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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro Heating / Cooling

baxbax Posts: 1
I have a '94 Astro bought used a year ago. Took it on a 3000 mile round trip last summer with no problem. Now has 45K. A week ago suddenly there was a smell (intermittent) coming through the vents from the engine when the fan is in the "VENT" position. Does NOT happen with AC on. Oil, trans, coolant levels all OK. Thought maybe it was a refrigerant leak on the engine. Took it to a Chevy dealer, who could not duplicate the condition. (Told ya it was intermittent.) NOW it appears that maybe the smell wasn't coming through the vents (though I could have sworn it was), because I caught a little wisp of smoke coming from the fan switch. Dealer's electrical expert says nothing to worry about, could just be dust on the switch. This is a reputable dealership that says they try to avoid unnecessary parts replacement & expenses. I'd like to resolve this before taking another long trip next month and am strongly leaning toward replacing the switch, anyway. Feedback? Similar experiences?


  • mlctoomlctoo Posts: 1
  • balashjbalashj Posts: 1
    1996 Safari I had to have the rear ac hoses replaced. Now 14 months later the hoses have worn out AGAIN! Anyone had this experience? I feel that GM should pick up the bill since it is a design flaw. I am tempted to have them disconnect the rear air all together, but that would leave me with an option that I paid for and cannot use. This Safari van as far as I am concerned is a piece of junk. Any time the Service Manager is involved he is able to snake his way out of the issue. Here is a breakdown of the service I have had since buying the van in 1997:
    33K - Hatch struts - covered under warranty
    34K - replaced front end shock - warranty
    34K - roof gasket - warranty
    45K - front end tighten loose transfer mount bolts - no warranty
    45K - Front end problems again(shimmy) replaced brake pads - no warranty
    45K - O2 sensor - extended warranty
    62K - AC blowing cold rear ac hoses replaced - no warranty
    62K - Drivers side power window bad - no warranty
    65K - Idler arms replaced after eating tires - Extended warranty
    68K - Heat Control Valve - no warranty
    76K - Replace passenger door handle and latch - no warranty
    78K - Ac bad again.......
    Is this typical for a GM vehicle?
  • biggrbiggr Posts: 9
    hi,do any of you have rear heat that stays cold?i have a 96 astro with rear heat and a/c.the heat is as cold as a/c.i tried cracking the lines leading to the rear heater core to see if there was air,but it wasnt.the front heat works there a valve,switch or anything that controls the flow of antifreeze because it was cold coming out the lines when the front was hot
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Yes, at least on my '95 there was a heater control valve mounted just above the transmission. Follow your water lines from the heater core and you will find it. On mine the opposite was true. Heat all the time. The vacuum line from the switch was pinched off and the thing stayed on for years. The dealer told me it was supposed to stay on. Idiot. By the time I figured out what was happening, the vehicle was well out of warranty, the valve was stuck in the open position, and a replacement was only available from the dealer for $75. So, I just took out the valve and went to straight heater hose. Figure I lived with it for four years, I might as well continue. Another option is to get a cable controlled heater valve and install it in place of the vacuum unit. Then use a decorative choke pull off mounted to the heater box and run the cable to the valve. You will be able to turn the water on and off from the drivers seat, or the rear seat passenger can do the same.

  • biggrbiggr Posts: 9
    thanks.i saw a valve just under the a/c box with about three heater hoses and it has a vacuum line as well as an electrical connection.i was checking it out in the cold last night so all i checked was if it was getting juice,and it was.i didnt check the vacuum.its kinda tight in there.
  • Hope someone maybe able to suggest a solution to my problem? The climate control is "stuck" on the defrost duct work only. That is I can not get the air to flow out of either the foot vents or the face vents. The AC and heat work but only come out through the defrost vents. Not sure if it is the control knob or possibly a pnuematic control valve under the dash? Any thoughts would be helpful?
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    You have a vacuum leak in the controls. Could be as simple as a line came off of the control, or the vacuum line or canister is leaking under the hood. Classic vacuum problem.

  • I have the same problem with the rear heater not putting out any heat. A valve has been mentioned near the A/C Unit. I believe I have found where the three hoses come together. I was wondering if you, BIGGR, found the problem and were able to fix it? Also, do you have to go from under neath to get to the valve? Thanks in advance.
  • I had the same problem earlier this year. Found the main vacuum line from the top of the engine to the main control juntion had become brittle and snapped off. The line had been installed over the top of the engine and the years of engine heat made it weak. You can buy the replacement part from the dealer, or splice the remaining good line with a more flexible hose from Autozone. The latter option is the cheapest way to go. If you do it yourself, you will have to remove the shroud from inside the van to access the main vaccum line to the control unit. The other end is accessible from the hood outside. Good luck...
  • biggrbiggr Posts: 9
    ganze1,i havent fixed my rear heat or should i say i havent attempted to try to fix it yet as i've been too busy and its been kinda cold out.i just fixed my gp tonight so i can pull it out of the garage and work inside.i may make an attempt soon and let you know.the rotors on my 96 astro seem to be a little warped but i have almost 90k miles and im due for a front brake job anyway.the sensor is scraping and driving me crazy!!!
  • 67firebirdconv you're the best! Went right to the vacuum line (very small - 1/8" dia.) and it was completely broke in half. Went to the auto parts store to buy a 3' replacement length for under $10. Now works like a charm - just in time for the winter driving. Thanks tons, you guys saved me a bundle!!
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    If your dealer can't figure this one out in like, oh, maybe three minutes, you need to find another dealer. Safari's have vacuum operated ac routing. I'm betting you have cold air, but it either blows out the heater ducts, or the defroster ducts. Either way, it is almost always a vacuum leak. On my '95, it was a pinched vacuum line in the dash.

  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Check for freon loss. If the system pressure is too low (no freon) the pressure switch will not let the clutch engage. To do so would damage the compressor as without freon the lubricant does not move through the compressor and things tend to come apart. If you have rear AC, be sure to check the lines running to the rear evaporator core for damage.

    I, on the other hand, am having to replace the compressor on the wifes '95 model. It still will freeze your cheeks off, even here in Texas, but the internal bearing, not the pulley end, is going bad and the thing sounds like it is about to come apart.

  • jrekjjrekj Posts: 5
    My 97' GMC Safari has been reasonably reliable since I bought it new. But now with it being seven years old and 84K miles it has its occasional problem. With the weather now getting warmer it was necessary last week to use the A/C for the the first time this year. The A/C properly engaged, but all the cold air would only come out of the defroster vents. I suspect a vacuum leak, but how can I verify it? Do I need to take off the entire front dash to trace out the vacuum line? (My concern here is that the airbag that might prematurely engage). Any suggestions or comments would be welcome. Thanks.
  • tucker2tucker2 Posts: 1
    I had the same exact problem that I fixed yesterday. It was the very thin plastic vacuum line that runs from right behind the silver AC tank on the left front of the engine when facing it under the hood. To test it disconnect the tube at the "T" and feel for vacuum. If no vacuum this should be your problem. You will need about 4 feet of large windshield washing rubber tubing. Connect the tubing to the the fitting on the "T" and the other end to a connection at the center of the left valve cover (when in the drivers seat). You will need to remove the housing that covers the engine. If the leak is behind the dash, it is very easy to remove the dash to get at the AC controls but I do not believe it is necessary.
  • rastrorastro Posts: 1
    The Climate Control fan won't blow through the top vents on my '00 Astro. Thanks to the rear air it isn't totally unbearable but summer is rapidly approaching and I need to figure out
    what I might be able to do before hauling it in to the dealer. Can anyone tell me what could be the problem. I'm not certain if it it mechanically or electrically controlled, a linkage or switch issue and would like some direction before tearing into the dash.
  • jpallardijpallardi Posts: 1
    It's probably the tube in the dash, these things are controlled pneumatically, and the tubes get holes in them when they dry out, tubing is .50 a foot, but the engine cover and dash removal is what costs you, find a good independent guy I had mine fixed last summer for @ 35.00 or so, if you try yourself it really is pretty simple
  • mcleanmclean Posts: 1
    did you have any luck
    i have a 2000 safari. air only comes though the defroster for the windshield and at your feet
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    My 98 Asstro had the same problem, it looks like a melted vacuum hose that runs too close to a manifold in the tight engine compartment is to blame. I tried to rig up another hose, didn't have the right size so a cardboard duct on the dash cooled me off. I now drive an '05 Asstro for my company, it's amazing, they're so similar, you can't tell the difference.
  • cobcob Posts: 210
    I have a 97 and the air only comes out the defrost or the floor. Is it just a vacuum line on the engine or is it a line behind the dash on the back of the climate control panel? If I switch to A/C the compressor kicks on but the air doesn't come out of the vents it stays at a combination of the defrost and the floor vents. Can anyone diagnose before I take the entire dash apart to find out?
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    It's a vacuum line on (over and too close to) the engine which was damaged. You have to have really long arms to reach from the front hood area.
  • cobcob Posts: 210
    Is it easier to reach by removing the doghouse?
  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    Hi 97 xpreeso:

    I have the same problem on my '98 Safari. Can you tell me more about where to locate this vacuum hose? Is it accessible from inside with the doghouse removed? What make you decide not to replace it with new parts?

    I have got hold of a Haynes Repair Manual but it's no help at all. I too like to investigate more to decide if I have to take the dash out. Thank in advance for your advice!
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    The reason it was not properly repaired is that it was a company vehicle that they did not want to spend $ on. I now drive a 2005 Astro, and the air actually comes out the dash, but for how long? A co-worker claimed he had success with a neighbors Astro and I watched him try to fix mine. I believe if the proper diameter hose was available it would have worked. Standing in front of the van the hose came out of the dash just off center towards passenger side. It then curved downwards 180 degrees across the top of the engine where heat deteriorated the hose. It probably would be easier to remove the engine cover. Good Luck.
  • cobcob Posts: 210
    I found the vacuum line on my 97 that had broken. The line starts over behind the a/c evaporator on the passenger side of the van right in front under the hood and goes across the motor and hooks to a fitting on the intake manifold behind the a/c compressor. I routed it above the air cleaner to keep it cooler instead of along the intake manifold where the factory routed it, time will tell if this lasts. That line fixed the problem and now the air comes out wherever the knob is set to on the dash. I removed the air cleaner cover and the tube that connects it to the rest of the air intake and it was easy to fix from right under the hood. The vacuum line is a real small diameter plastic tube with rubber connectors molded to each end. You can't hear the vacuum leak with the engine running since the hose is so small.
  • I love my astro but am having some probs at 140k. My wiper motor has gone intermittent. (A bad thing in the daily fog drizzle we have here every day this time of year) I saw a fix earlier that suggested re soldering connectors at the circuit board. Can someone tell me the location of that board so I can find it without having to go through the trouble I did locating the wiper motor? Click and Clack said it was under the dash by the glove box. So I hauled everything out only to find the motor under the hood which required cutting of the protective housing to remove.

    When the motor came out I dissected it expecting to find worn or hung brushes. I had neither! Everything looked fine. I had tested and found voltage to the unit before removing it, but now suspect that maybe the voltage that registered on my digital Radio Shack cheapie maybe didn't have enough amps to turn the motor.

    Any ideas?

    My directional air controller has failed as well. But from reading previous fixed I'm going to have to look at the vacuum line.

    My A/C left sometime last year and I can't tell if the clutch is engaging or not. It worked fine always good and cold until that point. I would appreciate some advice on how to begin trouble shooting that system.

    Why do I love her with all these problems? Unlike my wife, I've had her since new, and she's proved WAY more reliable and predictable.

    Thx in advance for any and all advice.
  • cobcob Posts: 210
    Check with you r dealer about a recall on the wiper motor. GM recalled all of them in trucks and vans over about a 3-5 year period 96-99 or something to that effect. I had mine replaced in the 97 for free last year. As I explained before the vacuum line is an easy fix. You can tell if the clutch engages because of the extra noise it creates engaging and disengaging. The engine also changes speed up and down during that process. Good luck on the repairs.
  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    I've got to try this one. I should have check this forum before I went on the wild goose chase under the dog house last weekend. I tried to tackle this same problem from under the dog house without success. BTW, does anyone know how to remove the dog house without taking the passenger seat out. I can only manage to turn to side way to get access to the engine.
    It was unseasonably warm last saturday,over 90 degree F. We usually don't get this weather until way into July. Now, DW is threatening to file for divorce if I don't get A/C to come out from the dash outlet. :mad:
    Anyway, thank cob for the tip.
  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    Hi cob:
    I found it. It was broken in two places and lying on top of the thermostat housing. There's actually a flat spot on it resulted either from heat or rubbing against some moving parts. Without your descriptive & helpful explanation, I'd never suspect this stiff dingy 1/8" hose is a vacuum hose. I was looking for a 1/4" flexible rubber hose all along. BTW, did you buy the replacement hose from auto parts store in bulk or you have to get it from the dealer.
    Thank you in advance!!!
  • tkwtkw Posts: 29
    I yanked the hose from its fitting at the evaporator end and took it to Canadian Tire this morning. The guys at the service counter have never seen such a vacuum hose. No luck. I will try a few other auto parts store before I hit the dealer b/c they are normally three times the cost. Suggestion anyone please?
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