.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    I always wondered about the 85 or 86 octane being a thing in western states. Have also wondered about regulations permitting the sale of the lower than spec. octane. I don't know of any vehicle that specifies less than 87 octane. Oh Well!

    The ACAR hitch must have done OK. I didn't have the socket, I think 15 mm, for the four small bolts so I never even checked the tightness on these. I did check the two front big bolts and they were still tight. I have thought about having the center piece welded in place to stop the thunk noise inside the two outside brackets.
  • accesstooaccesstoo Posts: 3
    A few years ago I was a part owner in a Airport Shuttle business. We used Astros as part of the fleet due to the decent gas mileage as well as the hauling capabilities.

    The wiper motor issue comes up regularly. Turns out more often than not, the connector (covered in rubber) tends to come loose. We used tie-wraps (no kidding) to hold them snug. It works, don't laugh and it saves about $200 in repairs.

    The circuit board going out is usually a lot of nonsense. By the way, if you are really thinking of getting a Mini-Van for the long haul think again.

    We ran them all and believe me, we ran them. We routinely put 10,000-15,000 miles PER MONTH on them in Atlanta's traffic. They usually get 300,000 miles on each engine before we pitched the engine and put new ones in (2k per).

    Here is the lineup based on RELIABILTY in REAL WORLD, REAL USE. The full size vans are still the best when it comes to reliability and value but if you need something smaller here goes:

    #1: Astros: Great power and mileage, overtly reliable overall, easy to drive.

    #2: Windstars: Not a bad second, you just won't get the same life out of the engines and transmissions. Edges out the now no longer made Villagers due to room

    #3: Villagers or Quest vans: Great Van, just have to watch out for the exhaust manifold bolts breaking...they are flimsy and thin. Other than that, this thing drives like a car, and moves well. Small on room...good for 4 adults plus gear. Maybe 5 adults in a pinch

    #4: Dead last, don't buy it no matter what the wife says ("but it looks nice"...)...Chryslers. Transmissions suck, electrical sucks, the engines give up the ghost quickly. AC is unreliable. Rear Hatches break, or worse the glass blows out when you shut them! Suspension is okay. Engines are tempermental. DO NOT BUY ONE OF THESE if you are looking for the it if you have to and keep the lease short.

    Good luck
  • marcb4marcb4 Posts: 9
    The power door locks on my 2000 Astro (33K miles) are starting to go. First was the driver's side after an unusually hot (104F) day in the parking lot. Things were back to normal the next day just to start going crazy on the following day: First driver's door, then passenger, then back to normal for a couple of days. I'm taking the Astro to the dealer since it's still under warranty, but I'm wondering if anybody out there had a similar experience. I couldn't find any Service Bulletins on the subject. Thanks.

    Marc B.
  • Hi To All

    I recently bought a 2000 Astro Conversion with 25000 miles. We really like the vehicle with its room, ride height and comfort, and versatility.

    I have noticed that when braking sometimes there is a single knock or "klunk". The dealer stated that they changed the front brakes but not the rear, stating they had 50% left. Anyone had a similar experience with brakes?
  • bigorange30bigorange30 Posts: 1,091
    Well, I just sold a 1995 Astro in January that I bought brand new. I had this same trouble with not being able to release the hatch window. My problem turned out to be the solenoid itself. I took it to one dealer who took it apart and could not find the problem. I got rather angry with them since it was a Chevy and this was a chevrolet dealership. They wanted me to pay for taking it apart and not being able to find the problem. I took it to another dealership who found the solenoid had failed and was not operating and they replaced it. I was making a sound like it normally did when releasing but it didn't release. Needless to say, I didn't pay for the first dealership to just take it apart and not fix it.
  • 90zcrx90zcrx Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Safari AWD with 44K miles.Coming back from vacation a vibration started in the van(not from tires or allinment)first thing I had checked.took van into the dealership under extended about 45 mph you can feel the van start to vib.all the up to what ever the speed limit is.It is not a earth moveing vib. but a annoying one.tried two different dealerships(both can feel the problem)but because of AWD can not figure out how to diagnosis where the problem is coming from.Has anyone else had a problem with vibration?
  • socalchevsocalchev Posts: 20
    My van stalls ocassionally after it is started and driven a short distance. It starts right away after that and does not have any other drivability problems and runs good otherwise. I considered the EGR valve or PCV but I thought I would get a check engine light first. I change the fuel filter every 20k miles. I will check for vacuum leaks today..anybody else have the same problem?
  • marcb4marcb4 Posts: 9
    My Astro had a similar problem - right after start up, and for the first few minutes, it would run extremely rough for a while and the engine was pretty close to stalling. Took it to the dealer (still under warranty) and they were able to pull a code related to fuel injection problems. The rough startup was traced to a couple of clogged injectors due to bad gas. A couple of weeks prior I had stopped at a small gas station in the middle of nowhere on the way to Vegas so I believed the dealer's diagnosis. The injectors were cleaned, they added some injector cleaner into the gas tank and I haven't had any problems since.
  • postmamzpostmamz Posts: 2
    After reading about 385 Astro/Safari posts I will most likely take the plunge and purchase one tomorrow. We have a 94 Dodge GC with 104k on it. I just replaced a head gasket, water pump and a few other little problems. Someone will be buying a pretty nice van from us but it is time to get out! There is a sweet looking 2002 Astro AWD, fully loaded, leather, rear air, power everything at a dealership nearby.It has 7000k on it and the dealer is asking $23,000. What to do? I love the extra space, higher driving position, powerful engine and that sweet leather seating for 8 people. My hope (after reading your posts) is that we can keep this vehicle for 10+ years, making a few minor repairs along the way and still have a reliable van when its time to haul the kids off to college. Wish me luck!I hope my Astro will be a keeper.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    My dad is looking into an AWD Safari/Astro. Any insight you can give me would be great. I've subscribed here and will be lurking around. I've loved these trucks as I've rented a few over the years and felt they were great especially built on a truck chassis. Thanks in advance.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    lol, I read "subscribed" as "registered" and was about to welcome you to Town Hall, Paisan. D'oh!

    Welcome to Safari/Astros ;-)

    (fwiw, I have a good friend up north with a '90 model 4wd Astro that just won't die. He's a big guy and likes to use the pedal too; sort of like someone else I know ).

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  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Thanks Steve!

    If I hadn't bought my Trooper I would have likely gotten a loaded up Safari. I think they are a great vehicle both conceptually and execution-wise. In fact it is what 99% of all SUV drivers REALLY want. It's got a frame, AWD, more interior space than a Suburban, it's short relative to an SUV, and can tow 5K lbs!

    Anyone know what the torque split is on the VC?

  • grc4grc4 Posts: 15
    Hi Marc....Did you ever findout your problem with the doors locks. My 2000 Astro Van is doing the same thing and the garage tells me it is the driver switch which is common to all door locks. Let me know if you read this. Thanks
  • postmamzpostmamz Posts: 2
    Change of plans. Picked up a 2000 Astro AWD LS with 24,000 miles on it this week. I feel like it is alot of vehicle for the money. I know that this vehicle is a lease return and am not sure about how it has been maintained. Should I just follow the Owners manual regarding fluid (Trans, transfer, etc) or would anyone suggest a more aggressive approach? What about shocks and tires? Any suggestions would be appreciated. So far I (and the wife) love our new van.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Congrats on the new ride. I wonder if the service department can plug in the VIN on their computer and get a print-out of all maintenance and work done on the van?

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  • marcb4marcb4 Posts: 9
    The Chevy dealer identified the problem as three defective actuators (one for each door). Quite frankly, I was very skeptical of the diagnostic - what are the chances of all 3 going bad almost simultaneously? Anyway, the van is still under warranty and the Chevy dealer replaced all three actuators. So far (after 3 weeks) the door locks are all operating just fine. The bad news: I had to return to the dealer to have them reattach the door panels correctly - they did a very poor job at that. Hope this helps. If you need more details, let me know.

    Marc B.
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