GMC Safari/Chevy Astro Real World MPG

ClairesClaires Member Posts: 1,222
edited April 2014 in Chevrolet
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  • cobcob Member Posts: 210
    1997 AWD averages 17 MPG in mixed driving, 19 all highway and 14 all city. 9-10 when pulling 4000# camper.
  • coonhoundcoonhound Member Posts: 174
    1997 Astro 2WD with 3.73 differential.
    17 mpg in stop and go city driving. 21 to 22 mpg highway.
    14 mpg towing a 4000# Award travel trailer.
  • dlm1954dlm1954 Member Posts: 57
    I need to change the injectors on this van and have to pull the plenum and was wondering if anyone had done this and could let me know how much trouble I'm getting into.
  • mannybeemannybee Member Posts: 4
    18-21 highway (65-70mph)
    13-15 city (hilly around town)
    2000 chevy astro 175000 miles
  • black3fanblack3fan Member Posts: 1
    I just did this last Monday. I read the book and thought I was in over my head, but I wanted to see how far I could get. This job is a piece of CAKE!! All you have to do is remove the air box and rubber hose to the throttle body,, then remove the ten (10) bolts that bolt the upper plenum to the lower plenum. All the harnesses and the hoses that unbolt with the side bolts will slide out of your way. The toughest part of the job is getting the upper plenum out of the van. The easiest way I found was out the back, into the interior of the van. Just raise it up and over the A/C line that runs across the bellhousing and wiggle and cuss a little and you're home free!! Installation is just the reverse. You will probably find that the inside of the plenum is FILTHY on one side (driver's side) and clean on the other (passenger's) side. The cause of this is that the fuel pressure regulator (on the passenger's side) of the fuel injector is leaking. Once you get the upper plenum off, turn the key to ON, but DO NOT start the van!! Check for leaks. Once you find and fix the leaks, you should find that the injector does not have to be replaced. That will save you about $400.00 for a new injector and you will spend under $50.00 for the regulator. I got mine back together and it idles smooth as glass, runs like a rabbit, and MPG's jumped up almost double!!

    Good luck. Write back if you have any other questions.
  • jbigfootjbigfoot Member Posts: 2
    I have a '94 Safari that gets 15-18 MPG in city driving, with some of it being freeway. :cry:
  • jrbudgejrbudge Member Posts: 7
    I have an '88 Astro with 331,000km! After reading through here, I guess I'm not doing too bad; I'm getting about 19 MPG highway(70-80mph). I live in the mountains which doesn't help, but the van's a 5 speed and that does.
  • jrbudgejrbudge Member Posts: 7
    The last 2 consecutive tanks of fuel, I reached just over 21 mpg on both! I don't know if this is the cause, but immediately before I got started on the last 2 tanks, I replaced to he serpentine belt. My van is equipped with A/C, but the system is discharged and I don't like A/C much anyway. So I bought the belt that was for the same van without A/C, now it just bypasses that pulley.
  • jrbudgejrbudge Member Posts: 7
    After replacing the oxygen sensor, I just finished my first full tank of fuel...With a new high: 23.7mpg :shades:
  • adcessoriesadcessories Member Posts: 3
    I have a 2005 GMC Safari passenger van and I preveiously had a '93 GMC Safari conversion van, so, I am familiar with the vehicles. My problem is that this '05 gets horrible gas mileage, about 12 mpg city or highway. I have had it into a GMC dealer and they report that there is nothing wrong with my vehicle and they blame the ethanol fuel for the lousy mileage. I took it to a local independent shop that is highly regarded locally and they pretty much agreed with the dealership that the culprit is probably the ethanol blended gasoline. Is anyone else experiencing similar mileage problems? I am about ready to trade this vehicle on a different, hopefully more fuel efficient, vehicle and this one doesn't even have 40,000 miles on it yet.
  • cobcob Member Posts: 210
    I have a 1997 with 120000 miles and have the same problem 12 city and 14 highway. I was getting better numbers before I changed the plugs at 100000 miles. I parked it and am driving a $300 prism 40 miles per day at 27 mpg. Do you have the 3.73 gears or the 3.23? It seams that the 3.73 get better mileage even though it is not logical the 3.23 should turn lower rpms on the highway.
  • adcessoriesadcessories Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the report! I don't know which gear ratio this vehicle has, and, I am not sure just how to determine it. I tend to believe that my fuel economy problem is a multiple problem, the ethanol blend fuel that we have to use doesn't burn as "hot" as the 100% gasoline fuel that the manufacturers and the EPA used to determine the posted MPG figures, and, GM uses something called the Vortex engine in the 2005 that, supposedly, they did not use in the 1993 van that I had and the Vortex engine has a reputation of not being as fuel efficient as the older engine from what some mechanics to whom I have spoken tell me. The 2005 van has "rack & pinion" steering that is different from the '93, the '93 could just about turn around in its own shadow, the '05 needs a city block in which to turn around.
    I am rapidly giving up hope on this vehicle ever getting close to the mileage that the '93 did. Anybody got a suggestion of what would be a good, reliable, fuel efficient replacement vehicle?
  • adcessoriesadcessories Member Posts: 3
    I was just wondering what year model vehicle you have, and, was there an error light, or something, that made you suspect the oxygen sensor was faulty? I want to believe that my '05 Safari van can get better economy than it is getting but I have not been able to find any solution as yet.
  • jrbudgejrbudge Member Posts: 7
    Ya, the 'check engine soon' light was on most of the time. It's a 1988 Astro, semi-cargo, 5 spd
  • redfisherredfisher Member Posts: 6
    Hello, I just bought a 2003 gmc safari and i like the van but the gas mileage is really bad.I am looking for any mods to help increase the mileage?
    First tank i got 17.5 mpg (thats imp. as i live in canada,) thats about 14.5 mpg in us terms.

    So far i have put in a k&n filter cleaned the mas sensor and infalted the tires to 35 psi i drive easy about 90 kph on cruise so i will see what milage i get out of this tank.I also removed the roof rack.if anybody is running a chip let me know how this has affected your milage.
  • dskinnerdskinner Member Posts: 1
    dont feel bad I`m getting 9-11mpg.I went to the dealer and was told thats it.I hate dealing with chevy,and this will be the last one I buy.They sell you a warranty and send you home knowing your vehicle is`nt right.I`m going to change the first two sensors befor converter and see if that helps.
    I`ve talked with people who are getting 17-21mpg.I had shepard chevy in lake bluff send me homewith a bad Idler arm.I just drove 45miles one wayafter my mechanic showed me the arm was bad.I was hearing clunks under r.f.I took the afternoon off and took it to shepard where i bought the van.They pumped it full of grease so the noise would go away,and sent me home.Here another oil chnge later I`m at bill kay chevy downers grove getting it fixed and it tsill is making noises.Chevy sucks.Shepard Chevy.Con artist.
  • spike99spike99 Member Posts: 239
    Getting between 15-21 MPG is normal. It all depends on factory gearing, wind drag, hills, tire size, tune-up condition, etc. etc.

    My previous ''95 RWD van got around 21 mpgs. My used 2001 AWD Safari is around 15 mpgs. Yes, A pig - even when going down hill and with the wind. When our "run about" FWD (other) vehicle is paid off in 2 years, our 2001 AWD Safari van is gone. To be replaced with a 2WD vehicle - like Envoy XL or simular shape machine. . Gas savings alone will pay for a much better Tow / family touring vehicle. If you can't get better mpgs, time to replace with something better.

  • redfisherredfisher Member Posts: 6
  • redfisherredfisher Member Posts: 6
    I looked at the sticker inside the door and found that i have the gov-lock rearend with 3.42 gears and my tires are 215/70/16 and that i should run them at 38 psi.So i pumped them up and running easy i get 630 km on about 85 liters of gas.(my old 97 dodge caravan would get 850 km on 85 liters.But i had to retire her and i could not afford a new one so my dad sold me his 2003 gmc safari for $5000 on payments.So i am stuck with it for a couple years untill i pay for it,the milage should go up in the summer,it is really cold up here right now.Other then the gas mileage i do like driving the van.Has anybody here went to a larger tire on the stock rim? i was thinking of going to a taller tire in the summer as my van sits high and the wheel wells look empty.
  • partydpartyd Member Posts: 2
    1995 GMC cargo van vortec 4.3 engine new spyder injector hooker headers,new Y connection 3'' new tubes to the back in 3'' a Flowmaster 40 and 285-40-17 tires
    5 speed auto tranny i have a little over 100k

    21MPG CITY
    25 MPG HIGHWAY @ 70 mph going to Miami
    this van is fast sometimes i race people on the streets if i do that i only get about 10 miles to the gallon

    cheap gas
  • lahainaohanalahainaohana Member Posts: 1
    I purchased my Astro after retiring my second Areostar, which gave me 16-18 mpg consistently. Doing the same kind or driving with the Astro, I'm getting 12-13 mpg. Dealer diagnostic found only that the "fixed" timing was 10deg retarded at idle. They didn't mention the knock sensor, but a local mechanic suggested I check it for a short. Can anyone help me locate it? Things I've done: Plugs, Cap, Rotor, Fuel Filter, Air Filter, 5 tanks of injector cleaner. Engine runs smooth, no misses, does knock on moderate acceleration. Exhaust pipe and muffler glow at night after long uphill pull. Engine really dogs sometimes on acceleration. Help
  • antique_maggieantique_maggie Member Posts: 10
    My '94 Astrovan ( I'm saying all this as I fight back tears) get's like 4mpg period, I swear!
    Ok, really, it's probably like 12, but I don't know how to fix the problem! Someone help me!! Either the mpg's improve ASAP, or she's goin' up for sale (or "Free to good home" :mad: )
  • teal96teal96 Member Posts: 2
    Sounds like yur computer is in what I call "Stupid " mode,, oxy sensor or something bad, Should the computer not run due to what ever the engine defaults to this basic ultra rich mixture. I am guessing yours has the TBI deal.

    I get 20 in town with my 2 wd but the AWD we had got 14.
  • antique_maggieantique_maggie Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the post, I appreciate it. I was REALLY hoping to take this van on our road trip this coming Labor Day weekend (total time is a whole hour and a half to get there) because out of both vehicles (our other is a '92 blazer) the van has air. I highly doubt I'll be able to get a round trip out of the van on a full tank though ( if map quest is right, round trip=148miles-ish). Unless my calc's are off (I was never good at math, I shamefully admit).......?
    Maybe I should just accept the idea of a friend of mine's. He said that back when our van was built (again, it's a '94) it wasn't built with gas mileage in mind. Does anyone else think that's true? :cry: curse high gas prices!!!
  • spike99spike99 Member Posts: 239
    We have a 2001 AWD Safari van. Based on its DIC (Display Information Center), it gets between 8-14 mpg while towing a 4,000 lbs Travel Trailer, 14-22 mpg while hauling a family of 5 with minor internal cargo and with internal light cargo with 2 adults, our van gets a consistant gets 22-25 mpg. If wondering, my van has 3.42 gearing and it did have P215/75R/15 rubber tires (which is factory size). We got new P215/70R/15 rubber tires (which are smaller / lighter tires) installed a few days ago and our van with family of 5 is now more consistantly in the 23-25 mpg range. Especially at 60 mph ground speed. Above 60 mph and its GMC letters instantly turn to "PIG" (if you know what I mean).. For us, we only do an 8 hour long trip 3 times per year. Thus, we keep its ground speed under 60 mph, and we eventually get there. Works for my family's needs and available time.

    If time or faster ground speed is more urgent to you, perhaps it might we less expensive to "rent" a smaller mini-van, mini-station wagon or rent the car of your dreams - for your long term trips. The "gasoline cost savings" by using a more fuel efficient rental could pay for the daily vehilce rental fees. And, you get to try a different vehicle for long distance travel. Great research opportinity for your future van replacement - when that special time comes. If wondering, my FIL (Father In Law) does that. He keeps his GAS HOG V8 4x4 GMC pickup for local driving and rents a fuel efficient vehicle for his long trips. Works for him....

    Hope this idea helps as well....

  • antique_maggieantique_maggie Member Posts: 10
    Thanks again! So far I've been told to check the oxygen censor and to see if the computer is in "Stupid mode" (lol), and to be honest, the van could use some newer tires. I'll keep that tire size you gave me in mind when I shop around for new ones. I hope it helps me! :0)
    P.S~ Would it help out any if I got it in for an alignment? It's off....not real badly, but enough to tell......
  • spike99spike99 Member Posts: 239
    They say that every "little bit" helps.

    Stuff like:
    - Closer to the ground means less wind drag. If you have a raised van, do lower it back down to factory ground clearance.
    - New shocks on all 4 tires (like Blistien or Rachos HD shocks) to reduce too much up/down movement help a little as well. Especially if pulling a trailer.
    - Smaller / lighter tires means less rubber weight to "get going". Especially if the axle gearing of your van already has "lugging" behavior. Lugging because its gearing is too high - for your road / hill conditions.
    - Pull away "slowly" from the stop lights / stop signs. Let others "wind vacum" your vehicle forward. LOL!.
    - Being slow on those hiway access ramps (like the big loop clover leafs). Today, I no longer bank my van on 2 wheels. Especially on those tighter clover leafs.
    - Less internal weight (like removing unneeded row of passender seats - until needed). My buddy removed his middle row of seats for his dogs. When he does passenger trips, he & his son re-installs his middle seat. Works for him.
    - Using cruise control and set to -3 mph slower then posted speed limit. Same speed as most transport trucks - in my local area.
    - Only use AC when needed. re: The high climate justifies the gas consumption of AC. No more running AC because one can.
    - Wheel aligment / wheel balance.
    - Ensure vehicle has good spark plugs, clean air filter, its thottle body is clean, its injectors are clean, its timing is properly set, etc. etc. Mechanical tune ups do save gas dollars in the long run...
    - Proper tire pressue (as stated on the tire and not in your manual) helps as well. Note: Tire pressure is based on towing and non-towing loads. One lbs rating doesn't fit all brands of tires. Therefore, be prepared to adjust some tires - based on their usage.

    As they say, every little bit helps.

  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    Hello, I have a GMC Safari van SLT Yr200.

    I was traveling to Alabama and I have the transmission making a shift very rare I have stop at the moment check the Trans oil and I tough it was ok, but next mile it did the same so I stop at walmart and I have added some oil.Service Engine came on and MPG started to go from 19 to 18 and so on until 14.8.
    When I came back home I took it to Advance auto partsand they get the P1870 code " Transmission Slip" they have recomended Lucas product Stop Slip also an oil change.

    Should I change Transmission Filter and O ring? and add Lucas product?

    What else other than engine oil change, air filter, fuel injector cleaning can help to improve MPG?

    I'll appreciate any one can help me, I have this van from original owner and never gave me a problem.

    Thanks, Julio.

  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    I was having 17.8 and I have replace the following things;

    Spark Plug wires
    Air Filter
    Fuel Filter
    I have make an oil change and replace oil filter
    I have flush the transmission oil and replaced.
    I added a fuel injector cleaner.

    Guess what, I have increased to 25 MPG when I travel from GA to VA.

    But After almost 1.5 years after and continusly changing engine oil and filter I have a transmission problem that I have posted recently and I have bad MPG.

    I'm just hoping that some body can help me too.

  • cobcob Member Posts: 210
    P1870 is usually the death code so you can plan on a rebuild soon or sell it ASAP.
  • antique_maggieantique_maggie Member Posts: 10
    oh jeez! not that! how awful!
    I hope you get that van fixed soon! I've given up hope on my astro and will be trying to sell it soon....I loved that van, it was SO much roomier than your standard minivan and it hauled alot of things, but I've lost the battle with gas prices and can't take it anymore, I'm sad to admit, I'll be looking for a small sedan soon.....curses! :cry:
  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    How much you think will cost to rebuilt the transmission?

    Is it worthed?

    Thanks for your reply.

  • spike99spike99 Member Posts: 239
    A few years back, I got the transmisison rebuilt in my 2001 AWD Safari van. Before taxes, it cost $1,200 - canadian dollars. Not too sure how much they charge in your specific region. Might be worth calling a few tranny shops in your area. If wondering, my van lost 2nd and "R" gears. It only has 1st and 3rd. Thus, completed removal and rebuild - with a special kit. Your Astro/Safari van may need the same kit.

    If my GMC Safari van "blew up" tomorrow, I'd probably get a 2007 "demo" Uplander Van. This year has the bigger front brakes, larger size engine and a few other design improvements the other previous GM van models don't have. Demo is around $18K - compared to the $30K of a 2008 models. If I neeed to haul stuff, I'd connect my larger size engine "smaller" mini-van to my 6x10 or 4x6 utility trailer. And when not needed, I'd simply back the trailer into the bush and pull its pin (sort of speaking). Thus, no need for a larger size mini-van (that's a pig on gas).

    Hope this helps - some how.

  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    Thanks for the info Spike99, I'll try to do everything on my side.

    and will see if I decide to sell or fix this vehicle.

    Have a nice day.
  • cobcob Member Posts: 210
    I had my 97 AWD trans rebuilt in 2005 for just over $2000 and that was 50,000 miles ago. I have since sold it with the camper we towed behind it and the new owner is still driving it with over 130,000 miles on it. After the rebuild it shifted smooth into each gear and never missed a beat. Make sure you use a reputable repair shop and don't get a remanufactured GM unit make sure they rebuild yours with the upgraded aftermarket parts. The GM reman will be no better than the original trans that failed.
  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    COB...I just decided to put the vehicle for sale.

    I do not trust in any repair shop near by plus I velieve is not worth for me to spend as you said $2000 usd.

    I'll rather get some money and use it to get a newer car.

  • greensafarigreensafari Member Posts: 1
    Just wondering if you knew about flushing the transfer case? My 99 Safari was hard shifting after a 2 hr highway drive, and we got the transfer case flushed and it fixed it. There is some known issue with it that came out in a GMC bulletin. Most people assume it's the transmission, but it's not.
  • organfreakorganfreak Member Posts: 2
    Just got this '97 Astro, 2 WD. Finished a 400 mile trip with about 600 lbs of cargo in the back. 25.3 MPG @ 60-70 MPH!!! Wow!
  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    Hi GreenSafari,

    Where is the transfer case located? is that the rear axle thing?

    before I made that trip, I took the van to get the seals and bearings replaced on the rear axle, they actually remove and replace the oil.

  • guyonearthguyonearth Member Posts: 5
    I'd like to know what method you used to calculate this mileage, since it is about 30% too high. I've owned 3 of these vans and never got close to that.
  • guyonearthguyonearth Member Posts: 5
    What are you burning? E-85? If so, that mileage is probably correct. Otherwise, do you have alot of weight in this thing?
  • guyonearthguyonearth Member Posts: 5
    Where did you get a 5 speed automatic? They only have 4 speeds. (4L60E)
  • guyonearthguyonearth Member Posts: 5
    There are two knock sensors usually, one at the rear of the right head, one at the side of the left head, round objects about 2" in diameter that screw in. It is possible your distributor gear is worn out, throwing your timing off. The glowing exhaust IS NOT NORMAL. You need to find out if this is a result of timing problems or if your converter is plugged. If it is, replace it ASAP. If you don't, you will melt out the core, plug your exhaust, and risk burning exhaust valves out, which will be very expensive.
  • guyonearthguyonearth Member Posts: 5
    1870 codes are often caused by faulty valve bodies and can be fixed fairly easily. Of course most shops will say you need a rebuild, that is how they make their money. The 4L60E transmission used in these vans is very tough and rated for much more power than they have. With maintainance, They should easily last 250K or more.
  • tstormtstorm Member Posts: 10
    I averaged 15.9 mpg with my last tank, using the air just about the whole time and driving 90% in the city. I've gotten around 20 mpg on the hwy on trips but I drive 75 mph and I know slowing down to 65 would save some gas and get me closer to 23 mpg... the window sticker claimed the van gets 16/23 which is pretty close if you don't drive too fast.
  • joulsjouls Member Posts: 8
    So do you really recoment that I get the Transmission down and clean the valve body?

    I actually found on you tube a very nice videos on how to give maintenance to that Transmission.

    I'm really going to do it.

  • organfreakorganfreak Member Posts: 2
    I filled the tank and set the trip odometer to zero. I made my trip, several hundred miles, then filled the tank again. Both times I filled the tank, I did not attempt to fill beyond the first auto-shuttoff of the pump.
    I divided the number of gallons put in into the number of miles I travelled. I triple-checked my math. I didn't believe it either, but there it was. I was hauling, maybe 800 pounds in the back.
  • 68ramair68ramair Member Posts: 3
    I have had 3 astro/safari vans for about 10 years. Driven highway behind trucks to reduce wind at 45, 50, 60, 70, and many other speeds for many miles and many years. I have never reached better than 20 mpg.
  • partydpartyd Member Posts: 2
    My brother rebuild the tranny and install parts from a different gm vehicle this was 4 years ago i don't remember the details but it work , it is the same electronic tranny
    my rps are very low on the freeway , i also have new oxygen sensor and the van :shades: is been lower 1 inch
This discussion has been closed.