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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • apmapm Posts: 11
    I have same '99 model Safari. Never had leaking problem as you describe. I noticed that in our '93 model Astro that when washing footwell area with a hose that water would drain from hole placed in front of cavity - '99 has no such drain and water needs to be sponged out.
    Can't imagine where your water comes from, please let me know when you cipher this.
  • I had a 94 Astro Co. driver and now have a 97 Astro personal vehicle. Neither of these have have ever had any water leak problems.

    If you have not tried it, I would treat the seals with a heavy silicone. I would use one in a trigger spray bottle.

    GM recommends silicone treatment of the seals on several of their vehicles.
  • tkccetkcce Posts: 5
    I had bearings in rear axle replaced at 46000 miles on a 97 Astro, with locking differential and AWD. This was done under the 3 year/36000 mile warranty. GM apparently felt it was a problem that should not have happened. Now at 86000 needed to replace pinion gear. GM Dealership who replace pinion gear told me the pinion gear was installed too tight either with the bearing replacements or from the factory. This was the reason for the problem. Initial bearing work done by GM dealer where I purchased the van. That was a small dealership that succumbed to GM's push to consolidate small dealerships. Pinion gear replaced by another GM dealership. They told me to call GM customer assistance. The service manager said that this is a problem that should not happen.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    This is so sad that the Astro/Safari are of such quality that we go for days with no one posting a complaint or a problem.

    Just like a Timex they just keep on ticking. Why can't it be like the Siena where the site is always near the top postings?
  • My first Safari Cargo now has 6000 miles. I have been satisfied so far. The fit and quality of some of the minor parts could be better considering the cost, but they are minor complaints.

    We just had our first snow since I got it and I am very pleased with the AWD and the anti-lock brakes. Mine has the 3.42 with locking rear axle.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Do you really want an answer, coonhound? I have a buddy with an Astro that won't die, but most folks think they are "old technology", ride like the truck frames they are built on and aren't "eggplant" shaped enough. Not good reasons to cross them off one's list perhaps, but the sales numbers aren't very high, so I guess the message isn't getting through.

    I enjoyed the Timex analogy - I found my watch on a beach back in 1971 and wear it perhaps a week a year. Just wore it traveling last week and it cranked right up and kept good time. Yep, it's a Timex :-)

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  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    So does my good friend who drove Astros for an airport shuttle service. One had 700,000 miles on odometer and another had only 650,000 on original engines. Vortec 4.3L V6 is rugged, dependable, great torque at low RPM while delivering respectable gas mileage. Our 91 Astro CL 2WD had an overall average of 20.7 miles for the 7 and 1/2 years we had it. Loved the large fuel tank with good gas mileage.
  • I believe in preventative maintenance, especially when it comes to fluid changes. Took my '94 Astro into the Chevy dealer and requested they change the oil in the front differential. After examining it, the service manager told me it could not be done. No drain plug, no cover that can be removed. After 100,000 plus miles I figured it should be changed ( I purchased the van with 124,000 on it). I wound up doing the job myself by purchasing a simple oil hand pump that resembles a grease gun. It was difficult to remove the oil because it's hard to to get the suction hose past the gears, but you can flush it by overfilling at the fill plug and catching the excess with a drain pad. Did this several times, driving the van a few blocks between flushes. Kinda hard to believe that Chevy made no provision for this routine service item. My '98 Tracker has both fill and drain plugs on the front diff.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    We bought GM for many years as they were comfortable,reliable and easily maintained. The dismal accessibility of components in the Astro plus the new fad of GM to hide the battery in new vehicles were factors in us now owning another brand....having given the 3 of the last 4 reliable, dependable Chevrolet vehicles to our daughters.
    We traded in our 91 Astro CL as I felt it would be too expensive to do repairs. It cost $335 labor to replace a leaking manifold gasket. It cost $32 labor just to replace the air filter.
    When we mentioned the fact that the battery on most new GM vehicles is very inconvenient, the salesman said "You can have it towed in to get the battery replaced". My response was I will NOT have my vehicle towed to the dealer to replace the battery for a large fee and be charged twice as much for the battery as I can buy it elsewhere when intelligent design would place the battery where it is accessible.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Re: Carleton1:
    It is true that the engine access is frightening, and due to the intimidation, maintenance repair shops feed on that. They want extra payment to change the spark plugs. Actually, the engine access is not all that difficult. Just because it looks impossible to work on the consumer is charged the flat rate hours X2. It is not unlike disk brake jobs. Disk brakes are much easier to replace than drum brakes, but shops charge a premium for disk over drum brakes. I pull those front pads and lubricate the pins before breakfast, or replace the pads for that matter.
    Spark plugs do require about an hour to replace.

    Replacing the transmission and differential lubricants is messy due to the lack of a drain plug, but that saves $00.50 on production cost. I use a mortar mixing container from Home Depot to drain the oil into. I find the astro easy to work on, not that there is that much work or maintenance required.

    I really like my rock.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    My family, kids, grand kids, and great grand kids want me to put the rear seat in for a 240 mile trip to birthday parties this coming weekend. Oh well! I can get a fork truck to lift the third seat in. GM learned from this truck and show the lady on the mountain carrying the seat from a Tahoe. They would show a cherry picker carrying the seat from an Astro. Like a rock it's all granite or steel. But then once in place we can carry the siblings, grand siblings, and great grand siblings. i.e. it's a real truck, or bus. But I will probably have to drain fuel out of it after installing the K&N air cleaner, changing the tranny and diff. fluids to synthetic, and installing Toyo ultra 800 tires that run 44 psig. I'll probably put in some Marvel Mystery oil as this is always good for another 5% increase in MPG. Oh! forgot the disabling the DLRs. This is good for another 2% to 5% mileage increase. Oh! forgot again, replacing the brakes and lubricating the components, pins, etc should be good to reduce drag and increase mileage by another 3% or so.

    Checking mileage on an Astro is next to impossible. After nozzle cut off it will hold another 5 to 6 gallons until absolutely full. Then we are probably filling the vapor recovery canister.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Here's the handy trick for keeping track of gas mileage on the Astro. I record my mileage every day and I keep track of every cup of gas that it gobbles down. I wait until I have 50,000 miles and then I divide the gallons I've used into that. It's even easier when it ticks over 100,000 miles. It's a scary number anyway, and I try to forget it.

    You're right about filling it with gas but I have to say that my 01 doesn't keep filling at the end like the 98 did. Even though those people at GM keep grinding out what appears to be the same vehicle, there are some very minute changes.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Try the backseat in a Voyager. I believe the weight is 135lbs. At least I can pick up the Safari seat and put it in. What is really amazing about these vans is: 1. How much you can put in one with the second and third row seats removed, and 2. How tight a turning radius they have. Yeah, they may try to crab a little bit when turning at full lock, but I can almost turn a circle inside my folks Grand Voyager.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Well OK, I buckled up, bowed up etc. and loaded up the #3 rear Astro seat. I sure wish I would have had that gal. carrying that Tahoe seat. True I had a 1991 Voyager Co. van and the seats were about the same or worse than the Astro seats.

    Maybe the spider weight was the problem. After vacuuming off the spiders and spider webs I could probably pick it up with no problem. I think this is an uncle willie design as GM would not have designed such a monstrosity without coercion. Although they did the DRLs and auto headlamps. So now I'm not so sure.
  • ronrjrronrjr Posts: 1
    Our 98 Safari has just about 48K miles. We've replaced 6 tires because alignment shims are falling out of place. The first time we took it in for this problem the service tech supposedly test-drove the van but "couldn't find any discernible problem". And of course, they insinuated we are purposely driving thru huge potholes and causing the wheels to be out of alignment. (We live in SoCal, so there aren't lots of huge potholes around here!) The last time the car was at the dealer it took the alignment tech 4 1/2 hours to align the darn thing. Probably made a mistake by taking it to a non-dealer repair shop, where the tech told us the idler arms were bad, and that it's a problem with Safari and Astro vans. We had those replaced, along with new tires, to the tune of about $565.00. We can always tell when it's happening because there is a clattering noise on the side loosing the shims. We've had no luck at the dealer with this problem. Service Mgr was a crack-up the day we took the van in - said it was the 2nd Safari that day with the same problem. He seemed amazed - imagine that!?! Has anyone else experienced this problem?

    Car feels like it is swaying on the highway - sounds like others experience this as well. Very hard to handle, and we're not towing anything. Probably happens because the darn van is always out of alignment!!

    Accelerator is starting to stick when depressed.

    Driver's side power window is making a "thud" noise when powering up the window.

    Pins in side window latches keep falling out. Finally used some super-glue on them.

    Periodic problem putting the vehicle in gear - it just doesn't move! This happens so seldom so of course it can't be duplicated at the dealer when we take it in.

    I'm really disappointed in the van. I've always had very good performance from GM products.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Occasionally we hear of tire wear and alignment problems on this site. But I had a 94 Astro and never even rotated the tires in 80,000 miles with no unusual wear pattern. The Michelins would have gone 100,000 miles but I picked up steel pieces in a steel mill at 65,000 and had to replace the tires.

    I drove the 97, that I now own, 14,000 miles with no sign of unusual tire wear or steering control problems. I did have it aligned just after I bought it in early 98. It had a slight pull to one side.

    The re circulating ball steering is from the dark ages, and there are, I think, 13 grease fittings to lubricate. I lubricate these every 3000 to 5000 miles. Would have been nice if GM would put rack and pinion steering in this truck. But with the problems of the Delphi setup on a their cars, maybe that wouldn't be a good idea either.

    I just put TOYO 800 ultra's on the van. These have 100,000 mile tread wear warranty provided they are rotated and balanced every 7500 miles. This service came with the sale.

    Good alignment shops are hard to find. I figure it's about one in five that do a good job. I find that a dedicated wheel and alignment shop is usually the best choice. It's about like finding a good Dr. or dentist. Once you find a good one you need to go back to the same place.
  • apmapm Posts: 11
    I agree with coonhound, we're on 3rd astro/safari.
    Tie rods seem weak and are an expensive replacement when they go (my experience was tread wear on outside of the tire)but i think you should crawl beneath and seek out your zerk fittings, put a premium set of shocks on, and hopefully you'll handle alot better.
    My current safari had leaking shocks at 25k and warranty replaced them. When I get to 50k or so I'll put radial matics or something similar all around.
    My throttle was sticking and I took it in to be de-carbonized the sticking gas pedal was very aggravating and wd 40 etc wouldn't solve the problem.
    I'm still waiting to hear if anyone else has had rough starting and rough idling when cold. Involving a plastic filler hose for the gasoline that leeches onto the fuel and clogs the injectors. Service bulletin no. 00-06-04-018. GMC wouldn't extend warranty for repair (abt. $500) Problem is peculiar to certain model GMC and Chev trucks from '97 to '00.
    I'm not complaining too loud i like these vans they're tough and practical.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Since 96 I have had 3 Astos, a 96, a 98 and now an 01. I still have the 98 and the 01. They all have run Toyo 800's and all have had no abnormal tire wear or handling problems. Am religious about rotating every 5000 miles along with oil changes and I have to say when I drove my new one this last summer, it handled no better than the 98. I have never had an alignment on any of them. When I sold the 96 at 150 thousand, it still had a lot of wear on the Toyos. Now the 98 has 105,221 miles and has lots of wear left on the Toyos. From my experience Astros don't have tire wear problems. Oh yes, I replaced factory shocks on the 96 and the 98 at about 30,000 miles. The 01 is getting ready for a good set of new gas shocks.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Apparently some of us were luckier than others as our original equipment UniRoyal Tiger Paw Plus went 50,000 miles and still had tread left but one had a nail into the sidewall at about 25,000 miles and we had an inner tube put inside. The inner tube would chafe and wear out at about 10,000 mile intervals so I just got a new set of UniRoyal Tiger Paw Plus AWP at 50,000 miles when we still had 10,000 to 20,000 miles tread remaining.
    One tire was defective and the van shook. It took me 3 trips back before the tire store accepted my statement that at least one tire was out of round. when they finally located the bad tire, the Astro was perfectly smooth riding again.
    I still think the Astro is one of the best minivans/ midi-vans made and has many advantages over any Front Wheel minivan. Some are: Astro/Safari are REAL trucks with truck reliability and endurance. I prefer panel doors to the liftgates. I like the 27 gallon fuel tank and powerful 4.3L V6 with the excellent road mileage of 23 to 24 MPG that we always got on road trips. Overall mileage was 20.7 MPG for the entire time we owned it.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Re: Topsea:

    Based on your post I just ordered, from shock warehouse, two KYB monomax shocks for the front of my Astro. I already had replaced the rear shocks with Monroe gas charged load levelers.

    I thought I wanted Bilstien but the KYB have about the same spec. and at half the price I thought it was a no brainer and went with the KYB.

    I had bragged on this site about how I was to get this fantastic fuel mileage by: addition of synthetic fluids, replacing brakes and lubricating the calipers, turning of the DRLs, the TOYOs with 44 psig, K&N air filter, and Marvel Mystery oil. Well! It got just under 19 mpg. But it was driven by family members, loaded, and bucked an Oklahoma head wind of 30 to 35 mph on the return trip of 220 miles. Shut my mouth! this was the worst highway mileage ever recorded on this van. I get 14+ mpg pulling the 30" Award travel trailer.

    I can only attribute the low mileage to wind and the drivers. Got to put the blame somewhere.

    It is interesting that this van did not come with gas charged shocks.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    I live in the northwest and travel 3 states extensively. I've used the same tire dealer network for about 15 years. They sell and maintain my Toyos and they have been selling me replacement gas shocks for all the vehicles I drive. They used to sell KYB but I think they sell their own brand now. Anyway they are guarenteed for the lifetime of the vehicle as long as I have it. I do now they make a difference in how it handles. So I can't talk about brands but I do have a lot of confidence in the Les Schwab stores in the northwest.

    Yes, gas mileage........I'm convienced that you can get about anything on these vans. I don't think that I've ever seen better than 19. But I have to tell you that I don't pay for my gas so I don't pay that much attention to it either
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    I have a '96 Safari rated to pull 5000lbs, but my Terry 26L weighs in at over 7000lbs loaded. I pull it with my '00 Sierra 2500. The trailer is 30' with a heavy duty frame, hence the weight.

    That Award must be one of the light towables. I have considered going to something lighter so I don't need such a heavy duty truck to tow.

  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Re: jlflemmons:

    The 30' Award trailer weighs a nominal 4000 lbs. It is a European design, mfg. near Ottawa, Ontario. They even sell reconditioned units. Go to your search engine and type in Diels Distribution and you can get more information than you will ever need.

    Oh! we must talk about the Astro. I have 3.72 gears and a 5500 Lb. tow rating. You have 3.54 ratio. The 3.23 geared unit is rated 4500 lbs. Awards promotional literature pictured the Astro pulling a 30' unit, and this was when the 165 HP Astro was the norm.

    There is always a picture of a 24 ft. Award in trailer life classified. Ad by Diels distribution, or Award Recreational Vehicles.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    The Award site is
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    it's just solvent and oil?
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Re: mrnimmo

    That's just it it's a Mystery. Seriously though I have used this stuff in the fuel of and on for years, and it does increase highway mileage by 1/2 to 1 mpg. I have driven more than 1 1/2 million miles over the past 40 years or so and have checked this many times. I don't know what it does to the Oxygen sensors on the newer vehicles however. The Astro has three oxygen a about $70.00 a pop. I would hate to plug these.

    By adding lubricant to the valve train and upper cylinder area the friction is reduced. After two stroke engines are lubricated with solvent and oil.

    Check Bob Winters the oil man. He has a top oil made from soy bean oil and claims an increase in mpg with this additive, along with all the other benefits. If you haven't done so, you should visit his site. He is a petroleum engineer and has a lot to say about lubrication.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Should read after all two stroke engines________.
    The oil guy is

    I suppose this should be under maintenance, or pat will delete these post.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Don't worry - Pat doesn't have host tools in Vans :-). Are you sure that bobistheoilguy is a petroleum engineer? I thought he called himself a "lubrication specialist" and sold Schaeffer's products.

    If you need directions to the infamous Engine Sludge! discussion, just ask.

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  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    I've spent too much time on the sedans board with pat.
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