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GMC Safari/Chevy Astro



  • danjk3danjk3 Posts: 2
    Check out posts 22, 79, 98 and 99 regarding water leaks. I first noticed a recurring spot (about 8-in. diameter) on the carpet just inside the sliding side door. At first I thought the kids were spilling stuff there. Then, after leaving the van parked at the airport during a rainy week, I returned to find the lower sliding door track full of water. So I figured the side door seal was leaking. (I apologized to the kids when I got home.) But after looking at it more carefully, it was impossible for a side door leak to let in that much water without showing up on the door trim, too. So I started checking out message boards and discovered that the leak was coming from the rear Dutch doors and traveling all the way up underneath the carpeting.

    You can check it by opening up the spare tire cover and reaching underneath the carpeting. It's a good bet you'll find that the padding is soaked.

    I followed the instructions in post #99 and it seemed to do the trick. I ended up tearing out and replacing all of the padding from the front seats back. It's a lot of work, but I didn't have a choice.

    Good luck.
  • Hello,

    I have just bought a 2002 Astro AWD. I had very good service from my previous Astro and had no reservations about buying another. I am satisfied at this point with the 2002 with one exception. When the sliding side door is opened, an inspection of the carpet just inboard of the trim strip, beside the middle bench seat, right where you would step into the van, reveals three depressions approximately 1/2 inch wide, 1/2 inch deep, and 5 to 6 inches long, and about 30 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the van.

    These depressions are visible in the daylight, but not very offensive. When the sliding door is opened at night, the courtesy light for the sliding door shines across these depressions, and they look horrible. I took off the door trim strip and felt the rubber backing of the carpet and it was deformed exactly where the depressions were. I had my local dealer replace the carpet, and the replacement carpet had these depressions too. He called another dealer and asked him to look at the Astros on his lot, and he saw the same thing. He said the carpet looked like a tractor ran through the van. The service manager and I agreed that there wasn't any sense replacing the carpet again if they were coming from the factory that way. He suggested I contact customer assistance while he contacted the zone service manager. I received a call from customer assistance about a month later, and was told that the zone rep looked at a few Astros, and said the carpet was OK because every one he looked at was the same way. I was also told that mine was the only complaint they received. I asked if I could talk to the zone service manager because he obviously didn't look at the depressions in the dark when the courtesy light was shining across them. I was told that customers weren't allowed to talk to the zone service managers. I requested that customer service then, request the zone service manager re-examine the Astro carpets in the dark when the courtesy light was shining accross the depressions. I was also told that since the zone representative saw these depressions in the other Astros that it was a "characteristic" of the vehicle, implying that nothing would be done about it. These depressions may be a characteristic of 2002 Astros, but are a bad characteristic, and not a characteristic of previous years, as I owned one before this, and have looked at several lately. I'm sure that if the right person at General Motors sees these depressions at night, something will be done at the assembly line, and with the carpet supplier.

    These depressions probably havn't been caught at the assembly line because they don't build them in the dark.

    At this point I'm still waiting to hear from customer assistance. If anyone else has a new Astro and sees these depressions, call customer assistance right away. They appear to be going to blow me off if I'm the only one complaining. If anyone knows of a way around customer assistance
    with General Motors please post it and E-mail me.

    I'm sure General Motors doesn't want it's products to appear this way, but I need to get to someone who really gives a #$@*&;!!!
  • mrnimmomrnimmo Posts: 271
    I thought he called himself a "lubrication specialist"

    Sounds like a JiffyLube guy (I dare not say "tech").

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

    Oh yes, the sludge discussion. The terrible Toyota led conspiracy, joined in by all consumer groups (ie consumer reports) and government watchdogs, resulting in lies and coverups about Toyota engines inherent design flaws and short life span.

    The sludge pond is usually stocked with salesmen peddling Dodge minivans (and other Americun cars).
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Well I guess that is to be expected. The brute is just bullet proof and there just aren't any problems or issues to discuss. Just lubricate it and keep on trucking.

    Nobody goes here so I'll just amble on by myself.

    I just had to give the thing (97 astro)some TLC so today I installed KYB Monomax front shocks. Also pulled a spark plug for inspection at 41,000 miles. The plug did not show any signs of seizure but I put Anti Seize on the threads and put it back. Plug looks as good as new.

    I like to work on cars for relaxation, but this thing is boring. I have to try and find something to do to it.
  • coonhound,
    I enjoyed reading about your Astro success.

    May I suggest that you get another Astro/Safari one with a worn out engine and swap a new 5.3L chevy engine in it. There exists a kit to mount it, they say it is one of the easiest swaps and the drive train is amply able to handle it even AWD. Next get taller springs in the rear and crank the torsion bars up front to fit 255/16 all terrain tires on it. It would be a project van. That should relax you and help keep this discussion lively.
  • I have an Isuzu Trooper and there is a Isuzu Owners Club here on Edmunds that is really helpful. It is good for finding aftermarket stuff. It is good for do it yourselfers. And it is good for what ails your vehicle. Check out the clubs on Edmunds by typing "club" in the search field on the top left corner of this page.

    I am very interested in the Safari/Astro vans as a way to get the whole family and the boat to more distant destinations. My Trooper is equip with the third row seats but the extra space in a Safari/Astro would make longer trips much easier on the kids and therefore easier on me.

    Since I am not an owner I don't feel qualified to start a Safari/Astro owner's club. But I wish one of you would do it, please!

    Thank You
  • I have an 86 Astro that runs great with 120000 miles. My only problem is the paint that has faded and peeled. My kids are embarassed to be seen in it. The van sure comes in handy at times and always starts and runs. Has anyone had a similar experience with the disappearing paint? I am not sure whether I should invest in a new paint job or just run it til death as is. The best cars are those that don't cost a dime!
  • jimmyv1,

    I have a Trooper that my kids love to be in. It has 118K miles. I go out of my way to make sure the kids enjoy the vehicle that I enjoy that way I get to drive my Trooper when the family is along. I have added a third row rear facing seat and a CD player with repeat. I drive it "bouncy" once in a while when they ask. I upgraded the suspension as a way to keep it fun longer and avoid the expense of a replacement as long as possible.

    So, in my opinion, paint is worth it if you want to keep the van a while. Yours must be a well built one not to have any troubles in 120K and 15+ years. There are many aftermarket things you can do with an old Astro.

    I found another Astro discussion page on

  • I am the unhappy owner of a 95 windstar. We bought it used, and for 3 1/2 years it was great. The past year has brought us much frustration. We are now looking for a new/used vehicle. We have been shopping and are very interested in the Astro. If we just consider Consumer Reports, we will never be happy unless we go for a Honda or Toyota. Your discussion seems to be a lot of happy customers.

    Ok now, we have the chance to purchase a 2001 Astro Executive model. It has 2900 miles on it. Sweetened to the max. It has the dutch rear door. The dealership is asking $21,900 should we jump on it? Should we back off. It technically is a used vehicle, but it is only 3000 miles old. The start use date was 4/01, so not even a year since manufacture. Any suggestions out there? Also, what are the common problems to look for?

    Thanks for your help,
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    I paid a lot more than that for a 2001 AWD LT Astro in June(it had 4 miles on it new). This is my 3rd AWD Astro and it's my first LT. It has about everthing except leather and running boards. I have 27,184 miles on it right now and the only problem was one of the catalytic converters went out but was replaced under warranty. They told me to drive it as usual until the new part came in so it really didn't inconvience me one bit. The dealer replaced it when I was in for an oil change. They all have been great vehicles and this 2001 is the nicest one yet.
  • We are very interested in this van. Now that I am doing more research, I realize the big difference is that it is NOT AWD. How seriously should I take that as a problem. I have driven front wheel drive vehicles for a long time. This van is big. I will have precious cargo and in the random weather of Michigan, I am a little nervous. What do you think, still a good bargin?
  • coonhoundcoonhound Posts: 174
    Check and see if the van has limited slip or positrac differential. If it does there should not be any concern. I have had a 2wd Astro since 94 and have not found a snow problem. But we only get about two or three snow and or ice storms per winter. I don't have limited slip axle.

    General motors is tooling up to return to rwd on several models. There is a clamor from the performance oriented consumers for rwd.

    Rwd vehicle is easier and cheaper to maintain than a fwd or 4wd. I am always replacing CV joint boots on family cars. Especially in the winter time. I attribute this to slush getting on the boots and freezing then ripping the boot apart.

    And I don't remember Michigan being very hilly to require a lot of traction. All I remember are those crazy left turns where you go down a block or two and make a couple of turns instead of one. Specifically Holland, Mi.

    Just opinions.

    The Safari/Astro is one tough truck.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    ....but I'm here to announce the new Chevrolet Vans Owners club now available on Owner's Club board. Please stop by and introduce yourself in Meet the Members and let me know how I can help build your club.

    I have linked this discussion into that folder, but it will always reside here in Vans.

    Looking forward to meeting everyone!

    Owner's Clubs

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    My Astro's have all been AWD and this 2001 has limited-slip also. I climb a lot of passes here in the NW in the winter. If you are pretty much on the flat and you keep a little weight in the rear of the 2wd I think you would be OK. Our company has had 2wd ones here in Seattle and the few snows and slick streets haven't stopped them. I'd say my biggest beef about Astros is their lack of good headlights. This time of year I drive a lot of miles in the dark and my Astros just don't have very good "eyes in the dark". I can say that all the Chrysler vans that I've driven, have had even worse headlights. OK, maybe that I passed the 50 year mark a while back has something to do with it.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    I'm not sure why your vans would have a headlight problem. My '95 with the composite halogens are some of the best headlights I have ever seen. The highbeams will absolutely turn a lot of dark into daylight.

  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    I should have said that a lot, probably most, of my night driving is interstate and I seldom get a chance to use high beams. All 3 of my last Astros the '96, '98 and now the '01 suffer from "lack of light". It was especially brought out a few nights ago when I had a colleague ride with me on a 520 mile trip and he brought up the matter of lack of light. I've even paid good money to have them aimed and that didn't help after having that done. Because of this limitation, I clean the lens at night a lot, especially in winter and in the slush. Too bad there isn't an easy aftermarket fix that works with low beams.
  • Headlight adjustment makes all the difference. If you are lighting up the road right in front of the vehicle you will feel like the headlights are way too dim. Often headlights get adjusted using some generic template, park here, point there. These generic templates are for low down cars. I have an Isuzu Trooper which had awsome lights, but after an accident repair the body shop adjusted the lights using a template, then the same Trooper lights were awefully dark looking. So I adjusted them up to light where the light is needed and they are bright again. I adjust by parking on a deserted straight level road at night and adjust the lights up till they look bright again. I am careful that the road in front of the Trooper is still lighted somewhat and that the light will not blind oncoming traffic. Repeat with both high and low beams to find a good compromise.
    I tried aftermarket halogen bulbs once but they make far less difference than a good headlight adjustment.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Our Astro drivers agree.........the Astro's headlights are better than the Dodge and Plymouth vans that we've had in the past but not by much. I'm the only one who has paid to have them aimed.(At the local Chevrolet dealer) Mine are OK on high beams but I can't even find where the low beam is going. The low beam is not going to either side, not close and certainly not far. So bring your torx screwdrivers and come fix 5 Astros with mediocre low beams. Or maybe you can suggest someplace that will get all the lumens possible and aimed correctly too. As you are aware, these Astros have the high and low in one plastic unit, so when you adjust lows you also adjust highs. If we just drove around in the city at night it wouldn't be much of an issue. But out on the open road 5 days a week(750-1000 miles in that week)it becomes a safety issue. Maybe the best answer is to just drive with the high beams on 100 percent of the time.

    I really like my Astro but I think the headlights are at best mediocre.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    We used the fog lights on our 91 Astro CL when the low beam seemed inadequate. We always felt our 91 Astro had adequate lighting.
    DaimlerChrysler minivan headlights were not adequate UNTIL 2001 when they were greatly improved. Our 2002 T&C eL has VERY nice headlights on either high or low beam. They appear to be twice as bright as the ones on our 99 GC SE were.
  • topseatopsea Posts: 47
    Thanks Carleton1.....These new Astros aren't easy to mount afer market fog or driving lights. Lots of plastic and a poor location under the bumper. I only keep my vans about 2 years so it doesn't make a lot of sense to have a custom installation done. It's one of the reasons that I have a Garmin Street Pilot GPS and a Sony XM radio set-up. It's all portable and I can take it with me to another vehicle. I guess I'm just prone to complaining and I know GM doesn't care about the Astro any longer.
  • My Safari has a severe jerk when I ease up on the gas peddle while traveling 60-65 miles per hour. Also, when I stop and put the can in "Park" in runs very rough and acts like it will conk out. My dealer said the computer shows nothing wrong. I do not believe it. Any advice will be appreciated/ \Maggie
  • Maggie; you asked for any advice, so here it is.
    I would put about 1 1/2 cans of Chevron Techron in the fule tank and run it until almost empty before re fueling. Or spending additional money at the dealer unless it is still under warranty. That's a different story and I would be camped at the dealer with a rough idle.

    The vortec sequential port fuel injection is great, but the general tried to improve the profit when doing the fuel injectors. They don't like re formulated fuel, or premium fuels. California vehicles, injectors, are particularly attacked by the fuel gremlin.
  • We just purchased a 95 Astro Van (actually a Cowboy Conversion). Paid $4400 drive out. Has 137,000. Absolutely beautiful van; drives well. I would be interested in knowing what kind of mileage to expect....I don't have high hopes. Also, any pertinent praises or problems would be welcomed. Thanks
  • pbroekers, sounds like you done good. I don't remember when the engine HP was changed from 165 HP to 190. i.e. about a 2 mpg reduction in fuel mileage. I believe it was 1996 models that were changed to sequential port injection i.e vortec with more HP but less MPG and most say a few more problems.

    The conversion van's many times came with the 3.23 differential and due to the conversion, even another MPG. I remember 23 mpg highway rating and 18 city. Today they are rated 15 and 20 MPG.
    So in 94 23 to 24 MPG for a 2wd Astro was common highway mileage, and if the HP increase as 96 as I believe, then you should expect this mileage.

    The 4.3 is a 350 cid engine minus 2 cylinders i.e. the most produced basic engine in the world and is almost bullet proof. 200,000 miles is not uncommon and there are some on this site reporting 700,000 miles. As a matter of fact I have heard that a 350 engine can be retrofitted to fit these vans.

    You didn't mention if you have the short or stretch version. With the vortec change they are all stretch. GM just welded on 9 or 10 inches so as to haul a 4X8 sheet of plywood or plaster board by removing the back breaking seats.

    I have a 97 2wd with a 3.72 differential. I normally get 20 to 21 mpg highway mileage. On a 94 Co. driver with 3.23 gears 23 plus mpg was not uncommon. You could possibly have the 3.42 or more common rear end ratio.

    If you want a little more zip, smoother idle, and better fuel mileage. Install AC rapid fire plugs. The down side is they only last about 10,000 miles. But they are expensive and do what GM says.

    Suggest you change the transmission and differential fluids if maintenance records don't reflect this being done within the past 30,000 miles.

    Happy trails and enjoy
  • I appreciate the information. I suspect this is the 190. And it is the extended version. Edmunds review says 16mpg in town/21hwy. I hope for at least this much. We'll see. Thanks again.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    The 160HP is throttle body injection and uses a conventional air cleaner. The CPI engine has the air filter housing mounted on the radiator shroud.

    Both are good engines.
  • rwigrwig Posts: 3
    Been reading these posts for a long time. It is difficult not to conclude the following:

    1. Pick any make or model and every year thousands of people buy a new one and have nothing but trouble since the day they drive it off the lot.

    2. Astro/Safari's seem to generate more complaints than other vans, at least on this forum

    3. Pre- 1996 Astro/Safari's seem to have been much more reliable.

    4. In spite of this the Astro/Safari fits my needs and wants.

    Wondering if I should just ignore all the research and buy new with extended warranty OR buy pre 1996 cheap (there are plenty available) and just fix whatever breaks down and figure it probably won't be in the shop any more often than a new one?

    This begs the more important question: How much $$'s could I really wind up putting into a used van to make it reliable for travelling all over the state?

    Used is appealing since I could pay cash, save on insurance, not worry about it getting dinged in the parking lot, and would be less likely to be stolen.

    Sorry to be so verbose.
  • It appears to be true that the pre 96 with the 165 HP throttle body injection was somewhat more reliable. I drove the 94 Co. van, later bought it, 80,000 miles with no defects. I bought the 97 program Astro with 26,000 miles and only have 41,000 on it at this time. I did have one injector replaced just after obtaining the vehicle. And I just put brake pads and bands on recently.

    The sequential multiport fuel injectors do not like California fuel, in particular. And they do not like premium fuel.

    It is true that there are some bargains out there in the Safari or Astro van's I have seen 97 models in the paper for $5995.00. They may be high mileage and a piece of trash, that I don't know.

    The 165 throttle body will get about 2 more MPG than the 190 HP sequential port fuel injected vortec engine.

    I like the leaf rear springs vs the fiberglass that was on the pre 96 models. The newer models have slightly more leg room, but still cramped. The interior and overall feel of the 97 vs the 94 is really improved. Maybe it is just the design with close radio control and bold dash.

    And if you need to pull a boat or trailer the extra HP is good to have. They are rated 4500, 5000, and 5500 lbs. tow depending on the differential ratio. 3.23, 3.42, or 3.72.

    The fuel mileage rating is even less on the 2002, being 15 and 20. I believe it was 17 and 21 in 97. Anyway that is about what mine runs. The 94 would get 23 on highway trips.

    The truck is like a rock, professional grade. I like my truck.
  • Keep in mind that people with problems are far more vocal than those who have zero problems.
    We got a NEW 1991 Astro CL (regular length)and loved it except for digital instrumentation that worked intermittently after a few years of ownership. In Dec 1990, we noticed the first mechanical problem: coolant leak. It cost $335 labor to replace the $15.50 manifold gasket.
    The windshield wiper motor went out enroute to get the coolant leak fixed. I was outraged at the price of that little cheap motor made in Mexico (where GM pays very low labor wages) and the labor to replace it. I was also furious at the $32 labor charge to change an air filter.
    Because of these items, we got a new 1999 GC SE on March 20,1999.
    However, the Astro has many features I prefer over any other minivan: Most interior volume in least length. Large 27 gal fuel tank. MOST Torque of any minivan engine. Convenient panel doors at the rear. High seating with unequaled visibility. RUGGED truck construction.
    Our 91 Astro was EPA rated 17 and 21. We had overall average of 20.7 MPG on our Astro for 7 and 1/2 years and would get 23 to 24 MPG on many 1380 mile round trips to Disneyland.
    Looking back, our maintenance costs on the Astro were VERY low with only the manifold gasket and windshield wiper motor in 7 and 1/2 years. Our daughter purchased a used 1991 Astro RS XTD last fall and it has 189,000 miles on it now. My friend drove Astro vans for an airport shuttle service and told me one had 700,000 miles on the odometer and another one had 650,000 miles. He says those Vortec 4.3L V6 will run forever.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    It is Central Port fuel injection. Big difference. And one of the big problems with CPI is that it does not like premium fuel. The "oxygenated" can also cause problems, but more driveability issues than the complete failure of the system. I went through five injection systems in two vans in less than 11K miles before a knowlegeable service manager told me to forget about using premium when towing (per the manual in '94) He said run the cheapest grade available and you won't have anymore problems. That was 57K miles ago and so far he has been right on the money.
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