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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Sounds like a broken cable or the back brakes are so far out of ajustment the brake doesn't work. The back brakes on these Astros was always a major problem the self ajusters are useless, I always ajust mine manually every 3 to 6 months or your using the front brakes all the time. I've never had any luck trusting the self ajusters, and I have to back out of my driveway every day so if they work at all the back brakes would stay tight. DLM1954
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Also if ajusting the rear brakes manually does'nt cure your brake problem check cable if it's not broken there should be an adjustment by the rear wheels where it y's off to the wheels. I've always had to ajust mine manually or the rear brakes didn't work and I pull a bass boat through Tennesee and it can get pretty hairy trying to stop with just front brakes working coming down one of those hills; and most astros have not all I've seen have this problem. If you don't adjust the rear brakes manually they will not work properly. GOOD LUCK DLM1954
  • I checked the cable and all looks good, so I went to adjust the rear brakes manually. I jacked the rear end up, put the rear on jack stands, crawled under the van and there were no openings for me to get to the self adjuster. I was thinking about making my own opening. Looks like a screw driver would work pretty good. I think the cover GM used is just pop riveted in place. I think you are right about the back brakes not really doing much work. I have a 2002 camry that has over a 100K and original brakes. My Excursion has 80K with original brakes, but I go through front brakes on this Safari in about 30K.

    I also tried backing up and pumping the brakes as I go, everyone on my street thinks I am an idiot because I went almost the whole length of the street doing this and no results. So do I break out the covers to get to the adjusters or do I have to take off the wheel and drum and adjust for the inside. I don't think that makes any sense but like I said earlier, I am limited on mechanical skills.

    I would appreciate an advice.


  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    I usally use an air chisel to knock out the factory ajusting plugs but a screw driver would probaly work fine and I've used screw drivers several times to ajust brakes when I couldn't find my ajuster. I've got several for differant kinds of vehicals but when I need one I can't find it so sometime I'll just grab a screw driver. Just make sure you put the vehicle in neutral and turn wheel while ajusting so you don't lock it up; unajusting is alittle harder than ajusting. But other than that it's a fairly simple procedure. You can buy a pack of ajuster hole plugs at about any auto supply to keep debris from getting in the drum. You said you go through front brakes real often and like I said before these astros usally always are stopping with only the front brakes unless you keep the rear ones manually adjusted. DLM1954
  • We had the shorter wheelbase 1987 version and now own an extended (which became the only size available) 2003 and I have noticed this many time. We just look at each other and say "87." Wonder if there's some way to remove or modify the steering stops to give more steering wheel travel?
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    I have the EXT- ASTRO and it seems to have have a short turning radius that I have noticed, nothing like my longbed pickup which takes a 10 acre field to turn around. Does it have oversize tires because it seems odd mine I always thought turned really short for it's size and I run 235- 70's which is the largest tire recommended for the ASTROS without having steering problems. DLM1954
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    I'll bet that's it I forgot about the the height change, that is probaly the problem with 215-70 tires I would say with 15's you would have a lot of tire clearance; but there's one of the guys on here that sells tires or something and he says there is not much differance between the 215's and 235's but I know theres a differance in an inch taller wheels. My 95 EXT ASTRO with the 235-70's turns on a dime so that must be it' the height I guess.
  • jpfjpf Posts: 496
    Check out a Chevy Express 1500 or GMC Savanna. A little larger vehicle but rear drive and AWD available. Good luck.
  • jimsudsjimsuds Posts: 1
    Does anyone know where to get the rear door lock actuator for an '88 Astro? I've tried several local auto part stores but no go. Thanks!
  • jiggs1jiggs1 Posts: 5
    I have changed out the transmission and now the cable that comes up to the linkage on the intake and hooks to the throttle needs to be fined tuned. A friend said he knew how and set it initially, it works after a fashion however it does not shift right. It goes through all the gears how ever it jerks in last shift and then free wheels at high speeds.
    as long as it has to work to keep up the speed all is fine,,,, however when you let off the gas ever so slight and wait , it will coast and the engine slows up. if you want to keep up the same speed when you step on it that is when the engine has to rev. up to catch up with the forward speed of the van. Got to be the adjustment. Any help would be great.. thanks to all .. Jiggs.
  • jiggs1jiggs1 Posts: 5
    Hey gang, I hope I haven't posted this twice, if so please forgive.
    I have just installed a transmission in my 91 Astro. It now does not shift as it should.
    it does fine until the last shift, then it is just a little bit rough, ( it kinda double shifts) that is it bumps and then gives out with a small bump and then all is well, as it picks up speed and I get up to speed limit and ease off of the throttle it goes to free wheeling, if I let off the gas it coast until I put my foot into it and the the engine races to catch up with the rest of it.. I am thinking that the cable that comes up from the right side and is hooked inside the pan is out of adjustment.. does any one know the trick???? or is it a guessing game of hit and miss???? I had a friend set it when we got it installed and he said that it may need more adjustment or playing with... Help...
    I can pull the dog house and play with it but is there a correct way to be right with out making ;a guessing game out of it... thanks for any help. jiggs.
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Sounds like you might have installed a used tranny and it's bad to, that kinda sounds like a bad tranny, could be ajustment but I don't think so if it's working fine in the lower gears. DLM1954
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Did you find the problem on your tranny,it sounded like the torque converter was probaly bad.DLM1
  • dano48dano48 Posts: 2
    I have a 2005 Astro , the latch broke with the rear doors closed. How can I get the inside door panels off when I can't get access to some of the screws that hold it on?
    Is there a way to jimmy the door open? Thanks for any help!
  • joelmichjoelmich Posts: 3
    Our 1999 GMC Safari that has 125,000 developed a ticking/knocking noise on the right side of the engine. I have had some people tell me that it sounds light a collapsed lifter. The runs fine except for this noise. I put in some mystery oil from and the noise is not as nocticable now but I can still hear it. Now when ever I changed the oil, if I do not put a QT of mystery oil in the crack case, the noise come back but after the mystery oil is substituted for 1 QT of engine oil, the noise dies down but you can still faintly hear it. Has anyone else had this problem and is it really a collapsed lifter?

    Joel /
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    Same thing happened to me. Cheap pot metal latch. Anyway, just bust off any left on the handle until its all gone. Just the piece that moves, not the body. Look in there, and the latch is pointed at the 10-11 O'Clock position.. Doors unlocked, just screwdriver it over to the 1-2 o'clock and it will pop open. You have a 4 screw panel in the side of the door. Take that off so you can see what your doing. What I did it just drill a 1/4" hole in the latch, and ran a bolt through it sticking out the back, to lever the door open. Had to elongate the plate (drill/Dremel/whatever), to get a full swing on the bolt. Worked for years now. The lock is separate, so even like this, no one can break in. Hope this helps. Be gentle with the other latches too. Had to replace the drivers door, and a real pain. Go to a junk yard if ya want, and you will see more. Maybe pick up one now for a spare, as Astros last a long time.
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    Try a full oil change/filter. Then instead of 5 qts oil, do 4, and get a qt of Risone in there. Comes in a yellow bottle. Run it for 1000, won't hurt anything, might bust up the sludge in the lifter, which is probably whats hanging up.
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    Perhaps your GM 4.3L engine has Piston Slap? Piston Slap is common on many GM engines. Especially the 4.3.

    My 2001 Safari 4.3L has piston slap in really cold weather. Especially during its warm up phase. For more details, surf:

    For me, I get my local auto shop to install Synthetic "5-w30" during colder weather. In the summer hotter months, use normal Synthetic 10w-30 oil. This seems to help reduce engine noise...

    Hope this helps...

  • dano48dano48 Posts: 2
    Thanks for your help, but I don't now how to get to the latch, the doors won't open and some of the screws that hold on the inside panels don't appear to be accessible
    with the doors closed. what can I do?
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    I just TOLD you what to do. The latch is got to from the OUTSIDE!. Bust away the handle, its right there.
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    The best way to determine a noise is use a automotive stethoscope because a knocking noise you think may be coming from one place will actually resonate from any where,and a stethoscope is the best way to find out.The 350 chevy engine has a push rod driven fuel pump and it's hard to tell how many people that's been charged for lifter replacement that didn't help the problem because it sounds just like a lifter and it's just a worn fuel pump spring or worn push rod. DLM1
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    First, its a 4.3, V6, not a 350 V8. And had many, with never a pump rod go bad. Thing is, the fuel pump is in the tank, electric. And getting a "ear piece scope" in there is very difficult. If its a half speed always "tick", its a lifter. Piston slap will be engine speed, and a slap on the throttle, will increase it. Pretty simple. 50 years Chevy, 175000 my what I said..Rislone...or just live with it until the cam gets "wiped", which is many years. Lose a little perfomance, but not worth any major engine work...
  • 34 years in the automotive racket, I can tell you all that the BEST stethoscope which works and can been thrown at a wall, stepped on, drivin over and has multiple functions is..........: A very, very LONG Screwdriver!! Prefferably one with a synthetic plastic handle and not wood. The high impacts plastic gives a clearer and better resonance picture than wood. Again just my own opinion. I have a craftsman which is 24" and it gets almost anywhere I want. Those "Doctor" Ear type are good if you plan on giving a full physical and a " pap smear", then perhaps that may work well. But for us motor guys, I think most might agree with me that the screwdriver described is the best way to go and usually the cheapest.......!!!! You will be amazed at what you can hear and how clear it is!!
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    Yep, 35 years Tool and Die..Maintnence Machinist....50 years wrench twirling...hard to explain to the new just how stuff simple crank , or cam speed, on a tick..sometimes ya wanna scream...
  • scooter25scooter25 Posts: 1
    If your compass needs reset, I believe it just says C when it does. You simply drive the van in a tight 360 degree circle and it should reset.
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    In the first place I was using the 350 as example not as part the problem,maybe you should learn to read before putting your big mouth in gear. DLM1
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Posts: 57
    Some peple don't know how to use the proper tools, yes a screwdriver will work so will a wooden and maybe you could cut off your dogs leg and use it to, but there are the right tools and the wrong ones and you don't have to use a doctors scope they make one for autos in the twenty first century some people just can't understand how to use them I guess.Personally I've diagnosed several knocks with them with no problems as with a screwdriver but sticking a six inch screwdriver down in an engine bay with the motor running sounds a little stupid when you can use the right tool with a 30 inch line, of course that's only my opinion but I still have both my ears and all my head from not using a screwdriver, wooden stick or dog leg. I'm sure your quite an automotive genious but maybe you should update your tools a little more often. DLM1
  • wlucywlucy Posts: 1
    just brought a 1989 chevy astro starcraft and the wiper switch is faulty,very temperamental,does anyone have one for sale or know where i can get one ,found some stockists in america but wont ship to uk!! please help ,
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    Hi thebigal,

    Thanks for posting your exerpiences of how to replace brakes on your van. Man, you sure do have patients. And lots of it.

    For me, I do a much different approach. The high level steps are: In the morning, I drive my van to my local auto-shop, tell guy to inspect and if needed, replace the brakes. Before end of day, he calls and tells me that my van is ready for pickup. I walk to the local auto shop (which is only 15 minute walk away), pay the bill and drive my van home. Only thing I do NOT like is "paying for the work". But overall, each auto shop in my area always use the higher quality brake pads and best of all, I don't get my hands dirty. If wondering, I used to change my own previous brakes. But, had way too many experiences of slipped wrenches and skinned knuckles. Thus, I now let the full time auto mechanic brake repairs today. Luckily, the 2 auto shops in my area "are trusted", and always give reasonalbe rates.

    Thanks for posting your brake replacement experiences. I enjoyed reading your well constructed posts. Like all of your posts on this forum, I enjoyed reading them. Thank you.

  • hulscherhulscher Posts: 3
    We have a 2001 GMC Safari and the whole entire pad from the back of the van to the front of it are SOAKED! We took a 6 hour trip this weekend to MN when we noticed we have a GREAT BIG problem! My husband has torn everything out, all of the seats, carpet and pad. Where should we start to look for the leaks? We know that the seal/weather stripping has to be replaced in the back of the van but we are wondering how could soooo much water be on the inside of the van. (granted it rained about 60% of our trip) I have read some of the similar postings but am not sure what step is next in this long process.

    P.S. I enjoy our van very much and am a little distressed about this. I have to drive my husband's pick-up :) , so any advice to speed this up would be very wonderful! :) Thank you for this site!
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