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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • I had the same problem. You are correct, this is caused by the vacuum lines in the engine compartment. They are notorious for drying and cracking. The line that is the likely culprit runs from the driver's side valve cover to the front passenger side engine compartment where it connects to a valve that contains several vacuum lines. I would recommend replacing all your vacuum lines. It's not really difficult to do, but it is easier to reach the one at the back of the engine by taking off the engine cover inside the van. The cost of the repair is about $2 if you do it yourself. It's not very difficult to do and it will most certainly fix your air conditioning problem.
  • hav a 94 astro van with no power to the igntion,windows,locks radio ,etc. but do have head lights and interior lights ,battery is brand new any suggestions where to start looking or part replacement
  • May be a late posting but the change or erratic positioning of letters on the display on your dashboard is signaling the need to change the neutral position switch on the transmission (end of shift cable). It may set you back about $ 50 or so for the part/accessory, but it works like a charm! No more musical letters on the dashboard display.
  • this is a really old thread...but i have the same problem with my 89 safari 2wd V6. if there was a fix..if would really help.

  • Hi everyone, I need some help.
    I have a 1995 Astro Van V-6 4WD (250.000 miles...a lot I know...) and this is my story:

    The engine shot down, and the "Check engine" light started to pop up. I parked on the side of the road, and a few seconds later, I started the engine with no problems( no funny nosies, no smoke) but it shot down again.

    Finally I towed away my van, once in my house ( about 2 hours later) I tried again, and the engine started and shot down in a few seconds. Now it doesn't start any more (sounds like it is going to start but nothing).

    In the past, I noticed some strange behaviors with the ligths ( when I turn on the ligths they don't start inmediatly, they take some seconds to do it).
    Some times, when I turn the ligths off, the engine shots down...

    ..I already checked fuses and they are OK, so my question is; any idea what kind of problem do I have? what could I do next?

    This is my work horse, and I don't have any money to buy another one, I need to fix this a soon is possible, and if I can without a mechanic ( $$$$).

    Thank you very much for your atention.
  • I have an old 86 Astro Cargo Van that has ????miles on it. Currently 66,000 on the odometer after turning over 3 or 4 times and speedometer/odometer being replaced once at 77,000 miles. Only problems are the door handles flop, back door handles will not open the doors(I've rigged it up otherwise), weatherstripping is bad and the paint job is terrrible.
    Anyway...what can I do maintenance wise to extend its life? I change oil every 3000 miles and have replaced a lot of parts, heater fan(needs replaceing again, clutches, brakes, light for instrument in dash(need to do again). You name it we have done it. But the thing is great. What can I do to get a little more out of it? Hae never done anything to the wheel bearings-do they ever wear out since they get used every time the car moves. Stuff like that I am wondering about.
    I am a chimney sweep and getting cloes to retirement age and hope this lasts until I retire. The old van is a trademark around town and gets a lot of comment.
    Doug :shades:
  • Sounds like Timex had a hand in building this 400k+ mile road warrior. Kind of reminds me of the movie Christine. The ol' gal kept coming back from the brink of death. Except I think that was an old Plymouth Fury?

    The only advice I have for you is keep doing whatever you've been doing. If it aint broke, don't fix it. Great job and enjoy your retirement!

  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239

    Things to increase a vehicle's life &/or maintain its current quality are:
    - Do "general" maintenance items (like engine oil changes) "on time". And when changing engine oil, use the good stuff. One should never go cheap `quality` when it comes to lubrication (like engine oils).
    - Ensure its brakes, muffler, gas lines, gas line filter, brake lines, engine belts are kept in great shape as well. If they are "looking old" or "calender old", then replace them. And don't be afraid to slide under your van and take long heard look at things. Many folks look at their outer "top site" but fail to look at the under side - which is much more important (IMO).
    - Change its transmission ATF fluid and transmission pan filter every 3-5 years. I'd change every 3 years on your "drive every day" business van.
    - Change its Rear End Axle oil every 3 years as well. Use the thicker #90 oil in its rear axle. If I remember correctly, the rear axles in Astro/Safari vans are "average" quality. If used as "every day" business vehicle, ensure its rear axle oil is kept new as well.
    - Change its Main RAD fluid every 3 years in your "drive every day" business vehicle as well. In an older van, I'd use universal anifreeze. For older vehicles, stay away from that GM Dexcool stuff.
    - If not do so already, I'd install a large size transission Aux LPD cooler in your van. Especially since you have a "drive every day" business van. Many tranny specialists say the 460LE transmissions don't like heat. Thus, reducing ATF heat by using an aux cooler is a great thing. Especially if you want to keep your van for many more years. Id install a large HD aux cooler - like: Even if only internal hauling cargo with your van, a HD aux cooler makes its transmission last much longer (when compared to having no extra cooling ability at all).
    - Every 3 months, inspect its under belly for oil / fluid leaks. If it starts to leak fluid, get it fixed ASAP. Especially if your vehicle's engine oil cooler lines start to leak.
    - If living in snow/ice region, get your van rust proofed "every year". Less rust the better. Especially if you plan to keep your van for many more years.
    - If replacing parts, always use "better then GM" replacement parts. Like Moog idler arm replacements. Ultra bright headlight bulb replacements ( ) , etc. etc.
    - Being an "every day" business vehicle, I'd get an alignment done every other year as well. Especially if you like to drive over curbs or bounce off curbs. Having good alignment allows tires and steering parts to last much longer.
    - No need to replace bearings that are working fine (or leaking oil). Thus, I'd leave the axle bearings "as is" - until they don't sound right.

    If something isn't broke, no need to fix it. But if looking old, too rusty or leaking fluid, get it replaced. And replace major fluids every 3-5 years in your "drive every day" business vehicle as well...

    Hope these ideas help....


  • Have a 1999 GMC Safari and it was leaking anti-freeze. Mechanic said it was the intake manifold gasket. He said it would be 800.00, While replacing the gasket he says when he removed the intake manifold something must have fallen into the engine and was causing it to knock. He then had to take it apart again and take the Head off to remove the debris and of course charge more.

    I have not heard of this happening unless you dont cover with clean rags while doing the work ? I have normally trust him for a long time but wondering if the extra cost was due to sloppy work.
  • Debris? What the heck kind of debris? Like a nut or bolt? Small debris would typically get blown out of the cylandar via the exhaust valve. If he dropped something substantial into the head and it got sucked in through the intake valve, then there's a good chance it would have found it's way out through the exhaust valve. Something doesn't add up. Did he offer to show you the "debris" after he charged you to correct his mistake? Sounds like it's time to start looking for a new mechanic. Apparently this economy has caught up to your mechanics wallet.
  • I have a 94 safari that doesn't shift into 2nd gear unless you let off the gas and it doesn't shift into overdrive at all. I tried replacing the TPS and flushed the fluid and changed the filter with no change. My next step is to rebuild but I am wondering if anyone knows exactly what the problem is so I can make sure and replace it when I rebuild.
  • Oddly enough I asked him what debris he found and he said by the time he took the head off he could not find any and it must have come loose.

    To add insult I got in my Van and drove away and it would not shift and the ABS light was on. He then said he thought it was on when I brought it in. A friend of mine was with me and just happend to have his code reader. Scanned it and found out he forgot to hook up the speed sensor. Would have thought after spending 1200 he would have taken it for a test drive.
  • Unbelievable. I feel your pain. I've been there before, only worse believe it or not. Won't go into details. Good luck with your repairs. Sorry about your ordeal.
  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239

    A few years back, I had to "rebuild" the transmission in my 2001 Safari van. Was pulling away from a stop light (normal torque off the lights) and all of a sudden, "bang". I lost 3rd gear and "R" gear. My local transmission specialist rebuilt its tranny for $1,000 cash and afterwards, my van shifted better then factory. Amazing what a rebuilt transmission feels like (afterwards).

    While rebuilding its transmission, my tranny specialist also recommended the install of oversized LPD tranny cooler. re: e=4590&Category_Code=trucool-coolers-hd&Product_Count=2

    Got both done at the same time and my van worked great (until we sold it).

    If not done already, do install an over sized LPD tranny cooler as well. Even if only driving the van as normal "soccer parent" vehicle. The 460LE tranny in the Astro/Safari van's don't like heat. Extra tranny cooler eliminates the "too much heat" situations...

    Hope this helps...

  • spike99spike99 Posts: 239
    My local mechanic forgot to connect its speedo cable (actually, its the VSS wire connection) as well. I simply returned the van (after driving 1 block and noticed something wasn't right), and my mechinic fixed the problem. NO Charge.

    My local mechanic was working on our other vehicle, leaned over the hood and his body weight accidentally broke the upper part of the grill. When I went to pick up my vehicle, he explained the problem and asked if I wanted it fixed (free of charge), or credit my account (of equal dollar value). Thus, showing he took "accountability" as well. He could have easily said - "NOPE - wasn't me" - lik your mechanic is doing with the debris.

    My suggestion.... Look for another mechanic. Especially if this "lack of accountability" is more then 1 strike against him. If 3rd strike (for stuff like this), "he's out of there". And if wondering, I went through 4 mechanics before finding my current one - which I've been using for 16 years.

    Hope this helps...

  • i had a 97. hated the day-time-running lites. to turn them off (i learned from some forum) press down on the emergency brake ONE click. off they go. if they aren't coming back on, be sure the E-brake is released all the way. so there is a switch in there somewhere that turns them off. so you might have a bad switch that is keeping them off. (?)
  • when my heat/defrost/vent fan is on high it will stop blowing while the van accelerates, when I lift off the throttle the fan picks back up. I put plugs in a while back and while i had the doghouse off i found what appeared tp be a yellow vaccum line laying loose, could this be the cause and where does it go?
  • nuttyniknuttynik Posts: 1
    hi I have an astro cali custom on a 97 and while replacing the headlights I shirted out the side lights looks like a fuse popped, trouble is I cannot find the side light fuse, its not in the main fuse box up by the battery so I am a bit confused to were this would be located. can you help.
  • jkumpire24jkumpire24 Posts: 17
    edited March 2010
    I have a 1997 Astro conversion van with 176K miles. Today I was driving to work and the gas pedal started acting like it was stuck. I tried to lift the pedal with my foot, and it did not seem to help.

    It rapidly got worse, since I was able to gain speed going up a steep grade w/o a foot on the gas. It got up to 85 mph.

    Long and short of it was I got the thing to stop by that hardest of driving acts: Putting it into neutral and using up the brakes. Now the Astro is at a local dealer (I trust for repairs), with the gas pedal down to the floorboard. Any time you start the car it revs up as high as it can go, and has a bad odor to it, like fried brakes or burned trannny fluid.

    Any suggestions as to the problem, or how to get it fixed?

    Thanks! :confuse:
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079
    hmmmm.... unlike the Toyota fiasco going on right now, you do not have a electronic throttle. Meaning that your accelerator pedal is directly connected to your throttle.

    If it is stuck, I would wager a sticky cable somewhere or maybe a stuck connection at the throttle body where the cable connects to it...
  • I own a 2003 Safari and I have the same problem exactly the way you described it in your message. If you find the problem before I do, please post it. I'll do the same. The dealer wants some $ 500.00 to replace the sensor. The same problem happened once before, back in 2005 and went away by itself after few days. Wondering???
  • Yes, richly917 is right. Just put fresh (synthetic) oil in the transfer case and the problem's gone. I thought I had the whole 'all wheel drive' gone on my 2003 Safari AWD because of the hopping and the GM dealer in Lewinstown, ID, fixed me up for $ 48.00. It only took an (transfer case) oil change. Good luck.
  • bookra43bookra43 Posts: 3
    Buy the WEATHER TECH brands --have bought their floor & cargo mats & window visor and the y fit like a glove-- to me and excellent company.
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    This has me baffled. I get only the second/middle speed where the HVAC fan will work on heat and vent, but any other, Blend, AC, Defrost, get all 3 speeds. Tried a new air box Resistor, but still no go. If I go from Blend, high speed fan, to Heat, it quits, only middle speed. If I go from high speed heat, not working to blend, it won't work either. Need to shut the fan off, and then back to high, and works. Any suggestions where to look next? Thanks in advance, Robby
  • chefred112chefred112 Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Safari...I put 229k miles on her before I bought a truck in 05 and basically let the Safari hibernate... fast forward to this week and I decide to bring her outta hibernation and let the truck sit (the tranny needs rebuilding and I don't want to deal with it right now). With a jump the Safari starts right up and idled beautifully...I've been using it for a few days and noticed when I come to a light and sit, the idle is low enough where you might think it might stall so i wonder if there is an adjustment on a throttle cable where I could bump it up a hair. A few maintenance things I have planned for the weekend are spark plug and oil change. Possible window motor changes since neither window will roll down or up). I changed the cap and rotor today which did help the idle (almost felt like it was missing). Also changed the t-stat out since it seemed like it never was getting to operating temps on the guage (stayed at 100 at 195 after change). I just found this forum yesterday and it already has helped with some vacuum issues I've been having. So anyways, anyone have any ideas if idle can be adjusted?

  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079
    The idle can't be adjusted on these newer vehicles. It's all electronically controlled. There is a physical throttle cable, but the idle and air/fuel mixture are all electonically controled via the OBDII computer system... at least as far as I know.
  • confused31confused31 Posts: 1
    I drive a 2003 Astro with the same exact problem. So far the dealer has checked and cleaned throttle cables and the throttle body. They have also replaced the idle air control motor as they said it was sticking wide open after a highway run. That was about 2 months ago. I thought the van was fixed but it just acted up again. I am begining to wonder if it is a poor conection or corroded wire or the ecm itself
  • jkumpire24jkumpire24 Posts: 17
    Well, to make a long story short, the cable that goes from the gas pedal to the throttle frayed and broke, or that is what the dealer said. It only cost about $500 to replace, including a new set of front brakes. Just something strange that happens in old cars, I guess.

    My next question is this; When do these things become to expensive to maintain? Just found out today I need a $300 set of front bearings in the van, and in the last 5K of miles I have pumped in a little over $1000 in repairs. My Patience is wearing thin!
  • the_big_althe_big_al Posts: 1,079
    think of it this way.... $1K a year to keep the thing on the road is still WAY cheaper than a $300-400 a month new car payment.... when you look at it from that perspective that 1000 bucks isn't so expensive.
  • cbharobbycbharobby Posts: 19
    edited June 2010
    Dude, I have had 2 Chevy vans, since 1986. The 79 G-20, lasted more than 10 years, and was a rust bucket when found, that I restored to a custom. Never touched the 350, motor, or trans, just built a custom old school "cool van". It finally gave up the ghost, from Illinois rust. Still ran fine, and STILL sold it for $300. For the 4 Bolt main 350. Then bought a 91 Astro, $5000, now west coast,,(no rust), 115,000 on it. 10 YEARS AGO. now way over 200,000. So far only tires, and did new front brakes, new rotors, water pump, and serp belt. That was $800. Retired, used once a week to get EXPENSIVE parts, for my 4 boats, and 5 motorcycles. Long story short, best darn van I EVER owned. NEVER left me side the road. Done some more to it to keep it on the road, but bet in 10 years, I have only $7000 in it total. Divided by 10 years, thats $700, a YEAR! No sympathy from me, and if ya think the guys who work on them are over charging ya? Pick up a tool, learn to twill a wrench, and do it yourself..I do, and have done for years.
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